Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review 15th February – 1st March 1930
First in a two-part series by Kabuki collector and researcher, Trevor Skingle!
Some time after acquiring the Sintomiza tsuji banzuke, I discovered two Kabuki magazines for sale by a Swiss dealer and purchased them. What followed was a long period of research and translation that revealed a wealth of information about a four month period of Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza in Tōkyō between February and May 1930. This issue, entitled the Cherry month edition, of the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review, which began publication in 1914 by Tanaka Sada, was number 62 covering the period 15th February – 1st March 1930 and was edited by Torii Kotondo (1900-1976) who was the title page editor whose real name was Saito Akira, a print maker from a dynastic print making family who made bijin-ga or beautiful women prints. The publishing editor was Takeshiba Baku. The magazine cover was taken from a print by Toyokuni – the hundred pile breakwater (hyapponkui) by the Inase River.
Just inside the front cover is a fold out front piece, a kuchi-e (miniature woodblock) by Toyokuni III originally published by Mita-ya Kihachi in 1852 of the play Imoseyama Onna Teikin (Imoseyama, an example of womanly virtue) Act 1 Scene 2 – Komatsubara (The Komatsubara Plain) and is a depiction of the play staged at the Kawarazaki Theatre in Edo which was destroyed in the 1855 Ansei Earthquake.
Above image: Onnagata portrayal (of the female character) Sokujo Hinadori (the daughter (of Sadaka Hinadori) played by Iwai Kumesaburo III. Later Iwai Hanshirō VIII 8 who became zagashira (managing actor) of the Nakamuraza in 1874. Tachiyaku portrayal (of the male character) Koganosuke Kiyofune played by Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII who committed suicide two years after this performance in Ōsaka in 1854.
Above image: The noticeboard above begins – Great testimony – past, present and large picture – Third generation Toyokuni painting Izayoi Seishin (hyapponkui – the hundred pile breakwater by the Inase River, double suicide, scene), Imoseyama opens on Hina-nagashi (March 3rd, the Girls’ Doll Festival is symbolic of Imoseyama’s Yoshinogawa Scene where the widow Sadaka and her daughter Hinadori’s house contains a display for the festival). Three colour printing – Baikō’s Izayoi and Uzaemon’s Seishin.
Above image: Sato no harugi Azami no Ironui, aka Izayoi Seishin by Kawatake Mokuami. This picture was taken at the Teikoku Gekijo in June 1926 and is of the Inasegawa Hyappongui, the Hundred Pile Breakwater by the Inase River, double suicide scene. Seishin is played by Ichimura Uzaemon XV and Izayoi by Onoe Baikō VI.
To open the show was Tokiha Afumi Haruno Danmari (Everlasting Afumi (Lake Biwa): A Springtime Danmari) a play in One Act and Two Scenes. Accompanying the performance was Yoshimura Ijūrō VII’s O-ryū nagauta company. Yoshimura Ijuro VII was a well renowned Nagauta chanter with an exceptionally beautiful voice. His popularity created many more Nagauta fans in the 20th century and he was considered to be one of the greatest Nagauta performers.
Above image: Listen! A wind blows down from mountain; an orchestra playing ancient Shintō music can be heard! The curtains open, outside the asagimaku (a temporary pale blue drop curtain) are the Shichiyō (nagauta orchestra), four excited people, court attendants, arrive, coming in to view on the right side of the stage, heroes its rumoured, equal in ceremony and spirituality etc., etc. And, a fact that is really clear dear reader is that they are a company of Mahāsatya Great Buddha’s (marici) gods of war!
Iroten (symbol indicating the start of a passage of lyrics) marks the solo chant of Yoshimura Ijūrō VII ‘Afumi, that’s the location of a famous place, this varied scenic view arrayed before us, dreaming of Lake Biwa, struggle on! Excel in both the daytime as well as late into the night! Reflect upon the naked moon! The wind for company, at the water’s edge, silver coloured waves break upon the shore, undulating, undulating, caused by the dragon god, enshrined on Chikubu Island, even though it’s a small shrine it’s old, and it’s divine, and revered in both respects.
And the Great Buddha Mahāsatya’s company, the marici (gods of war) enter and, the asagimaku (a temporary pale blue drop curtain) is dropped, the setting is up on Mt. Hiradake’s summit, looking at the right side of the stage here is an old wayside shrine, here and there old Hinoki cedar trees, a small mountain spirit shrine etc., see and experience distant Lake Biwa’s frolicsome water. The sound of music! Visit the shrine of Konpira and then listen to his voice…
…the bandit pauses and then gradually rising… …he begins his speech, relating that, “Avarice is hidden in my heart. Now I must make a return pilgrimage to Mt. Zozu-san’s Konpira Shrine, Ah! Climbing through these deep mountains, now an all-night vigil is foreshadowed! And beneath the trees a Buddhist pilgrimage checkpoint; perceive carefully this place of ascetic practice! Wandering about ablaze become like those who accomplish this outcome, surely thieves possessing and accumulating things and various goods proliferate! Listen, the sound of a heavenly voice and distinguished and uncommon flute music, now unexpectedly I obtain the three garments of a monk, a good omen for you and for your hopes and dreams of success, Ah! The difficulties of existence are such things; happiness is such a thing, hey!”
