Funny memories and a sweet drink

The Yomiuri Shimbun Even when he wasn’t on TV, he seems to have been an interesting person. Rakugo storyteller Shunputei Baikyo was popular in the middle of the Showa era (1926-1989) for appearing in the Ogiri segment of the “Shoten” comedy program [on the Nippon TV network]. One of the anecdotes people still remember about him was the “hill myna incident.”

While waiting before his appearances at the Shinjuku Suehirotei rakugo theater in Tokyo, he frequented the pet area of the Isetan department store and trained a hill myna bird there to say, “Mitsukoshi, Mitsukoshi.” [Mitsukoshi is another department store.] The bird reportedly was soon removed from the selling floor.

There was also the “Calpis incident.” On a radio quiz program he emceed, contestants were given a certain dairy beverage to take home. Baikyo spontaneously blurted out, “It’s like Calpis.” It is said that the beverage company that sponsored the radio program was angry at his comment and he was removed from the emcee post on the spot.

Calpis marked its 100th anniversary on July 7. Unlike the hill myna incident, I feel a bit sorry for Baikyo regarding this gaffe because there seems to be no better way to simply introduce such a similar product. I remember that when I was at home, or when I visited the homes of my friends and relatives ... wherever I went, in the summer in my childhood, Calpis was served with the sound of ice in a glass.

It must be rare for a beverage to turn 100 years old with almost no change to its contents. There was a tanka poem that was carried in the Yomiuri Kadan, a tanka feature in The Yomiuri Shimbun.

“Love, sweeter than undiluted Calpis: Such a passionate feeling will dissipate in the future”

Does Calpis bring back memories for you, too?

(This is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s July 9 issue.)Speech

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