(From the Printed Program , December 7, 2014)
In the past, people used to be very busy at the end of the year, settling their accounts. However, these days, this custom seems to have faded away. This may be because the national and corporate fiscal years no longer end at the end of the calendar year. Also, households don’t close out their accounts on New Year’s Eve.
Many rakugo stories, haiku, and kyoka (comic poems) refer to the year-end laughter and sadness of the residents of the old-fashioned row houses. However, these days, many people cannot understand the subtleties of common people’s lives in the past.
Furthermore, nowadays, many people who have debts are chased by money lenders all year round. It’s as if New Year’s Eve comes every day for them.
The traditional expression for the hectic time people have in December is shiwasu, literally, teachers (sensei) are running. Members of the Diet, who are generally addressed as “sensei”, this year are having an especially busy time, because a general election will be held on December 14. The candidates are running around their constituencies, appealing for votes.
We artists should not neglect politics. We should think and act as people of culture and as Japanese, and elect representatives who will work sincerely for Japan and contribute to world peace through the power of Japan’s wonderful culture.
As December is the month for clearing up one’s obligations and moving on to new activities, I’d like to clean the soot from my mind and body, and, while listening to the toll of the temple bells, start the New Year with fresh feelings.
President, Shinnai Association