And then he laughs! Beware visiting the sacred lotus temple bandit! Sanzoku is tottering, unsteady on his feet! And towards a wayside shrine he goes and at that moment the door of the wayside shrine is torn open, the leading actors in big wigs, the powerful Four Devas appear in public! And it’s really Mikami Tarō! The wayside shrine’s Lord of wisdom! He freezes and strikes an imposing mie! Simultaneously from the left part of the stage a festival Page Kunimaru appears. A minute to wait while three entangled people fight!
And from the other side of a bush on the right side of the stage maid Chiri and coming out from a cave like opening in a large cedar tree it’s actually hell dweller Ibuki Zaemon.
The moon is hidden! Powerful is the darkness! In the middle of the gloom five people are performing a standing circulating danmari (a silent pantomime performed as though in the dark). Then Sanzoku the bandit flails around carrying a traditional white Minamoto flag, wait just a minute as the five people crowded together move into a hippari no mie (pulling apart mie glares – a collective mie at the end of a scene). A musical instrument plays the mountain wind calling, calling, as finally the curtain is closed.
The dialogue contains an auspicious double pun, or sharé, referring to the Girls’ Doll Festival which takes place on March 3rd – the opening day of this performance run.
Above image: Tokiha Afumi Haruno Danmari – Everlasting Afumi (Lake Biwa): A Springtime Danmari. On stage Ichikawa Chūsha VII as Ibuki Zaemon the demon, Sawamura Sōjuro VII as the voice of the seafaring deity Konipra, Ichimura Uzaemon XV as the Guardian King of the West, Ichimura Kakitsu VII as the Page Kunimaru and Onoe Baikō VI as the Maid Chiri.
The next play in the programme was Imoseyama Onna Teikin (Imoseyama, an example of womanly virtue) Act 1 Yūnosuke.
Above image: Possibly one of the most beautiful photos of Ichimura Uzaemon XV as Koganosuke Kiyofune from the play Imoseyama Onna Teikin (Imoseyama, an example of womanly virtue).
Above image: The play Imoseyama Onna Teikin (Imoseyama, an example of womanly virtue) Act 3 Scene 2 – Yoshinogawa Scene.
On stage Ichimura Uzaemon XV as Koganosuke Kiyofune, Onoe Baikō VI as Dazai’s widow Sadaka, Suketakaya Takajo V as Chamber maid Kogiku, Ichikawa Chūsha VII as Daihanji no Kiyosumi and Sawamura Sōjuro VII as Dazai’s daughter Hinadori.
The middle act was Genji Monogatari ‘Aoi no maki’ (Ue Sen Kyakuhon) Tale of Genji – Lady Aoi at Court Act 2 Scene 4.
Above image: Genji Monogatari ‘Aoishikan’ – based on the Noh play Nonomiya. Starring Sawamura Sōjuro VII as Aoi no Ue (Genji’s wife), Ichimura Uzaemon XV as Hikaru no Kimi or “Shining Prince” aka Genji, Onoe Baikō VI as Rokujo no Miyasudokoro, Ichikawa Kōbai (Female Kabuki actress from Ichikawa Shojo (Girl’s) Kabuki, niece of the eldest daughter, Suisen II, of Ichikawa Danjūrō IX – and later took the name Ichikawa Suisen III) as Maid Sakin.
The final play was Act 2 of Sato no Harugi Azami no Ironui aka Izayoi Seishin, the Inasegawa Hyappongui scene in which there was Kiyomoto Enju Dayu shamisen recital.
Above image: Sato no harugi Azami no Ironui, aka Izayoi Seishin starring Ichikawa Chūsha VII as the frivolous poet Hakuren (aka Ōdera Shōbei), Onoe Baikō VI as Izayoi (aka Osayo), Ichimura Uzaemon XV as Oni-azami (the Demon Thistle) Seikichi (a bandit and in reality Shōbei’s brother) and Ichimura Kamezō III as Shōbei’s wife Ofuji.
The remainder of the magazine lists all the actors performing in the advertised show, actor’s haiku contributions and in depth scholarly articles for the serious Kabuki connoisseur by such luminaries as the author Taniguchi Rika on Imoseyama onna teikin, the translator of non-Japanese language plays and playwright Takayasu Gekkō, the Japanese historian Sekine Masanao on the haiku of Shirasaru (Ichikawa Danjūrō VII’s poetry name meaning White Monkey) Haiku, the Kabuki playwright Okamoto Kidō serialised autobiography ‘Sugi Nishi Monogatari’ (literally ‘Beyond the West’), the playwright and trenchant drama critic Oka Onitarō, the Manga artist Miyao Shigeo, the Edo historian and war journalist Mitamura Engyo, the professor of modern drama and music Kuroki Kanzō, the Kabuki playwright, critic, essayist and novelist Kitarō Oka, the Kabuki dance and Bunraku playwright and lyricist Kimura Tomiko, the playwright Kimura Kinka on the Kabukiza, the adopted son of Kawatake Mokuami the Kabuki scholar Kawatake Shigetoshi on Izayoi, the playwright and theatre critic of Kabuki and Shinpa theatre Ihara Seiseien on Keihan (Kyōto-Ōsaka) Kabuki, the Shochiku based Film Director Fujii Rintarō and the Kabuki playwright Atsumi Seitarō.
Above image: Actors’ roles for the March Kyōgen at a glance.
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.