Ichimura Kakitsu IV, Sawamura Tanosuke III, Nakamura Shikan IV in Ryūkō shiritori kodomo monku

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ichimura Kakitsu IV, Sawamura Tanosuke III

and Nakamura Shikan IV

in Ryūkō shiritori kodomo monku

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1867

IHL Cat. #648

About This Print

From right to left, the actors Ichimura Kakitsu IV 市村家橘,  Sawamura Tanosuke III 沢村(澤村)田之助 and Nakamura Shikan IV 中村芝翫 engaged in contest of shiritori monku in the play The Popular Children's Word Game of Continuous Phrases.  

According to James R. Brandon, "Verbal humor is a striking feature of kabuki scripts, taking the form of innumerable puns, rhyming games and wordplay of other kinds.  Shinbei [in Sukeroku: Flower of Edo] also uses front-and-end rhyme (shiritori monku, literally “end-taking phrase”) in which the last work or syllable of a phrase is repeated as the first word or syllable of the next phrase…"1

Even for non-readers of Japanese, you can see the repetition of the last character or characters of the previous word in the following word in the text that surrounds the actors.

1 Kabuki: Five Classic Plays, James R. Brandon, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 39.

The Actors Pictured

For background on the actors Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-1899), Sawamura Tanosuke III (1845-1878) and Ichimura Kakitsu IV (1844-1903) see their respective entries in the article The Kabuki Actor on this site.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #648
 Title (Description)  Ichimura Kakitsu IV, Sawamura Tanosuke III,  Nakamura Shikan IV in Ryūkō shiritori kodomo monku  流行しりとり子どももんく (Popular children's word-play game of continuous phrases)
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature Kunichika hitsu 国周筆
 Seal  toshidama seal below signature
 Publication Date
1867 (Keiō 3), 1st month date seal
Seal: Ebirin 海老林 Trade Name: Ebiya Rinnosuke [Marks: 21-018; publisher ref. 040]
Katada Hori Chō 
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair- loss in top of center sheet repaired from back and retouched; remnants of previous backing; wrinkling and paper thinning throughout; small tears repaired from back
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 13 7/8 x 9 1/8 in. (35.2 x 23.2 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print
 The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 007-0507, 0508, 0509; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.41859a-c; Kumon Museum of Children's Ukiyo-e
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