Friday, December 23, 2016

THE FIRST KABUKI-ZA (1889-1911). Chapter 10: 1896 (Meiji 29)

Chapter 10
1896 (Meiji 29)

Samuel L. Leiter

[Note: This is Chapter 10 in a series devoted to the early history of the Kabuki-za (1889-1911). 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), composed by a team of 10 writers none of whose contributions are specifically identified. Some material has been cut, some expanded, and other material 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 during the preparation of this and all previous entries. A new blog, "The First Kabuki-za," is being created to provide all these chapters in chronological order. Corrections and documented additions are welcome.]

Eighteen hundred and ninety-six was the year in which the modern Olympics were inaugurated in Athens, Greece, and Japan opened a mail boat route to Europe. In Japan women enjoyed the fashionable “Eastern” or azuma coats, designed to be worn over kimono to protect against bad weather, while men took to sporting Inverness-style cape-coats, called nijūmawashi. There were also popular new women’s hairstyles, called yakkai musubi (evening-wear knot) and furansu musubi (French knot).

January saw the beginning of what became the Shōchiku producing conglomerate, which eventually acquired the Kabuki-za as part of its holdings. According to Shōchiku cofounder Ōtani Takejirō’s biographer:
The production that should be celebrated as the one that launched Ōtani Takejirō from being the son of a concessionaire [Ōtani Eikichi] to that of a theatrical producer took place in January 1896 at Osaka’s Sakai-za. The plays were Soga no Jitsuroku (The True Story of the Soga Brothers) and Chichimorai (Breast Feeding), and the theatre’s resident troupe was led by male-role specialist (tachiyaku) Jitsukawa Enjirō, who later became Enjaku. From this moment on there was an inseparable connection between Enjaku and Shōchiku. (From Tanaka Junichirō, Ōtani Takejirō.)
After this, his older brother, Ōtani Matsujirō, became the representative (dairijin) of Osaka’s Kyōgoku-za. In Tokyo this month, the Shintomi-za changed managements and was renamed the Miyako-za. And the vice-president of the Actors’ Union, Kataoka Ichizō, was promoted to president (tōdori) on January 31. 

Late in 1895, Chiba Katsugorō, increasingly disturbed by the Kabuki-za’s continuing losses over the past two or three years, began thinking of selling it if a suitable buyer could be found. He turned for advice in the matter to Tamura Nariyoshi. Tamura would earn 4,000 yen as a commission if he succeeded in finding a buyer.

Thus began what became the founding of the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation, a story recounted by Tamura himself in his oral history, “Kabuki-za Konjaku Monogatari” (“The Kabuki-za Story, Past and Present”), serialized in Shin Engei (New Entertainment), from March 1930, and by playwright/kabuki scholar Kimura Kinka (1877-1960), in his 1936 Kinsei Gekidan-Shi: Kabuki-za Hen (History of Modern Theatre Companies: Kabuki-za Volume). Their accounts form the basis of the one in Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi, whose version, with several revisions, is given below; however, a number of discrepancies in the accounts of Tamura and Kimura have been uncovered by Terada Shiasa, based on extensive research, including the examination of public records. 

Those readers of Japanese who wish to compare her closely researched 2004 article “Kabuki-za Kabushiki Gaisha no Setsuritsu: Sono Saikentō to Hyōka” (“The Formation of the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation: A Re-examination and Evaluation”) with the present chapter can find it here. Terada’s essay also includes brief notes on who all the people mentioned as being involved in the transactions were. Later in this chapter, Terada’s conclusions are given.

Tamura figured that the best approach would be to sell shares in the theatre by organizing it as a joint stock company. Inoue Takejirō, brother-in-law of the important statesman, Count Gotō Shōjirō’s (1838-1897), was interested, and Count Gotō also recommended Miyake Hyōzō. Tamura further settled matters by getting Fukuchi Ōchi to join in, creating a situation that placed Inoue and Miyake on one side and Fukuchi and Tamura on the other. Despite daily meetings their talks failed to progress. It then was learned that future politician Minagawa Shirō (1852-1911), brother-in-law of the very successful businessman Count Shibusawa Eichi (1840-1931), manager of the Tokyo Electric Light Company, wanted in.

