1892 (Meiji 25)
1892 (Meiji 25)
Samuel L. Leiter
[Note: This is Chapter 6 in a series devoted to the early history of the Kabuki-za. It is largely based on Vols. 1 and 3 of Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi (A Hundred Year History of the Kabuki-za), edited by Nagayama Takeomi (1995). A team of 10 writers worked on the project although none are identified for their contributions. Some material has been cut, some expanded, and other material added from different sources. Beginning with this chapter, see, special sections providing new material have been provided within Prof. Kei Hibino offered helpful comments during the preparation of this entry. Corrections and documented additions are welcome.]. Links are given selectively and only for items not so identified in previous entries.
During the previous year, 1891, Kawakami Otojirō and his shosei shibai made their Tokyo debut; Ii Yōhō and the short-lived Seibikan company also made their appearance. These signaled the rise of the new genre of shinpa (“new school”). However, the kabuki world was still ruled by Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Onoe Kikugorō V, so any waves made by shinpa’s rapidly rising star were barely felt.
|Outside the Kabuki-za in 1891. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.|
Kicking off the 1892 season at the Kabuki-za was its January production, for which Tamura Nariyoshi had hired the Kikugorō troupe. The show opened with Shiobara Tasuke Ichidaiki (The Life of Shiobara Tasuke), a play adapted by Kawatake Shinshichi III from one of famed kōdan tales of San’yutei Enchō, with Kikugorō in the title role. Then came Hakone Yama Soga no Hatsu Yume (The Soga Brothers’ First Dream at Hakone Mountain), which Kikugorō had asked the long dormant Kawatake Mokuami to refresh, while the closing piece was another Mokuami play, Hashigo Nori Dezome no Harewaza (Firefighters’ Ladder Climbing Stunts); it fanned the flames of popularity for the Tokyo firefighters’ display of ladder acrobatics, overshadowed a year earlier by Spencer’s balloon flights. The program, which opened at 10:00 a.m., ran from January 15 to February 16 for 33 performances. According to Tamura:
The story of Shiobara Tasuke, included in a Tokyo area grade school children’s book, was a morality tale whose plot Fukuchi Ōchi was asked to revise, and for which he was requested to write a preface, these being distributed to over 600 elementary schools in the Tokyo area. In addition, teachers and students attended the performance with admission, food, and drinks provided at half price. (From Zoku Zoku Kabuki Nendaiki.)
|Kikugoro V as Shiobara Tasuke. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.|
Ōchi wrote up the plot summary and the Tokyo elementary school children were treated like today’s dantai (theatre groups).
Kaburagi Kiyokata, the artist, wrote that:
Kikugorō V frequently performed Enchō’s material on stage. In January 1892, when he premiered Shiobara Tasuke Ichidaiki at the Kabuki-za, both he and Enchō put their heart and soul into it resulting in widespread critical praise and such a demand for seats that the run was extended by eight days. A group of Enchō followers from Kanda’s Daikongashi (Daikon Riverbank) grocery market banded together as the “Tasuke Club” and went en masse to see the play. I think it was an all-male group; they attended dressed in the same close-sleeved, leather-colored, cotton hanten jacket with the white crest dyed on the back that Tasuke wears at the conclusion. After the program ended, enjoying their appearance, they hung around to present a gift to Kikugorō from Enchō of a kabuki draw-curtain (hikimaku). On it was embroidered a line saying: “To Shiobara Tasuke-don from Sakuotoko Tasuke.” (From Koshikata no Ki.)
The meaning of the line cited isn’t clear but Prof. Kei Hibino suggested to me that, since Sakuotoko wasn’t a penname of Enchō’s, perhaps the expression “sakuotoko” (“to produce” + “man”) means not a literal farmhand “farmhand,” which it implies, but someone who produces, such as an author. The implication is that the name Tasuke (ta=many) means prolific, since Enchō described himself as “a man who produces many works.”
Kikugorō, a meticulous actor, had taken Enchō’s advice, and put a great deal of study into Tasuke’s dialogue and appearance, leading spectators to wonder in amazement “why someone would want to murder such a dashing man.” Regardless, the production was a big hit and its run was extended.
During the same month of January, the venerable Nakamura-za, in Nishi Torigoe, was renamed the Torigoe-za. Also that month, the visiting Osaka stars Nakamura Jakuemon I and Nakamura Shibajaku IV performed at the Haruki-za. During this production Nakamura Umetarō took the name Nakamura Tomijūrō III.
