Okamoto Miyanosuke III (Okamoto Miyakodayū III)
As the successor to the Shinnai Okamoto School, Miyanosuke learned Shinnai-bushi from Okamoto Miyasome V and his great uncle Okamoto Bunya. He also studied under master Japanese traditional musician, Hirai Sumiko who had a close friendship with Okamoto Bunya. Miyanosuke has inherited a number of rare pieces from the Jōruri repertoire which can now only be performed in the Okamoto School. His motto is “if a piece of work is not performed, it is the same as if it doesn’t exist,” so he actively performs and preserves both the classic repertoire and an enormous number of Okamoto Bunya’s original compositions. Miyanosuke is also actively involved in creating his own pieces to add new repertoire to Shinnai-bushi tradition. He vigorously promotes Shinnai-bushi through recitals, appearances at nihon buyō (Japanese dance) recitals, media broadcasts and more.
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Please contact us to schedule a visit to our rehearsal studio
which has over 70 years of history in Yanaka, Tokyo.
Shinnai-bushi is a genre of Edo Jōruri (sung storytelling accompanied by shamisen music) which is derived from Bungo-bushi, a form which originated in Kyoto. This genre was perfected by Tsuruga Wakasanojō and his talented pupil Tsuruga Shinnai in the mid-Edo period. From an early stage, Shinnai-bushi was developed as Su-jōruri, a style of pure storytelling without the accompaniment of puppets or dancers. Notably, Shinnai-bushi incorporated a strolling street performance style called Nagashi, which had become especially popular in the pleasure quarters. Shinnai-bushi’s lyrical melodies capture the sorrow of love and the subtleties of human nature, and they have been appreciated by ordinary people for centuries. Among both classics and new compositions, the pieces Rancho and Akegarasu remain the most popular in the Shinnai-bushi repertoire today.
A Closer Look at Shinnai
An excerpt from the Teihon Shinnai-shu (A Collection of Shinnai) by Okamoto Bunya (1969)
Once upon a time, there was a man named Miyakoji Bungonojō. Although he was already a popular performer of Itchu-bushi in Kyoto, he gradually realized that he couldn't express his full emotion though the quiet Itchu-bushi style. He struggled with this and devised a way to convey his passion through a melody incorporating more dramatic intonation. Ultimately, he invented his own unique artistic style and in 1730 separated from the Itchu-bushi tradition with the permission of his master. His style, Bungo-bushi, became very popular especially in Edo (the current Tokyo area).
Legend has it that double suicide and elopement became popular through the influence of Bungo-bushi and its recounting of these themes. Bungo-bushi’s style must have been very refreshing and it must have had a power to “push off suppression.”
Bungo-bushi pieces that accompanied theater performances were very popular and many people loved to take lessons as well. Bungo-bushi originated in Kyoto, so as it gained popularity in Edo, it was not welcomed by the resident Edo performers. Maybe because of this, Bungo-bushi was banned in 1739, and Bungonojō was forced to return to Kyoto. His students, however, stayed and kept performing in Edo. They in turn became independent and started new styles highlighting their artistic differences. The Tokiwazu and Tomimoto styles appeared first, and later Kiyomoto diverged from Tomimoto. Also a group called Fujimatsu appeared - that is the origin of Shinnai.
The Fujimatsu style didn’t have a strong character until a member of this group named Tsuruga-dayū separated from the tradition around 1758, calling himself Tsuruga Wakasanojō. He is the founder of current Tsuruga-ha. He was a talented performer and writer who created the famous pieces Rancho and Akegarasu. One of Wakasanojō’s pupils had a particularly attractive voice. His name was Shinnai. His voice was not only beautiful but indescribably appealing. According to legend, he had an irresistible charm in his “nose resonating” voice and everybody tried to copy his performance style. Because of his popularity, by about 1770 people began to call the genre Shinnai instead of Fujimatsu or Tsuruga. People would say “I love Shinnai!” “Let’s go listen to Shinnai!” or “Let’s learn Shinnai!” meaning the artistic genre which included Fujimatsu jōruri and Tsuruga-bushi. Thus, the name Shinnai has been used to represent the genre until now. (…)