Friday, June 1, 2018

THE FIRST KABUKI-ZA (1889-1911): Chapter 24. 1910 (Meiji 43)



Kabuki Woogie began in 2011 as a way to record a research trip to Japan I took on a Mellon Fellowship a year earlier. My day-to day-experiences on that trip, including videos and photos, can be found at the beginning of the blog. For the past couple of years, Kabuki Woogie has been used to post entries on the history of the first Kabuki-za, Japan’s leading kabuki playhouse, founded in 1889, and still on the same site. It continues to be extremely successful, albeit after four major reconstructions.

Samuel L. Leiter

Chapter 24

1910 (Meiji 43)

Shōchiku Invades Tokyo

[Note: This is Chapter 24 in a series devoted to the early history of the Kabuki-za (1889-1911). It is largely based on Vols. 1 and 3 of the Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi (A Hundred Year History of the Kabuki-za), edited by Nagayama Takeomi (1995). A team of 10 writers worked on that project although none are identified in the books for specific contributions.

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. It thus serves as a survey of Japanese theatre in the Meiji period, 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. Corrections and documented additions are always welcome.

The year’s activities will again be provided in segments, the first covering January to June.]

1.      1. January-June 1910

With the move of Ichikawa Komazō from the Kabuki-za to the Meiji-za, Kataoka Nizaemon XI, who had until then been Ichikawa Sadanji II’s main supporter at the latter theatre, began to feel uncomfortable about his position. Sensing his feelings, Yamashita Seibei invited him to join the Kabuki-za company, where he wound up being Komazō’s replacement, bringing along his son, Chiyonsuke.

Opening day at the Kabuki-za in 1910 was January 14, with the show beginning at 11:00 a.m.. With Nizaemon and Ichikawa Danzō now part of the company, the program began with Kichirei Kotobuki Soga, which was followed by Nakamura Shikan V and Onoe Baikō VI starring in Enomoto Torahiko’s new Toyotomi Tenshūni, whose titular figure, a woman (1609-1645), was the last member of the historically important Toyotomi clan. Enomoto’s play was an adaption of Schiller’s Mary Stuart, which pits Queen Elizabeth I against Queen Mary of Scotland, with Enomoto's version of Mary written to resemble Lady Macbeth.

Then came the program’s highlight, with Ichimura Uzaemon XV, gaining accolades as Sanemori, played as per Onoe Kikugorō V’s kata, in the classic history drama Genpei Nunobiki Taki, better known as Sanemori Monogatari. Sanemori would become Uzaemon’s greatest history drama role. Danzō, replacing Ennosuke as Senō, also received raves.

The fourth piece starred Nizaemon in his famous role of Hachirōbei in the “Unagidani” scene of Sakuratsuba Urami no Samezaya (The Cherry Blossom Sword Guard and the Resentful Sharkskin Scabbard), costarring Baikō as Otsuma. Nizaemon’s success was said to be linked to his having studied his role under the guidance of gidayū chanter Takemoto Tsudayū II. 
Sakuratsuba Urami no Samezaya, with Kataoka Chiyonosuke, left, Kataoka Nizaemon, and Onoe Baikō. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi
The cast included Nizaemon’s six-year-old son, Kataoka Chiyonosuke, later Kataoka Nizaemon XIII (1903-1994), who had debuted as a two-year-old at Kyoto’s Minami-za in 1905. The future star, cast as Hachirōbei’s daughter, Ohan, was here making his debut at the Kabuki-za, where he’d still be performing over 80 years later. Late in life he could still remember that his father was so pleased with his performance he bought him an imported toy steam train from Mitsukoshi. 
The program illustration for Sakuratsuba Urami no Samezaya. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
The production closer was the dance Haru Geshiki Kumoi no KyokumariAlthough it ran 25 days, the program, despite New Year's productions usually being profitable, was a financial failure.
                                                                                                  ,
On January 20, Ōtani Takejirō, acting as the agent for his brother, Shirai Matsujirō, came to Tokyo and, for 45,000 yen, purchased the Shintomi-za from Nakamura Shikaku (later Denkurō VI), who had run it from 1904. [See Atsumi Seitarō’s comments on this deal in the previous chapter.] The market value was 27 or 28,000 yen, so Shikaku made a considerable profit. But Ōtani later said that the theatre had a hidden value that he respected in its being the direct descendant, through its first proprietor, Morita Kan’ya, of the Morita-za, which was one of the three great Edo theatres (Edo Sanza). The acquisition was the first major step in the Shōchiku company’s domination of the Tokyo theatre market. It also marked the beginning of Shōchiku’s responsibilities being divided between the brothers, with Ōtani in charge of business in the east (Tokyo) and Shirai in the west (Osaka and Kyoto).

