Sanyutei Kino, rakugo storytelling master, dies at 93

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sanyutei Kino

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Sanyutei Kino, who had the longest career among active professional rakugo storytellers, died of chronic heart failure at his home in Tokyo on Saturday. He was 93.

A native of Tokyo, Sanyutei, whose real name was Ryusuke Matsumoto, became a pupil of Sanyutei Kinba III in 1941 at the age of 12. In 1945, Sanyutei Kino was promoted to the rank of “futatsume” and began to use the stage name of Sanyutei Kokinba.

He began to appear in “Owarai Sannin-gumi,” a television variety show on NHK that started in 1956, with “kodanshi” storyteller Ichiryusai Teiho and impersonator Edoya Nekohachi. The TV show became a major hit.

Sanyutei was promoted to “shinuchi,” the highest rank of rakugo, in 1958, and assumed the name of Sanyutei Kinba IV in 1967.

In 2020, Sanyutei started to call himself Kino while having his second son and pupil, Sanyutei Kintoki, assume the name of Sanyutei Kinba V.

Sanyutei Kino was popular for his trademark husky voice and easy-to-understand narrative, and had numerous stories to perform, including both classic and new stories.

Sanyutei also made contributions to the establishment of National Engei Hall, a theater for traditional entertainment performances in Tokyo.