Wasabi Stories vol.174: “Try Not to Let Anyone Recognize Your Pain”


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“Try Not to Let Anyone Recognize Your Pain”

Today’s story-teller is kyogen performer Sensaku Shigeyama, 90 years old.

When he is asked to give his autograph, he draws a traversable picture of an otafuku, a mask of a plain woman, with a message; laugh and grow fat.


mask of otafuku

"kamoda" some rights reserved. flickr


If you ask him if he has had an easy life as a kyogen performer, his answer would be ‘No’. Not all has been smooth sailing. He has faced some financial difficulties, and, most of all, he got devastated when his first wife died suddenly after suffering from a disease.

Shigeyama was in [W:Ehime] on business when she died. His staff thought he could not have performed on the stage if he had found out his wife’s death before the show, so that he told him the sad news after he finished his performance.

Shigeyama says, “We got married during the Second World War. I caused her great hardship when we were going through the hard time with lack of food and so on. Looking back on our past, I found myself in flood of tears on the ferry back home.”


Finally, he says, “There is something I have always told myself. It is that I have to carry on without letting anyone to recognize the pain especially when I am in the face of adversity. I do not remember exactly when I have started drawing a picture of an otafuku in my autograph, but there is the message that I always tell myself behind of it.”


The NIKKEI 01/05/2010 by Sensaku Shigeyama (kyogen performer)


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