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Kabuki for BeginnersKabuki for Beginners

100 Kabuki Characters

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  • K-O
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A flower of Edo, educated and beautifulAgemaki

Courtesan Agemaki Agemaki Adult Female
■ Real name
Miuraya Agemaki
■ Personality
Knows what she likes and dislikes
■ Special ability
Verbal abuse
Agemaki Agemaki
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Agemaki of the famous Miuraya in Yoshiwara confronts Ikyu, a customer.

Play character is from

“Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura” (Sukeroku, the Hero of Edo)
Common name: Sukeroku

Even in Yoshiwara, a famous red-light district, Agemaki is a top-class courtesan known as an oiran or a keisei. She wears nearly 20 hair ornaments, including kanzashi hairpins and combs, and a gorgeous uchikake formal kimono. Agemaki is a proud woman, and she boldly insults Ikyu, even though he is a regular at her establishment, as he has disrespected her lover Sukeroku; she tells him, “I would not mistake Ikyu for Sukeroku even in the dark.”

Creator

Original work: Ichikawa Danjuro II

National Theatre collection (NA040713)

A courtesan who expresses her feminine heart through the emotion of the musicAkoya

Courtesan Akoya Akoya Adult Female
■ Real name
Keisei Akoya
■ Personality
Has a lot of nerve
■ Special ability
Playing the koto (Japanese zither), shamisen (Japanese three-stringed guitar), and kokyu (stringed instrument played with a bow)
Akoya Akoya
Colored woodblock print scenes

Akoya communicates that she does not know where her lover is through song as she plays the koto.

Play character is from

“Dannoura Kabuto Gunki” (The Battle of Dannoura)
Common name: Akoya, Kotozeme

Akoya is a keisei (a high-ranking courtesan) of Kyoto and the lover of Kagekiyo, a samurai from the Heike clan. After the destruction of the Heike clan, Kagekiyo goes into hiding; Akoya is summoned by officials who are pursing him and interrogated. Akoya answers that she does not know Kagekiyo’s whereabouts, and the officials order her to play three instruments – the koto, shamisen, and kokyu – but release her as they know from the calmness of the music that she is not lying. This character is elegant and attractive, boldly and skillfully playing instruments while singing of her feelings for her lover when cornered.

Creator

Bunkodo, other collaborators

Actors

Nakamura Utaemon VI, Bando Tamasaburo V

National Theatre collection (NA010480)

Living creatures that give the stage energy and colorAnimals
Tigers, rats, foxes, etc.

Other Animals Tigers, rats, foxes, etc. Animals Tigers, rats, foxes, etc. Unknown age Gender Unknown
■ Real name
Sometimes has a name, sometimes does not
■ Personality
Sometimes listens to what people say, sometimes doesn’t
■ Special ability
Transforming into people, flying through the sky, and more
Animals Tigers, rats, foxes, etc. Animals Tigers, rats, foxes, etc.
Colored woodblock
print scenes

A scene from a dance drama that uses comic-like toba-e pictures as its subject: A rat in a full body suit plays with a man in his sleeping clothes.

When animals appear on the stage, they are not the actual living creature; plays may make use of models, body suits, or other pieces of equipment. For example, the role of a horse is played by two people (one in the front and one in the rear), and is often ridden by a third. Wild animal roles, such as tigers or wild boar that fight people, are also played by actors in body suits. For animals such as rats, chickens, and foxes, theatres often use props that are slightly larger than the real thing, but in scenes that use black magic, they may be played by someone wearing a body suit; monstrous toads, cats, and similar creatures may be made to rampage using giant mechanisms.

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (101-6792)

A commoner hero who prizes duty and humanityBanzui Chobei

Outlaw Banzui Chobei Banzui Chobei Adult Male
■ Real name
Banzuiin Chobei
■ Personality
Good at taking care of others
■ Special ability
Fighting
Banzui Chobei Banzui Chobei
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Banzuiin Chobei, appearing in “Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma” (The Troubles of the Sasaki Clan and a Clash of Love and Pride in the Pleasure Quarters: Fuwa Banzaemon vs. Nagoya Sanza and Shirai Gompachi). He wears a flashy costume consisting of a red-brown haori coat with large stripes, upon which is printed the family crest of the actor.

Play character is from

“Kiwametsuki Banzui Chobei” (The Renowned Banzui Chobei)
Common name: Banzui Chobei

Banzui Chobei is the boss of the Edo (modern-day Tokyo) Machi Yakko (a group of ruffian townspeople who wore flamboyant clothing) and a kyokaku who fights against the strong for the sake of the weak. He objects to a group of samurai being violent in a playhouse, and is called out by the samurai side, who resent this. Knowing that this is a trap, he says goodbye to his family, and goes to be killed with his head held high. The kyokaku upon whom he is modeled actually lived during the Edo period (1603-1868), and is said to have opposed a group of samurai with well over 100 followers.

Creator

Original author of “Kiwametsuki Banzui Chobei”: Kawatake Mokuami

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (005-0731)

A cross-dressing thief based on a pictureBenten Kozo

Thief Benten Kozo Benten Kozo Young Male
■ Real name
Benten Kozo Kikunosuke
■ Personality
Can be timid and gentle
■ Special ability
Dressing as a woman
Benten Kozo Benten Kozo
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The scene in which this youth who pretends to be a young woman shows his true appearance, drinks alcohol, and threatens someone; this design was first drawn for a colored woodblock print, and the story that created the actual role of the youth was made up later.

Play character is from

“Aotozoshi Hana no Nishikie” (The Five Thieves)
Common name: Shiranami Goninotoko, Bentenkozo

Benten Kozo is a quintessential character from the shiranami-mono genre, in which thieves are the main characters. One highlight is the scene in which, having pretended to be a young woman, he is defiant at being caught out as a man and makes his identity clear, saying, “You say you don’t know, so listen to me.” He initially wears a high bun and a long-sleeved, black kimono, but when caught out he removes one sleeve so we can see his cherry blossom tattoo.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro V

Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University collection (arcUP4247)

A fish peddler from Osaka who unintentionally kills his greedy father-in-law Danshichi Kurobei

Outlaw Danshichi Kurobei Danshichi Kurobei Adult Male
■ Real name
Danshichi Kurobei
■ Personality
A strong sense of duty and humanity
■ Special ability
Constancy
Danshichi Kurobei Danshichi Kurobei
Colored woodblock print scenes

Danshichi unintentionally kills his father-in-law on the night of the summer festival as the festival music sounds.

Play character is from

“Natsumatsuri Naniwa Kagami” (The Summer Festival in Naniwa)
Common name: Natsumatsuri

This dashing character appears in a work that evokes summer in Osaka. He does his best to protect the son of the man who got him out of jail and the son’s lover. Danshichi ’s very greedy father-in-law Giheiji insults him and beats him, and he eventually draws his sword. At first he wears a kimono with a large red-brown check pattern, but while he struggles with Giheiji he becomes a figure with a red loincloth, disheveled hair and a vivid tattoo, and strikes down his mud-covered father-in-law.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA110320)

An audacious, evil woman with a masculine beautyDote no Oroku

Outlaw Dote no Oroku Dote no Oroku Adult Female
■ Real name
Oroku
■ Personality
Strong willed
■ Special ability
Speaking sharply
Dote no Oroku Dote no Oroku
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Iwai Hanshiro V playing Oroku. Hanshiro was a beautiful onnagata who charmed the people of the Edo period (1603-1868) with his eyes, which were said to be worth as much as 1000 ryo (gold coins), his winsomeness, his sensuality, and his many acting skills.

Play character is from

“Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri” (The Seven Roles of Osome)
Common name: Osome no Nanayaku

This character was created for Hanshiro by Tsuruya Namboku IV, and is representative of the stock character known as an akuba (evil woman), who is beautiful and has a lot of nerve. Oroku is the wife of the scoundrel Kimon no Kihei, and makes a living by chopping tobacco leaves. She tries to solicit money from an oil merchant so that she can give it to the master of the samurai family she once served. This work sees one actor play seven characters of different genders and statuses, including the oil merchant’s daughter Osome and the oil merchant’s apprentice Hisamatsu, allowing you to enjoy a performance in which the actor changes their costume and, in an instant, becomes another role.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Iwai Hanshiro V

National Diet Library collection (本別9-28)

A devoted mother who tries her best for her sonEnju

Noble / Samurai Enju Enju Old Female
■ Real name
Enju
■ Personality
Loves her son
■ Special ability
Disguises
Enju Enju
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Enju holds the box that contains the letter from her husband.

Play character is from

“Hiragana Seisuiki” (The Rise and Fall of Warlords)
Common name: Gendakando, Kanzakiageya, Sakaro

Enju is the wife of Kajiwara Kagetoki. She receives a letter from Kagetoki, who is on the battlefield, but the letter orders their eldest son Genda, who competed to be the first to attack the enemy forces and lost to Sasaki Takatsuna, to commit ritual suicide. However, when Enju hears that Genda deliberately lost in order to repay Takatsuna, who saved his father’s life, she saves Genda’s life by disinheriting him. As the wife of a samurai, she maintains her reputation, yet shows the depth of her love by disguising herself and delivering a large amount of money to her son, who has returned to battle.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Bunkodo, other collaborators

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (016-0274(A))

An evil villain who deceives people and is trying to take over the countryFujiwara no Shihei

Villain Fujiwara no Shihei Fujiwara no Shihei Adult Male
■ Real name
Fujiwara no Shihei
■ Personality
Strategist
■ Special ability
Using his eyes to convey emotions
Fujiwara no Shihei Fujiwara no Shihei
Colored woodblock print scenes

Shihei, wearing a costume embroidered with the dragon crest, the symbol of the emperor, and a gold crown, appears from inside the ox carriage.

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

This character is modeled after Fujiwara no Tokihira, a nobleman and Minister of the Left who lived during the late 9th and early 10th centuries. He tricks his opponent, Kan Shojo, and drives him away to Kyushu. When Shihei is making a pilgrimage to Yoshida Shrine, he is attached by brothers Umeomaru and Sakuramaru, but he overwhelms them with his piercing stare. Among Kabuki villains, Fujiwara no Shihei is a typical kugeaku, a wicked, high-ranking noble, and uses indigo blue kumadori makeup.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA091483)

A ladies’ man who has no money or power, only loveFujiya Izaemon

Ordinary person Fujiya Izaemon Fujiya Izaemon Adult Male
■ Real name
Fujiya Izaemon
■ Personality
Not discouraged even when he falls into poverty
■ Special ability
Being liked
Fujiya Izaemon Fujiya Izaemon
Colored woodblock print scenes

Disinherited by his parents and wearing paper clothes, Izaemon sulks in his jealousy that his lover, the courtesan Yugiri, is serving another customer.

Play character is from

“Kuruwa Bunsho” (Letters to the Red-Light District)
Common name: Yoshidaya

Izaemon is the young master of a wealthy merchant family, but has been disinherited by his parents because he is always visiting his courtesan lover. Having fallen into poverty, he visits his lover but becomes jealous and sulks when she is serving another customer. He is a likeable, somewhat winsome man with gentle features. Izaemon was created by Sakata Tojuro I, who worked in Osaka, and is a quintessential wagoto (soft) style character with a gentle manner who indulges in sensual love.

Creator

Original work: Chikamatsu Monzaemon

Actors

Sakata Tojuro I

National Theatre collection (NA011040)

A masterless samurai who acts like a dandy as he prowls YoshiwaraFuwa Banzaemon

Noble / Samurai Fuwa Banzaemon Fuwa Banzaemon Adult Male
■ Real name
Fuwa Banzaemon Shigekatsu
■ Personality
Urban
■ Special ability
Assassination
Fuwa Banzaemon Fuwa Banzaemon
Colored woodblock print scenes

Banzaemon’s costume has a pattern of lightening in clouds. Ichikawa Danjuro I came up with the idea and design from a haiku (Japanese seventeen-syllable poem) in “Daifukucho Sankai Nagoya” (1697), which was based on Fuwa from “Kabuki-juhachiban” (Eighteen Kabuki Pieces).

Play character is from

“Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma” (The Troubles of the Sasaki Clan and a Clash of Love and Pride in the Pleasure Quarters: Fuwa Banzaemon vs. Nagoya Sanza and Shirai Gompachi)
Common name: Suzugamori, Sayaate

Fuwa Banzaemon is a dandy who leads a shiratsuka-gumi (a group of samurai who have come together and wear flashy, eccentric clothing). He served the Sasaki family of feudal lords, but planned to embezzle them, killed Nagoya Sanza’s father and stole his celebrated sword, then had an affair with Iwahashi, a maidservant who was Sanza’s lover, and was banished. He crosses paths with Sanza in Yoshiwara on a night when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and they compete for Iwahashi, who is now an oiran (a top-class courtesan).

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro VII

National Theatre collection (NA110300)

An unlucky young man whose small mistakes lead to terrible misfortuneHayano Kampei

Noble / Samurai Hayano Kampei Hayano Kampei Young Male
■ Real name
Hayano Kampei
■ Personality
Jumps to conclusions
■ Special ability
Shooting guns
Hayano Kampei Hayano Kampei
Colored woodblock
print scenes

In the rain, Hayano Kampei aims his gun, one-handed, at a wild boar.

