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Kotarō in the role of Yayoi


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kotarō in the role of Yayoi

(in the play Kagami Jishi)

by Natori Shunsen, 1915


IHL Cat. #241

About This Print

One of 30 prints (including 2 cover prints and 2 frontispieces) designed by Natori Shunsen that appeared in the magazine Shin Nigao, whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints  This image is from issue 4 and depicts the actor Nakamura Kotarō in the role of Yayoi in the play Kagami Jishi A young lady in  waiting at the shogun's palace, Yayoi was chosen to perform the lion dance for New Year's, so she holds a small lion mask in her hand. 

For more information on this short-lived magazine whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints, see the article Shin Nigao Magazine.

The Actor in the Print - Nakamura Kotarō II

Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/fukusuke5.php
The actor Nakamura Fukusuke V held the name of Nakamura Kotar
ō II from July 1904 to March 1916. Nakamura Fukusuke V was a talented onnagata actor, who unfortunately died too young. He could have been Nakamura Utaemon VI but he met with a tragic and early end. Existence: 10 May 1900 ~ 1 August 1933. 

The Play - Kagami Jishi

 Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/kagami_jishi.php

  Yayoi performing the lion dance Kagami Jishi is a fantasy whose story is related through the movements of the dancers. Yayoi, a young lady in waiting in the shogun's palace at Edo, was chosen to perform the lion dance at the New Year celebrations, a ceremonial performance originally designed to exorcise evil spirits. The dancer held a wooden lion head with movable jaws which was decorated with a flowing silk streamer. Yayoi was shy and hesitant, so she was locked into a room with the mask and told to practice. At first she was overwhelmed by her surroundings and danced rather timidly. As she became more engrossed in the task her steps quickened. Fascinated against her will, she took up the lion head and danced a tentative movement. Gradually the spirit of the lion entered into her and took complete charge of her limbs. Two butterflies appeared and the lion head pursued them. Finally the dancing maiden disappeared altogether, leaving only the rampaging spirit of a lion, who then rushed into his lair and back again to sport among the peonies, where he finally fell asleep. Two butterflies appeared to tease him, and he tried angrily to catch them. Finally he worked himself into a mighty rage and stood shaking his great mane around in a fury of movement.

Natori Shunsen Catalogue Raisonné Entry

Catalogue Raisonné – Ukiyoe Kabuki Gi Han Ga: Shunsen Natori
(The Skill of Natori Shunsen in Kabuki Prints), 
Kushigata Municipal Shunsen Museum
Kushigata, Japan; 1991, p.95, pl. 184.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #241
 Title  [Nakamura] Kotarō in the role of Yayoi [in the play Kagami Jishi]
 児太郎彌生 Kotarō as Yayoi 
 Magazine  Shin Nigao (New Portraits) volume four 新似顔 第一年四編
 Catalogue Raisonné  Number 184
 Natori Shunsen (1886-1960)
 Not signed on print; 名取春仙 畫 Natori Shunsen ga printed on bottom of magazine page print was originally tipped to.
 Date  October 1915
 Edition  First and only edition printed in magazine Shin Nigao 新似顔
 Publisher  Nigaodō 似顔洞
 Carver and Printer  Igami Bonkotsu (1875-1933)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent
 Genre  shin hanga (new prints); nigao-e
 Format  koban
 H x W Paper  7 1/8 x 4 1/2 in. (18.1 x 11.4 cm)
 Collections This Print  The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-0454 (Note: the Tsubouchi Theatre Museum lists the actor in this print as Onoe Kikugorō, as opposed to Nakamura Kotarō, as shown in The Skill of Natori Shunsen in Kabuki Prints); The British Museum 1991,1112,0.193.4 (entire magazine, only front cover shown); Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University BM-SJ193-04  (British Museum's copy of entire magazine with all pages shown)
 Reference Literature Catalogue Raisonné – Ukiyoe Kabuki Gi Han Ga: Shunsen Natori (The Skill of Natori Shunsen in Kabuki Prints), Kushigata Municipal Shunsen Museum, Kushigata, Japan, 1991; Dramatic Impressions: Japanese Theatre Prints from the Gilbert Luber Collection, Chance, Frank L. & Davis, Julie Nelson, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007; Printed to Perfection: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, Merviss, Newland, et. al., Hotei Publishing, 2004
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