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Ichikawa Sadanji, Ichikawa Kuzō, Ichikawa Danjūrō, Suketakaya Takasuke and Onoe Kikugorō in Aoto Zōshi Hana no Nishikie

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ichikawa Sadanji, Ichikawa Kuzō, Ichikawa Danjūrō, Suketakaya Takasuke and Onoe Kikugorō in Aoto Zōshi Hana no Nishikie

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1885

IHL Cat. #406

About This Print

The actors, from left to right, Ichikawa Sadanji I in the role of Nangō Rikimaru (南郷力丸); Ichikawa Kuzō II* in the role of Tadanobu Rihei (忠信利平); Ichikawa Danjūrō IX in the role of Nippon Daemon (日本駄右衛門);  Suketakaya Takasuke IV in the role of Akaboshi Jūzaburō (赤星十三) and Onoe Kikugoro V in the role of Benten-Kozō Kikunosuke (弁天小僧菊之助) in Aoto Zōshi Hana no Nishiki-e (青砥稿花紅彩画). The background writing is dialogue from the play.

* The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University identifies this actor as <2> 市川 九蔵 which can be translated as Ichikawa Kuzō II.  If the actor's name has been translated correctly, then the actor is likely Ichikawa Kuzō III (not II) as the actor using the stage name Ichikawa Kuzō II died in 1871, well before this print was made.

The Play

The drama Aoto Zōshi Hana no Nishikie 青砥稿花紅彩画 by the playwright Kawatake Shinshichi II (1816-1893) is one of a number of kabuki plays based on the classic theme of "Gonin Otoko", a group of five dandy-thieves.  The playwright replaced the original Ōsaka thieves Karigane Bunshichi, An no Heibei, Gokuin Sen'emon, Kaminari Shōkurō and Hotei Ichiemon with five Kamakura thieves named Nippon Daemon (modeled on the real thief Nippon Saemon, who was caught in February 1747 and executed in March), Benten Kozō Kikunosuke, Nangō Rikimaru, Tadanobu Rikei and Akaboshi Jūzaburō.

The play is commonly called Shiranami gonin otoko (白浪五人, Five men of the white waves) or Benten Kozō (弁天小僧), the play's main character.

For a fuller history on the theme of Gonin Otoko see the Wikipedia article Benten Kozō at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benten_Koz%C5%8D

The Actors Pictured

Ichikawa Sadanji I  初代市川左団次  (28 October 1842 ~ 7 August 1904)
Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/sadanji1.php
Stage names: Ichikawa Sadanji I, Ichikawa Masuwaka, Ichikawa Koyone I, Ichikawa Tatsuzō

Other name: Ichikawa Shōchō I

Ichikawa Sadanji I belonged to the triumvirat of stars who dominated the Kabuki world during the Meiji era (the two others were Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Onoe Kikugorō V). He was the leading actor of many shinkabuki dramas and worked on scripts written by authors who did not belong to the Kabuki world, like Matsui Shôô, or adapted contemporary popular novels, like Kōda Rohan's "Hige Otoko". His two most successful roles were Marubashi Chūya and Baba Saburobei in "Keian Taiheiki" and "Ōsakazuki".

"At first he was a poor actor, and gave no sign of a promising career. Mokuami, the playwright, assisted him greatly by providing him with new plays and furnishing him with advice, and so great was his advancement that he was able to hold his own with Danjūrō and Kikugorō" (Zoë Kincaid in Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan)

Ichikawa Kuzō III 市川九蔵  (20 March 1836 ~ 11 September 1911)
Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/danzo7.php

Stage names: Ichikawa Danzō VII, Ichikawa Kuzō III, Ichikawa Hakuzō II, Ichikawa Momotarō II,Ichikawa Ginzō I

Ichikawa Danzō VII was an excellent jitsugotoshi and katakiyaku of the Meiji era. His ranking in term of fame was just one rank below the stars Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, Onoe Kikugorō V or Ichikawa Sadanji I.