His involvement spurred the others to move forward and, as noted in Chapter 9, on December 25, 1895, all the participants met, signed a contract, and gave Chiba a deposit of 10,000 yen; the theatre was priced at 50,000 yen and, with the 2,000 tsubo plot (1 tsubo=3.95 sq. yds.) valued at 25 yen per tsubo, the land was worth 50,000 yen. It was agreed that the land would be purchased as soon as the company was established. Immediately, Tamura put up a sign at his Ginza 3-chōme home, saying: “Founding Office of the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation.”

Meanwhile, Chiba asked Tamura to allow him to handle all the theatrical arrangements for the January production, which opened at 10:00 a.m. on January 23 and featured Danjūrō’s company; the production was advertised as “Chiba Katsugorō’s Final Production.” Its successful run was extended from 25 to 29 days and it closed on February 20. 

The first play was Mokuami's 1869 “Jishin Gatō” (“Katō and the Earthquake”) part of Zōho Momoyama Monogatari (Supplementary Tale of Momoyama), starring Danjūrō as the famous 16th-century samurai Katō Kiyomasa; the second was the “Ninin Shinbei” (“Two Shinbeis”) section of Namiki Gohei’s 1789 play, Tomigaoka Koi no Yamabiraki (Love’s Mountain Climbing Season Opens at Tomigaoka); the third was the popular Dōjōji, with the 59-year-old Danjūrō giving his second “once in a lifetime” final performance of this major dance play; and the final work was Shinnen Kai (New Year’s Gathering), the auspicious title given to a children’s performance of the colorful aragoto scene, “Kuruma Biki” (Pulling the Carriage Apart), in the great classic, Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami, with the triplets played by Kawarasaki (?) Gonza as Matsuomaru, Ichikawa Dankō (later Ichikawa Ennosuke II) as Umeomaru, and Ichikawa Shachimaru (later Ichikawa Beishō II) as Sakuramaru.
The ceremony during Shinnen Kai in which Kataoka Tsuchinosuke (front row, left) took that name. Next to him, as his sponsor, is Kataoka Ichizō III. Ichikawa Danjūrō is at the right. The insert in the upper left corner shows "Kuruma Biki," which was performed as part of this name-taking ceremony. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
Playing a minor role in Zōho Momoyama Monogatari was the recently orphaned, 14-year-old, adopted son of Osaka star Kataoka Nizaemon X (1851-1895), Kataoka Tsuchinosuke II (later Kataoka Gadō IV and Kataoka Nizaemon XII). He had debuted at three at Tokyo's Chitose-za (later, the Meiji-za) in 1885. During the performance of "Kuruma Biki" in the Shinnen Kai part of the program, he formally changed his name from Kataoka Tōkichi to Tsuchinosuke in an onstage ceremony during which Danjūrō made the public announcement (kōjō) on his behalf.

According to Takenoya Gekihyō Shū, a collection of Takenoya no Shujin’s (Aeba Kōson) theatre criticism, the critic couldn’t get over Danjūro’s ability to play both the “Devil-General” Kiyomasa in “Jishin Gatō,” a man so awesome that merely touching his armored sleeves could cause men to stumble and fall, and the weak and gentle shirabyōshi dancer Hanako in Dōjōji. One was fearful to behold while it was hard not to take one’s eyes off the other’s jewel-like skin. It was equally hard to believe the cast list said both were played by the same actor, Danjūrō. When remembering the extreme qualities of both hardness and softness in Danjūrō’s face, the critic was certain that there was no one like him anywhere. 

The performance proved so popular that the 25-day run was extended for an additional four. Chiba, on the verge of retirement, was widely credited with the success and stirred much laughter by joking that he was going to delay his handing over the theatre for 10 years. A sad note, though, was the continuing eye disease of Ichikawa Shinzō V, who was forced to leave the show on January 30.

One of the most unusual features of Dōjōji, which stirred much interest, was the addition of piano and violin accompaniment to the musical background.

