INVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts KabukiINVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts Kabuki

Characters and ActorsVarious Kabuki Roles

Umeomaru

Piece this appear in | “Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)

Character

Among the tachiyaku (male roles) in Kabuki plays, this is a dauntless and daring aragoto (exaggerated style) character, typically using superhuman powers to punish evil persons. In this play, Umeomaru opposes an attempt by court noble Fujiwara no Shihei, who is mobilizing magical powers to ascend to the Imperial throne.

Costumes

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” ‘Yoshidashato Kurumabiki’ scene
National Theatre (Y_E0100289500050)

The costume Umeomaru wears is distinguished by plum (ume) blossom embroidery linked to the name of his role, and a large purple-checkered pattern emphasizing that he is still an adolescent. The actor also wears a cotton-packed cylinder-shaped obi (sash) nearly 7 meters long, that winds around his body three times.

The wig for this role is a kurumabin, one of the typical varieties worn in aragoto characters. This style of wig is also worn for the character of Kamakura Gongoro in “Shibaraku” (Wait a Moment!) and other plays. And because Umeomaru is depicted as a young boy, his forelock covers his forehead and underscores his youth.

Adopted for the actor’s makeup is sujiguma, used to stylistically express actions taken with vigorous enthusiasm and convey the anger that Umeomaru holds toward Shihei.

Sujiguma is the one of the key examples of the kumadori makeup tradition in Kabuki.

“Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami” ‘Yoshidashato Kurumabiki’ scene
National Theatre (Y_E0100289500050)