Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review April – May 1930
Second and final part of the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review series by Kabuki collector and researcher, Trevor Skingle!
The second of the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review magazines No. 64 covers the period 15th April – 1st May 1930. Unfortunately missing from the series is magazine No 62 covering the period from March – April 1930.
The magazine cover, from a print by Toyokuni III, depicts a scene from a Sankatsu-Hanshichi mono – dances or dramas whose main characters are the lovers Akaneya Hanshichi, the son of a sake merchant in the Yamato province, and Minoya Sankatsu, an Ōsaka courtesan. Both characters really existed and committed shinju, double suicide, on the 7th of December 1695 in the burial ground of Sennichi in Ōsaka. The most representative work of the three acts…
Sankatsu’s House Nagamachi minoya
The Sake Shop Sakaya
The Double Suicide Michiyuki shimoyo no sennichi
…which is still part of the current Kabuki repertoire, is Sakaya, the Sake Shop
On the post in the front cover picture written in large characters is Sennichi Dera (aka Hozenji), theOne Thousand Day Temple, so called because it performs mass requiems for the souls in its precincts every thousand days. It is located in the Dotonburi District of Ōsaka. The smaller characters immediately to the bottom left of this is a good luck wish ‘Ōtari utsu’ meaning strike a big hit. Billboards set up over Kabuki theatres on yagura towers, called atari mato no tsurimono or atari kanban, were used to display among other things targets with an arrow through the bulls eye, with the ideogram for ōiri (“full house”) written below as a kind of wishful expression or prayer for success.
Editors for this edition were Torii Kotondo for the front page and Takeshiba Umesa for the stage page.
Notice board – Toyokuni picture. Genuine hand printed woodblock on Japanese paper (a proudly produced section) real primary colours copy edition. Nakamura Ganjirō (Akaneya Hanshichi) and Nakamura Kaisha (wife Osono) Nakamura Ganjirō (Kan Shōjō) and Matsumoto Kōshirō (Guard Sukune Tarō) and Ichikawa Chūsha (aunt Kakuju). Matsumoto Kōshirō (Guard Chōbei) and Sawamura Sōjūrō (Gompachi) Sawamura Sōjūrō (Sanshō) Morita Kanya (Akaneya Chūroku) Kataoka Gatō (white sake seller Senkichi) and Bandō Shūchō (Tarō’s wife Tatsuta) Ichimura Kyūzō (daughter Miss Kariya) Nakamura Kotarō (baby sitter Ume)
The plays as they appear. First ‘Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami – Dōmyōji’ (Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy – Dōmyōji Temple) in one act.
First – ‘Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami’ Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy
Middle – Nakamura Ganjirō’s Kan Shōjō.
Right – Matsumoto Kōshirō’s Sukune Tarō
Left – Ichikawa Chūsha’s Princess Kakuji.
Middle act ‘Suzugamori‘ (The Execution Ground at Suzugamori: Forests of Bells) in one act.
‘Suzugamori’ (Forests of Bells), Matsumoto Kōshirō’s guard Hanzui Chōbei (top right) Sawamura Sōjūrō’s Shirai Gompachi (bottom left) Final interest ‘Noriaibune ehō manzai’ (A Boat with Seven Merry Gods), Sawamura Sōjūrō’s Saizo (Manzai’s comical sidekick) Kisuke (top left), Matsumoto Kōshirō’s Manzai (Street Entertainer) Tsuru Tayū (master) (bottom right)
Second ‘Akanezome’ (Dyed Red) in three acts is one of Nakamure Ganjirō I’s favourite twelve plays, jūnikyoku. Prior to Morita Kanya’s portrayal at the Kabukiza Jitsukawa Hideo (later Jitsukawa Enzaburō VI) played the character Akaneya Chūroku in ‘Jitsuroku Sankatsu Hanshichi’ (in Japanese) – An Authentic account of Sankatsu and Hanshichi, which played in 30th October – 8th November 1926 at the Minamiza in Kyōto.