The group of five prospective founders, Inoue, Minagawa, Miyake, Fukuchi, and Tamura agreed that Minagawa and Inoue would spend 50,000 yen to create a provisional company and then sell it for 70,000 yen, dividing the 20,000 yen profit among the members. Chiba asked to be included in the distribution and to be one of the founding members.

On April 8, 1896, the investors held a founders’ meeting on the third floor of the Kabuki-za. Their agenda included:

1) A contract to purchase the Kabuki-za and transfer its managerial authority.
2) Approval of the initial expenses
3) Confirmation of the articles of incorporation
4) Salaries and bonuses for the top management (jūyaku)
5) Election of the top managers

Five managers were elected: Inoue Takejirō, Minagawa Shirō, Chiba Ninosuke, Nishikawa Tadaaki, and Noda Jōjirō. In addition, three “auditors” (kansayaku) were chosen: Umagoshi Kyōhei, Hayakawa Matsunosuke, and Sakamoto Shōzō. And the managers, voting for one another, chose Minagawa as chairman (kaichō) and Inoue as vice-chairman (fuku kaichō), while Tamura, in recognition of his achievements, was named executive secretary (kanji).

Vice-chairman Inoue, originally a rice exchange broker, was an ardent theatre fan and amateur, and even asked Fukuchi if he could be an onstage assistant (kōken), to which Fukuchi immediately responded by introducing him to Danjūrō. Danjūrō, in order to guarantee that the theatre produced six shows a year, as per its articles of incorporation (something that Terada’s article questions even existed), hoped to avoid disruptions by appointing a single, permanent producer. He thereby suggested to Inoue that the famous Shintomi-za producer, Morita Kanya, then unoccupied, be considered for the position. Inoue reached out and Kanya agreed to be employed by the Kabuki-za for the third time. Tamura objected because the company hadn’t yet been formally approved by the authorities, which meant Kanya would have to produce under the name of the previous manager, Chiba Katsugorō, which Tamura argued was a serious handicap. He thus tried persuading Chairman Minagawa that the April production be postponed. 

Vice-Chairman Inoue, however, was prepared to provide the production funds out of his own pocket so he could play at running Japan’s foremost theatre, while giving little consideration to the company’s needs, deepening the rift with Tamura.The Inoue-Kanya alliance moved ahead immediately and, in a single day, a large company was put together combining Danjūrō’s troupe with Onoe Kikugorō, who was previously a source of discord. Tamura, hearing that the budget would be over 20,000 yen, a record-breaking sum for the time, laughed cynically about its resemblance to festival goings-on.

Opening day was April 30, starting at 11:00 a.m., with the first play being Fūkigusa Heike Monogatari (The Pachysandra Tales of the Heike), a revision and expansion by Kawatake Shinshichi III of Kawatake Mokuami’s 1876 Natorigusa Heike Monogatari (The Peony Tales of the Heike); its “Shigemori Kangen” (“Shigemori’s Remonstrance”) scene was so successful for Danjūrō, despite an earlier failure with it, he added it to his Shin Kabuki Jūhachiban collection of greatest hits. Next came the always popular Sukeroku Yukari no Edo Zakura (Sukeroku: Flower of Edo), with Danjūrō as the dashing Sukeroku, Nakamura Fukusuke as the glorious courtesan Agemaki, and Fukusuke’s adoptive father, Nakamura Shikan, as the white-bearded villain, Ikyū. As was traditional, an amateur group of katōbushi musicians played during the production. It was followed by Mokuami’s Hakogaki Tsuki Totoya no Chawan (The Certified Totoya Tea Bowl), starring Kikugorō, who was also appearing at the Meiji-za in a kakemochi (acting at two theatres in the same month) arrangement.
Ichikawa Danjūrō as Sukeroku. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
Takenoya no Shujin wrote of Danjūrō: “In playing Shigemori he looked every inch the flesh and blood of the interior minister (komatsu naidaijin), and his remonstrance and sincerity were such that this reviewer was deeply impressed.” Ichikawa Shinzō, whose eye disease had worsened, had to leave the show on the second day, with his roles taken over by others.