Play character is from

“Kanadehon Chushingura” (The Treasury of 47 Loyal Retainers)
Common name: Chushingura

Kampei is a samurai of the Enya family. While he is on a date with his lover Okaru, a terrible event occurs in the castle, and they are unable to return. Reluctantly, he works as a huntsman at Okaru’s parents’ house, hoping for a chance to restore his reputation. One day, he mistakenly shoots a person in the dark and steals a purse from the body. Later, the body of Okaru’s father is discovered, and Kampei, assuming he killed him, commits ritual suicide. However, the person Kampei shot was actually an enemy who killed his father-in-law and stole his purse. This character is unfortunate; his minor mistakes cause his life to gradually go off the rails.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA110220)

A mysterious, influential person with a white beardHige no Ikyu

Noble / Samurai Hige no Ikyu Hige no Ikyu Old Male
■ Real name
Iga no Heinaizaemon
■ Personality
Deeply jealous
■ Special ability
Relying on money to attract women
Hige no Ikyu Hige no Ikyu
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Peering at the courtesans he wants in front of the establishment.

Play character is from

“Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura” (Sukeroku, the Hero of Edo)
Common name: Sukeroku

Ikyu is characterized by being covered by his long white hair and beard. He has money and power, and visits the courtesan Agemaki, but is coldly rejected. He is in fact the culprit who stole the sword that the main character of this story, Sukeroku, is searching for, and is a villainous character who wants to throw the country into chaos.

Creator

Original work: Ichikawa Danjuro II

National Theatre collection (NA040710)

The main character of a melodrama, who pursues true loveHisamatsu

Ordinary person Hisamatsu Hisamatsu Young Male
■ Real name
Hisamatsu
■ Personality
Does not consider consequences
Hisamatsu Hisamatsu
Colored woodblock print scenes

Hisamatsu working as a ive-in apprentice for an oil merchant. Standing next to him is the oil merchant’s only daughter.

Play character is from

“Shinpan Utazaimon” (The New Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu)
Common name: Nozakimura

Hisamatsu was originally the son of a samurai, but was brought up as the adopted child of Kyusaku of Nozaki Village, a peasant and the older brother of Hisamatsu’s wet nurse. He is apprenticed to an oil merchant in Osaka, and falls in love with Osome, the merchant’s daughter, but is sent home to Nozaki Village due to money trouble. Osome, pregnant with Hisamatsu’s child, comes from Osaka to visit the village just as marriage talks between Hisamatsu and his fiancée, Omitsu, are going ahead. Hisamatsu decides to commit double suicide with Osome, and Omitsu, who sympathizes with them, backs out and becomes a nun.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji

Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library collection (N229-005)

A wise man who plays the fool and deceives the people around himIchijo Okurakyo

Noble / Samurai Ichijo Okurakyo Ichijo Okurakyo Adult Male
■ Real name
Ichijo Okurakyo
■ Personality
Clever
■ Special ability
Dancing
Ichijo Okurakyo Ichijo Okurakyo
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Okurakyo appears, behaving in a dignified way, and kills a samurai of the Heike clan who has snuck into his residence.

Play character is from

“Kiichi Hogen Sanryaku no Maki” (Master Kiichi and the Scroll of Strategy Secrets)
Common name: Ichijo Okura Monogatari

Ichijo Okurakyo is the nobleman whom Tokiwa Gozen, the mother of Genji clan descendent Ushiwakamaru, remarries. In order to hide the fact that he is an ally of the Genji clan, Okurakyo pretends to be a mad aristocrat who constantly practices dancing. Shortly after killing a spy of the Heike clan (the enemy of the Genji clan), he shows his true self: dignified and very wise. The model for this character was Fujiwara no Naganari. He was created as a humorous and highly resourceful character who survives a period during which people said that if you were not a Heike, you were not a person.

Creator

Bunkodo, other collaborators

Actors

Kataoka Nizaemon XI, Nakamura Kichiemon I

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (007-0077)

An essentially soft-hearted rogue who loves his familyIgami no Gonta

Outlaw Igami no Gonta Igami no Gonta Adult Male
■ Real name
Igami no Gonta
■ Personality
Surprisingly dependent on others
■ Special ability
Making his father angry
Igami no Gonta Igami no Gonta
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Gonta carries away a sushi barrel with a head inside, believing that it is the sushi barrel in which he hid the money he was given by his mother.

Play character is from

“Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura” (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)
Common name: Senbon Zakura

Gonta spends his time gambling and stealing, so his sushi-chef father has cut almost all ties with him. Knowing that his father intends to help the family of his father’s former masters, who are now fleeing, Gonta pretends to be evil but secretly hands over his own wife and child instead of the fleeing family. His furious father, not knowing the truth, stabs him, and, in pain, he reveals his real feelings before he dies.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

Actors

Matsumoto Koshiro V, Onoe Kikugoro V

National Theatre collection (NA030302)

The greatest bandit in the country, who steals only from the richIshikawa Goemon

Thief Ishikawa Goemon Ishikawa Goemon Adult Male
■ Real name
Ishikawa Goemon
■ Personality
Audacious
■ Special ability
Stealing treasure
Ishikawa Goemon Ishikawa Goemon
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Facing off against Mashiba Hisayoshi, who has followed him to the bottom of the temple gates.

Play character is from

“Sanmon Gosan no Kiri” (The Paulownia Crest at the Golden Gate to the Nanzenji Temple)
Common name: Sanmon

Ishikawa Goemon appears at the richly-colored gates of Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. His hairstyle is overgrown, and he wears a luxurious padded dotera kimono with a long hem. Even though he is being chased, he leisurely smokes tobacco and praises the spring scenery at dusk: “A magnificent view! A magnificent view!” The model for this character was a bandit leader said to have lived during the late 16th century. Many stories were created based on the legend of Ishikawa Goemon during the Edo period (1603–1868).

Creator

Namiki Gohei I

National Theatre collection (NA030100)

A villainous character who embodies the phrase “the enemy of a woman is a woman”Iwafuji

Villain Iwafuji Iwafuji Adult Female
■ Real name
Iwafuji
■ Personality
Ill-tempered and spiteful
■ Special ability
Martial techniques
Iwafuji Iwafuji
Colored woodblock print scenes

On a rainy evening, Iwafuji opens an umbrella in the palace garden, having succeeded in her evil deed.

Play character is from

“Kagamiyama Kokyo no Nishikie” (Mt. Kagamiyama and a Brocade of Feminine Virtues)
Common name: Kagamiyama

Iwafuji is a woman who serves a samurai family. Jealous of Onoe, a woman from the town who is trusted greatly by their lord, she carries out many cruel acts against her. Iwafuji tricks Onoe, who has picked up a secret message, and embarrasses her by beating her with a straw sandal in front of a crowd, driving Onoe to suicide. She is later killed by Ohatsu, who loved Onoe dearly. She appears in a sequel, “Kagamiyama Gonichi no Iwafuji” (Mt. Kagamiyama and Iwafuji in the Time Afterwards), as a ghost. Iwafuji, returned as a ghost, gently flies amid cherry blossoms in full bloom, holding an umbrella in one hand.

Creator

Yo Yotai

Actors

Onoe Matsusuke I

National Theatre collection (NA051010)

A young master whose love at first sight becomes his enemy and downfallIzuya Yosaburo

Outlaw Izuya Yosaburo Izuya Yosaburo Adult Male
■ Real name
Izuya Yosaburo
■ Personality
A man who acts tough but is in fact gentle
■ Special ability
Blackmail
Izuya Yosaburo Izuya Yosaburo
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Yosaburo, whose whole body is covered in injuries, has barged into a woman's house and extorted money for treatment. He shares the money with his partner.

Play character is from

“Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi”
Common name: Kirare Yosa

Izuya Yosaburo is the young master of a merchant family in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). He falls in love with Otomi, the mistress of a gang boss, on the beach at Kisarazu. This gets out, and his body is slashed in 34 places, including between his eyebrows, on his left cheek, and under his right eye; he gains the nickname Kirare Yosa (“Scarred Yosa”). Coincidently, he once again meets Otomi in a house he has visited to blackmail, and reproaches her, saying, “Shiganee koi no nasake ga ada...(The love for you that I could not help was my enemy...)” This role was created by Yoshimura Isaburo IV, a master of nagauta (a song performed in time to shamisen music), based on a true story that he had experienced in his youth.

Creator

Segawa Joko III

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro VIII, Ichimura Uzaemon XV

National Theatre collection (NA041070)

A general of the Heike clan who throws away his desire for revenge for his daughterKagekiyo

Noble / Samurai Kagekiyo Kagekiyo Adult Male
■ Real name
Akushichi Byoe Kagekiyo
■ Personality
Stubborn
■ Special ability
Pacing around
Kagekiyo Kagekiyo
Colored woodblock print scenes

The blind Kagekiyo was separated from his daughter when she was young, but meets her again, and makes certain of her face.

Play character is from

“Musume Kagekiyo Yashima Nikki” (The Blind Exile and His Daughter)
Common name: Hyugajima

Having failed to assassinate the head of the Genji clan Minamoto no Yoritomo, Kagekiyo gouged out his own eyes, and now lives in poverty on an island far away from the capital city. His daughter Itotaki travels a very long way to visit him there, and gives him the money that Kagekiyo needs to regain his official rank. However, Kagekiyo knows that Itotaki made this money by selling herself, and is conflicted between his pride as a samurai and his love for his daughter. Kagekiyo is famous as a brave general, but in the end he follows Yoritomo for the sake of his daughter. This character is modeled after a samurai who lived at the end of the 12th century, and appears in Noh, Bunraku, and dance.

Creator

Additions to the text: Wakatake Fuemi, Kokuzosu, Nakamura Akei

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro VII

National Theatre collection (NA060730)

Another side of a hated role who sucks up to authorityKajiwara Heizo Kagetoki

Noble / Samurai Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki Adult Male
■ Real name
Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki
■ Personality
Has a sense of humanity
■ Special ability
Examining swords, sword skills
Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Kagetoki, who has solved a problem, dashingly holds up his fan and strikes a mie (pose).

Play character is from

“Kajiwara Heizo Homare no Ishikiri” (The Stone Cutting of Kajiwara Heizo)
Common name: Ishikiri Kajiwara

Kajiwara Heizo Kagetoki is a samurai of the Heike clan, but he is sympathetic to the Genji clan. He examines a sword brought by Rokurodayu, a craftsman who works with mother-of-pearl. Rokurodayu offers himself as a target to test the sword, but Kagetoki deliberately misses his strike so that Rokurodayu’s life is spared. After this, he cuts a stone chozubachi (a basin that holds water to wash the hands and face) clean in half, and, having proven the sword’s cutting ability, buys it himself. He is modeled after a samurai from Kamakura. This character is often depicted as a villainous role, but in this work he shows a fresh side.

Creator

Hasegawa Senshi, Bunkodo

Actors

Nakamura Utaemon III

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (100-5254)

An older woman who is strict but compassionateKakuju

Noble / Samurai Kakuju Kakuju Old Female
■ Real name
Kakuju
■ Personality
Proper
■ Special ability
Deductions
Kakuju Kakuju
Colored woodblock print scenes

Kakuju guesses that her son-in-law killed her eldest daughter, and soon tries to stab him with a sword.

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Kakuju is the aunt of Kan Shojo, and the mother of Tatsuta no Mae (her first daughter) and Kariyahime (her second daughter). Kariyahime is Shojo’s adopted daughter. Kakuju blames Kariyahime for her rash actions, which caused Shojo to be accused of a crime, and beats her with a cane. Although she has the strength to kill her son-in-law (who is aiming to kill Shojo and has killed his wife, Tatsuta no Mae) with her own hands, she shows compassion when she finally lets Kariyahime meet with Shojo, who has been exiled. This is an older woman role that is difficult to act, and requires the actor to perform with elegance and strength.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA011020)

A man who is stubborn in front of women, and has embezzled moneyKameya Chubei

Ordinary person Kameya Chubei Kameya Chubei Adult Male
■ Real name
Kameya Chubei
■ Personality
Loses his judgement when cornered
■ Special ability
Relying on women
Kameya Chubei Kameya Chubei
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Chubei has been entrusted with an important sum of money. Furious at being insulted, he takes it.

Play character is from

“Koibikyaku Yamato Orai” (The Money Courier from Hell)
Common name: Umegawa Chubei, Fuinkiri, Ninokuchi-mura

Chubei is the adopted son of the owner of a hikyakuya (a transportation business that couriers money) in Osaka, and wants money to free his lover, the courtesan Umegawa. He becomes furious at insults from his rival in love, who says that he will pay the money first, and uses the money with which he has been entrusted as part of his job, even though he knows this is a serious crime. Chubei flees to his hometown with Umegawa, and is reunited with his real father without saying a word. His father sends them away for good as the two of them avoid and flee from the officials who chase them.

Creator

Original work: Chikamatsu Monzaemon

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (101-3219)

A man who cannot part from his lover even though he has a wife and childrenKamiya Jihei

Ordinary person Kamiya Jihei Kamiya Jihei Adult Male
■ Real name
Kamiya Jihei
■ Personality
Not good at letting go
■ Special ability
Eavesdropping
Kamiya Jihei Kamiya Jihei
Colored woodblock print scenes

Jihei eavesdropping on a conversation between his courtesan lover and a customer.

