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The actors Ōtani Tomoemon IV, Bandō Shuka I, Nakayama Bungorō II, Bandō Kichiya and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII (in the play Akegarasu Hana no Nureginu)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The actors Ōtani Tomoemon IV, Bandō Shuka I, Nakayama Bungorō II, Bandō Kichiya and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII

(in the play Akegarasu Hana no Nureginu)

by Utagawa Kunisada, 1851

The actors Iwai Kumesaburō III, Ichikawa Ebizō V and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII (in a scene from Koi goromo Karigane zome)


IHL Cat. #1187

About This Print

The actors (right to left) Ōtani Tomoemon IV in the role of Yamanaya Shirōbei, Bandō Shuka I in the role of the courtesan Yamanaya Urazato, Nakayama Bungorō II in the role Yaritenokaya, Bandō Kichiya in the role of Katsumi and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII in the role of Kasugaya Tokijirō in the Kabuki play Akegarasu Hana no Nureginu [明烏花濡衣], staged at the Ichimura theater in Edo during the second month of 1851.

While only the actor's roles are provided on the print (within the orange cartouches) the website of the Waseda University Library1 provides the actor's names and the title of the play. 

The Play "Akegarasu Hana no Nureginu"

Leiter translates the play's title as "The Cawing Crow at Daybreak and a Flower Suspected"1.  I believe that the play, in its first performance, it was inserted after the eighth act of Kanadehon Chūshingura.

Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979, p. 12-13.

AKEGARASU (HANA NO NUREGINU). Sakurada Jisuke III. Sewamono. Kabuki. One act. February 1851. Ichimura-za. Edo. 

This work was inspired by a popular Osaka piece in the musical style called shinnai bushiAkegarasu Yume no Awayuki – which described the lovers’ suicides of Inosuke, a son of a purveyor to the government, and Miyoshino, a prostitute. Jisuke’s version, written in Edo, is performed with kiyomoto2 music. It was a great hit at its first performance, largely because of the beautiful voice of the kiyomoto singer, Kyomoto Tahei, and the acting of Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII as Tokijirō and Bandō Shūka I as Urazato. 

In its first production, this play was part of a long work by Jisuke, based on the classic Kanadehon Chūshingura, but subsequent revivals omitted the connection with that play. 

Urazato, a courtesan of the Yamana-ya, and her lover, Tokijirō, are the parents of Midori, a child maidservant at the brothel. Since a courtesan’s having a permanent lover is considered an obstacle to the business operations of the Yamana-ya, an attempt is made to separate the pair. One snowy day an employee of the brothel discovers Urazato engaged in a secret rendezvous with Tokijirō. The latter is driven away, and the courtesan is tied to a pine tree in the garden and beaten. Urazato bemoans her ills for a time and weeps. However, Tokijirō steals over the fence and rescues her; the lovers escape with Midori on her father’s back. 

Urazato’s lamentation scene (kudoki) and her love scene with Tokijirō are accompanied by melancholy kiyomoto music. At the heart of the piece is the gruesome beauty of the beating in the snow and its resultant pathos.


The Actors Pictured in This Collection's Print

For profiles of the actors depicted in this print please see the article The Kabuki Actor.


1 Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre, Samuel L. Leiter. The Scarecrow Press, 2006, p. 650. 
2 A style of narrative music


Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #1187
 Title (Description) The actors Ōtani Tomoemon IV in the role of Yamanaya Shirōbei [山名屋四郎兵衛], Bandō Shuka I in the role of Yamanaya Urazato [山名屋うら里], Nakayama Bungorō II in the role Yaritenokaya [やりてのかや], Bandō Kichiya in the role of the poor little girl Katsumi [かつみ] and Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII in the role of Kasugaya Tokijirō [春日や時治郎]
(in the play Akegarasu Hana no Nureginu [明烏花濡衣])
 Series  n/a
 Artist 
 Utagawa Kunisada I (1786–1865)
 Signature 
left sheet
豊国画
Toyokuni ga  inside of Toshidama cartouche
center sheet 
豊国画
Kōchōrō Toyokuni ga
 right sheet
一陽斎豊国画
 Ichiyōsai Toyokuni ga 

 Seal  
 Publication Date
Fuku  and Muramatsu 村松
Fuku  and Muramatsu 村松
Fuku 福 and Muramatsu 村松
1851 (Kaei 4), 4th month
 Publisher
山甚板 Yamajin han seal of the publisher Yamashiroya Jinbei 山城屋甚兵衛 [Marks pub. ref. 601; seal 25-232]
 Carver
彫工巳之 Horikō Mino
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - irregularly trimmed; light wrinkling throughout; some paper thinning verso from backing removal
 Genre  ukiyo-eyakusha-e
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  oban triptych
 H x W Paper  13 3/4 x 9 3/4 (34.9 x 24.8 cm) right sheet; 13 3/4 x 9 11/16 in. (34.9 x 24.6 cm) center sheet; 13 7/8 x 9 7/16 in. (35.2 x 24 cm) left sheet
 Collections This Print  The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 101-3739 and 101-3769 (left sheet); 101-3738 and 101-3768 (center sheet); 101-3737 and 101-3767 (right sheet)

 Reference Literature
 
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