Culture of Story Preservation:
As Katsura Asakichi explains in the うえきや reflections video, there are many different translations to the ending of this story in English. Here Asakichi replaces the くちなし flower with “dry flower,” implying that the flower is all dried up and unable to speak. There are several other, possibly more fitting, translations for this story in English. However, there is significance and meaning behind choosing this particular translation.
Rakugo is an oral tradition where stories are passed on from generation to generation. Asakichi preserves the initial translation of うえきや by Katsura Shijaku（桂枝雀）and his performance. Each story reflects more than just elements of Japanese and rakugo culture. In this case, the original story reminds the audience of the English Rakugo pioneer, Katsura Shijaku.
Becoming a Rakugo Performer:
Katsura Asakichi prefaces this story as one of the first learned while in the house of Beicho (米朝). Beicho, until recently, (March 2015) was on of the few living National Treasure’s of Japan.
Deshi-iri (弟子入り）is a disappearing tradition of having the disciples live in with the master of the art. The disciples take part in this live-in to help with chores around the house and serve as assistants to the master. They are alongside the master during the entirety of their discipleship, giving them one on one training with the master and hands on experience.
The Use of おまえ and こいつ：
These two words are seldom taught in Japanese language textbooks, but seen many times in anime or manga. In the story うえきや the customer uses them both to address the flowers. The customers word choice reflects a few things about the customer, as well as setting. First, the customer’s choice of words reflects an Osaka character who is somewhat rough around the edges, and therefore not as concerned with the choice of words. Second, the flowers are being talked down to and since the customer is considered the most important person in a place of sales this type of demeaning choice of words fits well with the situation.
Special caution is advised when using these words and others; (in fact I don’t recommend using them at all unless you are looking to get in a fight) even titles like あなた or きみ should be used with caution. Some may react adversely when referred to with these titles.
While the customer touts around demanding the flowers to say their name, the florist one-ups the customer with the punch line, adding to the humor of the story. While the customer wasn’t confronted directly, the florist takes back the power of the situation by one-upping the customer with his clever play on words.