Play character is from

“Shinju Ten no Amijima” (The Love Suicide at Amijima)
Common name: Ten no Amijima, Kamiya Jihei

Jihei is a merchant who runs a paper store in Osaka. Although he has a wife and children, he is focused on his lover, the courtesan Koharu, and his family worries about him. Koharu separates from Jihei at the request of his wife Osan, and Osan raises the money to buy Koharu’s freedom. The efforts of these two loyal women who have devoted their hearts to Jihei are in vain; in the end, Jihei is a representative Kyoto and Osaka wagoto (soft) style character who commits double suicide with Koharu. One highlight is the scene in which he appears in a striped kimono with a hand towel tied over his head, having lost his spirit thinking of Koharu.

Creator

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

Actors

Nakamura Ganjiro I

National Theatre collection (NA020780)

A stylish small-time crook who is somehow impossible to hateKamiyui Shinza

Outlaw Kamiyui Shinza Kamiyui Shinza Adult Male
■ Real name
Kamiyui Shinza
■ Personality
A strong-willed fast-talker
■ Special ability
Hairdressing
Kamiyui Shinza Kamiyui Shinza
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Shinza carrying a box filled with hairdressing equipment.

Play character is from

“Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachijo” (Shinza, the Barber)
Common name: Kamiyui Shinza

Shinza is an ex-convict who now lives in a row house working as a skilled hairdresser. He goads Chushichi, the sales clerk of a lumber trader called the Shirokoya, into attempting to elope with the daughter of the store. On the way, he suddenly changes his tune, snatches the daughter from Chushichi, and demands a ransom from the store. However, his landlord cons him into handing over half of the stolen money and the expensive fish (the first bonito of the season) that he had been relying on the ransom money to pay for; even though he is a scoundrel you somehow can’t hate this character.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro V

Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University collection (arcUP5575)

An unfortunate minister who is worshiped as a god after his deathKan Shojo

Noble / Samurai Kan Shojo Kan Shojo Adult Male
■ Real name
Sugawara no Michizane
■ Personality
Elegant and noble
■ Special ability
Causing miracles
Kan Shojo Kan Shojo
Colored woodblock print scenes

Shojo, wearing a costume patterned with plum blossoms, glares at his enemies.

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Kan Shojo is a minister and a virtuous politician who excels at calligraphy and poetry. He is framed unjustly for a crime, and exiled to Kyushu. On his way, he visits the home of his aunt Kakuju. His enemies try to kill him there, but by some mysterious power a wooden statue that he carved as a memento takes his place. This character is modeled after Sugawara no Michizane, a nobleman and scholar who lived during the second half of the 9th century. There are various legends about Michizane, who was demoted and died in obscurity, and he is still worshiped today as Tenjin, the god of scholarship.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

Actors

Kataoka Nizaemon XIII

National Theatre collection (NA011020)

A tragic beauty who is toyed with by men, and becomes a vengeful ghostKasane

Spirit / Ghost Kasane Kasane Unknown age Female
■ Real name
Kasane
■ Personality
Powerfully obsessive
■ Special ability
Psychic powers
Kasane Kasane
Colored woodblock print scenes

Onoe Kikugoro III, who specialized in ghost stories, plays two roles: the beauty Kasane, and Yoemon, a villainous and handsome man.

Play character is from

“Iromoyo Chotto Karimame” (Kasane and Yoemon)
Common name: Kasane

Kasane is a beautiful woman who served a samurai family. She is in love with the masterless samurai Yoemon, but Yoemon is the criminal who killed Kasane’s father. Kasane is possessed by her father’s spirit, her face becomes ugly, and she is killed by Yoemon. One of the highlights is the contrast between her beauty in the first half of the play, and her frightening figure after she has become a vengeful ghost. She also uses a characteristic movement known as renri-biki to pull the escaping Yoemon back, as if she is pulling him by an invisible thread.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro III

National Theatre collection (NA010580)

A charming and attractive evil woman who is covered in scarsKirare Otomi

Outlaw Kirare Otomi Kirare Otomi Adult Female
■ Real name
Otomi
■ Personality
Has the ability to take action
■ Special ability
Blackmail
Kirare Otomi Kirare Otomi
Colored woodblock print scenes

To get money for the man she loves, Otomi steals money from her husband that he himself took via blackmail, and tries to kill him.

Play character is from

“Musumegonomi Ukina no Yokogushi” (The Young Girl’s Favorite Comb of Scandal)
Common name: Kirare Otomi

This character is the female version of Kirare Yosa (“Scarred Yosa”). Although she is the mistress of Akama Genzaemon, she falls in love with Yosaburo and as a result she is slashed and scars remain on her body. She carries out blackmail and has the strength of character to speak sharply and with energy, yet when she once again meets Yosaburo she displays a dedicated woman’s heart as she tries to hide the scars on her face. She is characterized by her chic style, with her hair gathered loosely behind her head and a chequered kimono. She is the quintessential akuba (evil woman), who is fine with blackmailing and killing for the sake of the man she loves.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Sawamura Gennosuke IV

National Theatre collection (NA030860)

A supernatural fox who loves his parentsKitsune Tadanobu

Spirit / Ghost Kitsune Tadanobu Kitsune Tadanobu Unknown age Male
■ Real name
Genkuro Gitsune
■ Personality
Loves his parents
■ Special ability
Taking on human shape
Kitsune Tadanobu Kitsune Tadanobu
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Suspected by Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Shizukagozen, his true identity is questioned.

Play character is from

“Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura” (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)
Common name: Senbon Zakura

A fox who has transformed himself into Sato Tadanobu, one of Yoshitsune’s vassals. Longing for his parents, who were used to make the skin of a drum after they were killed, he follows Shizukagozen, who has the drum. Even though he has taken human form, his hand movements sometimes resemble those of a fox, and he appears suspicious when he listens to the sound of the drum in ecstasy. When pressed, he reveals his real form, covered in white fur, and tells Shizukagozen of his love for his parents through fox-like, agile movements and speech.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro V

National Theatre collection (NA031141)

An evil chief who takes pleasure in remaining undaunted by authorityKochiyama Soshun

Noble / Samurai Kochiyama Soshun Kochiyama Soshun Adult Male
■ Real name
Kochiyama Soshun
■ Personality
Dauntless
■ Special ability
Blackmail
Kochiyama Soshun Kochiyama Soshun
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The vivid scarlet kimono came about thanks to Ichikawa Danjuro IX’s clever way of brightening up the stage. Kochiyama still appears in a scarlet kimono today.

Play character is from

“Kumo ni Mago Ueno no Hatsuhana”
Common name: Kochiyama

Kochiyama Soshun holds a position called osukiya bozu, serving tea to the shogun (military leader) and officials in Edo Castle. For 200 ryo (gold coins), he promises to save a pawnbroker’s daughter who has been imprisoned in the residence of a feudal lord, and goes in pretending to be a monk from a powerful temple. His true identity is found out due to a mole on his left cheek; he turns nasty, saying, “The greater the evil, the greater the good,” and the chief retainer looks the other way, asking him to keep the peace. He leaves, spitting out, “Idiot” as a parting shot.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro IX

National Theatre collection (NA051003)

A habitual criminal with a tattoo of a bat on his cheek, involved in blackmail and extortioKomoriyasu

Outlaw Komoriyasu Komoriyasu Adult Male
■ Real name
Yasugoro
■ Personality
Cowardly and stupid yet fancies himself as someone important
■ Special ability
Getting people into his debt and taking advantage of their weaknesses
Komoriyasu Komoriyasu
Colored woodblock print scenes

Izuya Yosaburo and Komoriyasu have visited Otomi’s house for extortion. Komoriyasu appears wearing an old kimono for women.

Play character is from

“Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi”
Common name: Kirare Yosa

Yasugoro is a small-time crook who has committed many acts such as blackmail and extortion. He is known as Komoriyasu (“Bat Yasu”) because of the tattoo on his right cheek. He helps a man named Yosaburo, who has been half-killed after stirring up trouble with a gang boss, and makes Yosaburo his partner-in-crime. They go together to the home of Otomi, Yosaburo’s former lover who is now another man’s mistress. However, when Komoriyasu realizes that this man is an acquaintance of his father, he tries to leave after only taking a small amount of money.

Creator

Segawa Joko III

Actors

Nakamura Tsuruzo I, Onoe Matsusuke IV

National Theatre collection (NA041070)

A grieving samurai who has killed his own son for his loyaltyKumagai Naozane

Noble / Samurai Kumagai Naozane Kumagai Naozane Adult Male
■ Real name
Kumagai no Jiro Naozane
■ Personality
Sacrifices his family for his lord
■ Special ability
One-on-one combat
Kumagai Naozane Kumagai Naozane
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Naozane stops his wife, who is worried about their son.

Play character is from

“Ichinotani Futaba Gunki” (Chronicles of the Battle of Ichinotani)
Common name: Kumagai Jinya

Kumagai Naozane is a samurai who serves Minamoto no Yoshitsune. He cuts off the head of Taira no Atsumori, a Heike general, and presents it to Yoshitsune. However, this is not Atsumori’s head – it has been substituted for that of Naozane’s own son. In order to save Atsumori, the scion of a noble family who has aided him, he loses his own son, and, having felt the futility of being a samurai, Naozane becomes a monk.

Creator

Namiki Sosuke, other collaborators

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro VII, Nakamura Shikan IV

National Theatre collection (NA030191)

Resolving turmoil with brilliant solutionsKumedera Danjo

Hero Kumedera Danjo Kumedera Danjo Adult Male
■ Real name
Kumedera Danjo
■ Personality
Playboy
■ Special ability
Deduction
Kumedera Danjo Kumedera Danjo
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Danjo, having confirmed that his tweezers are standing up, tries to solve the mystery.

Play character is from

“Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura” (The Holy Man Narukami and Lady Taema)
Common name: Kenuki (The tweezers), Narukami

Kumedera Danjo is the chief retainer of a feudal lord. His master’s marriage with a young woman has been delayed due to illness, and he visits the young woman’s residence as a messenger with a request. The young woman has a strange illness, which causes her hair to stand on end. Seeing a pair of iron tweezers stand up and dance within her room, he realizes that there is a ninja with a magnet in the ceiling, and that this was the cause of the young woman’s “illness.” Danjo is not just sharp-minded - he is also a charming character who is not discouraged when he is refused by the servants at the residence after he flirts with them, regardless of their gender.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Tsuchi Hanjuro, Yasuda Abun, Nakada Mansuke

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro II

Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University collection (arcHS03-0007-2_11)

A female spy who uses seduction to carry out her missionKumo no Taemahime

Noble / Samurai Kumo no Taemahime Kumo no Taemahime Young Female
■ Real name
Kumo no Taemahime
■ Personality
Strategist
■ Special ability
Seduction
Kumo no Taemahime Kumo no Taemahime
Colored woodblock print scenes

Kumo no Taemahime pretending to be unwell in front of the waterfall pool. She is trying to attract Narukami Shonin.

Play character is from

“Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura” (The Holy Man Narukami and Lady Taema)
Common name: Kenuki (The tweezers), Narukami

This peerless beauty appears wearing a kimono with a single sleeve. She has been sent from the imperial court to Narukami Shonin with the aims of seducing him so that he lets his guard down, freeing the imprisoned dragon god, and making it rain. She uses various means to skillfully attract the priest, telling him her love story, offering him fleeting glimpses of her bare legs, and having him look after her when she pretends to be ill.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Original work: Ichikawa Danjuro I

Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University collection (arcUP2848)

Bad guys who trick travelers on the highway and steal their money and livesKumosuke

Villain Kumosuke Kumosuke Adult Male
■ Real name
Unknown
■ Personality
Have no problem doing bad things, but also quite stupid
■ Special ability
Finding weak-looking targets
Kumosuke Kumosuke
Colored woodblock print scenes

The kumosuke attacking a young man in a lonely place, and an influential man from Edo who is passing by.

Play character is from

“Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma” (The Troubles of the Sasaki Clan and a Clash of Love and Pride in the Pleasure Quarters: Fuwa Banzaemon vs. Nagoya Sanza and Shirai Gompachi)
Common name: Suzugamori, Sayaate

Kumosuke may carry travelers on kago litters, or on boards across rivers, but if they see someone who looks weak, they turn to robbery and steal money and goods. A dozen of them attack a young man heading towards Edo (modern-day Tokyo) as he approaches an execution site on the Tokaido, the main road that connected Kyoto and Edo, but it is the kumosuke who are killed. The beautiful man is in fact a master of swordsmanship; one after another he cuts the kumosuke’s faces, buttocks, limbs, and more, and a comical fight scene develops.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

National Theatre collection (NA070060)

A strong woman who is both loyal and maternalMasaoka

Noble / Samurai Masaoka Masaoka Adult Female
■ Real name
Masaoka
■ Personality
Strongly maternal
■ Special ability
Suppressing her emotions in front of people
Masaoka Masaoka
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Protecting her lord’s child from an enemy, and lifting him in her arms.

Play character is from

“Meiboku Sendai Hagi” (Troubles in the Date Clan)
Common name: Sendai Hagi

Masaoka is the wet nurse for the young lord, Tsuruchiyo, and loves him just the same as her own son, Senmatsu. One day, a poisoned cake is sent from a group planning to take over the family, and Senmatsu eats it in Tsuruchiyo’s place. Masaoka has the inner fortitude to protect her lord, staying calm even as her own son is killed in front of her. However, once she is alone, we see her as a grieving mother embracing the body of her young son.

