Collection of Ten Plays New and Old - Modoribashi

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Collection of Ten Plays New and Old


(starring) Onoe Kikugorō

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1897

IHL Cat. #941

About This Print

Kunichika portrays Onoe Kikugorō V in the role of the demon of Mount Atago(disguised as Sayuri) in the play Modoribashi (The Bridge of Return) staged at the Ichimura-za.

For a profile of the actor Onoe Kikugorō V please see the article The Kabuki Actor.

The Poem in the Print
Kikugorō's poetry name 五世 梅幸 (Fifth generation Baikō) followed by a red octagonal Baikō seal appears on the right panel.  To its left, the below poem appears, transcribed and translated courtesy of the Asian art historian Lynn Katsumoto.

川の はしや

菊 乃 名札 [に?]

Kawa no hashi ya

Kiku no nafuda ni


O bridge over the river

On the name plate [that reads] "Kiku" [chrysanthemum]

A lavish flower
signed: 五世 梅幸 Fifth generation Baikō (Kikugorō's poetry name) & seal reading Baikō

The Play "Modoribashi"
Source: The Kabuki Theatre of Japan, A. C. Scott, Collier Books, 1966, p. 213.

Modori Bashi,first staged in 1890, is really the prologue to the play Ibaraga [Ibaraki].  It describes howWatanabe no Tsuna, ordered to search for a fiend which is terrorizing thecapital, meets a beautiful woman travelling alone at night.  He offers to see her on her way, and reachingthe Modori bridge, he looks down into the moonlit water, only to see areflection of a horrible fiend instead of the fair face of his companion.  Later he confronts her with his discovery andshe assume her true shape.  A fiercefight ensues in which Watanabe cuts off the fiend’s arm, thus leading up to theevents which take place in the play Ibaraga. 

Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979,p. 242.
Modori Bashi, written by Kawatake Mokuami.

A play based on the Noh play of the same name; it deals withthe legend of Watanabe no Tsuna, who cut off the arm of a female demon.  Ibarakiis the dance play in which the demon is shown returning to reclaim her arm.

At Modori Bridge in Ichijō, Watanabe no Tsuna is asked byOyuri, the daughter of a fan-paper folder, to accompany her to Gojō.  Seeing her reflection in the water, be beginsto doubt her.  When he presses her withquestions, she instantly reveals herself as a demon.  Tsuna battles with the demon and manages tocut off its arm.

This dance drama, in which a woman changes into a demon andperforms a spectacular battle, is full of highlights.  It is included in the shinko engeki juushu collection of Onoe family specialties.  Onoe Kikugorō V played the demon, andIchikawa Sadanji I played Tsuna in the premiere production.  In contrast to other such Meiji dance plays,like Iburaki, it is performed not inNoh style, but in pure Kabuki style, including a strong quality of the “livinghistory” (katsureki) technique.

Onoe Kikugorō's "Collection of Ten New Old-style Plays" (Shin koengeki jisshu)

Source: The Kabuki Theatre of Japan, A. C. Scott, Collier Books, 1966, p. 213.
As a rival collection to the eighteen new plays of Danjūrō IX, a selection known as the shnko engeki jusshu [shin koengeki jisshu], or ten neo-classical dance plays, was devised by the actor Onoe Kikugorō V. They were as follows: Tsuchigumo, Ayatsuri Sambaso, Ibaragi, Modori Bashi, Hagoromo, Hitotsuya, Fura Dera no Nako, Rakan, Kosakabe and Kikujido. Of these the first five are still very popular today.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #941
 Title (Description) “Shin koengeki jisshu no uchi - Modoribashi” [Collection of Ten Plays New and Old (alt. trans. Collection of Ten New Old-style Plays) - Modoribashi] 
新古演劇十種之内 戻り橋
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature Toyohara Kunichika hitsu 豊原国周筆 with Toshidama seal
 Seal  Toshidama seal under signature
 Publication Date October, 1897 明治三十年十月 (Wasada University gives the performance date of the play as October 29, 1897 at the Ichimura-za.)
Fukuda Kumajirō 福田熊次郎; Address Nihobahsi-ku Hasegawachō 19-banchi [Marks: 30-046; pub. ref. 071]
seal reading: 彫弥太 Hori Yata; seal of the carver 渡辺 弥太郎 Watanabe Yotarō
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - backed with heavy album paper; three sheets joined; separation at joinings; minor soiling throughout; minor folds
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e (役者絵)
telephone number of publisher
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 14 1/4 x 27 7/8 in. (36.2 x 70.8 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library 101-5229, 101-5230, 101-5231