A unique performance took place in Asakusa, which was crowded with people because of the Sanja Festival. The title was “With a combined age of 183, two active Rokyoku masters with great longevity, Momotaro and Yuko Tamagawa, have a thorough study session with Daifuku Tamagawa.” The show was in the form of a tripartite talk between the couple steeped in the history of musical performance and the young hope, as well as rokyoku. She supported three performers, including her 91 years old husband, with her shamisen accompaniment. The venue was the Mokubatei, where she still continues to perform as a kyokushi for her husband and young singers to this day.

 

Born and raised in a farmer’s family in Kasama, due to her family’s finances, she went to work as a live-in apprentice at a kimono shop after graduating from elementary school. That time was a golden age for rokyoku. She would listen in ecstasy to its flowing style that poured out of the storefront from the neighboring record store, as she was child minding. After finishing her apprenticeship, she persuaded her father to give up on her as if she was dead, and moved up to Tokyo when she was 17. She asked to become a pupil of Hirosawa Torazou, a major star. Her dream was to become a first rate performer one day and then fulfill her duties as a daughter. She was turned down as a pupil but was recommended to become an apprentice of a rokyoku master, who was three years younger than her but was extolled as a girl genius. Despite training earnestly, she never got to a level she was satisfied with and at 19 years old she decided to change over to being a kyokushi.

 

It’s been 74 years since she learned the basics. Every time she got on stage and worked for veteran kyokushi, it trained her to acquire her skills and hone her abilities, even more than practicing did. She tells us cheerfully that if you spend three days as a performer, you can’t give it up. She vows that as long as she’s alive she’ll continue working hard, and that for a kyokushi, there’s no world so wonderful as that of the rokyoku one.

Yuko Tamagawa

Born in 1922 in Ibaraki Prefecture. Her real name is Riyo Nakamura. She began training with Teruko Suzuki in 1940. She made her stage debut under the name of Teruchiyo Suzuki in 1941. Every month she performs at Mokubatei. Please refer to the official website of the Rokyoku Association.

Cooperation: Asakusa Mokubatei, Daifuku Tamagawa, family of the master Koryu Minatoya, Shibuya Li-Po, Osamu Yoshioka

Translation: Media Research, Inc.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)