Creator

Nagawa Kamesuke

Actors

Nakamura Utaemon V

National Theatre collection (NA031131)

A general who behaves in a refreshing manner, even in front of an enemyMashiba Hisayoshi

Noble / Samurai Mashiba Hisayoshi Mashiba Hisayoshi Adult Male
■ Real name
Mashiba Chikuzen no Kami Hisayoshi
■ Personality
Composed and calm
■ Special ability
Disguises
Mashiba Hisayoshi Mashiba Hisayoshi
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Hisayoshi looks up at the thief Ishikawa Goemon, who stands on top of the main temple gate, and assumes a crisp pose.

Play character is from

“Sanmon Gosan no Kiri” (The Paulownia Crest at the Golden Gate to the Nanzenji Temple)
Common name: Sanmon

The model for this character was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a general who lived during the 16th century. According to historical fact he was called a monkey, but in Kabuki he is often portrayed as a fresh and beautiful young man. He appears as a pilgrim wearing a light blue kimono, and approaches Ishikawa Goemon. Goemon senses Hisayoshi and hurls a throwing star at him, which Hisayoshi easily stops with a ladle.

Creator

Namiki Gohei I

Actors

Arashi Hinasuke I

National Theatre collection (NA090012)

An important role that changes from a villain to a tragic fatherMatsuomaru

Noble / Samurai Matsuomaru Matsuomaru Adult Male
■ Real name
Matsuomaru
■ Personality
Actually very emotional
■ Special ability
Not showing his deepest emotions
Matsuomaru Matsuomaru
Colored woodblock print scenes

Matsuomaru has been ordered to kill Kan Shojo’s son, and confirms whether the head he has been presented with is the real thing.

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Matsuomaru is the second-born of triplet brothers, and serves Fujiwara no Shihei, who opposes Kan Shojo. The people around him believe that he is bad-natured and cold-hearted. In public, he behaves as if he is hostile to Shojo, but he owes Shojo a debt of gratitude and, wanting to aid Shojo, Matsuomaru sacrifices his own son in place of Shojo’s son Kan Shusai. One of the highlights of the play is the scene in which Matsuomaru has to judge whether Kan Shusai is dead, and he endures his sadness as he checks his own son’s head.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro IV

National Theatre collection (NA090640)

A general who is loved by audiences and appears in many playsMinamoto no Yoshitsune

Noble / Samurai Minamoto no Yoshitsune Minamoto no Yoshitsune Adult Male
■ Real name
Kuro Hogan Yoshitsune
■ Personality
Emotional yet cool
■ Special ability
Appearing on stage for no reason
Minamoto no Yoshitsune Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Colored woodblock
print scenes

A fox who yearns for his parents has taken the form of Yoshitsune’s vassal. Yoshitsune, who has not been blessed with parental or brotherly love, is deeply impressed by the depth of care shown by the fox.

Play character is from

“Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura” (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)
Common name: Senbon Zakura

Yoshitsune is hunted by his older brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, even as they destroy their longtime enemy, the Heike  clan. As he escapes, he is involved in a number of incidents; for example, he entrusted with the emperor by once again defeating a Heike general who survived and sought revenge, and is aided by a fox devoted to his parents, who is grateful for the reward Yoshitsune gave him. Yoshitsune appears in a variety of other plays, including “Kanjincho” (The Subscription List) and “Funabenkei” (Benkei on the Boat).

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA010670)

A hero who helps his master in a pinch with his clevernessMusashibo Benkei

Noble / Samurai Musashibo Benkei Musashibo Benkei Adult Male
■ Real name
Musashibo Benkei
■ Personality
Has nerves of steel
■ Special ability
Answering questions about mountain priests
Musashibo Benkei Musashibo Benkei
Colored woodblock print scenes

Benkei, dressed as a mountain priest, reads a scroll aloud. In the background, you can see a stage set with painted pine trees, imitating a Noh stage.

Play character is from

“Kanjincho” (The Subscription List)

Benkei is attempting to flee to Hiraizumi through the checkpoint barrier at Ataka together with Minamoto no Yoshitsune, dressed as mountain priests. Benkei reads aloud from a scroll upon which nothing is written in front of Togashi no Saemon, the official who investigates their group, and even hits Yoshitsune, who is disguised as his vassal, to fool doubting eyes. After this, he drinks alcohol with Togashi and dances. Benkei is modeled after a monk who lived during the late 12th century. He appears as a great man who serves Yoshitsune in a variety of works of literature and performing arts.

Creator

Lyrics: Namiki Gohei II; Music: Kineya Rokuo

Actors

Matsumoto Koshiro VII

National Theatre collection (NA060580)

A handsome man who is popular even though he lives in povertyNagoya Sanza

Noble / Samurai Nagoya Sanza Nagoya Sanza Adult Male
■ Real name
Nagoya Sanza Motoharu
Nagoya Sanzaemon
■ Personality
Easy-going
■ Special ability
Attracting women
Nagoya Sanza Nagoya Sanza
Colored woodblock print scenes

Sanza, wearing an amigasa hat that covers his face and a kimono with pictures of swallows wet from spring rains, comes face-to-face with Fuwa Banzaemon, his old enemy, in Yoshiwara on a night when the cherry trees are in full bloom.

Play character is from

“Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma” (The Troubles of the Sasaki Clan and a Clash of Love and Pride in the Pleasure Quarters: Fuwa Banzaemon vs. Nagoya Sanza and Shirai Gompachi)
Common name: Suzugamori, Sayaate

Nagoya Sanza was a samurai who served the Sasaki family of feudal lords, but was disowned and became a masterless samurai. Although he takes Katsuragi, a popular oiran (top-class courtesan) in Yoshiwara, as his lover, he is also adored by Okuni, a serving woman with a birthmark on her face. Sanza is a fair-skinned, handsome man; although people chase him due to his debts, and he lives in poverty in a terribly leaky shack, he does not lose his sense of being a samurai, and moves with elegance, captivating women.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro III

National Theatre collection (NA110300)

A high-ranking priest who can’t resist the attractions of a beautiful womanNarukami Shonin

Bonze monk Narukami Shonin Narukami Shonin Adult Male
■ Real name
Narukami Shonin
■ Personality
Serious but can get very angry
■ Special ability
Supernatural power
Narukami Shonin Narukami Shonin
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Narukami realizes he has been tricked by the princess, and flies into a rage.

Play character is from

“Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura” (The Holy Man Narukami and Lady Taema)
Common name: Kenuki (The tweezers), Narukami

Narukami Shonin is well-trained, highly ranked priest, but is seduced by the charms of the beautiful Kumo no Taemahime, who cuts the rope that holds in the dragon god when he is drunk. When he realizes that he has been tricked, his costume quickly changes from white to flame-patterned clothing, the kumadori makeup on his face expresses anger, and he moves into a powerful aragoto (exaggerated) style performance.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Original work: Ichikawa Danjuro I

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro VIII

National Theatre collection (NA0073602000)

A man who uses black magic so he can take over the familyNikki Danjo

Villain Nikki Danjo Nikki Danjo Adult Male
■ Real name
Nikki Danjo
■ Personality
Wily
■ Special ability
Changing his form and flying
Nikki Danjo Nikki Danjo
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Beneath the floor, Nikki Danjo uses a questionable spell and transforms himself into a rat.

Play character is from

“Meiboku Sendai Hagi” (Troubles in the Date Clan)
Common name: Sendai Hagi

Nikki Danjo is a quintessential jitsuaku character, a cool-headed and fierce katakiyaku. He appears in this story based on a real family feud that occurred in Sendai domain. The long-nosed, sharp-eyed Matsumoto Koshiro V has used his looks to his advantage and created a strong and fierce image. One highlight is the bizarre scene in which Danjo, who is planning to assassinate the lord’s successor, transforms into a rat and appears ominously from underneath the floor.

Creator

Nagawa Kamesuke

Actors

Matsumoto Koshiro V

National Theatre collection (NA080130)

The leader of a group of five thievesNippon Daemon

Thief Nippon Daemon Nippon Daemon Adult Male
■ Real name
Nippon Daemon
■ Personality
Audacious
■ Special ability
Stealing and blackmail
Nippon Daemon Nippon Daemon
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The scene in which Nippon Daemon disguises himself as a samurai and commits a robbery.

Play character is from

“Aotozoshi Hana no Nishikie” (The Five Thieves)
Common name: Shiranami Goninotoko, Bentenkozo

Nippon Daemon was modeled after an actual thief who caused havoc on the Tokaido, the main road that connected Kyoto and Edo (modern-day Tokyo), during the mid-18th century. Since he did not kill unnecessarily, he often appears as a character in Kabuki who does not commit immoral crimes, although he does steal. Nippon Daemon tries to steal the money of the Hamamatsuya kimono fabric shop, but realizes that the son of the store owner is his own lost son, and leaves without taking anything. One highlight is the scene in which the five thieves line up at Inase River and impressively declare who they are with umbrellas in hand.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

National Theatre collection (NA040392)

A well-brought-up scoundrel from a samurai householdObo Kichisa

Thief Obo Kichisa Obo Kichisa Young Male
■ Real name
Obo Kichisa
■ Personality
Cocky, but considerate of his comrades
■ Special ability
Killing passersby to test his sword
Obo Kichisa Obo Kichisa
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Obo draws his sword, aiming for the money that Ojo Kichisa stole.

Play character is from

“Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai” (The Thieves Named Kichisa)
Common name: Sannin Kichisa

This thief is known as Obo, or “young master,” because he is the son of a high-ranking samurai and was well brought up. His father committed ritual suicide due to the theft of a famous sword, and his family fell apart. When he is fighting Ojo Kichisa over some money, the passing Osho Kichisa pacifies them, and the three become comrades. Later, he kills the culprit who stole the sword, Osho’s father Dozaemon Denkichi.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (101-2754)

An ideal leader with strong convictionsOboshi Yuranosuke

Noble / Samurai Oboshi Yuranosuke Oboshi Yuranosuke Adult Male
■ Real name
Oboshi Yuranosuke Yoshikane
■ Personality
Cool and collected
■ Special ability
Gathering subordinates
Oboshi Yuranosuke Oboshi Yuranosuke
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The Gion Ichirikijaya scene in which Yuranosuke hides his true feelings and indulges in pleasures. He observes an interaction between a courtesan and her elder brother, who once served the same master as him.

Play character is from

“Kanadehon Chushingura” (The Treasury of 47 Loyal Retainers)
Common name: Chushingura

Oboshi Yuranosuke was modeled after Oishi Kuranosuke, a chief administrator of Ako domain who was the leader in an incident of revenge that took place during the Genroku era (1688–1704). Having heard of an episode of bloodshed that involved his lord, Enya Hangan, Yuranosuke rushes to Kamakura, and swears revenge on the enemies of Enya Hangan, who has been ordered to commit ritual suicide. Although his determination for revenge has solidified internally, he outwardly plays around in the red light district so that the people around him will not know. Finally, he enacts his revenge together with 46 ronin connected to Enya Hangan.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

Actors

Sawamura Sojuro I, Onoe Kikugoro I, Ichikawa Danjuro IX

National Theatre collection (NA050811)

The courageous daughter of a boatman who risks her life to protect the person she lovesOfune

Ordinary person Ofune Ofune Young Female
■ Real name
Ofune
■ Personality
Brave and compassionate
■ Special ability
Is able to believe the words of the person she loves
Ofune Ofune
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Dreaming of being together with the man she longs for in the next world, Ofune beats the drum.

Play character is from

“Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi” (Miracle at Yaguchi Ferry)
Common name: Yaguchi no Watashi

Ofune falls in love at first sight with Nitta Yoshimine, a fugitive samurai who is lodging for the night. Knowing that her greedy father will try to kill Yoshimine for the reward money, she sacrifices herself and is stabbed by her father. She gathers the last of her strength, suffering from a fatal injury, and beats the signal drum to stop Yoshimine’s pursuers surrounding him, letting Yoshimine and his lover escape.

Creator

Fukuuchi Kigai (Hiraga Gennai)

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (016-0649)

A young servant-girl who loves her mistress and excels in martial techniquesOhatsu

Noble / Samurai Ohatsu Ohatsu Young Female
■ Real name
Ohatsu
■ Personality
Earnest and dislikes losing, but overdoes things
■ Special ability
Curing headaches by placing a straw sandal on the head
Ohatsu Ohatsu
Colored woodblock print scenes

Ohatsu aims at her mistress’ enemy, Iwafuji, in a palace garden.

Play character is from

“Kagamiyama Kokyo no Nishikie” (Mt. Kagamiyama and a Brocade of Feminine Virtues)
Common name: Kagamiyama

This is a story of court ladies in service to a samurai household: Iwafuji, who is planning to take over the feudal domain, Onoe, who is persecuted by Iwafuji, and her servant Ohatsu. Although Ohatsu protects her mistress and defeats Iwafuji in a match of swordsmanship, Onoe ends up being suspected of stealing a valuable treasure from Iwafuji, and commits suicide after being struck by a straw sandal. The grieving Ohatsu provokes Iwafuji and challenges her to a fight, killing her after a fierce battle.