Novelist Junichirō Tanizaki, eleven at the time, later wrote in his memoir, Shoshō Jidai (Childhood Years), that he “was dying to see” Sukeroku “but it proved impossible so I spent my days loitering in front of the Shimuzuya bookshop and gazing at the large three-leaf prints of Sukeroku displayed there.” He goes on:
In the illustrated booklets that circulated at the time, the ruddy, bearded face of Ikyu as played by Shikan made the strongest impression me, more so even than Danjuro’s Sukeroku or Fukusuke’s Agemaki.
In fact, though, I was still more eager to see the Heike monogatari play than Sukeroku itself. I had developed an intense interest in tales of the twelfth-century wars between the Genji and the Heike through reading Owada Tateki’s works, so I was convinced that plays featuring such characters as the lay priest Jokai, the monk Saiko, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal Shigemori, and New Grand Councillor Narichika could not fail to be fascinating Then by chance it happened that the chrysanthemum-doll exhibition at Dangozaka for that year was based on the current Heike monogatari play, with figures representing Danjuro as Saiko, Gonjuro as Narichika, and the late Chusha in his Yaozo days as Kiyomori. Seeing the displays, I regretted all the more that I had been forced to miss the play itself. (Trans. Paul McCarthy.)
Nakamura Fukusuke IV as Agemaki. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
This was Danjūrō’s fourth performance as Sukeroku and, from his hanamichi entrance to his hiding in the water barrel (which was added to the show on May 29), his energy, even at 59, put younger men to shame. With Shikan, doing Ikyū for the third time, and the incomparably beautiful Fukusuke as Agemaki, this was a matchless production.
While picture postcards of Danjūrō and Kikugorō were selling for 2 sen 5 rin, those for Fukusuke IV were going for 7 sen 5 rin and it was said they couldn’t be printed fast enough before they were sold. Cosmetics or various sundries with endorsements on them saying “Fukusuke’s favorite,” and even inferior goods, went flying off the shelves. On countless occasions the rickshaws gathered around the stage door were so encircled by Fukusuke’s fans they were unable to move.
All we have to recall the Agemaki of his Fukusuke and Shikan periods are photographs. And even these photos, half a century afterward, have faded and grown dim, no longer capable of offering a whiff of times gone by. Still, the beauty of his Agemaki, performed alongside Danjūrō’s Sukeroku and Shikan’s Ikyū at the Kabuki-za in May 1896, has never been equaled, before or since. (From Funahashi Sei’ichi, Kokoro Kawari.)
The result was a major hit, with sold-out houses. Just like the old days, there was great excitement among fan groups associated with the Yoshiwara brothel quarters and the riverside fishmongers, the first group attending on the ninth and the second on the 14th, according to tradition; the program ran for 33 days, bringing in a clear profit of 25,000 yen. Inoue, given great credit for the success, was given 10,000 yen with the remainder going to Chiba and the other company officers.

Then, in June, for seven days beginning on the seventh, there was a Red Cross charity production in which Danjūrō and Kikugorō took part, and which was seen by members of the imperial family. The program included Youchi Soga Kariba no Akebono (Dawn at the Hunting Field after the Sogas’ Night Attack), the kiyomoto dance Inaka Genji Tsuyu no Shinonome (Country Genji and the Dew at Daybreak), followed by two dances with texts by Fukuchi Ōchi, the first being Kagamijishi, starring Danjūrō, and the second Fukitori Zuma (Flute Blowing for a Wife), a premiere based on the kyōgen Fukitori, with nagauta music by Kineya Rokuzaemon XIII and choreography by Fujima Kan’emon. This was followed by Kawatake Mokuami’s 1887 history play Sekigahara Kami no Aoiba (Sekigahara and the Paper Green Leaves), with its takemoto accompaniment, with the fully packed program ending with another Fukuchi piece, Akajūji (The Red Cross), in which members of the Music Club from Hiroshima Hospital appeared.

