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The actor Onoe Kikugorō V, Memorial Print


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The Actor Onoe Kikugorō V, Memorial Print

by Utagawa Kunimasa IV, 1903

IHL Cat. #393

About This Print

This memorial print (shini-e) issued upon the death of the actor Onoe Kikugoro V on February 18, 1903 shows the actor in costume holding a bird cage from which two birds have been released.  This symbology may refer to the Buddhist release of captive animals on Buddha Day or may be a reference to the Lotus Sutra, as the call of the Japanese bush warbler (uguisu) (which looks very much like the birds in this print) is transcribed in Japanese as "Hō-hoke-kyo", a phrase from the Lotus Sutra.1

In response to my appeal for more information about this print on the Ukiyo-e Q&A website, I received the following information from Guy Pepermans:
This is indeed a memorial portrait ("shini-e") of Onoe Kikugoro V (1844-1903) who died on the 18th February 1903 - the first part of the the inscription gives the date of his decease on Meiji 36, 2nd month, 18th day. The remainder of the inscription gives as usual on "shini-e" the actor's posthumous Buddhist name, his actor's stage name and finally his secular name.

1 Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uguisu. The uguisu is sometimes called the kyo-yomi-dori ("sutra-reading bird").

The Actor Onoe Kikugorō

Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/kikugoro5.php
Onoe Kikugorō V
National Diet Library, Japan

Onoe Kikugorô (V)
五代目 尾上菊五郎 ,(4 June 1844 ~ 18 February 1903)
Stage names: Onoe Kikugorô V, Ichimura Kakitsu IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XIII, Ichimura Kurôemon

Others names: Onoe Baikô V, Onoe Kurôemon I

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

Onoe Kikugorô V's best roles: Benten Kozô Kikunosuke ("Shiranami Gonin Otoko"), Kataoka Naojirô ("Naozamurai"), Kamiyui Shinza ("Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachijô"), Saitô Bettô Sanemori ("Sanemori Monogatari"), Satô Tadanobu/the fox Genkurô ("Yoshitsune Sembon Zakura"), Gosho no Gorozô ("Soga Moyô Tateshi no Goshozome"), Hayano Kampei ("Kanadehon Chûshingura"), Masaoka ("Meiboku Sendai Hagi"), Oiwa/Kohei/Yomoshichi ("Tôkaidô Yotsuya Kaidan").

"He succeeded to the headship of the Onoe family, ranked with the ninth Danjûrô, and in some respects surpassed him. It was in drama of everyday life that Kikugorô 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  #393
 Title (Description)  The Actor Onoe Kikugorô V, memorial print
 Title as given in Waseda University Theatre Museum Ukiyo-e Viewing System
 明治三十六年二月十八日設フ 栄隆院芳誉梅阿清翁居士 芸名尾上菊五郎 俗名寺嶋清 行年六拾歳
 stage name Kikugoro Onoe secular name Kiyoshi Terajima age of dying 60 years old
 Artist  Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920)
 Signature  Hosai hitsu
 Seal  red toshidama seal
 Publication Date  1903
長谷川常二郎 Hasegawa Tsunejirō (seal name of Shimizuya Tsunejirō) [Marks: pub. ref. 469; seal not shown]
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - full-size, previous backing partially removed, light wrinkling and minor soiling
 Genre  ukiyo-e; shini-e
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 1/2 in. (35.6 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Theatre Museum Ukiyo-e Viewing System 201-5653