The second national election, held on February 15, 1892, was highly problematic. As Donald Keene has written:
Unlike the peaceable elections of the previous year, the election of 1892 was marked by violence and arson. Clashes between officials and ordinary citizens resulted in deaths and injuries in many parts of the country. Ruffians stole ballot boxes . . . and made voting impossible in parts of Saga Prefecture. It was generally believed that these irregularities had been planned by [Interior Minister] Shinagawa [Yajirō], who had decided that political parties opposed to the government were disloyal and must be suppressed. Yet for all the scheming and brutality, the populist parties maintained their majority in the House of Representatives. . . . (From Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1868-1912.)
This was the time of the so-called Kōro Period (Kōro Jidai), when Kōda Rohan’s Five Storied Pagoda (Gojū no Tō) was serialized and Ozaki Kōyō serialized his Three Wives (Sannin Tsuma) in the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper, receiving great acclaim. As Irish Chie Mulhern explains in her study of Kōda Rohan:
Kō designates Ozaki Kōyō (1867-1903), the . . . master storyteller most responsible for the popularity of Japanese neoclassicism. . . . Ro represents a writer of idealistic fiction, Kōda Rohan (1867-1947). The term Kōro Jidai or the Age of Kōyō and Rohan, is loosely applied to the Meiji twenties (1887-1897), when these two writers of the same age produced the bulk of their fiction; but more precisely, it covers the period between 1889 (when Rohan made his literary debut) and 1903 (the year of Kōyō’s death and Rohan’s last attempt in pure fiction. (From Kōda Rohan.)
In their wake came Shimazaki Tōson, who strongly influenced Kitamura Tokoku. On the other hand, it was also when such writers as Higuchi Ichiyō, Tayama Katai, and Masaoka Shiki, made their appearance on the literary scene.
On February 3, Kawatake Mokuami, kabuki’s last great playwright, took the occasion of his 77th birthday to formally retire. On February 6, the actor Jitsukawa Yaozō died during a performance at Osaka’s Dōtonbori Asahi-za at age 55. Also in Osaka’s Dōtonbori entertainment district, on February 24, in preparation of the March 6 opening of the Naniwa-za, Sadanji and his company made a ceremonial visit via a canal boat to the theatre. Then, on March 8, in connection with the April program at the district’s Kado-za (opening on March 20) the Kikugorō troupe made a similar ceremonial boat ride (fune norikomi). One after another, actors popular in western Japan were increasing business by restoring old customs to Dōtonbori’s theatres.
The Danjūrō company took over the Kabuki-za with a program running from March 24 to April 17, a run of 25 days. It opened with Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s Motomezuka Migawari Nitta (The Burial Mound and the Nitta Substitution), in four acts, followed by Onna Kusonoki (The Female Kusunoki), adapted by Fukuchi Ōchi from Chikamatsu’s Yoshino no Miyako Onna Kusunoki (Female Kusunoki in the Yoshino Capital) and known as one of Danjūrō’s Shin Kabuki Jūhachiban (New Kabuki Jūhachiban) collection. Then came Kezori Kuemon (The Pirate Kezori Kuemon), with the final offerings being the dance plays Karasu Mai (Crow Dance) and Sagi Musume (Heron Maiden). The program as a whole leaned toward the “living history” (katsureki) style. However, apart from the hanging scroll painting-like set and costumes, the first play was uninteresting, while Onna Kusunoki was a boring talkathon that was criticized for going on and on without hardly any movement.
April saw the beginning of the monthly publication of Kawatake Mokuami’s plays by Shunyōdō under the title Kyōgen Hyakushū (A Collection of 100 Plays). The first volume was for Murai Chōan. On April 20 the Sawamura-za, a minor theatre (kogekijō), opened at Shinsaruya-chō in Asakusa; it had its ceremonial opening (kokera otoshi) under the name Sawamura Tosshi-za. Successful at first, it ran into difficulties and was renamed the Asakusa-za the following year.