Years later, a writer using the penname of Kusunoya Shujin wrote:
*Speaking of Inaka Genji (Country Genji), when it was presented at a Red Cross benefit at the Kabuki-za in June 1896, it was excellent, with Kikugorō V as Shinonome, the late Kikunosuke as Mitsuuji, and Onoe Baikō VI as Tasogare.
*Someone at the Kabuki-za was talking about exactly this the other day, saying Inaka Genji was an unprecedented, never-to-be-repeated performance.
*The beauty of Kikunosuke’s Mitsuuji and Baikō’s Tasogare is even now unforgettable. (From Kusanoya Shujin, “Meifu Engeki Tsūwa” in Engei Gahō, September 1939.)
Inaka Genji, with Onoe Eizaburō V as Tasogare (right), Onoe Kikugorō V as Shinonome, and Onoe Kikunosuke II as Mitsuuji. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
On June 15 Japan experienced one of its most powerful earthquakes and two tsunamis, one soon after the other, in Sanriku, off the coast of Iwate Prefecture. More than 27,000 people died. In July, the magazine Shin Shosetsu (New Novels) was launched by Shunyōdō.

Tamura Nariyoshi didn’t show much interest in the results of these productions. Moreover, sensing danger in a struggle for control between himself and Kanya and Fukuchi, he told Minagawa it would be wise to close the theatre during July and August’s dog days, to which Minagawa agreed. But Kanya and Fukuchi had already hired actors for those months and it was too late to cancel. Also, the teahouse staffs would have been unhappy with losing two months. The rapidly constituted and inaugurated Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation had become clearly split into two factions, the Minagawa-Tamura faction facing off against the Fukuchi-Kanya-Inoue faction, with the infighting becoming continuous.

The fateful production came off when Inoue, without depending on the company but acting on his own, put up 10,000 yen of his own, acquired backers, and opened at 11:00 a.m. on July 11. The opening play was Tsuruya Nanboku IV’s Katamigusa Yotsuya Kaidan (Keepsake Flower: The Ghost Stories at Yotsuya); this was the classic ghost play Tōkaidō Yotsuya Kaidan (Ghost Stories of Yotsuya on the Tōkaidō) under a title it had been given in 1884, when it was performed by Kikugorō, who also starred in this version. (The play had a close relationship with his acting line.) Second was Sanzen Ryō Omoni no Wakagoma (Three Thousand Gold Pieces and the Burdened Colt). Closing the show was the tokiwazu and kiyomoto dance Koi no Fumi Tsuki Goen no Ochikochi (Love Letters and the Moon’s Mistaken Perspective).  

Danjūrō was expected to appear but he had hurt himself the previous month while performing at the Meiji-za and was obliged to stop performing. Kikugorō manned the stage alone but the box office suffered seriously, forcing the production to close on the 23rd after 23 days. This cheered the Tamura-Minagawa faction but angered the Inoue-Fukuchi-Kanya one. Getting wind of the conflict, the Jiji Shinpō newspaper began a daily series covering its details. 

Minagawa cared little about the article of incorporation that presumably called for six productions a year, and would have been happy with less, while Inoue believed that he would earn more profits from a full production schedule.

Inoue told Count Gotō that Tamura was a troublemaker, so Gotō summoned Danjūrō and asked if Tamura was creating problems, something the actor couldn’t deny. Kikugorō agreed that it was time to be free of Tamura, the root of all evil. Gotō brought these complaints to Minagawa but he stood up for Tamura. Such ongoing troubles caused a delay in preparations for the fall season.

Meanwhile, on July 2, Kawakami Otojirō opened a three story theatre, the Kawakami-za, built in Western style, at Misaki-chō, in the Kanda district. And on August 26, Okamoto Kidō, who would become an important kabuki writer, published his maiden work, Shishenden (Hall of Ceremonies). On August 31, actor Nakamura Jusaburō (brother of Ichikawa Sadanji I and Ichikawa Arajirō) died at 62.

