Wasabi Stories vol.168: “Use Your Natural Ability”


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“Use Your Natural Ability”

Today’s story-teller is rokyoku singer Kosiwaka Kyoyama. (rokyoku is a Japanese narrative singing)

The story’s period is in the early 80s, when manzai (Japanese comic dialogue) was in the middle of the fad.

Nearly everyone in Japan knew Yasushi Yokoyama and Kiyoshi Nishikawa, a very popular comic duo at that time.

Kyoyama signed a contract with Yoshimoto Kogyo in 1972. However, rokyoku didn’t gain popularity among young people.



There were remarkably few audience but their bags were left on the seats to keep their place when he was on the stage.

That discouraged him to get on the stage.


One day, when he went for a drink with senpai of Yoshimoto Kogyo (a senior of Yoshimoto Kogyo), he told him his troubles.

Kyoyama said, “Say, I am thinking of giving up on singing rokyoku and become a comedian or rakugo performer (rakugo is a comic storytelling).”


Then, the senpai said, “What are you saying? You can’t beat Yasushi Yokoyama and Kiyoshi Nishikawa as a stand-up comedian. You can’t beat Nikaku Shofukutei as a rakugo performer. You have your natural talent.”


His words were wake up call for him. He felt all better and decided to take another run.

He did all kinds of things to attract audience such as writing a rokyoku song of a famous baseball player and singing the song in a baseball uniform and so on. Such effort amazingly worked to get audience’s attention.

Kyoyama says, “The senpai said, ‘trend of the times will change.’ These words helped me get to where I am now.”


The NIKKEI 12/26/2009 by Kosiwaka Kyoyama (rokyoku singer)



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