Minami-za Kaomise

Sanjō Bridge

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Minami-za Kaomise

by Tokuriki Tomikichirō, c. 1930s

Drawbridge of Amsterdam

IHL Cat. #2416

About This Print

The oldest kabuki theater in Japan, the Minami-za, ready for the kaomise season with its maneki signboards bearing the names of the stars, is shown on a snowy December eve while shadowy figures pass by. This print is not dated, but the scene feels like one out of the 1930s.

This is one of a number of prints Tokuriki designed depicting the theater, two of which, in the shikishiban (square) format (as is this print), are shown below.

Evening at Kaomise
from the series Thirty Aspects of Kyoto, 1936
10 13/16 x 9 5/8 in. (27.5  x 24.4 cm)
image source: The Japanese Art Open Database website http://www.jaodb.com/db/ItemDetail.asp?item=42222
Minami-za Kabuki Theater, ca. 1950s
10 11/16 x 9 3/8 in. (27.1 x 24.4 cm)
image source: Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2017.1.73

Minami-za and the Kaomise Season

Founded in the early 1600s, the current Minami-za was rebuilt as a gabled building in the Momoyama style in 1929. It underwent a major renovation in 1991, keeping its former exterior while being thoroughly modernized with the latest technology inside. 

The Minamiza was designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property in 1996. In 2018, the theater underwent a major upgrade to make it earthquake proof. Today's Minami-za shows a wide range of performing arts as well as kabuki.

Source: website of the Shochiku Company https://www.shochiku.co.jp/engeki/minamiza/kaomise/en/

‘KAOMISE’ (‘face-showing’) originally referred to the month in which a theatre showed the actors who were newly contracted for the following year to the audience. The annual ‘KAOMISE’ performances in Kyoto, the birthplace of Kabuki, have continued their long tradition since the Edo period (1603-1868). Today it is an all-star performance and a big event for December in Kyoto. Decorating the theatre façade every December are signboards bearing the actors’ names, a sight that has come to be associated with the winter season in Kyoto. You can enjoy four fascinating masterpieces of Kabuki in both the matinee and evening shows.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2416
 Title/Description Minami-za kaomise 南座顔見せ
 Tokuriki Tomikichirō (1902-2000)
 "tomoe" 富 [tomi]
 Date c. 1930s (undated)
 Edition unknown
 Publisher unknown [possibly Uchida bijutsu shoshi publisher of many of Tokuriki's Kyoto-themed prints]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - several light diagonal folds upper right corner; staining mainly visible in lower right corner and verso
 Genre sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Format shikishiban
 H x W Paper 10 7/8 x 9 1/2 in. (27.6 x 24.1 cm)
 H x W Image
 10 7/8 x 9 1/2 in. (27.6 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature 
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