From May 1 to May 3 a benefit production run by the Charitable Theatre Society for the Tokyo Poorhouse was given at the Kabuki-za, with Danjūrō leading his company in Satomi Hakkenden (Legend of the Eight Dogs of Satomi), Ichijō Ōkura Monogatari (The Story of Lord Ichijō Ōkura), and Genpei Sakigake Tsutsuji (Azaleas of the Minamoto and Taira clans in the Capital at Suma) better known as Ōgiya Kumagai (Kumagai at the Fan Shop).
The June production, which began at 10 a.m., opened on May 28 and ran until June 24 (28 showings), with Koi Nyōbō Somewake no Tazuna (or Shigenoi Kowakare), followed by Mokuami’s Taiko no Oto Chiyū no Sanryaku (The Sound of the Drum and the Secret Book of Wisdom and Courage), or simply Sakai no Taiko (Sakai’s Drum), with the closing piece being the dance play Kamo to Kūya Undō Kurabe (Kamo and Kūya’s Exercise Competition). The production featured Danjūrō and his troupe, supplemented by Shikan and Fukusuke.
A noted critic/historian wrote:
Sometime before Kikugorō and Danjūrō had had some sort of falling out. When Danjūrō produced Koi Nyōbō Somewake no Tazuna at the Kabuki-za, during Kikugorō’s absence elsewhere, he cast the role of the child packhorse drive “Jinenjo” (Yam) Sankichi with Kikugorō’s son, Ushinosuke (the former Kōza and future Kikugorō VI), and took such good care of him that Kikugorō’s feelings softened a bit, allowing him, they say, to gradually become closer with Danjūrō. (From Miyake Shutaro, Shinpan Engei Gojūnen Shi.)
Ultimately, the production failed and, until closing day on June 24, a feeling of desolation filled the theatre. Danjūrō avoided acting during the hottest and coldest months and he rarely appeared in New Year’s or summer productions, so Kabuki-za proprietor Chiba Katsugorō filled the gap by allowing Tamura Nariyoshi to rent the venue, while he, Chiba, oversaw the financial end. It was an example of Tamura opening a production by taking full responsibility for it.
The Kabuki-za was said to have a pattern: “Lose with Danjūrō; make up for it with Kikugorō.” Those who went to see Danjūrō were his supporters, while Kikugorō’s more varied artistry was popular with everyone.
Tamura later wrote:
When we look at the Kabuki-za at that time, we see that Danjūrō flopped twice in a row. Then Kikugorō opened and had a big success. In other words, after Danjūrō failed with Kamo to Kūya I immediately got ahold of Kikugorō for the summer program. The bill, of course, included a play adapted from a story by San’yutei Enchō, Botan Dōrō (The Peony Lantern), dramatized by Shinshichi, with the closing piece being Makura Jidō (The Pillow and the Boy). Peony lanterns were hung from tenements all over the city as advertisements, and in every temple to Enma, pictures of peony lanterns were obtained so they could be hung up. (From "Kabuki Ima Mukashi Monogatari no Ni--Kabuki-za ga Dekite Kara" in Shin Engei [April 4, 1917].)
The intrepid Tamura had had a hit with the New Year’s production of Enchō’s Shiobara Tasuke, so he once again produced an Enchō “human interest story” (ninjōbanashi) for Kikugorō to perform, using his “family art” of ghost play acting in an adaptation by Fukuchi Ōchi, Kawatake Shinshichi, and Takeshiba Kisui. This was the program-opening Kaidan Botan Dōrō (The Peony Lantern Ghost Story). It was followed by the dance play Makura Jidō, based on the nō play of that name also called Kiku Jidō (The Chrysanthemum and the Boy). The music was by Kineya Masajirō III and the choreography by the great Hanayagi Jusuke. It was included in Danjūrō’s Shin Kabuki Jūhachiban collection and filled out the Kabuki-za’s summer program.
|Onoe Kikugorō, Onoe Matsusuke, Ichikawa Yaozō, Bando Shūchō in Kaidan Botan Dōrō. Print by Utagawa Toyokuni III. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.|
The show’s publicity methods would make sense even now; they included the display of artificial peonies on the theatre and its teahouses, the hanging of over 500 summertime lanterns with such slogans as “A Crest of Layered Fans,” “Peony Lanterns,” “Based on San’yutei Enchō,” “Kabuki-za,” and “Summer Theatre” were printed, and the presentation to tenements throughout the city of hundreds of summertime lanterns in return for which the residents made group visits to the theatre. In addition, 2,000 peony lanterns were set adrift on the city’s large rivers on “River Opening Day” (Kawabiraki no Hi), marking the beginning the boating season. Framed advertising pictures were also hung at temples devoted to Enma (Yama), King of the Underworld, and so on. This plan to create a summer theatre atmosphere resulted in a big hit that played for 25 days to full houses. Ozaki Kōyō recalled:
The noon opening was put off until 2:00 p.m. The house was full with even the well-ventilated side boxes (uzura) suffering from the heat and humidity. The stuffiness caused some to become dizzy, frail women complained of female problems, and thirst could be quenched only with fruit-flavored shaved ice.