On September 1 the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation was officially approved as a business enterprise for the regular buying and selling of stocks and was listed on the stock exchange. Favorable progress was being made when, at 1 p.m. on October 4, the first general meeting of the shareholders was held on the theatre’s third floor. First, Minagawa, as chairman, presented his business report covering May to September, setting the profit dividend at 75 sen per share (less than 10.6 percent for the year). Two articles of incorporation were revised, one with the added condition, “For the sake of convenience, a single vice-chairman shall be elected,” after which a special election was held, with Minagawa being unanimously elected chair, Tamura as executive secretary, and Kanya as advisor (komon), at which point the meeting ended.

Five persons were absent and did not participate in the voting, so the votes were considered provisional. On October 5 there was a meeting of the management at which the position of chairman (kaichō) was changed to president (shachō), and Inoue was chosen vice-president. It was announced that the company’s opening ceremony would be on November 1. At a special meeting that same day, Nishikawa Tadaaki and Chiba Ninosuke resigned as directors (torishimeyaku) and Yoshikawa Yasunosuke and Itō Kenkichi were added as directors.

After the announcement of the forthcoming November stockholder’s meeting the market improved and stocks trading at 12 yen 50 sen shot up to 17 or 18 yen; this confirmed the Kabuki-za’s profitable prospects.

October saw the publication of Futaba Shimei’s translation of Ivan Turgenev’s First Love (Kata Koi), which had a major impact on modern Japanese literature. Also that month the promising female writer Higuchi Ichiyō passed away of consumption at only 25. And October also saw a catastrophic outbreak of dysentery that claimed over 19,000 lives.

The only performances at the Kabuki-za in October were fundraisers for the Tokyo Poorhouse (Tōkyō Yoikuin), beginning at 2:00 p.m. on the 10th, 11th, and 12th. The crowded program included scenes from Kamakura Sandaiki, Yoshitsune Koshigoejō, Hirakana Seisuiki, Ashiya Dōman Ōuchi Kagami, Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari (The Story of the Great Jiraiya), Otokoyama Moritate Genji, and Dōchū Hizakurige (Shank’s Mare). Danjūrō and Fukusuke were among the cast members. During the break between Kamakura Sandaiki and Yoshitsune Koshigoejō there was a performance of the music from Kanjinchō played by the Japan Music Club and nagauta orchestra. Danjūrō also gave a speech honoring the spirit of the emperor’s father, who had died 30 years earlier.

The first production of the Kabuki-za’s newly licensed company opened at 10:00 a.m. on November 10 following a ceremony in the company’s honor; the same was also held on the 11th, during which the stockholders were introduced to the public.
The theatre’s external appearance on those days was enhanced by crossed national flags, the hanging of countless round, colored lanterns, and piled-up barrels of sake at either side donated by various patrons. Draped across the theatre’s face was a large, horizontal banner on which Hara Tesseki, who worked at a second-floor concession, had written in huge characters: “Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation Ceremonial Opening Production.” Inside, round red and white lanterns hung above and below the galleries, there were brand new, crimson-carpeted “knee-hiders” (hizakakushi), and everything was as gorgeously decorated as possible. (From Kimura Kinka, Kinsei Gekidan Shi: Kabuki-za Hen.)
First, President Minagawa offered his greetings, then Danjūrō, joined by Ichikawa Somegorō, danced Kodakara Sanba (Blessed Child Sanbasō), a ceremonial piece performed in hakama trousers. At intermission, invitees received a two-tiered lunch box (bentō) and cakes, along with sake and sake cups, after which they viewed Fukuchi Ōchi’s new, three-act play, Ninin Kagekiyo (Two Kagekiyos), which pushed the final curtain to past 11:00 p.m., forcing it to be trimmed in mid-run. It was inspired by the 1732 puppet play classic, Dan no Ura Kabuto Gunki (War Story of the Dan Bay Helmet). The middle play was Ōshū Adachigahara (Adachigahara in Ōshū), for which Ichikawa Yaozō and Ichikawa Ennosuke alternated daily as Hachiman Tarō and Abe no Munetō. Closing the program was Mokuami’s Nami no Soko Shinboku Kai (Beneath the Waves Friendship Society), a dance piece using tokiwazu, kiyomoto, and takemoto music.