Creator

Yo Yotai

Actors

Iwai Hanshiro V

National Theatre collection (NA051010)

A beautiful courtesan who aids the brothers in their revengeOiso no Tora

Courtesan Oiso no Tora Oiso no Tora Adult Female
■ Real name
Keisei Tora
■ Personality
Reserved
Oiso no Tora Oiso no Tora
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Oiso no Tora wears extravagant kanzashi hairpins and her obi (sash) hangs down in front of her.

Play character is from

“Kotobuki Soga no Taimen” (The Revenge of the Soga Brothers)
Common name: Soga no taimen

Tora is a keisei (a high-class courtesan) from Oiso (modern-day Oiso in Kanagawa Prefecture), and the lover of Juro, the elder of the Soga brothers. She supports the brothers in secret, and is present at the place where the brothers confront their enemy, aiming to get revenge for their father. This character, as a courtesan at the peak of her popularity, displays elegance and dignity with few movements. According to a legend that has been passed down, after the brothers’ deaths following their revenge, she traveled around Japan mourning them, and passed on their story.

Creator

Original work: Nakamura Akashi Seizaburo, Ichikawa Danjuro I

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (001-1023)

From virtuous wife to terrifying ghostOiwa

Spirit / Ghost Oiwa Oiwa Unknown age Female
■ Real name
Oiwa
■ Personality
Unforgiving
■ Special ability
Becoming a ghost and haunting people to death
Oiwa Oiwa
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The scene in which the ghostly Oiwa appears from a paper lantern. This production makes her ghost appear using a variety of tricks, which were invented by the writer and actors of the time.

Play character is from

“Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan” (The Ghosts of Yotsuya)
Common name: Yotsuya Kaidan

Oiwa, having become prone to illness after giving birth, is neglected by her husband Tamiya Iemon. The wealthy family living next door successfully plan to poison her so that Iemon will marry their daughter; one of Oiwa’s eyes swells up, the hair on her head falls out each time she uses a comb, and she dies with grief and resentment. Oiwa, now a ghost, haunts the people who hurt her to death, one after another.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro III

National Theatre collection (NA070160)

A cross-dressing thief who has some of the most famous lines in KabukiOjo Kichisa

Thief Ojo Kichisa Ojo Kichisa Young Male
■ Real name
Ojo Kichisa
■ Personality
Considerate of his comrades
■ Special ability
Cross dressing
Ojo Kichisa Ojo Kichisa
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Another thief appears and, aiming for the stolen money, attacks Ojo Kichisa.

Play character is from

“Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai” (The Thieves Named Kichisa)
Common name: Sannin Kichisa

Ojo Kichisa is a thief who was brought up as a woman, and steals while wearing a long-sleeved kimono. He meets Osho Kichisa and Obo Kichisa, who share the same name, and they become comrades. One highlight is the scene in which he throws a streetwalker (prostitute) into the river and steals her money, reciting the famous line, “Tsuki mo Oboro ni Shirauo no… (moonlight is hazy like an ice fish…)” The climax incorporates ideas based on stories about Yaoya Oshichi, who was involved in an incident of arson reported during the Edo period (1603-1868); Ojo Kichisa beats the watchtower drum in the snow.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

First performer: Iwai Kumesaburo III, Ichimura Uzaemon XV

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (101-2755)

A positive young woman who holds love above everythingOkaru

Noble / Samurai Okaru Okaru Young Female
■ Real name
Okaru
■ Personality
Has the ability to take action
■ Special ability
Very good at adapting to her environment
Okaru Okaru
Colored woodblock print scenes

Okaru on her journey to her parent’s home with her lover, Hayano Kampei, after running away from the mansion where she works. In this scene, known by the nickname “Ochiudo” (The Fugitives), she dances to kiyomoto narrative music.

Play character is from

“Kanadehon Chushingura” (The Treasury of 47 Loyal Retainers)
Common name: Chushingura

Okaru is a woman who serves the Enya family. While she is on a date with her lover Kampei, their lord attacks another feudal lord. Kampei, regretting that he could not be at his lord’s side when such a serious incident was taking place, tries to commit ritual suicide, but is stopped by Okaru, who takes him back to her parents’ home. She becomes a courtesan in an attempt to make the money needed for him to return to being a samurai, and when she hears that Kampei is dead, she takes action to restore his honor. She remains undaunted regardless of her circumstances, and just pushes forwards, devoted to her lover.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA040290)

A pure-hearted village daughter who steps back for her fiancéOmitsu

Ordinary person Omitsu Omitsu Young Female
■ Real name
Omitsu
■ Personality
Overly kind
■ Special ability
Cooking
Omitsu Omitsu
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Omitsu’s wedding has been decided, and she cheerfully tries to prepare celebratory wedding food.

Play character is from

“Shinpan Utazaimon” (The New Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu)
Common name: Nozakimura

Omitsu is the daughter of a peasant in Nozaki Village. Osome, the daughter of the oil merchant with whom her fiancé Hisamatsu was apprenticed, visits when Omitsu is preparing for her wedding with Hisamatsu. Osome is in love with Hisamatsu, and on top of this is an urban and brilliant young lady. Omitsu is jealous and carries out various cruel acts, but when she finds out that the two of them are resolved to commit suicide together, she cuts her hair and becomes a nun. One highlight is the sudden and complete change in this naïve village daughter who is excitedly carrying out preparations just before the wedding as she makes this momentous decision.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (016-2095)

A young woman who gives everything for her loverOmiwa

Ordinary person Omiwa Omiwa Young Female
■ Real name
Omiwa
■ Personality
Single-minded
■ Special ability
Following people
Omiwa Omiwa
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Omiwa learns that the man she is deeply in love with is to marry another woman, and goes mad with jealousy, making her hair disheveled.

Play character is from

“Imoseyama Onna Teikin” (Husband and Wife Mountains: An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue)
Common name: Imoseyama

Omiwa is the daughter of a sake brewer in Yamato no Kuni (modern-day Nara Prefecture). She follows her lover Motome into the palace. Wanting to meet Motome, she endures the bullying of the female servants in the palace, but becomes absolutely furious when she finds out that Motome is to marry Tachibanahime. She is stabbed by one of Motome’s comrades and dies happy, knowing that her blood will be useful to Motome, who is trying to defeat a villain.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji, other collaborators

Actors

Nakamura Utaemon III

National Theatre collection (NA041290)

A scoundrel who leaves a strong impression despite only appearing in one sceneOno Sadakuro

Villain Ono Sadakuro Ono Sadakuro Adult Male
■ Real name
Ono Sadakuro
■ Personality
Callous
■ Special ability
Theft
Ono Sadakuro Ono Sadakuro
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Ono Sadakuro’s 1819 depiction. In this production, Ichikawa Danjuro VII played seven characters in addition to Sadakuro. The character originally gave the impression of a mountain bandit, but this costume of black, casual dress created by Nakamura Nakazo I gives the impression of an iroaku, or handsome villain, and was well received.

Play character is from

“Kanadehon Chushingura” (The Treasury of 47 Loyal Retainers)
Common name: Chushingura

Sadakuro is the son of the chief retainer of the Enya family, but he has fallen on bad times and become a thief. At night, he kills a man passing through the mountains and steals his money, but immediately afterwards is accidentally shot by Hayano Kampei and dies. He appears wearing a simple black kimono, and only ever speaks the words “50 ryo (gold coins)…” With his cruel personality, he is a villainous character that became popular due to his overwhelming presence and coolness, even though his time on the stage is short.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

Actors

Nakamura Nakazo I

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (100-0435)

The leader of the three scoundrels named KichisaOsho Kichisa

Thief Osho Kichisa Osho Kichisa Adult Male
■ Real name
Osho Kichisa
■ Personality
Considerate of his comrades
■ Special ability
Conversation
Osho Kichisa Osho Kichisa
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The scene in which Osho intervenes in the fight that took place by the river.

Play character is from

“Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai” (The Thieves Named Kichisa)
Common name: Sannin Kichisa

This scoundrel is known as Osho, meaning “Buddhist priest,” because he previously entered the priesthood. He steps in-between Ojo Kichisa and Obo Kichisa, who have drawn their swords over 100 stolen ryo (gold coins), and stops their fight; these three people with the same name become comrades. Osho’s father Dozaemon Denkichi is killed by Obo, but Osho arranges to let Obo and Ojo, who are wanted men, try and escape somehow. However, they suffer the karmic consequences of their parents’ actions misdeeds and their own various wrongdoings up until now, and finally they stab each other to death.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

National Theatre collection (NA100330)

A well-off young lady who earnestly pushes forwards for loveOsome

Ordinary person Osome Osome Young Female
■ Real name
Osome
■ Personality
Obedient to her own feelings
■ Special ability
Being smartly dressed
Osome Osome
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Osome visits her lover, who has returned to his family in Nozaki Village. She looks at the situation inside of the house.

Play character is from

“Shinpan Utazaimon” (The New Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu)
Common name: Nozakimura

Osome is the daughter of an oil merchant in Osaka. She falls in love with Hisamatsu, who has come as an apprentice, and becomes pregnant with Hisamatsu’s child. Hisamatsu is made to return home to Nozaki Village due to some trouble with money; Osome travels a long way to meet him, lying to her family that she is going to worship the Bodhisattva Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. They understand that they cannot be together due to their different social positions, so they decide to commit double suicide. This character is an urban machi-musume, appearing in a beautiful long-sleeved kimono.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji

National Theatre collection (NA0076468000)

Strong enough to beat a man, with a young woman’s heartOsono

Noble / Samurai Osono Osono Young Female
■ Real name
Osono
■ Personality
Naïve
■ Special ability
Martial skills
Osono Osono
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Osono’s father, who was a master of swordsmanship, is killed, and she pursues his enemy dressed as a komuso (a monk who travels around various regions playing a shakuhachi flute).

Play character is from

“Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi” (The Vow to Help a Revenge)
Common name: Keyamura

Osono is a woman with a large build, and a master of martial skills. She is strong enough to lift a large millstone. She seeks her father’s enemy dressed as a komuso. One humorous highlight is when she realizes that Rokusuke, who finds out that she is a woman, is in fact her fiancé as decided by her father, and she suddenly becomes embarrassed and behaves in a feminine way. She is a quintessential onnabudo (female warrior) stock character.

Creator

Umeno Shitakaze, Chikamatsu Yasuzo

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (100-5991)

A chic lady who values her heart over her faceOtatsu

Outlaw Otatsu Otatsu Adult Female
■ Real name
Otatsu
■ Personality
Frank and generous
■ Special ability
Drastic actions
Otatsu Otatsu
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Otatsu harms her own beautiful face, trying to demonstrate the willpower of a woman.

Play character is from

“Natsumatsuri Naniwa Kagami” (The Summer Festival in Naniwa)
Common name: Natsumatsuri

Otatsu is the beautiful wife of Issun Tokubei, who lives among the lower-class commoners and is a kyokaku who risks his life to help the weak. As her character is trusted, she intends to return to her home while taking care of a young man, trusting his character, but concerns are expressed about her traveling alone with the man and so she presses a hot metal poker against her face and creates an ugly burn, saying, “Will he desire me now?” and showing the readiness of her heart to carry out her duty.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (006-5618)

A wife who enthusiastically aids her husband in becoming successful Otoku

Ordinary person Otoku Otoku Adult Female
■ Real name
Otoku
■ Personality
Sociable
■ Special ability
Speaking, playing the hand drum
Otoku Otoku
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Otoku is surprised by the strange thing happening to a picture drawn by her husband.

Play character is from

“Keisei Hangonko” (The Courtsan and the Resurrecting Incense)
Common name: Domomata

On behalf of her artist husband Matahei, who stammers and does not speak well in public, Otoku speaks to his master and tries her very best to have his work acknowledged. Pessimistic about the future, her husband tries to commit suicide, and as she laments she encourages him to leave behind a self-portrait on a chozubachi (a stone basin that holds water to wash the hands and face). When he does so, a strange thing happens to the self-portrait that he has drawn, and Matahei’s talent is joyfully acknowledged. This sewa-nyobo (commoner’s wife) dotes on her suffering husband.

Creator

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (016-0156)

A woman who should have died but was destined to liveOtomi

Ordinary person Otomi Otomi Adult Female
■ Real name
Otomi
■ Personality
Loves deeply
■ Special ability
Attracting men
Otomi Otomi
Colored woodblock print scenes

The scene in which Otomi reencounters her lover after a long period of time. Otomi's lover complains to her that she is cold-hearted, and she laments that she has not forgotten him for a single day since they parted.

Play character is from

“Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi”
Common name: Kirare Yosa

A former geisha from Edo (modern-day Tokyo), Otomi is the mistress of the gang boss of Kisarazu. She meets Izuya Yosaburo on the beach at Kisarazu and falls in love with him; because of this, Yosaburo is badly slashed, and she throws herself into the sea. After her life is saved, she lives with another man who looks after her. She has a second fated meeting with Yosaburo when he coincidentally appears where she is living, and reconfirms her love for him. This character wears a striped kimono and a comfortable hairstyle worn after a bath; her body language is full of Edo chic and adult charm.

Creator

Segawa Joko III

National Theatre collection (NA110510)

A mother who loses her own child to save the child of someone to whom she owes a debtSagami

Noble / Samurai Sagami Sagami Adult Female
■ Real name
Sagami
■ Personality
Worries too much
■ Special ability
The dynamism to make a move
Sagami Sagami
Colored woodblock print scenes

Sagami tries to come near the tub that holds her son’s head, but Kumagai no Jiro Naozane uses a wooden signboard to stop her.

