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

Characters and ActorsVarious Kabuki Roles

Fujiya Izaemon

Piece this appear in | “Kuruwa Bunsho” (Letters to the Red-Light District)

Character

Among the tachiyaku (male roles) in Kabuki plays, Fujiya Izaemon is a wagoto character who indulges in love affair with gentle and graceful portrayal of romantic feelings. In this tale, Fujiya Izaemon—the young heir to his family’s merchant business—goes to see a courtesan whom he used to visit frequently, dressed in a shabby outfit despite his wealthy family and breeding.

Costumes

“Kuruwa Bunsho” ‘Yoshidaya Okuzashiki’ scene
National Theatre (Y_E0100176000306)

The costume Izaemon wears in this scene is known as kamiko (shabby paper kimono). In Kabuki, such costumes are typically worn by yatsushi (in situations when of the male characters are originally in a high position, but have been reduced to poverty for some reason.) Kamiko was originally made of Japanese papers sticking each other and represent the shabby look. However, Izaemon’ stage costume is embroidered with passages from a love letter. Stitched in gold and silver thread, it is designed to catch the audience’s eyes and attention.

Because wagoto roles normally portray handsome men, immaculately white makeup (shironuri) is used to express their striking looks.

“Kuruwa Bunsho” ‘Yoshidaya Okuzashiki’ scene
National Theatre (Y_E0100176000306)