The Kabuki-za was empty from February through March, during which the company’s actors, in the wake of Komazō’s departure, were considerably agitated. Lurking in the background of this unease was Shōchiku’s incursion into Tokyo and rumors that a major new theatre was going to be built somewhere along the Imperial Palace moat in Marunouchi. Meanwhile, producer Tamura Nariyoshi fell ill. From his sickbed he directed his son, Tamura Toshijūrō, Sekine Mokuan, Ogasawara Shinbei (brother-in-law of the late Morita Kan’ya XII), and others to act on his behalf.

On January 23, 1910, the boating club of Zushi Kaisei High School suffered a tragic accident when their boat capsized on it way to Enoshima, off Shichirigahama, Kamakura, with the loss of thirteen lives. In March, facial powder, makeup, and tooth powder with what became the popular brand names Kurabu Senko, Kurabu Oshiroi, and Kurabu Hamigaki went on the market.

The Shintomi-za opened under Shōchiku’s management in March, with Shōchiku’s Tokyo business offices located in the Tsukiji section of Kyōbashi. On March 25, Kurokawa Nō made its first Tokyo; it was performed at the Kudan Nōgakudō. March also saw the first experimental performances of Tsubouchi Shōyō’s home of the Bungei Kyōkai (Literary Association), with Hamlet and other works. And Kawakami Otojirō’s company gave the first performances at the newly opened Teikoku-za in Osaka’s Kitahama. The production was Hall Caine’s Bondman, a “melodrama of peasant revenge” says Joseph Anderson in Enter a Samurai, which Kawakami had done recently at Tokyo’s Hongō-za.

But more noteworthy was the premiere at the Ichimura-za of Migawari Zazen (The Zen Substitute), starring Bandō Mitsugorō VI as Tamanoi, the wife, Onoe Kikugorō VI as Yamakage Ukyō, the cheating husband, and Nakamura Kichiemon as Tarō Kaja, the servant. Okamura Shikō’s kabuki adaptation of a kyōgen play, Hanako, has remained one of the funniest and most popular of the so-called matsubamemono dance drama genre, performed on a stage suggestive of the one used for and kyōgen. Kikugorō later included it in his collection of hits associated with the Kikugorō line, the Shinko Engeki Jūshū. The play was also the first in a series of matsubame based by Shiko on kyōgen and starring Mitsugorō, including Tachi Nusubito (The Sword Thief) and Bōshibari (Tied to a Pole).

Famed writer Nagai Kafū offered this description of the Kabuki-za in his Kōcha no Ato (After Tea; 1911):

The melancholy sky seemed to turn purple. Completely unlike the winter, the street somehow glowed in softly beautiful firelight. Walking in the evening along the Ginza I noticed it was opening day at the Kabuki-za.

On either side of the entrance, barrels of Masamune brand sake and boxes of Daigaku brand face powder were perched precariously, one atop the other, while the adjoining teahouses on both sides displayed whirlpool patterned noren curtains and motion picture advertisements along with various hanging flags. However, they seemed not at all like the first-class banners seen in Edo-period woodblock prints. A group of four or five publicists (kōkokutai), wearing Western-style garments that looked as though they’d been inspired by the bicycle boys of the Mitsukoshi Dry Goods Store, were lined up beneath the picture billboards, holding bicycle handlebars, and wearing Kabuki-za crests hanging around their chests like medals.

When I climbed to the one act-only seating on the third floor, the curtain for the “Kuramayama Danmari” pantomime had just opened, and the ōzatsuma musician, dressed in formal kamishimo, had entered on the hanamichi to the audience’s applause. The manly musician Kineya Rokuzaemon immediately mounted a platform and produced a resonant nasal sound. [From Nagai Kafū, Kōcha no Ato.]

