Meiji Era Kabuki: Three Shintomiza Tsuji Banzuke Part One – 1891
First in a three-part series by Kabuki collector and researcher Trevor Skingle!
After completing my research on a 1922 Shintomiza Kabuki theatre face pressing or oshiguma I bought three Kabuki playbills or tsuji banzuke advertising performance runs at the Shintomiza.
Initially located in the Pleasure Quarter of Saruwaka-cho the Shintomiza, originally called the Moritaza, was one of the three major Kabuki theatres or Edosanza of Tokyo. It was owned and run by Morita Kanya and was moved to a site in Shintomicho just east of Ginza and near the Tsukuji foreign residencies.
With some difficulty I was able to decipher some of the kanteiryū (the calligraphy used for Kabuki signs and advertising) and was, with the help of the Ritsumeikan University, Art Research Centre, Play Database, able to identify the performances and the dates which the tsuji banzuke advertised.
The programme advertised on the 1891 tsuji banzuke is a Kabuki Flower show which ran from 5th May – 6th June at which Onoe Kikuguro V was zagashira, the leading actor of the company. Appearing were Onoe Fujaku VII, Nakamura Fukusuke IV, Ichikawa Sadanji I, Onoe Kikugoro V, Nakamura Hakugoro, Onoe Kikunosuke II, Bandō Hikojūrō I, Nakamura Shikan IV, Onoe Eizaburo V, Bandō Hikojūrō I, Ichikawa Yonezō 4.5, Bando Kakitsu I and Nakamura Jusaburō III.
First in the performance was a play in five acts, ‘Gosho Moyō Hagi Fuyo to Aoiba’ (The Imperial Palace: Aoiba). Aoi is a sharé, or pun, referring to the Aoi Matsuri parade in Heian costume which takes place in Kyoto on 15th May every year starting at the Imperial Palace. Extensive research provided details of only two of the acts, ‘The Meeting at Sanjō Mansion’ (Sanjō Yashiki Kaigō no ba) (National Theatre of Japan, Nishiki-e Database) starring as…
Low ranking Shijō samurai Ryūka – Onoe Kikunosuke II
Han Elder Kijima and also Seibee – Ichikawa Sadanji I
Lord of Sanjō Kōmon Tanetomi – Onoe Kikugorō V
Wealthy General Higaki Kuze Shōshō – Nakamura Fukusuke IV (later Nakamura Utaemon V)
Umatō Yorinori from Nishiki Lane – Bandō Hikojūrō I
A beautiful and high class Tayu Kishū – Onoe Eizaburo V (later Onoe Baiko VI)
A middle ranking Govt official from Sanjō West, Sir Kotoki Satoshi – Nakamura Shikan IV
A sword smith from Sawa, Mondonoshō Nobuyoshi – Nakamura Jusaburō III
…and ‘The Ferry Boat at Torimura’ (also known as the Torimura Ambush – Torimura wan) (Artlineo) starring as…
Geisha Okyo – Onoe Fujaku VII
Umeko, Kakuzo’ daughter – Nakamura Fukusuke IV
Ferry boat man Kakuzo – Ichikawa Sadanji I
Katsūra Kogoro – Onoe Kikugoro V
Ruffian Kumazo – Nakamura Hakugoro
Records of the other three acts may simply have been lost to posterity.
The first part of the middle play, advertised on the original Kabuki banzuke, was to have been entitled ‘Hanafubuki Iwakura Sōgen’ (known as Hanafubuki) (Waseda Yakusha-e Database) which was introduced with a tribute to the life of Sanjō Sanetomi who had passed away in February the same year. Given the sensitivity to the fairly recent political upheavals of the Meiji Restoration, after much gossip, it came to the notice of the Government and to avoid a ban on the performance going ahead because the tribute might be mistaken for that of the life of the Statesmen Iwakura Tomomi the title of the play was changed to ‘Zōho’in Shū Kagami’ (Mirror of the Marriage Sleeve). The play starred Onoe Kikugorō V as Iwakura Sōgen and Nakamura Fukusuke IV as Orikotōhime.
On the 22nd – 24th May in the middle of the performance a kōjō, or ceremonial pronouncement, announced a great shumei, or name taking, for three actors. Onoe Einosuke I, the adopted son of Onoe Kikugoro V, became a Nadai (leading actor) named Onoe Eizaburō V (later Onoe Baikō VI) and Kikugoro‘s biological son Onoe Kōzō became Ushinosuke II (later Onoe Kikugorō VI). At the same time Nakamura Tsurushō became Ichikawa Yonezō 4.5 (Yakusha e of Nakamura Tsurushō’s shumei, Waseda Yakusha-e Database, panel 1, panel 2, panel 3 – see image below).
Reflecting the importance of Eizaburo’s debut as a Nadai, together with his shumei to Ichikawa Yonezō, he performed as an onnagata dancing amongst his peers in the final act in a musical piece, ‘Atago tachi Shibaura hakkei’ (The Eight Views of Atago from Shibaura Mansion) a play in three acts culminating in the resplendent third act with Princess Otohime and the Eight Dragon Kings.
Act One (National Theatre of Japan, Nishiki-e Database)
Noble’s daughter Takana Seiko – Onoe Eizaburō V
Superintendent Yamada Jubei’we – Ichikawa Sadanji I
Gentleman Ryokuzan’s daughter Oyuki – Ichikawa Yonezō 4.5
Master Tajima Yasutarō – Onoe Kikugorō V
Act Two (National Theatre of Japan, Nishiki-e Database)
Imakō san – Bando Kakitsu I
Takana Haruko – Onoe Eizaburō V
Yamada Jūbei’we – Ichikawa Sadanji I
Tajima Yasutarō – Onoe Kikugorō V
Oyuki – Ichikawa Yonezō 4.5
Act Three (National Theatre of Japan, Nishiki-e Database)
Dragon King Nanda – Ichikawa Sadanji I
Otohime – Nakamura Fukusuke IV
Dragon King Bakara – Nakamura Shikan IV
Dragon King Makada – Bando Kakitsu I
Dragon King Batsunanda – Onoe Kikugorō V
Part two in the tsuji banzuke series, dated 1899, would be both a celebration of the brief life of a rising star and would mourn his tragic death.
Trevor Skingle was born and lives in London where he works in the field of Humanitarian Disaster Relief. He is a Japanophile and his hobbies are Kabuki, painting and drawing and learning Japanese.