The 84th feature exhibition

Actors in Naniwa Dotombori area
November 29 (Tue), 2022 ‐ February 26 (Sun), 2023

This museum exhibits ukiyo-e woodblock prints published in Osaka in the Edo period. Many of the ukiyo-e prints made in Osaka were portraits of kabuki actors performing on stages around Dotombori area, showing how the kabuki actors performed and what the stages were like.

First, please look at this large-sized ukiyo-e triptych.

Naniwa Dotombori o-kabuki butai sogeiko no zu

Drawn by Jukodo Yoshikuni
Naniwa Dotombori o-kabuki butai sogeiko no zu
1822 (Bunsei 5), around November

Kabuki actors depicted in this ukiyo-e were popular actors of Dotombori o-kabuki (kabuki plays that were performed in grand theatres), rehearsing an imaginary co-starring stage.

In this feature exhibition, we introduce actors depicted in this ukiyo-e and focus on how the Dotombori kabuki plays and actors attracted audience. This drawing depicts a rehearsal, showing different sides of actors from their appearances on a stage. Please enjoy ukiyo-e that depicts co-starring of popular actors and their relations from a fan’s point of view.

‘Naniwa Dotombori o-kabuki butai sogeiko no zu’
15 popular actors are depicted in large-sized triptych drawn by Jukodo Yoshikuni. Those in the middle of the drawing are Kataoka Nizaemon VII and Nakamura Utaemon III, who are ranked as ‘gokujo-jokichi’ (actors of highest reputation) at the time. Therefore, they are depicted at the center of this ukiyo-e.

By the side of a hibachi, a brazier, in upper left side, is depicted Arashi Kitsusaburo II, who had just taken the name from his predecessor (Arashi Kichisaburo II) who were deceased in 1821 (Bunsei 4). It is said that Arashi Kitsusaburo II inherited the artistic skills of Nakamura Utaemon as well as those of Arashi Kitsusaburo I, so in this ukiyo-e Arashi Kitsusaburo II watches Utaemon’s performance carefully.

In addition, Asao Kuzaemon I and Otani Tomoemon II, who are good at playing villain roles, are depicted at the side. Arashi Koroku IV, Arashi Tomisaburo II and Nakamura Karoku I, who excel in playing young woman role are also depicted. However, Nakamura Matsue, who were then the top onnagata actor (an actor who plays a woman role) is not seen in this ukiyo-e. Matsue was performing at Nakamura-za theatre in Edo (present Tokyo) in the years 1822-1823 (Bunsei 5-6), so he was not in Dotombori at the time this ukiyo-e was drawn.

At the side of the title is written ‘other drawings such as bustle of the theatre or dressing room of actors are scheduled to be published so stay tuned!‘ but this drawing does not depict the real stage, it is an ‘imaginary’ drawing of gorgeous co-starring of superstars.
Look at ukiyo-e prints in which actors in this drawing perform and co-star on stages.

Arashi Koroku IV (1783-1826)
Son of Arashi Hinasuke I (later Arashi Koroku III). Arashi Hinasuke II and Arashi Hinasuke III are his brothers. In 1801 (Kyowa 1) he took the name of Kano Minshi, often performed with Arashi Kitsusaburo I. Took the name of Arashi Koroku in 1817 (Bunka 14).

Asao Kuzaemon I (1758-1824)
Started his career in Takeda shibai (children theatre). Became a disciple of Asao Tamejuro in 1794 (Kansei 6) and took the name of Asao Kuzaemon. Played supporting roles for Arashi Kitsusaburo I and Nakamura Utaemon III, being good at a steady old man role. Asao Gakujuro is his disciple.

Arashi Kichisaburo III (1810-1864)
Son of Arashi Isaburo and nephew of Arashi Kichisaburo II (later Arashi Kitsusaburo I). Took the name of Arashi Kichisaburo III in 1821 (Bunsei 4). He was around 13 when this ukiyo-e was drawn, being depicted as a boy with forlock.

Asao Gakujuro I (1782-1835)
Became a disciple of Asao Kuzaemon I and took the name of Asao Yaozo. He was a disciple of Nakamura Nakazo II for a period of time and changed his surname to Nakamura. He changed his name to Asao Yujiro in 1809 (Bunka 6) but again changed the name to Asao Gakujuro in 1822 (Bunsei 5) following the advice of Nakamura Utaemon III.