The production, intended to commemorate the reorganization of the Kabuki-za’s management, worked hard to draw audiences and many people attended out of duty, but aside from Sundays and festival days, attendance was generally weak and the production limped along for 25 days until closing on December 4. On November 21, it should be noted, Yaozō hurt himself during a stage fight (tachimawari) and had to take time off, his multiple roles being taken by various company members.

Thus was the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation born, and, though it had opened for business, managerial difficulties gradually worsened and an atmosphere of dissatisfaction infected life inside the theatre.

According to Terada, on November 22, Itō Kenkichi sent three notes to the board, the last one by registered mail. In it he expressed his misgivings about Minagawa possibly having illegally withdrawn 50,000 yen in production funds deposited by the company in the Daisan Bank. It was then explained that the bank had loaned the money to Minagawa and the matter was cleared up by the 23rd. However, Minagawa was enraged by the allegation and, on December 1, suddenly announced his resignation. Inoue said nothing. The details can be found in Terada but the blame ultimately rested on both sides of the quarrel.

Inoue did not immediately assume the presidency, which was temporarily filled by Itō Kenkichi. The public reason given for Minagawa’s resignation was that, “For reasons of convenience, he has sold off his stock.” The top managers’ positions were renamed so that Inoue became “managing director of production” (kōgyō senmu), which put him in charge of production. Yoshikawa Yasunosuke was treasurer (kaikei) and Noda Jōjirō was in charge of “general affairs” (shomu).

By this time, Tamura, of the Minagawa faction, had completely left the Kabuki-za and moved to Osaka where, with Akiyama Gishirō, he became active in Kansai area theatricals, planning and establishing the Dōtonbori Joint Stock Corporation to run the Kado-za and the Naniwa-za.
Even before this Inoue and Minagawa were like the proverbial two great rivals who cannot coexist, and unless only one of them took over it would be forever impossible to get things done smoothly. Inoue rapidly bought up stock with the aim of establishing his power. I advised Minagawa that Inoue had somehow gotten attached to Count Gotō so there was no way he could compete with him in buying up stocks. There was a better way to defeat him by using a clever plan, which was to openly purchase 20 stocks while secretly selling 200. Inoue wouldn’t know that the stocks were being sold secretly but, seeing that only 20 stocks were being bought daily, he grew excited and, using his power to buy up 200 and 300 at a time, they went from 12 yen 5 sen to 18 or 19 yen a share.
When Inoue eventually realized that Minagawa and I had thus disposed of our stocks he was so surprised he practically fell on his ass. (From Tamura Nariyoshi, “Kabuki-za ga Kabushiki ni Natte Kara,” in Shin Engei, June 1930.)
Terada Shiasa’s essay on the founding of the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation concludes thusly:
This company, whose goal was to make a profit from the Kabuki-za, applied for permission in February 1896, was approved in April, and was a joint stock company based on the modern type of stock. Its major characteristic was that its managerial structure was completely reorganized by businessmen and investors who had had nothing to do with theatrical production at the Kabuki-za, which until then had been operated principally as the individual enterprise of Chiba Katsugorō. However, discord arose among those who had been involved in the theatre’s productions and, from early August this became clear to the outside world. At the October shareholder’s meeting it was announced that, for the moment, the company had achieved its goal, but, by this time, the Minagawa faction already had crumbled. Consequently, at the end of November, President Minagawa was forced to resign. Thereafter, Inoue, who had taken a familiar position from the hitherto production-related personnel, became president and continued running the business.
It’s well known that Shibusawa Eiichi, who had established hundreds of companies and was Japan’s first founder of a joint stock corporation, was deeply connected to the opening in 1911 of the Teikoku Gekijō (Imperial Theatre). If he himself had been directly involved in his brother-in-law Minagawa’s running of the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation as managing director perhaps the Kabuki-za, like the Teikoku Gekijō, would have inclined toward shortening the running time of productions and offering more variety in its programming. The Teikoku Gekijō’s architectural structure and production methods had a variety of influences on later kabuki, and it’s possible to think these might have come even earlier from the Kabuki-za itself.
Shibusawa’s name appears as the president of the theatre’s bank and as the chair of the October 1896 charity production at the Kabuki-za, but it does not appear before or after in connection with his involvement with the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation. As has been noted by Akiniwa Tarō in his Nihon Shingeki-Shi (History of Japanese New Theatre), this may have been because of a difference of opinion with Fukuchi Ōchi that arose in 1888 when the Theatre Reform Society proposed the establishment of a new theatre. And there was the success, such as it was, of many theatre outsiders in running the joint stock corporation, as well as the resignation of Chairman Minagawa, who was vastly more experienced than Inoue in managing the company organization. Even afterward, no major changes in the Kabuki-za’s production system, performance time, the theatre’s physical equipment, etc., appeared until January 1907, when the first production under the presidency of Ōkōchi Terutake was given.
For all that, the facts are that the main purpose in creating the company was not to repay debts; there was a positive acceptance of non-theatre world businessmen and wealthy persons as a management team; the public offering on the stock exchange for up-to-date buying and selling of stocks to raise capital funds, while risky, allowed, provisionally, for balanced books; stockholders’ meetings were announced in the same way as most companies; dividends were paid out; the business continued for many years; and, more than the Shintomi-za stock company of the 1870s, the Kabuki-za’s methods were valued as progressive steps forward. (From Terada Shiasa, “Kabuki-za Kabushiki Gaisha no Setsuritsu: Sono Saikentō to Hyōka.”)
Another theatre that became a joint stock operation was the Haruki-za in Hongo, which made the change on November 20.

