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Sōnosuke in the role of Sawaichi and Kakuko in the role of Osato

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Sōnosuke in the role of Sawaichi

and Kakuko in the role of Osato

by Ogawa Hyōe, 1915

Shōchō in the role of Omatsu

IHL Cat. #2160

About This Print

One of seven prints by the artist that appeared in the magazine Shin Nigao whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints.  This print, appearing in the first issue of the magazine, published in June 1915, depicts the actress Murata Kakuko 村田嘉久子 (1893-1969) in the role of the beautiful Osato and the actor Sawamura Sōnosuke 澤村宗之助 (1886-1924) in the role of the blind masseur Sawaichi in the play The Miracle at Tsubosaka Temple (壺坂霊験記 Tsubosaka Reigenki) performed in May at the Imperial Theatre (帝国劇場 Teikoku Gekijō.)

For a synopsis of the play visit the Kabuki21 website at https://www.kabuki21.com/tsubosaka.php.

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.

Murata Kakuo and the Kabuki Theatre

source: "Gender Gymnastics; Performers, Fans and Gender Issues in the Takarazuka Revue of Contemporary Japan," Leonie Rae Stickland, Murdoch University, 2004, p. 54.
While mainstream Kabuki, Nō and Bunraku remained exclusively male genres, women found a vehicle for participation in theatre through an innovative dramatic form called Shingeki (New Drama), which employed dialogue in place of the songs and dances of Kabuki, and featured women instead of Kabuki-trained female impersonators (onnagata) in female roles. Actresses such as Matusi Sumako, Mori Ritsuko, Hatsuse Namiko, Kawamura Kikue, Suzuki Tokuko and Murata Kakuko were 'spectacularly promoted' under the guidance of a committee of Kabuki actors including onnagata Onoe Baikō VI and Sawamura Sōjūrō VII. Ironically, the female actors were taught how to play women's roles by men, underlining the idea that femininity is not a natural outcome of being female, but is an 'art' which must be learned and practised.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #2160
 Title  [Sawamura] Sōnosuke [in the role of ] Sawaichi and [Murata] Kakuko [in the role of] Osato
 宗之助澤市 嘉久子お里
 Magazine  Shin Nigao (New Portraits) volume 1 新似顔 第一年初編
 Ogawa Hyōe (active c. 1915) 
 No signature on print. 小川兵衛氏 畫 printed on page print is tipped to.
 No seal
 Date  June 1915
 Edition  First and only edition printed in magazine Shin Nigao
 Publisher  Nigaodō 似顔洞
 Carver  Igami Bonkotsu (1875-1933)
 Printer  Nakamura Sanjirō 中村三次郎
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - toning and handling creases

 Genre  shin hanga (new prints); nigao-e
 Format  koban
 H x W Paper  7 1/4 x 4 13/16 in. (18.4 x 12.2 cm)
 H x W Image  5 7/8 x 3 3/4 in. ( 14.9 x 9.5 cm)
 Collections This Print  The British Museum 1991,1112,0.193.1 (entire magazine, only front cover shown); Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University BM-SJ193-01 (British Museum's copy of entire magazine with all pages shown)
 Reference Literature  
last revision:
8/1/2020 created