The fluttering of fans in the orchestra and gallery areas was like a balmy day at Ueno’s Shinobazu Pond. (From Sannin Tsuma.)
In July the Fūgetsudō confectionary company introduced marshmallows to Japan. On August 8, Prime Minister Matsukata Masayoshi’s cabinet, installed in 1891, was replaced by the second Itō Hirobumi cabinet. And on August 15, theatrical poster artist Torii Kiyomitsu III passed away.
Since Kikugorō’s acting style was widely appreciated by the masses Tamura had faith he could continue with him and once again rented the Kabuki-za, this time to produce an evening program (yoru shibai), which ran from September 4 to September 24 for 20 performances. Beginning at 3:00 p.m. Its first piece was one Kikugorō brought back as a souvenir from his touring to Osaka; a collaborative work by Shinshichi, Kisui, and Kubota Hikosaku, it was intended as a reality-based version of the famous Godairiki story dramatized in kabuki as Godairiki Koi no Fūjime (Five Great Powers That Secure Love). The new play was called Shitate Oroshi Satsuma Jōfu (A Newly-Tailored Satsuma Summer Kimono). The only other play presented displayed Kikugorō in his debut as the scarred lover, Yosaburō, in Segawa Jokō’s popular 1853 romance, Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokoguchi (Sympathetic Chatter and the Scandalous Hair Comb), also called Genjidana (or Genyadana, a place name) and Kirare Yosa (Scarface Yosa). The first play was mediocre.
About the second, Tamura said:
Kikugorō, playing Yosaburō in the program’s second half, rehearsed over and over how he was to perform the part where Yosa meets Otomi after a long time, but he couldn’t find a way to play it properly so one day he paid a visit to the home of Horikoshi (Danjūrō’s private name). “What do I have to do to play this part well?,” he asked, to which Danshū (a Danjūrō nickname), smiling broadly, answered, “You’ve got to be kidding. Yosaburō was created by someone in your family line [honmoto or honke] so you’re sure to get it right, you know. The supporting role of Komori (Bat)] Yasu will be acted by Onoe Matsusuke so everything will be fine. Yasu is intended to serve Yosa so if you’re too good Yasu may come out on top.” Kikugorō considered these words of advice and is said to have put his all into playing in the Horikoshi style. (From Zoku Zoku Kabuki Nendaiki.)
(Tamura’s quotation of Danjūrō IX seems to be an error, since Yosaburō wasn’t created by a family antecedent of Kikugorō’s but by Danjūrō’s late brother, Danjūrō VIII. On the other hand, Danjūrō may have been implying that, since Kikugorō’s predecessor, Kikugorō IV, played the female lead of Otomi in the original production, this would have meant that Kikugorō was close enough to the tradition not to have to worry about getting it right.)
In addition to Kikugorō playing Yosa in imitation of Danjūrō VIII, the play featured others also making their first stabs at its leading roles: Onoe Matsusuke, who freely used the appellation “Peerless” (Tenka Ippin), as Yasu, and Onoe Eisaburō, later famous as Onoe Baikō VI, as Otomi. They received good notices but audiences were less enthusiastic.
On September 20, the Fukuroku-za, located at Tamaike in Akasaka, which produced a “Rehearsal Theatre” (Keiko Shibai) for adolescent (wakashu) actors under the auspices of the Nihon Engei Kyōkai (Japan Entertainment Society), took the opportunity to rename the theatre the Keiko-za; however, when the production ended the venue resumed its former name, and afterward took such names as the Hiyoshi-za and Shin Ichimura-za. On September 22, the actor Nakamura Tsurusuke, grandson of Nakamura Utaemon III, died in Osaka, aged 47.
|Newly rebuilt Ichimura-za, 1891. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.|
Tamura, after discussing it with Chiba Katsugorō, decided that the October program—which ran for 33 days from October 10 to November 15—would costar Danjūrō and Kikugorō, who had not shared the stage in a while. As a result of young Ushinosuke’s appearance as Sankichi in Shigenoi Kowakare and Danjūrō’s cooperation with Kikugorō when his advice was sought in performing Genyadana, kabuki’s two top stars performed together for the first time in three years, after which they costarred often.
