End of an Era

Veteran rakugoka Sanyuutei Enraku (74) left his audience in tears yet again in Tokyo yesterday. But while they are usually tears of laughter, yesterday his fans were filled with mixed emotions. The former host of popular NHK show “Shoten” was hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage in October 2005 and made his comeback to the stage a year later. He said that he would use yesterday’s performance to decide his future. It was standing room only at the National Engei Hall and some members of the audience could be seen wiping tears from their eyes during his 45-minute act. But Enraku announced after the show that he was bringing his 53-year career to an end, saying “It’s no good, no good at all. I’m going to retire as a storyteller.” He added that he would be embarrassed to ask people to pay money to see him when he can no longer perform at his best. He will most likely continue to make occasional appearances as a guest performer, and plans to continue as leader of the Enraku Ichimonkai school of rakugo. All but one of his apprentices are in their 50s and 60s and have become stars, and he has said he would like to continue until Ouraku (29) also reaches the top level. Enraku has been undergoing dialysis treatment for nine years and his poor health forced him to retire after 23 years as the host of Shoten last year. He had been a performer on the show since its start in 1966.

Johnny’s Jimusho idol Takizawa Hideaki (24) fell on a staircase and fractured his nose last Friday. But the show must go on, so he and partner Imai Tsubasa (25) performed two scheduled concerts as Tackey & Tsubasa in Nagoya over the weekend. Takizawa missed Friday’s recording of the TBS show “Zubari Iuwayo!” and had to wear a face mask for the concerts. His injury is expected to take a month to heal.