Hello, everybody! It’s been a while, as there has been a winter break since the last time, but have you been well? To all of our fans who were sad that they could not read aiueo blog! We are sorry for making you wait. Please enjoy this to your heart’s content.
This edition’s theme is “wa.” If you have mastered hiragana, you should know this! There are no words in Japanese that begin with “を(o)” or “ん(n),” which are the only kana left! Therefore, although this is the first blog of 2019, it is also the last one. To all of our fans, we apologize that the blog is ending immediately after it resumes. For now, please enjoy this last blog to your heart’s content.
Looking back, it was about 1 year ago that I happened to suggest writing a blog in the order of kana! As the person who brought up this idea, I started from “あ(a),” and we have been able to reach this point after the 5 of us battled with kana, such as “あaaaaaa,” “けke…..,” and “ほhooooo,” whether it was hot, cold, or windy out to come up with themes for each. We have a prize to show our gratitude to those of you who have read all the way from “あ(a)” to “わ(wa),” so please email us!
(This might be true)
With that said, when you think of “わ(wa),” which is appropriate for the last blog… That’s right, you think of “warai (laughter)!” As there is a saying that “笑う門には福来るwarau kado ni wa fuku kitaru (good fortune and happiness will come to the homes of those who smile),” homes and people with never-ending laughter will be blessed with good fortune and happiness. Let’s end things off with “warai,” so that 2019 is a year filled with smiles and happiness for those of you who are living in Japan or studying Japanese through fate!!
Therefore, we introduce 3 styles of “owarai” that are representative of Japan!
Manzai is an art of storytelling that traces its roots back to the Heian period. It is believed that it began through performances of song and dance at court, shrines, and temples to celebrate the new year and wish “prosperity for ten-thousand years (mannen).” Today, manzai is generally performed by 2 people, who play the roles of boke and tsukkomi. Another characteristic is that the pair tend to match their outfits with each other.
Boke(ボケ）: The person who says funny or foolish (=”boke”) things.
Tsukkomi(ツッコミ）: The person who reacts to the “boke.” This person hits the boke’s head or chest to point out the foolishness (=put in a “tsukkomi”).
This term originates from the French word, “conte,” and refers to funny skits. There may be props or stages that let you know what the setting is, or the performers may wear costumes that indicate their roles. The performances go on for a relatively long amount of time. Recently, there have been more “short contes” that only last tens of seconds and do not use props or stages.
This is a traditional Japanese art of storytelling that has been handed down since the early modern era. Performers sit on a zabuton cushion in the center of the stage and use their bodies and hands to tell a story. Props, costumes, and music are hardly ever used, and they use fans and tenugui towels as if they are pens, chopsticks, cigarettes, letters, and other items as they tell their story. Another characteristic is that a performer uses various gazes, postures, and ways of talking to play multiple roles. This is a simple yet interesting performance art that unfurls a world through the performer’s skill and the listener’s imagination.
Furthermore, you are an expert if you know this!
Kamigata: Since the ways of speaking and acting are also different between Kansai and Kanto for owarai, “kamigata manzai” and “kamigata rakugo” refer to owarai from Kansai. To add, “kami (up)” is used to refer to Kansai because in the early modern era, Kyoto was the capital, and its surroundings were considered to be “up.”
Last but not least is the quiz that you have been waiting for! Whether you like it or not, this is the last one!!
In 2015, a certain manzai duo debuted and shocked the world. Who was the partner of a male named Kaneko from Tokyo?
…Time to think about it…
All right, time is up. It is time to reveal the answer!
The answer is a robot! Believe it or not, “pepper” debuted as part of a duo called the “Peppers!” If you are wondering how they performed, they were able to successfully get past the first round of “M-1,” the most famous manzai contest in Japan. By the way, pepper was described as a “part-time worker born in Tokyo in December 1990” upon debuting (laughs).
In this day and age, when even robots take on the challenge of owarai, we here at Coto will continue to challenge ourselves by creating a school that makes all of you smile! We thank you in advance for your continued support!