The Ridiculous Reason

Since 2017, I have criticized the discourses of culture in Buraku. These were critiques of researchers who insisted that Buraku had their own original performing arts, such as Harukoma, a dancing with music by sideshow artists, and monkey-training. They also insisted the Buraku was a primal source of various parts of Japanese culture. But those parts of culture were practiced by people in many communities throughout the country. I demonstrated that the Japanese have historically shared musical scales and scenarios of plays as traditional arts. Despite this analysis, I believed there was an exception in The Lullaby of Takeda, in Kyoto. This was my misunderstanding. The lullaby was a song local to an area including a Buraku. My friend, who lives in that Buraku, told me the following:

That lullaby is not unique to my Buraku. The same lullaby has been preserved in the areas surrounding my Buraku. In 1964, before enacting Hashinonenai Kawa (River without a Bridge), the Tokyo Geijutsuza asked Kazuhiko Onoue to compose stage music for it. That play’s origin is an unfinished novel by Sue Sumii. It is set in a Buraku of Nara prefecture. Onoue asked for help from Mitsugu Noguchi, a leader of the Hadashi-no-ko (Barefoot Children) Group, a choral circle in the Takeda Buraku. He was then introduced to Noguchi's mother, Fuku Okamoto. She introduced Onoe to a local folk lullaby, and he produced Takeda no Komori-uta (Lullaby of Takeda) as the music for “Hashinonenai Kawa”. Independent of the play, it became a hit in the music world.

That lullaby was suddenly banned from broadcasting in 1986. To be precise, it was a self-imposed regulation of the broadcasting industry. The ridiculous reason was that it sings about Buraku. The broadcasting industry feared it might be considered to be discriminatory. The song was about a child who had been sent to babysit younger children. She wished to escape the drudgery and go home. There were no lyrics indicating any particular tribe. The word zaisho (在所) was interpreted as Buraku, even though it merely refers to the child's current location. It is not difficult to imagine the consequences of self-imposed regulation. Rumors abounded that the Burakumin had exerted pressure. This further led to the rise of cultural essentialism, the belief that there exists a culture that represents the discriminated Buraku apart from Japanese culture. All of these segregationists were talking falsehoods.

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