Play character is from

“Ichinotani Futaba Gunki” (Chronicles of the Battle of Ichinotani)
Common name: Kumagai Jinya

Sagami was in love with the general Kumagai no Jiro Naozane, but love affairs between vassals were forbidden. When their relationship was discovered, she was saved by Fuji no Kata. Ten years later, Sagami sends Kojiro, her son with Naozane, to the battlefields, and Fuji no Kata does the same with Taira no Atsumori, her son with the emperor. Sagami grieves when she finds out that her husband Naozane has killed Kojiro in place of Atsumori on the orders of his lord, Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Creator

Namiki Sosuke, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA030190)

The personification of a bird who is caught up in love and dancesSagimusume

Spirit / Ghost Sagimusume Sagimusume Unknown age Female
■ Real name
Sagimusume
■ Personality
Feels highs and lows intensely
■ Special ability
Transforming as she dances
Sagimusume Sagimusume
Colored woodblock
print scenes

As the snow piles up on blooming flowers, a young woman wearing a kimono decorated with pictures of white herons opens a ringed paper umbrella and stands still for a while.

Play character is from

“Sagi-musume” (The Heron Maiden)

It is a wintery dusk with dancing snow. A young woman in a white costume stands still, like a wet heron, and dances with lonely and quiet elegance. Her costume changes in an instant; she becomes a colorful city girl, and dances rhythmically as she shows her feelings of love. Darkness approaches, and the young woman becomes a bird, who dances the pain of being tortured in Hell for her attachment to broken love.

Creator

Lyrics: Horikoshi Nisoji; Music: Kineya Chujiro, other

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro IX

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (101-6964)

A somewhat stupid, unpopular manSagisaka Bannai

Noble / Samurai Sagisaka Bannai Sagisaka Bannai Adult Male
■ Real name
Sagisaka Bannai
■ Personality
Disagreeable
■ Special ability
Causing laughter without trying to be funny
Sagisaka Bannai Sagisaka Bannai
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Bannai makes a pass at Okaru, whom he likes, but is refused.

Play character is from

“Kanadehon Chushingura” (The Treasury of 47 Loyal Retainers)
Common name: Chushingura

Sagisaka Bannai is the vassal of Kono Morono. In a scene in which he receives bribes for Morono, he performs an exchange that resembles a comedy skit. He likes Okaru, and when she runs away with Hayano Kampei, Bannai tries to follow the two of them, but is driven away. Among villainous roles, Bannai is representative of the humorous stock character known as a handogataki, who lightens a serious story.

Creator

Namiki Sosuke, other collaborators

Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library collection (N054-063)

A man who keeps his convictions, even as he plays both sidesSaito Sanemori

Noble / Samurai Saito Sanemori Saito Sanemori Adult Male
■ Real name
Saito Betto Sanemori
■ Personality
Does not show his true feelings
■ Special ability
Talking glibly
Saito Sanemori Saito Sanemori
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Sanemori rides a Heike clan boat on Lake Biwa, and helps a swimming woman who carries a white flag.

Play character is from

“Genpei Nunobiki no Taki” (Sanemori’s Tale)
Common name: Sanemori Monogatari

Saito Sanemori was once a general of the Genji clan, but now serves the Heike clan while secretly supporting the declining Genji. The wife of Sanemori’s former lord, Aoigozen, is pregnant, and is being hidden in a peasant’s house. Sanemori talks down the pursuers who have come to kill the child, and they return home; after this, Aoigozen is able to give birth safely. To save the Genji child, Sanemori has sacrificed a woman named Koman, and he leaves after promising her son that in the future he may avenge her and attack Sanemori.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, Miyoshi Shoraku

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro V

National Theatre collection (NA010530)

A princess who is never discouraged in any circumstanceSakurahime

Noble / Samurai Sakurahime Sakurahime Young Female
■ Real name
Sakurahime
■ Personality
Passionate
■ Special ability
Rebuffing men who follow her around
Sakurahime Sakurahime
Colored woodblock
print scenes

A high-ranking priest pines for Sakurahime.

Play character is from

“Sakurahime Azuma Bunsho” (The Scarlet Princess and her story in the East)
Common name: Azuma Bunsho

Sakurahime is a high-ranking princess. She gives birth to the child of Gonsuke, a base villain who broke into her residence, and is driven away from her home. Following this, the priest Seigen appears; he is her lover from a previous life, but she chooses to live with Gonsuke. Sakurahime is a woman who acts according to her heart, undaunted when she falls into poverty and when a spirit appears. She speaks using a mixture of words befitting a princess and crude language.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Iwai Hanshiro V

National Theatre collection (NA101620)

The youngest of three brothers, he is short-lived, scattering like the cherry blossoms after which he was namedSakuramaru

Noble / Samurai Sakuramaru Sakuramaru Young Male
■ Real name
Sakuramaru
■ Personality
Calm
■ Special ability
Pulling ox carriages
Sakuramaru Sakuramaru
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The scene in which Sakuramaru attacks the ox carriage in which his enemy rides. He wears a juban undershirt embroidered with cherry blossoms (sakura).

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Sakuramaru serves Tokiyo Shinno, the younger brother of the emperor, and is the third-born of triplet brothers. He helped Shinno to elope, and this caused Kan Shojo to lose his standing; Sakuramaru regrets this, and commits ritual suicide. In contrast to his eldest brother Umeomaru, who is a brave aragoto (exaggerated) style character, Sakuramaru is a gentle-mannered wagoto (soft) style character.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (100-3166)

Comrades with the same name who are tied together by a strange fateSannin Kichisa

Thief Sannin Kichisa Sannin Kichisa Young 〜Adult Male
■ Real name
Ojo Kichisa
Obo Kichisa
Osho Kichisa
■ Personality
Considerate of their comrades
■ Special ability
Theft
Sannin Kichisa Sannin Kichisa
Colored woodblock print scenes

The scene in which the three thieves meet by the side of the river: Osho stands between Ojo and Obo, who have drawn their swords, and is stopping the fight.

Play character is from

“Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai” (The Thieves Named Kichisa)
Common name: Sannin Kichisa

These three thieves who have the same name meet by chance. They become comrades, with Osho, who intervened in the fight between Ojo and Obo, acting as their leader. We learn that they are in fact tied together by a strange fate: Obo was the son of a samurai household, but was brought to ruin by a theft committed by Osho’s father, and the woman from whom Ojo stole money was Osho’s younger sister.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

National Theatre collection (NA100330)

A priest who defies his precepts and is steadfast in love, even after becoming a spiritSeigen

Spirit / Ghost Seigen Seigen Unknown age Male
■ Real name
Seigen Ajari
■ Personality
Strongly persistent
■ Special ability
Staying in love
Seigen Seigen
Colored woodblock print scenes

Seigen trying to pursue Sakurahime even after falling into poverty and weakened from illness.

Play character is from

“Sakurahime Azuma Bunsho” (The Scarlet Princess and her story in the East)
Common name: Azuma Bunsho

Seigen planned to commit double suicide with a youth named Shiragikumaru when he was young. After becoming a highly-ranked priest, he meets Sakurahime, who is the reincarnation of Shiragikumaru, but he is framed for a crime and cast out. After falling ill, he is accidentally stabbed to death, but he becomes a spirit and appears before Sakurahime each night.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

National Theatre collection (NA080160)

A callous samurai who drives criminals to despairSenoo no Taro

Villain Senoo no Taro Senoo no Taro Adult Male
■ Real name
Senoo no Taro Kaneyasu
■ Personality
Merciless
■ Special ability
Kicking people when they are down
Senoo no Taro Senoo no Taro
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Senoo no Taro is killed by Shunkan, whom he treated terribly when Shunkan became a criminal.

Play character is from

“Heike Nyogonoshima” (The Heike Clan and the Island of Women)
Common name: Shunkan

Senoo no Taro is a samurai who serves the Heike clan. He travels to the island where people are exiled with a notification that their crimes have been forgiven. He tells Shunkan that his wife in the capital has been executed, and pushes him into the depths of despair. This detestable villainous character has curly white hair and a red face; in the end he is killed by Shunkan.

Creator

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library collection (M248-27)

A hero of justice who appears when people are in a pinchShibaraku

Hero Shibaraku Shibaraku Young Male
■ Real name
Kamakura Gongoro Kagemasa
■ Personality
Filled with a sense of justice
■ Special ability
Having a presence
Shibaraku Shibaraku
Colored woodblock print scenes

When villains who are trying to take over the country are about to kill good people, this warlord of justice appears, gets rid of the villains, and saves the good people.

Play character is from

“Shibaraku” (Wait a Moment!)

Shibaraku is a quintessential character of the wild and hearty aragoto (exaggerated) style, and was created as a talisman-like entity with superhuman powers who protects the streets of Edo (modern-day Tokyo). In his hair he wears a large paper ornament that sticks out like a pole, his face is made-up with red streaks, and he wears a great sword over his wide-sleeved red-brown clothes. He himself can’t be seen, but a loud shout of “Shibaraku! (Wait a moment!)” will suddenly sound and his powerful figure will appear in disguise; he will speak eloquently and chastise the villain.

Creator

Ichikawa Danjuro I

Actors

First performer: Ichikawa Danjuro I

National Theatre collection (NA050940)

A beautiful and vindictive ghost who expresses the heart of a woman in love through danceShirabyoshi Hanako

Spirit / Ghost Shirabyoshi Hanako Shirabyoshi Hanako Unknown age Female
■ Real name
Shirabyoshi Hanako
■ Personality
Single-minded
■ Special ability
Dancing
Shirabyoshi Hanako Shirabyoshi Hanako
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Shirabyoshi (a female performer who sang and danced wearing men’s clothing) Hanako dances wearing the hat of a court noble.

Play character is from

“Kyoganoko Musume Dojoji” (The Girl at Dojoji Temple)
Common name: Musume Dojoji

On the day that the bell at Dojoji Temple is rebuilt and a service is held for the temple bell, Hanako appears in the temple and asks if she may dance. She performs several dances, including while playing the ball game mari-tsuki, as a city girl, and expressing the heart of a woman in love, quickly changing into different costume each time. Finally, she jumps into the bell and appears in the form of a snake. She is in fact the ghost of Kiyohime, who killed the monk Anchin, whom she loved, by burning him to death with the bell.

Creator

Lyrics: Fujimoto Tobun; Music: Kineya Yasaburo I

Actors

Nakamura Tomijuro I

National Theatre collection (NA060620)

A beautiful delinquent youth who is unapologetic even though he has killed 100 peopleShirai Gompachi

Noble / Samurai Shirai Gompachi Shirai Gompachi Young Male
■ Real name
Shirai Gompachi
■ Personality
Audacious
■ Special ability
Sword skills
Shirai Gompachi Shirai Gompachi
Colored woodblock print scenes

Gompachi is stopped by Banzui Chobei, who is returning to Edo (modern-day Tokyo) from Kamakura. Gompachi is on the right.

Play character is from

“Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma” (The Troubles of the Sasaki Clan and a Clash of Love and Pride in the Pleasure Quarters: Fuwa Banzaemon vs. Nagoya Sanza and Shirai Gompachi)
Common name: Suzugamori, Sayaate

This samurai has fled to Edo after killing someone. There is an attempt on his life at Suzugamori in Shinagawa, and he meets Banzui Chobei after having cut down and killed a large number of people. Chobei appreciates Gompachi’s nerve, and looks after him. This character was modeled after Hirai Gompachi, who was an actual thief and murderer executed at Suzugamori.

*Sometimes the name of a famous scene is used as a nickname for the play it comes from. This character may not appear in the original scene with this name.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Iwai Hanshiro V

National Theatre collection (NA100050)

A group of five stylish thieves with highly distinctive charactersShiranami Goninotoko

Thief Shiranami Goninotoko Shiranami Goninotoko Young〜Adult Male
■ Real name
Nippon Daemon, Benten Kozo Kikunosuke, Nango Rikimaru, Tadanobu Rihei, Akaboshi Juzaburo.
■ Special ability
Stealing, blackmail, disguises, and more
Shiranami Goninotoko Shiranami Goninotoko
Colored woodblock print scenes

The thieves’ profiles and actors’ names are written in the background.

Play character is from

“Aotozoshi Hana no Nishikie” (The Five Thieves)
Common name: Shiranami Goninotoko, Bentenkozo

This group of thieves was gathered together by their leader Nippon Daemon. After Benten Kozo and Nango Rikimaru have carried out some blackmail, the five come together at Inase River with law enforcement chasing after them. One brilliant scene sees them carrying umbrellas with shiranami (an old slang word meaning “thief”) written upon them and announcing their names; each thief wears a different, individual costume, and has their own music. Only Nippon Daemon actually existed in reality - the other members were made up to create a work with him as the subject.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

National Theatre collection (NA020640)

A beautiful woman who charmed the heart of a general with her dancingShizukagozen

Noble / Samurai Shizukagozen Shizukagozen Young Female
■ Real name
Shizukagozen
■ Personality
Endures hardship for the sake of the person she loves
■ Special ability
Dance and drum performances
Shizukagozen Shizukagozen
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Shizukagozen following her lover to Yoshino when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Play character is from

“Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura” (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)
Common name: Senbon Zakura

Shizukagozen is the lover of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and a shirabyoshi dancer (a female performer who sang and danced wearing men’s clothing). When Yoshitsune’s mansion is attacked, she fights with a naginata (a Japanese glaive). Separated from Yoshitsune, she follows him to Mt. Yoshino; in one scene on the way there, she performs a brilliant dance with his vassal, Kitsune Tadanobu. She is a woman who wholeheartedly loves and cares for her lover, through thick and thin.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA070970)

A monk who cannot leave behind his worldly desires, and despairs at his lonelinessShunkan

Bonze monk Shunkan Shunkan Adult Male
■ Real name
Shunkan Sozu
■ Personality
Unable to let go of his emotions
Shunkan Shunkan
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Shunkan, left behind on the island, cries towards the receding boat.