Left photo: Second – ‘Akanezome’ (Dyed Red) Nakamura Ganjirō I’s Akenaya Hanshichi, Nakamura Kaisha’s Osono, wife of Hanshichi
Right photo: Second Play ‘Akanezome’ (Dyed Red). Morita Kanya’s Akaneya Chūroku debut at the Kabukiza
Concluding piece ‘Noriaibune Ehō Manzai’ literally ‘A Comic Duo on a Ferry Boat heading in the most auspicious direction for the current year’ but usually referred to in English as ‘A Boat shared by Seven Merry Gods’ (Shichifukujin). The play is in one act in the tradition of Manzai, traditional comic street entertaining duos. A group of people from Edo are travelling in a boat, a geisha, a carpenter, a baby sitter, and a white sake seller. They are accompanied by a couple of street entertainers from the country, a Manzai (straight man) Tayū (master) and his Saizo jester sidekick. They traditionally provide shukufuku gei or street entertainment comic dialogues primarily connected with the New Year which impart blessings, singing songs accompanied by a small shamisen called a kokyū and cracking jokes. Following established Manzai traditions in the picture above Sawamura Sōjūrō’s Saizo Kisuke can be seen with a tsuzumi hand drum and daikoku zukin cap which would have been red in imitation of Daikokuten, andMatsumoto Kōshirō’s Manzai Tsuru Tayū wears an eboshi hat and carries a Japanese folding fan.
Second ‘Akanezome’ (Dyed Red) Sawamura Sōjūrō’s Minoya Sankatsu (top right)
Final interest ‘Noriaibune ehō manzai’ (A Boat with Seven Merry Gods), Nakamura Kotarō’s baby sitter Ume (bottom right)
Middle ‘Suzugamori ‘ (The Execution Ground at Suzugamori Forests of Bells), Suketakaya Takajo’s messenger Sasuke (top left)
First ‘Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami’ (Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy), Ichimura Kamezō’s daughter Princess Kariya (bottom left)
Thirteen ‘kumosuke’ characters are mentioned. They were unskilled laborers, colourful and unruly characters with “funny” names, who frequented the great highways like the Tōkaidō and the Nakasendō during the Edo period
Magazine Contributors and contributions for this issue were Yamagami Teiichi’s review of Ganjirō’s new production ‘Akane senzome’, the author Taniguchi Rika’s guide to famous play locations for Sugawara’s Secrets of Calligraphy: Dōmyōji, the writer Fujisawa Morihiko, the Kabuki playwright Atsumi Seitarō on the Execution Ground at Suzugamori the Forests of Bells, the writer Takagi Bun from his Meiji zen shōsetsu gikyoku taikan (Complete general survey of Meiji drama stories), the Showa era historian ofŌsaka Nanki Yoshitarō, the writer on theatre music and song Tamura Nishio, the playwright Kimura on the Kabukiza, the Kabuki playwright Okamoto Kidō’s biographical serialisation, the playwright and acerbic drama critic Oka Onitarō, the actor Ichikawa Sadanji II on The Tsuta crest, theTaisho period Manga artist with a special interest in Edo culture Miyao Shigeo on comedy plays, the Kabuki dance and Bunraku playwright and lyricist Kimura Tomiko, the Shochiku based Film Director Fujii Rintarō (real name Fujii Shigeji), the professor of modern drama and music Kuroki Kanzō’s Principle synopsis of Gidayū jōruri, Kago Kagao on Ganjirō, Nanki Yoshitarō’s background to Hanshichi and Sankatsu, Yamaguchiō Yamakura on Hanshichi, Hara Seisein on Keihan (Kyoto-Osaka) period Kabuki, friend of Basil Hall Chamberlain and Lafcadio Hearn the Japanese historian Sekine Masanao on True Edo Kabuki, and Ihara Seiseien the playwright and theatre critic of Kabuki and Shinpa.
‘Sugi Nishi Monogatari’ (Ranpu no Moto nite) A Past Story (Under the Lamp). Part 12 The Ichimuraza in the entertainment district of Saruwaka cho.
One of the most fascinating contributions in both magazines is the Kabuki playwright Okamoto Kidō’s biographical serialisation, ‘Sugi ni shi Monogatari’ (Ranpu no Moto nite) A Past Story (Under the Lamp). In this magazine is Part 12 (illustration above – the Ichimuraza in Saruwaka cho) where he writes about the Ichimuraza whereas in Part 10, in magazine No. 62, he wrote about the Shintomiza. Part 12 takes place around July 1888 (Mejii 21) probably the 22nd when at the age of 17 years and 7 months in his ‘high clogs’ he went to the Ichimuraza with his mother, aunt, older sister and four gentlemen friends to see the production of the play Asama Yama no Funka (the Eruption of Mount Asama) where ‘in the second scene the full eruption appeared on stage and was very popular because of the large scale and marvellous stage scenery’. The play was based on a real eruption that took place in 1783 and was performed, he says, as a result of the eruption of Mount Bandai on the 15th July. He mentions Part 11 being about the Chitoseza Theatre and the Harukiza Theatre in magazine No. 63. Parts 10 and 12 have both been translated into English.
The two magazines are now lodged with the Tsubouchi Theatre Museum at Waseda University in Tōkyō.
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.