National Diet Library, Japan
Ichikawa Danjūrō IX 九代目市川団十郎 (1838 ~ 13 September 1903)
Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/danjuro9.php

Stage names: Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, Kawarazaki Sanshō, Kawarazaki Gonnosuke VII, Kawarazaki Gonjūrō I, Kawarazaki Chōjūrō III

Other name: Ichikawa Jukai II

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX belonged to the triumvirate of stars who dominated the Kabuki world during the Meiji era.  (The two others were Onoe Kikugorō V and Ichikawa Sadanji I.)  He spent lots of time and energy pioneering a new genre called katsureki but the Tokyo audience was more receptive to his amazing performances in the great roles of Kabuki like Ōboshi Yuranosuke ("Kanadehon Chūshingura"), Kumagai Jirô Naozane ("Kumagai Jin'ya"), Sukeroku ("Sukeroku Yukari no Edo Zakura") or Benkei ("Kanjinchō").

"Ichikawa Danjūrō, the ninth, was the torch-bearer of Kabuki during the long reign of the Emperor Mutsuhito, known as the Meiji era, which endured for forty-five years ( 1868-1912). Danjūrō, the ninth, was the bridge that spanned the sudden gulf which yawned between the traditional past and the uncertain and changing modern world. He may be regarded as the savior of Kabuki during a period when it might have suffered shipwreck, had there not been a man of genius at the helm to guide the craft through the troubled waters." (Zoë Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")

Suketakaya Takasuke IV 助高屋 高助 (1838 ~ 2 February 1886
Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/takasuke4.php

Stage names: Suketakaya Takasuke IV, Sawamura Tosshō II, Sawamura Gempei II,

Others names: Sawamura Sōjūrō VI, Sawamura Tosshi VI

Suketakaya Takasuke IV was the worthy heir of his father Sawamura Sōjūrō V, excelling in wagotoshi, wajitsu or onnagata roles. He shared the stage with the Meiji giants Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Onoe Kikugorō V. He posthumously received the name of Sawamura Sōjūrō VI.

Onoe Kikugorō (V) 五代目 尾上菊五郎 (4 June 1844 ~ 18 February 1903)
Onoe Kikugorō V as Kamiyui Shinza, in the play "Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachijō".

Stage names: Onoe Kikugorō V, Ichimura Kakitsu IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XIII, Ichimura Kurōemon

Others names: Onoe Baikō V, Onoe Kurōemon I

Onoe Kikugorō V belonged to the triumvirate of stars who dominated the Kabuki world during the Meiji era (the two others were Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Ichikawa Sadanji I). He created with Kawatake Mokuami a new genre called zangirimono.

Onoe Kikugorō V's best roles: Benten Kozō Kikunosuke ("Shiranami Gonin Otoko"), Kataoka Naojirō ("Naozamurai"), Kamiyui Shinza ("Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachijô"), Saitō Bettō Sanemori ("Sanemori Monogatari"), Satō Tadanobu/the fox Genkurō ("Yoshitsune Sembon Zakura"), Gosho no Gorozō ("Soga Moyō Tateshi no Goshozome"), Hayano Kampei ("Kanadehon Chūshingura"), Masaoka ("Meiboku Sendai Hagi"), Oiwa/Kohei/Yomoshichi ("Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan").

"He succeeded to the headship of the Onoe family, ranked with the ninth Danjūrō, and in some respects surpassed him. It was in drama of everyday life that Kikugorō most excelled, the sentimental and realistic having the greatest appeal for him." (Zoë Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #406
 Title (Description)  The actors Ichikawa Sadanji I, Ichikawa Kozō II, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, Suketakaya Takasuke IV and Onoe Kikugorō V in Aoto Zōshi Hana no Nishikie (note: the print uses the more common name for the play Shiranami gonin otoko (白浪五人男) which is written in the top right corner of the right panel.)
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature  Toyohara Kunichika hitsu with toshidama seal
 Seal  none
 Publication Date  June 1885 明治18年6
Left column: 児玉又七梓 Kodama Matashichi [Marks: seal similar to 26-135; pub. ref. 260]
Center column: publisher's address
Right column: publication date 明治十八年六 月
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition good - full-size, unbacked, , light wrinkling and minor soiling
 Genre  ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Format  vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 13 3/4 x 28 7/8 in. (34.9 x 73.3 cm)
 Collections This Print
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 007-0951, 0952, 0953; Shizuoka Prefectural Central Library K915-108-027-031