Play character is from

“Heike Nyogonoshima” (The Heike Clan and the Island of Women)
Common name: Shunkan

Shunkan is modeled after a monk from the Heian period (794-1185) who appears in Heike Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike). For the crime of attempting to attack the Heike, Shunkan is exiled to an island, but one day a boat comes from the capital and he is permitted to go home. However, knowing that the wife he left in the capital is dead, he has Chidori, the lover of Naritsune (who was exiled with him), take the boat in his place. He was prepared to remain on the island all alone, but cries out in sorrow after the receding boat.

Creator

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

National Theatre collection (NA101560)

A second son who is completely ardent about attacking his father’s enemySoga no Goro

Hero Soga no Goro Soga no Goro Young Male
■ Real name
Soga no Goro Tokimune
■ Personality
Extremely hot-blooded
■ Special ability
Martial skills
Soga no Goro Soga no Goro
Colored woodblock print scenes

His older brother wears a costume patterned with plovers, while Goro’s costume is patterned with swallowtail butterflies.

Play character is from

“Kotobuki Soga no Taimen” (The Revenge of the Soga Brothers)
Common name: Soga no taimen

Together with his elder brother Juro, Soga no Goro confronts his father’s killer, Kudo Suketsune, at his residence when they visit to offer New Year’s greetings. He smashes the sake cup that Suketsune has passed him to pieces. This character is performed in the aragoto (exaggerated) style, and was created based on the revenge carried out by the Soga brothers at the end of the 12th century. The Soga brothers, who had targeted their father’s enemy since they were young and achieved their hearts’ desire after hardship, were well known to the people of the Edo period (1603-1868), and appear frequently as main characters in numerous works of literature and performing arts.

Creator

Current staging: Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro I, II

National Theatre collection (NA040050)

An eerie, evil villain who keeps a secret about his birthSoga no Iruka

Villain Soga no Iruka Soga no Iruka Adult Male
■ Real name
Soga no Iruka
■ Personality
Hides his desire to take over the country
■ Special ability
The ability to use spiritual power
Soga no Iruka Soga no Iruka
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Fresh blood from the furious Omiwa, who is deeply jealous, is needed to defeat Iruka.

Play character is from

“Imoseyama Onna Teikin” (Husband and Wife Mountains: An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue)
Common name: Imoseyama

The model for this character was a powerful noble from the 7th century. It is said that Iruka’s mother became pregnant after drinking the blood of a white doe. He plans to take the emperor’s position, and direct the country according to his wishes. Iruka’s face is covered in white makeup with blue kumadori markings, indicating that he is a villain. He is the quintessential kugeaku (evil nobleman) who wears a wig called an oji.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA0076474000)

The elder of two brothers who is completely ardent about attacking his father’s enemySoga no Juro

Noble / Samurai Soga no Juro Soga no Juro Young Male
■ Real name
Soga no Juro Sukenari
■ Personality
Extremely patient
■ Special ability
Good at listening
Soga no Juro Soga no Juro
Colored woodblock print scenes

The brothers have targeted their father's enemy since they were children. Here, they meet face-to-face for the first time. Juro is in the center.

Play character is from

“Kotobuki Soga no Taimen” (The Revenge of the Soga Brothers)
Common name: Soga no taimen

Soga no Juro stops his younger brother Goro from trying to challenge their father’s enemy, Kudo Suketsune, when they visit his residence to offer New Year’s greetings. He was modeled on the elder of the Soga brothers, who carried out revenge for their father at the end of the 12th century. The people who lived in the Edo period (1603-1868) knew this character very well, and he frequently appears in numerous works of literature and performing arts. In contrast to his younger brother Goro, who is portrayed as wild, Juro is a gentle wagoto (soft) style stock character with a subdued manner.

Creator

Current staging: Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Nakamura Shichisaburo I

National Theatre collection (NA040050)

A intriguing yet refined man popular with the ladies in EdoSukeroku

Hero Sukeroku Sukeroku Young Male
■ Real name
Hanakawado Sukeroku
■ Personality
High-spirited and quick to fight
■ Special ability
Attracting women
Sukeroku Sukeroku
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Sukeroku with several smoking pipes he has received from courtesans.

Play character is from

“Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura” (Sukeroku, the Hero of Edo)
Common name: Sukeroku

With chic fashion - a black kimono with his family crest, a red undershirt, and a purple headband - and manners, as well as strength in a fight, Sukeroku is an ideal “cool guy” to the people of Edo (modern-day Tokyo). He is very popular in the Yoshiwara pleasure district, and is the lover of Agemaki of Miuraya, a top-class courtesan there. His true identity is the samurai Soga no Goro, disguised as a kyokaku (a person who values duty and humanity, and fights strong people to relieve the suffering of the weak) so he can search for the treasured sword of the Genji clan.

Creator

Original work: Ichikawa Danjuro II

Actors

First performer: Ichikawa Danjuro II

National Theatre collection (NA021320)

A general of the Heike clan who met a heroic endTaira no Tomomori

Noble / Samurai Taira no Tomomori Taira no Tomomori Adult Male
■ Real name
Taira no Tomomori
■ Personality
Valiant
■ Special ability
Pretending to be someone else
Taira no Tomomori Taira no Tomomori
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Tomomori challenges the Genji clan to take his revenge, but is surrounded by Genji samurai and kills himself in Daimotsu Bay.

Play character is from

“Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura” (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)
Common name: Senbon Zakura

The model for Tomomori’s character was the fourth son of Taira no Kiyomori, said to have killed himself at sea while wearing two layers of armor. It was thought that Tomomori had died in battle, but he lived on as a shipping agent called Tokaiya Ginpei while protecting Emperor Antoku. Taking the chance to get revenge against Minamoto no Yoshitsune, he heads into battle in white clothing, signifying that he is a spirit. However, he understands that he cannot run away from the Heike’s fate of destruction, and sinks into the sea tied to a great anchor.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA081140) 

A writing teacher who sacrificed one of his students despite his sufferingTakebe Genzo

Ordinary person Takebe Genzo Takebe Genzo Adult Male
■ Real name
Takebe Genzo
■ Personality
Honest
■ Special ability
Calligraphy
Takebe Genzo Takebe Genzo
Colored woodblock print scenes

Matsuomaru’s wife visits Genzo’s terakoya (an educational facility in the Edo period (1603–1868) that taught children how to read and write).

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Takebe Genzo’s talent at calligraphy is acknowledged by Kan Shojo, whom Genzo once served, and he is instructed in hippo (the secrets of calligraphy). Fujiwara no Shihei finds out that he is sheltering Shojo’s son Kan Shusai, and orders Genzo to present Shusai’s head. Left with no choice, Genzo kills a child who has just entered his terakoya and presents that child’s head instead. Although this is for his master’s sake, Genzo mourns that he is in a situation in which he has to sacrifice an innocent child.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA010350)

Unable to stand the power harassment, he decides to stage a coup d’étatTakechi Mitsuhide

Noble / Samurai Takechi Mitsuhide Takechi Mitsuhide Adult Male
■ Real name
Takechi Mitsuhide
■ Personality
Patient
■ Special ability
Making his superior angry
Takechi Mitsuhide Takechi Mitsuhide
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Mitsuhide carrying a bamboo spear.Legend has it that Akechi Mitsuhide was stabbed and killed by a farmer’s spear.

Play character is from

“Ehontaikoki” (A Picture Book of the Taiko Hideyoshi)
Common name: Taiju, Amagasaki

Takechi Mitsuhide is modeled after Akechi Mitsuhide, a general who lived during the 16th century. In this play, Mitsuhide has killed his lord, and is following Mashiba Hisayoshi, who is dressed as a traveling monk. Mitsuhide visits his mother and wife hidden in the countryside. Mitsuhide mistakenly kills his mother with a bamboo spear, thinking she is Hisayoshi. On top of this, his gravely-injured son dies having brought back news of their defeat, he is blamed by his grieving wife, and unable to stand it, he cries his eyes out.

Creator

Chikamatsu Yanagi, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA061210)

A ruthless ladies’ man who succumbs to his poor lifestyle as an out-of-work samurai and betrays his wifeTamiya Iemon

Villain Tamiya Iemon Tamiya Iemon Adult Male
■ Real name
Tamiya Iemon
■ Personality
Selfish
■ Special ability
Attracting women
Tamiya Iemon Tamiya Iemon
Colored woodblock print scenes

Iemon nails the bodies of his wife and a man he has killed to the front and back of a sliding door and lets the river take them.

Play character is from

“Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan” (The Ghosts of Yotsuya)
Common name: Yotsuya Kaidan

Tamiya Iemon was originally a samurai, but is now a poor, out-of-work ronin who lives by making umbrellas. He betrays his wife Oiwa shortly after she gives birth, and promises to marry the daughter of the rich family who live next door. He is bewildered by the ghost of Oiwa, who was killed with poison, and commits one murder after another; he is finally killed by Yomoshichi, the husband of Oiwa’s younger sister. This character is the quintessential romantic lead (nimaime) and atrocious villain, the iroaku.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

National Theatre collection (NA080210)

A user of black magic who can manipulate toads, returned from a foreign country Tenjiku Tokubei

Villain Tenjiku Tokubei Tenjiku Tokubei Adult Male
■ Real name
Tenjiku Tokubei
■ Personality
Ambitious
■ Special ability
Good at talking about foreign countries
Tenjiku Tokubei Tenjiku Tokubei
Colored woodblock print scenes

Tokubei appears with a huge toad.

Play character is from

“Tenjiku Tokubei Ikoku Banashi” (The Strange Tale of Tenjiku Tokubei)
Common name: Tentoku

Tenjiku Tokubei is a former boatman who has returned to Japan after having traveled as far away as India (Tenjiku). His father, who is planning to take over Japan, gifts him with black magic over toads. One highlight is a spectacular scene in which he appears on top of a roof riding on the back of a huge toad. The model for the character was a trader named Tokubei, who traveled to Thailand during the Edo period (1603-1868). The records that he left behind of his experiences in foreign countries sparked people’s interest and he was eventually portrayed in Kabuki and Ningyo-joruri as a great villain who uses black magic.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Onoe Matsusuke I

National Theatre collection (NA090390)

An official who is strict but compassionateTogashi no Saemon

Noble / Samurai Togashi no Saemon Togashi no Saemon Adult Male
■ Real name
Togashi no Saemon
■ Personality
Very compassionate
■ Special ability
Seeing through lies
Togashi no Saemon Togashi no Saemon
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Togashi investigates the group who are trying to pass through the checkpoint barrier, to see whether they really are mountain priests.

Play character is from

“Kanjincho” (The Subscription List)

Togashi no Saemon is an official who guards the checkpoint barrier at Ataka. He investigates Minamoto no Yoshitsune and his group, who are trying to flee to Oshu (in north-eastern Japan) dressed as mountain priests. Benkei reads aloud from a scroll upon which nothing is written as if it were a kanjincho (subscription list), and even deliberately hits Yoshitsune, who is acting as his vassal, when it seems that his true identity is about to be discovered, putting his life on the line to try to protect his lord. Togashi is moved by this, and allows the group to pass even though he knows their true identities.

Creator

Lyrics: Namiki Gohei III; Music: Kineya Rokuo

National Theatre collection (NA060580)

A princess who suffers, torn between her parent and her husbandTokihime

Noble / Samurai Tokihime Tokihime Young Female
■ Real name
Tokihime
■ Personality
Self-sacrificing and devotes herself to people
■ Special ability
Nursing
Tokihime Tokihime
Colored woodblock print scenes

At Kinugawa Village, where she is nursing her fiancé’s sick mother, Tokihime re-encounters her fiancé, who has returned from the battlefield.

Play character is from

“Kamakura Sandaiki” (Three Generations of Kamakura Shogun)
Common name: Kamasan, Kinugawamura

Tokihime is the daughter of Hojo Tokimasa. A conflict breaks out, and her fiancé Miuranosuke Yoshimura and her father become enemies. When Miuranosuke tells her that if she wants to marry him she must kill Tokimasa, she displays her determination, saying, “I will kill Hojo Tokimasa.” Tokihime is a passionate character who eventually chooses love after struggling between her parent and her fiancé. She was based on Senhime from the Tokugawa family, who married Toyotomi Hideyori during the early 17th century.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA090350)

A wife who makes a tragic decision with her husbandTonami

Ordinary person Tonami Tonami Adult Female
■ Real name
Tonami
■ Personality
Loves children
Tonami Tonami
Colored woodblock print scenes

Tonami greeting a child who hopes to enter the terakoya (an educational facility in the Edo period (1603–1868) that taught children how to read and write).

