This is the final chapter in the saga of the first Kabuki-za.
Each chapter includes not only data on the Kabuki-za but information regarding each important theatrical development of the specific year, including non-kabuki genres such as shinpa, shingeki, and so forth. The series thus serves as a survey of Japanese theatre in the Meiji period (1868-1912), as well as a detailed account of the Kabuki-za in particular. Also cited are the major cultural and political developments of each year, as well as notifications of the deaths of important figures, mainly theatrical but often from other fields as well.
Some material has been cut, some expanded, and other material has been added from different sources. Links are given selectively and usually only for items not so identified in previous entries. Prof. Kei Hibino of Seikei University offered helpful comments and answered translation queries during the preparation of this and all previous entries.For this chapter, additional advice regarding architectural features was given by Profs. Takayuki Hioki and Tadayoshi Kako. Corrections and documented additions are always welcome.
Also this month, Okamoto Kidō’s still popular (Tale of Shuzenji), one of the best modern kabuki plays, was published, with its stage premiere coming in May at the Meiji-za, starring Ichikawa Sadanji II as Yashio.
A new Osaka theatre opened in January, the Dōjima-za, with a bill starring Nakamura Ganjirō, Nakamura Baigyoku, and Ichikawa Sainyū. And, on January 31, the Tōkyō Haiyū Gakkō (Tokyo Actors’ School), founded for shinpa actors in 1908, began giving trial performances at its new experimental theatre, the Ushigomi Kōtō Engeijō, with a program including Kunikida Doppō’s Gyūniku to Bareisho (Meat and Potatoes).
January 1911 also witnessed the death of 50-year-old bunraku shamisen player Toyozawa Danpachi, chief disciple of the late Toyozawa Danpei, who died backstage at the Tenka-za in Ogawa-chō, Kanda, Tokyo. In addition, the following actors rose to billboard (nadai) status: Ichikawa Kurisaburō, who became Ichikawa Kaijūrō II, and Bandō Sumigorō, who became Bandō Takegorō. Further, Nakamura Wakanosuke became a disciple of Shikan, taking the name Nakamura Kannosuke.
|Nebiki no Kadomatsu, Kabuki-za, January 1911. L-R: Onoe Baikō VI as Azuma Tayū; Sawamura Sōjūrō VII as
Yojibei; Nakamura Shikan V as Okiku. From Kabuki-za
The newspaper mocked the Kabuki-za’s unpreparedness, the production was faulted, and the year’s first production limped through 25 performances, closing on February 7.
|The new Imperial Theatre (Teikoku Gekijō). From Tōkyō
|Interior of the Imperial Theatre. From Tōkyō
Bunshichi Mottoi at the Kabuki-za, February 1911. Onoe Kikugorō VI (L.) as Chōbei, the plasterer; Bandō Mitsugorō VII as the clerk, Bunshichi. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
Shinjū Yoi Gōshin at the Kabuki-za, June 1911. Kataoka Nizaemon XI (L.) as Hanbei; Nakamura Utaemon V as Ochiyo. From Hyakunen Kabuki-Shi.
|The second Kabuki-za, rebuilt in pure Japanese style. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.|
Passing through the wide lobby one entered the auditorium, with its second and third-floor omukō balconies with Japanese cypress (hinoki) railings that ran all the way around. Over the orchestra or pit was a two-fold, gold-plated, coffered ceiling, with two, large chandeliers providing 5,000 candlepower illumination. All around were numerous electric lights. Behind the upper stories were corridors with lounges for the general theatregoers, including separate Western and Japanese powder rooms. Moreover, the traditional teahouses attached to the theatre were abolished, and new information places installed. The theatre’s appearance was altered, including a drum tower (yagura) crest (mon) of a mythical phoenix dyed on a large curtain of purple crepe. Old folks passing by mistook the theatre for a place of worship and there are stories claiming they stopped to make offerings or otherwise show their obeisance. [From Kawajiri Seitan, “Kobiki-chō no Shibai,” in Kabuki-za.]
|Ichikawa Danzō VII, From Kabuki-za Hyakuen-Shi.|
Also in September, the shingeki movement saw the completion of a 600-seat theatre built for the Bungei Kyōkai’s practice performances. It opened with a production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, with Matsui Sumako as Nora. The program also offered two experimental dance dramas by Tsubouchi Shōyō, Kanzan Jittoku (Kanzan and Jittoku) and Oshichi Kichiza (Oshichi and Kichiza). And on September 27, Okamoto Kidō’s Minowa no Shinjū (Love Suicides at Minowa), which became a staple of the modern kabuki repertory, opened at the Meiji-za, starring Sadanji II.
|Floor plan of the ground floor seating (hiradoma) in the second Kabuki-za. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.|