April 1 was opening day for the next Kabuki-za production, which began at 11:00 a.m. with Shin Usuyuki Monogatari, whose famous "Sannin Warai" (Three People Laughing") scene in which two parents, Sonobe Hyoe and Iganokami, unbeknownst to each other, slit their bellies and laugh upon discovering their mutual act of suicide, was played by Nizaemon as Sonobe Hyoe, and Yaozō as Iganokami, with Shikan as the onlooking Umenokata. The next offering was the one seen by Kafū from the seats reserved for those interested in viewing only one act: Kuramayama Kisei no Kakegaku. Uzaemon’s son, the six-year-old Ichimura Takematsu IV (later Uzaemon XVI), made his debut in it as Ushiwakamaru. The company’s 13 leading and supporting players performed in the play to honor his debut. 
Shin Usuyuki no Monogatari, with Ichikawa Yaozō VII, Nakamura Shikan V, and Kataoka Nizaemon XI. From Engei Gahō.
The next piece was Yuki no Yūbe Iriya no Azemichi, best known as Naozamurai, with Baikō as the courtesan Michitose, Uzaemon as Naozamurai, and Matsusuke as the blind masseur Joga; all three were praised for the unity of their ensemble work, although Ennosuke, in his first performance of Kaneko, was panned. The singer and shamisen player accompanying the performance were highly praised.

Usuyuki was so disliked that it had never drawn customers, even when paired with Hakkenden or coupled with the Mountain Scene in Imoseyama, so when the production, unusually, packed the house day after day, theatre gossips knocked its success by pinning it on the beginner’s luck of Takematsu’s debut. It seems that Uzaemon had gone all out to promote the news of his son’s debut, Eventually, an Osaka-style banner was hung outside the entrance announcing how many people had attended for the first 20 days, a total said to have been 52,791. So many people were mobilized to attend by his aggressive campaign that it drew the attention of the police, and it became necessary to closely control the lobbying, fan clubs, and obligatory behavior. The theatre staff was even instructed that the usual celebratory gifts to the geisha world were strictly forbidden.

Moreover, with such unprecedented full houses, Miyake Hyōza, who was then a Kabuki-za board member, said that Usuyuki pastries inspired by that play’s fortunate production were ordered from the Ginza pastry shop Kikujuen and then distributed to theatregoers, the media, and even backstage. [From Kazuma Eichi, “Gakuya Dango” in Kabuki-za Sujigaki, April 1940.]

This April, the magazine Shirakaba (White Birches) began publication with the participation of avant-garde writers such as Shiga Naoya, Arishima Takeo, and Mushanokōji Saneatsu, who professed interest in ideas promulgated by Leo Tolstoy.

Nakamura Kichizō (Shun’u), a well-educated former kabuki actor with a strong interest in Ibsen, returned from studying Western theatre abroad and created the Shin Shakai Gekidan (New Society Theatre) in April, the goal being to help introduce Western drama to Japan. His offerings, directed at the Tōkyō-za by Doi Shunsho,  included his own play, Bokushi no Ie (The Minister’s House), a social drama (shakai geki) and Ide Shōu’s Oya (Parent), using a cast including kabuki actor Arashi Kikkaku as well as actresses, still unusual in Japan.

At the Yūraku-za on April 4, the Tōkyō Haiyū Gakkō (Tokyo Actors School) gave an experimental production.

Shōchiku didn’t immediately begin producing kabuki at the Shintomi-za after they bought and renovated it. They set about by skillfully preventing an all-out attack from their competition by offering magic shows, performances of the narrative music called rōkyoku, Soganoya comedy (shinkigeki), and other forms of light entertainment. Meanwhile, the brothers created a troupe by hiring Osaka actors Jitsukawa Enjirō I (later Enjaku II), Arashi Kichisaburō VI, Onoe Usaburō II, Arashi Rikaku, and others.

They began doing kabuki in May, with a program including the first Tokyo production of the kabuki version of Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s puppet drama Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigyoku, as well as Gojitsu no Hachinoki and Sekenshi. The Kabuki-za’s Tamura Nariyoshi then put all his efforts into using Kikugorō and Kichiemon at the Ichimura-za to compete with the new Shintomi-za team. He even went so far as to append to the program a challenge, saying: “It’s been rumored recently that a certain very active production company in the Kansai area has brought a number of young Osaka actors here and hoisted its flag at the Shintomi-za, where it will be opening around the same time as us.” A certain publication took him to task for doing what it called something unworthy of a “son of Edo.”

