• Beniko

32. Sanosa-Bushi, a Style of Japanese Folk Song


Sanzai (さんざい) is an adjective for a Ozashiki (お座敷, dinner party with Geiko and Maiko) where the customers dance and sing with Maiko (舞妓). For example, if you hear cheerful sound of singing and laughter from an Ozashiki venue, you say "That Ozashiki is a Sanzai". I guess the Kanji characters for Sanzai might be 散財, which means a big spender. Anyway, Sanzai Ozashiki is always with full of happy music and laughter.

As for the music sung at Sanzai are mostly popular songs of the time, however, certain Japanese folk songs, such as Sanosa-Bushi (さのさ節, a song that singers can ad-lib the lyrics depending on their mood, and always ends with a word Sanosa) and Dodoitsu (都々逸, a form of Japanese poetry often concerning love or work) are also often sung. Theses kind of songs were not included in Maiko lessons so that I had to learn them by myself. Sometimes I was required to be smart enough to return an "answer song" to customers. I was gaining a popularity as a Human Jukebox, but still, learning a lot of songs was pretty tough.

Since the lyrics of Sanosa and Dodoitsu are mostly for adults, and I was merely 16 or 17 years old, I often found it difficult to pick a good one for me to sing. In that situation, my Okasan (お母さん, female owner of lodging house for Maiko and Geiko ) taught me a suitable one. The lyrics goes: I looked around many cherry blossoms in Kyoto, but couldn't find one which can beat your beauty-sanosa. Now that I've grown up, I still think that the lyrics were too adult for a teenage girl.

The funny thing is that I don't forget things I memorized when I was young, whereas I forget everything I recently remember.

Thank you very much.

Talk to you soon.

Beniko

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