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Tonami is the wife of Takebe Genzo. She once served the household of Kan Shojo, but then she married Genzo, and now runs a terakoya. She tearfully goes along with Genzo’s decision to kill another child in the place of Shojo’s son Kan Shusai, whom they are sheltering at the terakoya.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA110040)

A stepmother who supports her single-minded daughter’s wishesTonase

Noble / Samurai Tonase Tonase Adult Female
■ Real name
Tonase
■ Personality
A dependable person who loves her family
■ Special ability
Traveling
Tonase Tonase
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Tonase prepares for her death together with her stepdaughter.

Play character is from

“Kanadehon Chushingura” (The Treasury of 47 Loyal Retainers)
Common name: Chushingura

Tonase is the second wife of Kakogawa Honzo, who is the chief retainer - the highest ranking vassal - of the Momonoi family. She journeys along the Tokaido (the highway that connected Kyoto and Edo (modern-day Tokyo) )with her stepdaughter Konami so that Konami can marry her fiancé Rikiya, the son of Oboshi Yuranosuke. However, they are treated coldly by Oishi, Rikiya’s mother, and attempt to kill themselves there. She may be young, but as a samurai’s wife Tonase is a proud woman with inner fortitude, filled with deep love for her daughter even though they are not blood-related.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA090340)

The spirit of a spider, which has attacked a hero who protects the royal courtTsuchigumo

Spirit / Ghost Tsuchigumo Tsuchigumo Unknown age Male
■ Personality
Vindictive and unable to forget grudges
■ Special ability
Transforming into a monk
Tsuchigumo Tsuchigumo
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Onoe Kikugoro V plays the spirit of the tsuchigumo (“ground spider”) with its true identity revealed in front of royalty and nobility.

Play character is from

“Tsuchigumo” (Ground Spider)

The tsuchigumo is not just a simple animal; it is also a word used for people who have been destroyed by the royal court. Minamoto no Raiko, who defends the court, is a hero who once defeated an ogre, but has now fallen ill. The tsuchigumo, transformed into a monk, approaches Raiko offering to say a prayer to cure the illness, but he sees that it is a monster, and it flees after he wounds it. Raiko’s vassals follow the blood trail and attack its dwelling; it fights by throwing countless white threads, but is then defeated.

Creator

Lyrics: Kawatake Mokuami; Music: Kineya Shojiro III

Actors

Onoe Kikugoro V

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (101-5236)

A boss who is still reliable despite his old ageTsurifune no Sabu

Outlaw Tsurifune no Sabu Tsurifune no Sabu Old Male
■ Real name
Tsurifune no Sabu
■ Personality
Scary when angered
■ Special ability
Fighting
Tsurifune no Sabu Tsurifune no Sabu
Colored woodblock print scenes

On the night of the summer festival, Sabu, wearing only one sleeve, tries to help two young men.

Play character is from

“Natsumatsuri Naniwa Kagami” (The Summer Festival in Naniwa)
Common name: Natsumatsuri

Tsurifune no Sabu is an older man who runs a shipping transportation business in Osaka, and is the boss of the kyokaku (those who value duty and humanity, and fight strong people to relieve the suffering of the weak). He got into fights constantly when he was younger, but now he hangs a rosary on his ear and chants the name of the Buddha when he gets angry. He is good at looking after others, including taking care of Danshichi when he came out of jail. He beats up wicked people who try to kidnap a courtesan and shows that his old skills are still strong.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA110310)

A crude and annoying man who commits many crimesTsurigane Gonsuke

Villain Tsurigane Gonsuke Tsurigane Gonsuke Adult Male
■ Real name
Shinobu no Sota
■ Personality
Obvious about his desires and selfish
■ Special ability
Committing crimes
Tsurigane Gonsuke Tsurigane Gonsuke
Colored woodblock print scenes

Gonsuke visits Sakurahime, who has decided to become a nun, and she confesses that she has never been able to forget their meeting.

Play character is from

“Sakurahime Azuma Bunsho” (The Scarlet Princess and her story in the East)
Common name: Azuma Bunsho

The thief Shinobu no Sota is also known as Tsurigane Gonsuke (“Hanging-bell Gonsuke”) due to the tattoo on his arm. He breaks into a residence in Kyoto, steals its treasure, kills Sakurahime’s father and younger brother, and assaults the noble Sakurahime. Sakurahime gives birth to a child and is driven from the house; in Edo (modern-day Tokyo), she once again meets Gonsuke, whom she could not forget and missed, and they marry. However, Gonsuke becomes fed up with Sakurahime’s elegant way of speaking, sells her off as a prostitute, and becomes the landlord of a row house with the money. He becomes drunk and carelessly reveals his past, and so Sakurahime kills him and the child.

Creator

Tsuruya Namboku IV

Actors

Kataoka Nizaemon XV, Ichikawa Danjuro XII

Private collection

The eldest of three brothers with a strong sense of justiceUmeomaru

Hero Umeomaru Umeomaru Young Male
■ Real name
Umeomaru
■ Personality
Very loyal
■ Special ability
Pulling ox carriages
Umeomaru Umeomaru
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Umeomaru and one of his brothers attack the ox carriage in which his master’s enemy rides, but their other brother gets in the way.

Play character is from

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
Common name: Sugawara

Umeomaru is the eldest of three brothers, and serves Kan Shojo. Matsuomaru, the second eldest brother, serves Fujiwara no Shihei, who has tricked Shojo so he can take over the country; the two brothers are in conflict, having become enemies. The character of Umeomaru is the quintessential wild and brave aragoto (exaggerated) style stock character. He is characterized by his costume patterned with plum (ume) flowers, inspired by his name, his wide obi (sash), and the red kumadori makeup that expresses anger.

Creator

Namiki Senryu, other collaborators

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (100-3165)

A valiant hero who fights in China and JapanWatonai

Hero Watonai Watonai Adult Male
■ Real name
Watonai
■ Personality
A daring and single-minded man who fights for his homeland
■ Special ability
Taming and controlling tigers
Watonai Watonai
Colored woodblock print scenes

The waters of the river that flows from the castle are dyed red, telling a furious Watonai that he has failed in his aim.

Play character is from

“Kokusenya Kassen” (The Battles of Coxinga)
Common name: Kokusenya

Watonai’s father is from the Ming Dynasty in China, and his mother is Japanese. Hearing that the Ming have been destroyed by an enemy country, he and his parents cross the sea to China. A general named Kanki is the husband of Watonai’s elder half-sister Kinshojo, and he now serves the enemy country. He is moved by Kinshojo and his mother’s resolve, for which they have lost their lives, allies with Watonai, and restores the Ming. Watonai is modeled after Coxinga, an actual Chinese hero. This character displays powerful movements known as tobi roppo that involve the actor running with great energy.

Creator

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

National Theatre collection (NA111100)

Her whole-hearted feelings for her lover create a miracleYaegakihime

Noble / Samurai Yaegakihime Yaegakihime Young Female
■ Real name
Yaegakihime
■ Personality
Passionate
■ Special ability
Being loved by the gods, Buddhas, and spirits
Yaegakihime Yaegakihime
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Kitsune-bi (“foxfire”) floats behind the princess. Kitsune-bi refers to mysterious, bright flames that appear at night, and in certain areas of Japan tradition has it that foxes’ breath is shining, or that foxes are burning torches.

Play character is from

“Honcho Nijushiko” (The Japanese Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety)
Common name: Nijushiko, Jushuko, Kitsunebi

Yaegakihime is a fictional character created as the daughter of Uesugi Kenshin (a real samurai warlord), and is an example of a stock character called an akahime (red princess), who wears a gorgeous red costume. She falls in love with her fiancé’s portrait, and when Minosaku, who looks just like him, appears, she falls in love at first sight and actively approaches him. She is later goaded by a maidservant to steal a helmet, and when she does so she is mysteriously aided by a fox with spiritual power in crossing a frozen lake and tells her love of his danger.

Creator

Chikamatsu Hanji, other collaborators

National Theatre collection (NA110530)

A young girl who illegally starts a fire to help the man she lovesYaoya Oshichi

Ordinary person Yaoya Oshichi Yaoya Oshichi Young Female
■ Real name
Oshichi
■ Personality
Unable to see anything else when she is giddy with love
■ Special ability
Moving like a doll
Yaoya Oshichi Yaoya Oshichi
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Oshichi climbs a fire watchtower wearing a long-sleeved kimono to rescue the man she loves from a crisis.

Play character is from

“Shochikubai Yuki no Akebono” (Oshichi at the Watchtower)
Common name: Yagura no Oshichi

Oshichi is the daughter of a greengrocer, and has fallen in love with Kichisaburo, who serves a temple. However, it seems that she is to marry Kamaya Buhei to pay off her parents’ debt. Meanwhile, because Kichisaburo cannot find an important sword that has been lost, he must commit ritual suicide. Oshichi, hearing that Buhei has the sword, climbs a fire watchtower and beats the drum that warns people there is a fire, even though she knows it is a serious crime, to tell Kichisaburo about the sword. She was modeled after a young girl who did actually illegally light a fire. This character is well-known for the actor’s doll-like performance when Oshichi climbs the tower.

Creator

Kawatake Mokuami

Actors

Iwai Hanshiro V

National Diet Library collection (本別7-262)

An evil woman who plots and will even kill childrenYashio

Villain Yashio Yashio Adult Female
■ Real name
Yashio
■ Personality
Cold-blooded, deeply jealous, and domineering
■ Special ability
Tempting people into committing crimes
Yashio Yashio
Colored woodblock print scenes

Raising a short sword in the air, Yashio fights with Masaoka. Her older brother Nikki Danjo uses black magic and turns into a rat.

Play character is from

“Meiboku Sendai Hagi” (Troubles in the Date Clan)
Common name: Sendai Hagi

Together with her older brother Nikki Danjo, Yashio plots to take over their feudal domain. She tries to trick the young lord’s wet nurse Masaoka by using a fake assassin, but this fails. Next, she prepares some poisoned confections, but Masaoka’s child eats them and suffers instead of the lord, so she stabs the child to death to make sure that her plan will not be discovered. Masaoka later takes her revenge. As this character is terrible and cruel, she is often played by an actor who generally plays male roles.

Creator

Nagawa Kamesuke

National Theatre collection (NA080130)

A sweet young girl becomes a majestic lionYayoi

Noble / Samurai Yayoi Yayoi Young Female
■ Real name
Yayoi
■ Personality
Shy
■ Special ability
Shaking her hair
Yayoi Yayoi
Colored woodblock
print scenes

The young girl dancing with the lion’s head mask in her hand.

Play character is from

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi” (The Kagami Lion Dance)
Common name: Kagamijishi

Yayoi is a young girl who works at Edo Castle. On the day of the New Year’s festival, she is taken to a dancing area at the request of the shogun (military leader) and begins to dance despite her embarrassment. When she takes a lion’s head mask in her hand, the head begins to move on its own, and eventually Yayoi is possessed by the spirit of the lion. There is a vivid contrast between Yayoi’s graceful dancing in first half of this production, and the majestic dancing of the lion in the second half. One particular highlight is the keburi, when the lion spirit swings its long white hair around in large movements.

Creator

Lyrics: Fukuchi Ochi; Music: Kineya Shojiro

Actors

Ichikawa Danjuro IX

National Theatre collection (NA100670)

A courtesan of the highest rank who is in love with a man who has no money or powerYugiri

Courtesan Yugiri Yugiri Adult Female
■ Real name
Ogiya Yugiri
■ Personality
Noble and kind-hearted
■ Special ability
Holding Japanese tissue paper in her teeth
Yugiri Yugiri
Colored woodblock print scenes

Yugiri hands over a long paper scroll containing a love-letter; Fujiya Izaemon tries to tear it up.

Play character is from

“Kuruwa Bunsho” (Letters to the Red-Light District)
Common name: Yoshidaya

Yugiri is an educated and beautiful courtesan of the highest rank, known as a keisei. She is worried about her lover Izaemon, who is the son of an affluent merchant family but has been disinherited for spending too much money, and becomes ill. Izaemon comes to her wearing a kamiko (a rough kimono made of paper) and behaves in the same spoiled, sulky way that he did when he was rich. Yugiri is troubled by this and rows with him, but they reconcile in the end. She was modeled after an actual tayu, a highly ranked courtesan.

Creator

Original work: Chikamatsu Monzaemon

National Theatre collection (NA0073600000)

A female artist who is elegant and sexyYukihime

Ordinary person Yukihime Yukihime Young Female
■ Real name
Yukihime
■ Personality
Graceful
■ Special ability
Painting pictures
Yukihime Yukihime
Colored woodblock
print scenes

Yukihime has been captured by a male enemy, who makes advances towards her before tying her up. The princess (hime), who has a husband, is in a desperate situation.

Play character is from

“Gion Sairei Shinkoki” (The Gion Festival Chronicle of Faith)
Common name: Kinkakuji

This princess is a descendent of the painter Sesshu. Matsunaga Daizen, who is plotting rebellion, captures her and makes advances towards her. Realizing that Daizen is the enemy of her father, she stabs at him, but he ties her to a great cherry tree with straw rope. However, she gathers cherry blossom petals with the tips of her toes and draws a picture of a rat. Strangely, that rat starts moving, and gnaws through the rope. This role is one of the “three princesses” that are difficult to play among the princess roles.

Creator

Nakamura Akei, other collaborators

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University collection (002-1285)

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