At the Meiji-za in May, Ichikawa Ichijūrō III became Ichikawa Gangyoku II, while his son, Ichikawa Dankichi took the name Ichijūrō IV. On May 4, the stage fight master (tateshi) Ichikawa Enjūrō II, a disciple of Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, died at 49. On May 22, Ichikawa Sannen, the eldest son of Ichikawa Danzō, died at 38. And at the Yūraku-za this month, the Jiyū Gekijō gave its second production, Frank Wedekind’s The Court Singer (Die Kammersänger), translated by Mori Ōgai, a translation of Chekhov’s Marriage Proposal, and Ōgai’s own Ikutagawa (The Ikuta River). The company included kabuki actors Ichikawa Sadanji, Sawamura Sōnosuke, Ichikawa Danko (later Ennosuke II), Ichikawa Sumizō, and Ichikawa Sashō.

In May, Mita Bungaku (Mita Literature), a new literary magazine (still active) associated with Keiō University, one of whose sponsors was Nagai Kafū, began publication, joining the ranks of Subaru, which began the previous year. With Mita Bungaku, the anti-naturalism literary camp gained powerful support. This was a year of significant activity by such anti-naturalistic writers as Kinoshita Mokutarō, Yoshida Isamu, Kitahara Hakushū, Nagata Hideo, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, and others.

May 14, 1910, was when the Japan-Britain Exhibition opened in London, and on May 19, Halley’s Comet brushed the earth with its tail, as a later report puts it. On May 25, arrests began in connection with the High Treason Incident, which plotted the assassination of Emperor Meiji. Anarchist leader Kōtoku Shūsui was captured on June, ushering in a year of extreme pressure on Japanese socialists. Kōtoku was one of those executed in early 1911 for their association with the assassination plot.   

The June Kabuki-za production opened on the first, beginning with Fukuchi Ōchi’s Nue Taiji (Overcoming the Nue Monster), after which came a “once-in-a-lifetime” performance by Ichikawa Danzō as Sakura Sōgorō in Sakura Giminden. Next was Ihara Seiseien’s Izumo no Okuni, about kabuki’s female founder, which was followed by Takayasu Gekkō’s Sakura Shigure (Cherry Blossom Shower), with the closer being the multiscened dance Rokkasen Kyōga no Suminuri. Danzō was so good as Sōgorō in Sakura Giminden critics wondered where the actor left off and the character began, asking whether they were watching Ichikawa Sōgorō or Sakura Danzō. Comments during the intermission were especially warm.

Recently at the Kabuki-za, when I saw Sakura Sōgorō, I thought of Sōgorō as a Roosevelt-like man, who causes his family to be horribly crucified because he stands up to injustice and speaks out against it. The only way to consider it is as a morality play about not giving in to the powerful. [From Nagai Kafū, Kōcha no Ato,]
Izumo no Okuni, with Ichikawa Monnosuke (fourth from left) as Okuni, Kataoka Nizaemon XI (center) as Nagoya Sanza, Onoe Baikō\VI (third from right) as Yodo no Kata, and Sawamura Sōjūrō VII (right) as Ishida Mitsunari..From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
The otherwise commonplace Izumo no Okuni gave the onnagata Ichikawa Metora the opportunity to take the name Ichikawa Monnosuke VI and to be promoted to the top level (kanbu) of Kabuki-za players. In Sakura Shigure all the actors apart from Nizaemon (as Shōyū) were playing their roles for the first time, and all were widely praised, especially Shikan as Yoshinodayū. Despite Japan’s weak economy at the time, and the expected box office doldrums of June, the production did surprisingly good business. It ran 25 days and even followed the previous production’s practice of hanging out a banner announcing the number of attendees, which totaled 56,363.
 
The Kabuki-za at the time of Ichikawa Monnosuke's name-taking. From Tōkyō Fūkei Shachō.
Ever since the previous July, the Kabuki-za had managed the Tōkyō-za in Mizaki-chō, Kanda, under the terms of a three-year contract signed by the late company president Ōkōchi Terutake, who had initiated the idea. However, the theatre fared poorly so, after negotiations with its manager, Suzuki Kintarō, the contract was voided.

Tanaka Sada wrote the following:

At the time, the company’s capital was 350,000 yen, with internal expenses of 187,500 yen, and with around 130 shareholders. Sajiki gallery seats cost 2 yen, 80 sen; seats in the raised areas ] (takadoma) alongside the orchestra were 2 yen, 50 sen; seats in the orchestra itself (hiradoma), where up to five people sat on the floor in a boxed-in area (masu) were 2 yen, 10 sen; and seats in the third-floor balcony were 45 sen. In addition, there were some seats designated as pine, bamboo, plum, crane, tortoise, and thousand year on the first and second floors. On days when every seat was sold, the theatre could take in, at the most, 3,700 yen. [From Kimura Kinka, Kinsei Gekidan Shi, Kabuki-za Hen.]