In December 1896 Morita Shiken’s translation of Jules Verne’s 1888 novel Two Years Vacation was published as Jūgo Shōnen (Fifteen Boys), an important step in the history of Japanese children’s literature. Also this year, courses on Western art were established at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō), and motion pictures, gramophones, and motorcycles were imported and made available for public consumption. Political developments in Japan included the smuggling of Korea’s king and prince out of their palace by pro-Russian and pro-American forces to keep them from Japanese control; the killing of Korean ministers favoring Japan and the dismissal of Japanese advisors; the formation of a pro-Russian Korean government; and, for the time being, the end of Japanese control in Korea. European powers forced Japan to return the Liaotung Peninsula to China. In September Matsukata Masayoshi again became prime minister.

Abroad, Utah became the 45th state; Fannie Farmer published her first cookbook; the first X-rays were taken; Puccini’s La Bohéme premiered in Turin; the first college basketball game between women’s colleges was played; racial segregation was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson;Henry Ford built his first vehicle, the Ford Quadricycle; gold was discovered in the Klondike, starting a gold rush; a woman in London became the first automobile fatality; Queen Victoria became the longest reigning British monarch; William McKinley defeated Willian Jennings Bryan for the U.S. presidency; and John Philip Sousa composed “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Cultural figures born in 1896 include French artist André Masson; author John Dos Passos; comedian George Burns; French writer André Breton; Greek conductor Dimitry Mitropoulos; baseball player Rogers Hornsby; film director Howard Hawks; playwright Philip Barry; socialite Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor; Russian ballet dancer/choreographer Léonide Massine; Canadian actor Raymond Massey; French actor/director Antonin Artaud; dancer Fred Astaire; writer F. Scott Fitzgerald; German writer Carl Zuckmeyer; Italian writer Eugenio Montale; actress/singer Ethel Waters; actress Marie Prevost; opera star Lawrence Tibbett; composer Virgil Thomson; actress Jessie Royce Landis; lyricist Ira Gershwin; writer Louis Bromfield; and composer Roger Sessions.

Important Western plays of 1896 include Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, Chekhov’s The Sea Gull, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, and Gerhart Hauptmann’s The Sunken Bell, while the Japan-based British musical The Geisha was a big international hit. Major theatres completed this year were Brazil’s Teatro Amazonas, in Manaus, located in rainforest territory; the Comedy Theatre of Budapest; Romania’s Iasi National Theatre; Columbus, Ohio’s Southern Theatre; Chicago’s Steinway Hall; the Teatro Diogo Bernardes in Ponte de Lima, Portugal; and the Vale Hotel and Grand Opera House, all of which are still operating except for Steinway Hall, demolished in 1970.

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