June, 2016

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by Harumi Okochi.
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Chikamatsu Monzaemon

Renovation of Room Chikamatsu

The main building of Yoyokaku was built more than 100 years ago. Some of the rooms are still in their original shape.
We reformed one of them recently. The name of the room is Chikamatsu, after the great playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon.
It is said that Chikamatsu Monzaemon studied in a temple in Karatsu for some years in his childhood.
The temple is Kinshoji, and there is Chikamatsu's tomb stone in the premise. The temple is one of the attractive spots in Karatsu, so our ancestors gave the name of Chikamatsu to one of the rooms.

Chikamatsu Monzaemon is Japanese Shakespeare. He wrote many plays for Bunraku = Ningyo Johruri.
Ningyo Johruri is a puppet play acting with the music of Shamisen and Chanting. UNESCO acknowledged it as an important world cultural legacy.
So, I thought l would decorate this room with the items related with Johruri.
It was a great fun for me to coordinate the decoration in the style of Japan's feudal time.
You will see many stories of Johruri (mostly tragedies) hidden in this room.
I hope you will enjoy old Japan.
Now, welcome to Room Chikamatsu!
   The door.
The two Chinese characters are Chika and Matsu.
The Chinese characters are pronounced in some ways.
The temple name Kinshoji can be pronounced Chikamatsu dera. Complicated!

Please enter.
 The entrance room is 4.5 tatami large, and looks like this.
One tatami is 90cm X180cm.
A chest and shelves are installed.
The right space is Tokonoma, which is an alcove where something important is decorated.
   This is a costume of a Johruri chanter.
This one was given to me by a Shamisen player who is one of the Japanese National Living Treasures.
This beautiful small table is called 'Kendai'. Kendai is a sloped table on which the chanter put the book when chanting.
I got this Kendai from Takemoto Naruko Dayu, who is the only lady chanter in all Kyushu. She lives in Karatsu, and is trying her best to make Johruri flourish again.
   The chest is still firm after 100 years. They are empty and guests can use them.
 This small Byobu is a hand dyed attractive one, with the designs of 12 months' different plays of Johruri.  
   In this old letter case, I put three books of Johruri.
Books are almost 150 years old.
Stories are much older.
 This doll is a heroine of a tragedy. Her name is Osome, one of the most popular characters who dies together with her loved one..  
    Tobacco set on the upper shelf, letter case which holds stationery for the guests on the middle shelf, and information book of Yoyokaku on the lowest.
The bamboo cylinder is the ashtray in old time. A little water was put inside.
Tobacco was pushed in the mouth of the long pipe, and the porcelain cup has a small piece of fired charcoal.
   Let's step into the main room
6 tatami large. Not very big. It is an ordinally size.
I do not like the modern devices like TV set or telephone, but they are inevitable for the staying guests.
The alcove of the main room.
The woman in the scroll is one of the popular heroines, Osono, who is waiting for her unfaithful husband patiently.
  For the main character of this room, I searched many antique shops for a scroll with a picture of one of the tragedy heroines, but could not find any.
 A friend of mine, Kiyomi Nakashima, who is a traditional Japanese doll artist, painted this picture of Osono. She said she could not paint, but I encouraged her to do.
This picture is just what I wanted. Thank you, Kiyomi.
A table and chairs are necessary for modern people.
These stools are originally used for Japanese style wedding.
The glass table is a Hibachi, a wooden stove in which we put charcoal in winter time.
  I took out the ash from Hibachi, and laid a part of an old kimono and decorated old accessories like combs, hair ornaments, a part of Samurai's sword (grip part), etc.
These are more than 100 years too.
I made a scroll with an old Obi, sash belt for kimono, to hang on the wall. This is a greeting from Yoyokaku and also an explanation of the room and decorations. Sword grips are embroidered on this old Obi.This Obi was my grandmother's belongings.
  Greeting is to explain how old this room is, and why this room is called Chikamatsu, with the reason of my Johruri decorations..
Under the explanation, I put a small table Urushi lacquered and placed some English books about Bunraku. This table also is more than 100 years old.
   On the other side of the hall, there is a mirror.
The cloth underneath the mirror is an old Kimono for a young girl about 100 years ago. Girls of rich family of Edo period must have worn this style Kimono.
This tray is to put your clothes when you take them off.
I colored an old ragged tray black, and pasted some pages from an old Johruri book. Here is another story of human destiny.
   On the wall of the wash room, I hang a picture of a historical story too.
Originally Room Chikamatsu did not have a private toilet. We reformed partially and made a western style wash room.

I hope many foreign people will stay in this room.


Last month ( May, 2016) my husband and I went to Tokyo to attend our niece's wedding. The next day we enjoyed Bunraku Performance at the Tokyo National Theater.
Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku, these traditional theaters are now coming back to their flowering days.
I hope you can see Bunraku someday in Japan.
Thank you very much for your company to look around my favorite Chikamatsu room.
See you again next month.

Thank you very much for joining me.
I hope you will visit us again next month.

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