From June 13 to November 17 the Tōkyō Asahi Shinbun published Nagatsuka Takashi’s soon-to-be famous novel, Tsuchi (The Soil), about rural life. June also was when Danjūrō IX’s son-in-law, Horikoshi Fukusaburō (later Ichikawa Sanshō V, and, posthumously, Danjūrō X), who came from the business world, not kabuki, moved to Osaka, where he became a disciple of Nakamura Ganjirō’s, changed his name to Hayashi Chōbei, and made his debut at the Tokiwa-za in Kokura, Kyūshū. His activity was kept secret in the kabuki world until later. Another June event was the name changing of Ichikawa Hikoroku to Masuroku, and his becoming a fight scene choreographer.


1.       2. July to December, 1910

In July, Shōchiku bought the Hongō-za and began producing there at once. The Kabuki-za was closed all month, and in August, Kikugorō and Kichiemon brought their Ichimura-za Young Stars’ Kabuki (Wakate Ichiza) to the Kabuki-za with a production of “refreshing” (suzumi) theatre. It opened on at 4:00 p.m. on August 7 with Kawatake Shinshichi's dramatization of Satomi Hakkenden, the kyōgen-derived comic dance play Sannin Katawa (Three Invalids) by Takeshiba Kisui, Kawatake Shinshichi's Kiyomizu Ikkaku, and Enomoto Torahiko’s comedy, Shiroto Geshukuya (Amateurs’ Lodging House).

August 8

I went to the Kabuki-za the second day to see their refreshing production. Outside, beneath the billboards, rows of potted autumn plants were lined up looking like those beneath great household gates. They were skillfully made stage props atop mounds of earth. The red rugs in the sajiki and “quail” (uzura) gallery sections were replaced by white cloths with a hospital-like look, making the faces of the spectators there look dark and dirty. It was a light, yellowish green or a pale blue place. Also, where Gifu-style lanterns always hung near the upper and lower sajiki, electrically lit glass globes were hanging with goldfish inside, having cost a considerable sum. As a matter of fact, it did not impress me so much but reminded me of a shoddy attraction often seen in the Asakusa entertainment area, because audience members sitting under the transparent glass balls could see the belly of goldfish swimming in them through glass—as clearly as if a judge saw through culprits (you could even see them crapping), not something to be appreciated. Still, some might argue that you couldn’t ask for more as every seat, in the orchestra and sajiki, was a cheap one yen. On the contrary, being inexpensive was a low trick to attract people as they planned to increase their profits by collecting admission fees from more people. This was how they knew what they should do; lo and behold, how shrewd they were, although the poorer quality of audiences could not be denied! [Ōgudō Kiyofuchi, “Engei Nisshi” in Engei Gahō, No. 9, 1910. Thanks to Prof. Hibino for his help translating much of this passage.] 

Someone else left a record of attending this cooling theatre production. During the run there was an enormous deluge that caused such serious flooding in the shitamachi (lower city) that the theatre had to be shut up for four days, starting on August 12.

“August 19 Suddenly feeling like it, I departed to visit the cooling theatre at the Kabuki-za. . . . The waters hadn’t yet receded so there were six ferries at Tsukuda. The boat rose up on the water and then angled down until it reached Tsukiji.
 
Today, when I said “theatre,” my heart beat from the morning on like a town girl. I wondered why I was feeling so like a novice? But that’s how it was so there’s nothing I could do.
 When I stepped out of the boat I immediately leaped into a rickshaw and, until I got to the Kabuki-za, was pulled along, lost in another world. In my confusion, I wondered: was I passing Saruya? Umebayashi?” 
This is the beginning of Osanai Kaoru’s August 1910 theatre criticism. At the time, he was staying at a seaside resort in Tsukishima, adapting foreign plays for the Jiyū Gekijō. It was at the time that Japan was gradually starting to adopt the practice of ocean swimming. Geisha and others would wear horizontally striped, baggy bathing suits, and, encased in swimming tubes, splash around in the waves. This seaside resort was a first-class lodging house as well as a place for romantic couples. It’s said to have been used in those days by members of the cultural elite. Ferries, rickshaws, teahouses—all associated with the zangiri (cropped hair) plays of Kawatake Mokuami. A year before, the 29-year-old Osanai had cofounded the Jiyū Gekijō, and he was right in the midst of the dazzling glory he was achieving as a standard bearer for the new theatre movement, Nevertheless, the idea of going to see kabuki was enough to turn him into a theatrical innocent. And he kept this innocence until the day he died. Nothing could be more beautiful. [Aoe Shunjirō, “Kyōfu no Kisetsu” in Kikan Kabuki, No. 5.]