Ichikawa Ebijuro I (1777-1827)
After starting his career as Ichikawa Ichizo, became a disciple of Ichikawa Danjuro VII with the introduction of Nakamura Utaemon III and took the name of Ichikawa Ebijuro. After that he became well-known around Dotombori area and was good at playing as villain for Nakamura Utaemon.

Kataoka Nizaemon VII (1755-1837)
Younger brother of Asao Kunigoro I. Became a disciple of Asao Tamejuro I and performed in Dotombori kabuki theatres under the name of Asao Kunigoro II. In 1787 (Tenmei 7), he restored the Kataoka family line and took the name of Kataoka Nizaemon VII. He was a prominent figure of Kamigata kabuki society at the time.

Arashi Danpachi (? – 1847)
His career is unknown. His figure is depicted in ukiyo-e ‘Meisaku kiriko-no akebono’ performing at Naka-no-shibai theatre in 1817 (Bunka 14) with Arashi Kichisaburo II. His figure is also depicted in ukiyo-e ‘Kikuzuki irifune monogatari’ drawn in 1820 (Bunsei 3) performing with Onoe Kikugoro III and Arashi Koroku IV.

Nakamura Utaemon III (1778-1838)
Biological child of Nakamura Utaemon I. Took the name of Nakamura Utaemon III in 1791 (Kansei 3). A great kabuki actor during Bunka-Bunsei era (1804-1830) in Osaka. Arashi Kichisaburo II (later Arashi Kitsusaburo I) who was famous for his good-looking-man role and he were both the most popular actors in Osaka at the time. He was also popular in Edo, where Bando Mitsugoro III and he competed with each other over their skills of transformation dance.

Kiriyama Monji III (? – ?)
Although his detailed career is unknown, he is depicted in ukiyo-e performing at Miyako-za theatre in Edo in the years 1817-1818 (Bunka 14-15) and at Kado-za and Naka-za theatres in the years 1820-1823 (Bunsei 3-6). In those ukiyo-e drawings he plays supporting roles for Nakamura Utaemon III in Osaka, and for Onoe Kikugoro III in Edo, seeming to be specialized in villain roles.

Nakamura Karoku I (1779-1859)
Started his career as a disciple of Nakamura Utaemon III and was trained under the name of Nakamura Moshiho. Then he took the name of Nakamura Karoku in 1804 (Bunka 1). He was an onnagata actor, a kabuki actor who plays woman roles such as ‘keisei’ (a beautiful courtesan). He is said to have had many children. Among them were Bando Shuka II, Nakamura Karoku III, wife of Arashi Kichisaburo III, and wife of Kataoka Nizaemon VIII.

Arashi Kitsusaburo II (1788-1837)
Started his career as a disciple of Arashi Isaburo, the eldest son of Arashi Kitsusaburo I, under the name of Arashi Tokusaburo. Then he took the name of Arashi Kitsusaburo II in 1822 (Bunsei 5), one year after Arashi Kitsusaburo I had deceased. Arashi Kichisaburo III is a biological son of his master, Arashi Isaburo. It is said that he had very distinctive eyes so that he was nicknamed Metoku (‘me’ means eyes in Japanese and toku comes from his previous name Tokusaburo).

Hyakumura Shikazo (? – ?)
His career is unknown. There was an actor named Hyakumura Hyakutaro, who performed in chu shibai theatres (intermediate-sized kabuki theatres, between grand theatres and child actors theatres) and died in 1822 (Bunsei 6). Relations between Shikazo and Hyakutaro is also unknown.

Otani Tomoemon II (1769-1830)
Started his career as Tanimura Torazo, Tanimura Tatehachi’s disciple. After being trained in Takeda no shibai (puppet theatre) he went to Edo. Otani Tomoemon I had deceased in 1781 (Tenmei 1) and in 1795 (Kansei 7) Otani Tomoemon II succeeded to the Otani family. He went back and forth between Edo and Osaka.

Arashi Tomisaburo II (1791-1830)
Became a disciple of Arashi Sangoro under the name of Arashi Tominosuke II. Then he took the name of Arashi Tomisaburo. In 1807 (Bunka 4) he changed his name’s kanji. He was very popular with his good-looking face as wakaonnagata (young-woman-role actor) both in Osaka and Edo.

Ogawa Kichitaro III (1785-1851)
As a disciple of Nakamura Utaemon III, his name was Nakamura Motosaburo and in 1805 (Bunka 2) he took the name of Ogawa Kichitaro III. He performed on stages other than Osaka area by touring with Nakamura Utaemon III. He was good at playing a role of down-and-out man. He is depicted as a gentle person.