The show began with Fukuchi Ōchi’s new play Sekigahara Homare no Kachidoki (Ode to the Glorious Victory at Sekigahara), followed by Mokuami’s Sarayashiki Keshō no Sugatami (The Mansion of Plates and the Cursed Makeup Mirror), after which came two program-closing dance plays by Ōchi, Suō Otoshi Nasu no Katari (The Dropped Robe and the Tale of Nasu), a.k.a. Suō Otoshi, which starred Danjūrō, and Tsuri Gitsune Sato no Kakewana (Fox Hunting and the Village Fox Trap), both based on kyōgen plays.
The first, which remains a popular example of the matsubame mono category (plays performed on a set inspired by a nō/kyōgen stage), had a script by Fukuchi Ōchi, nagauta and takemoto music by Kineya Shōjirō and Tsuruzawa Yasujirō, and choreography by Fujima Kanemon. The second had a script by Kawatake Shinshichi, and tokiwazu, nagauta, and takemoto music. It was later revived by Ichikawa Ennosuke II as Hakuzōsu (Hakuzōsu the Priest). For Sekigahara both hanamichi were used in the prologue, with Danjūrō on one and Kikugorō on the other, facing each other across the auditorium. This pairing inspired a huge success that ran for 33 days.
On November 1, Kuroiwa Ruikō founded the Yorozu Chōhō (Everything Morning News), one of Japan’s major newspapers of the time. Nine days later, the rebuilt Ichimura-za, which had been at Nichō-Machi in Tokyo’s Shitaya since 1882, opened with Ichikawa Sadanji as its troupe leader (zagashira), and with Ichikawa Kodanji in the company. Also, from November on, Mori Ōgai’s translation of Hans Christian Anderson’s Improvisatoren began appearing in the high-class literary magazine Shigarami-zōshi (The Weir), and the detective novels of Kuroiwa Ruikō became popular.
December saw only a two-day benefit production for an orphanage. It was given from the second to the fourth by the Fukusuke Kai (Nakamura Fukusuke Group). They offered the “Nozaki Mura” (Nozaki Village) scene from Shinpan Utazaimon (The Balladeer’s New Tale); Nani Ōshima Homare no Tsuyoyumi (The Name and Honor of an Archer with a Stiff Bow), also known as Tako no Tametomo (The Kite of Tametomo), an 1888 history play by Morita Kanya XII that had premiered, starring Danjūrō, at the Shintomi-za; it told the story of Minamoto no Tametomo, famous for using stiff bows, who was deported to Ōshima after the defeat of ex-Emperor Sutoku at Hōgen no Ran in 1156. Also shown were several scenes from Kanadehon Chūshingura, and the tokiwazu dance play, Fuyumaru Matsuri Shinōkōshō (People from All Walks of Life Celebrate the Winter Solstice). During the production geisha from Shinbashi, Yanagibashi, and Akasaka sold things to raise money.
Abroad, 1892 was the year in which such important plays as Brandon Thomas’s Charlie’s Aunt, Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, George Bernard Shaw’s Widowers’ Houses, Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder, and Gerhart Hauptmann’s The Weavers were first produced. Among major new theatres built was London’s Duke of York’s Theatre. It was also the year New York’s Ellis Island began accepting immigrants and when Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet had its premiere, in St. Petersburg.
Cultural figures born in Japan during 1892 include writer Akuta Ryūnosuke, while those born abroad J.R. Tolkien, Oliver Hardy, Ernst Lubitsch, Eddie Cantor, Wendell Willkie, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Vita Sackville-West, Arthur Honegger, Lowell Thomas, Mary Pickford, Archibald McLeish, Margaret Rutherford, Fritz Kortner, Ezio Pinza, Basil Rathbone, Pearl S. Buck, James M. Cain, Thomas Mitchell, Joe E. Brown, William Powell, Jack Warner, Darius Milhaud, Charles Atlas, and Osbert Sitwell.