The heat made sitting through Kyokutei Bakin’s very long classic, Hakkenden, a trial but Kikugorō (as the “blind” Hannojō) in Sannin Katawa received strong praise, along with his costars. And Kikugorō’s Ikkaku in Kiyomizu Ikkaku drew acclaim from critic Kawajiri Seitan. 

The continuing downpour caused serious flooding in Senjū, Honjo, Asakusa, Fukagawa, and Hamachō, affecting at least 59 members of the Kabuki-za staff, including actors, and there was talk of paying visits to them from the Kabuki-za during the days when the theatre was closed. But a shortage of boats affected the hardest hit areas so the large tubs that had been created to hold the goldfish used in the globular electric lamps was put into service. With “Kabuki-za” written on it in large characters, it carried necessities to the distressed persons, and is said to have been greatly appreciated as a godsend substitute for a regular boat. When the theatre opened again on August 16, a sum of over a 1,000 yen was collected by adding the proceeds of one day’s performance to contributions from the teahouses, the money being given to the Kyōbashi Ward Office for the relief of the flood victims. 

This month, Ishikawa published his Jidai Heisoku no Genjō (The Stagnation of Our Times). On August 21, the Japan-Korea Treaty (Kankoku Jōyaku) was signed, officially designating Japan’s annexation of Korea, which went into effect on August 29, with a government-general put into place. On August 15, the bunraku puppet handler Kiritake Monjūrō I died, aged 66.

On September 1, Shōchiku’s Ōtani Takejirō began producing at his newest acquisition, the Hongō-za, with a company of top shinpa actors, among them Takada Minoru, Kitamura Rokurō, Ii Yōhō, and others, with a sold-out hit adaptation of Ōkura Tōrō’s 1905 novel Biwa Uta (Lute Song). Also in September, the traditional Japanese-style Meiji-za in Shinkyōgoku, Kyoto, gave its first performance after being renovated. This theatre’s existence (from 1870-1915), not to be confused with the Tokyo Meiji-za (still in business), is barely known in English and a photo of it can be found by clicking here. And Kansai actor Nakamura Tamashichi II died this month at 45.

During September, Ichikawa Fukuzō II took the name Ichikawa Arajirō XII at the Meiji-za. Nakamura Tamashichi,  a disciple of Nakamura Baigyoku, died on September 7, at 46. 

For the October production at the Kabuki-za, the name changing of Ichikawa Ennosuke and his son Ichikawa Danko, which had been rumored since the summer, became a reality. Having received the permission of the head (sōke) of the Ichikawa family, Ennosuke became Ichikawa Danshirō II, and Danko became Ichikawa Ennosuke II. Opening day was August 1, at 11:00 a.m., starting with Tsubouchi Shōyō’s Kiri Hitoha starring Shikan and Nizaemon, followed by the name-changing production, Kamahige (The Sickle-Shaped Mustache). Closing the show was a comedy by Enomoto Torahiko called Kobannō (Indulgent).

Nakamura Shikan V as Yodogimi in Kiri Hitoha. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi

 Shōyō said of Kiri Hitoha, his revolutionary kabuki play first produced in 1904:

It seemed problematic that Kiri Hitoha, which I wrote before the Russo-Japanese War, was selected at that moment of the Japan-Korea Treaty. Based on my recent argument, it was almost contradictory to produce a play like this but Tamura Nariyoshi said we ought to try so I agreed. However, since it was originally written as a work to be read aloud, the jōruri-style narrative was troublesome, which was easy to resolve by making it more in the old style. Therefore, apart from Yodogimi’s dream scene and the scene at the Nagara riverbank, I removed the chanter-shamisen combination (chobo) and made revisions in every act and every scene before handing it over to the Kabuki-za. [From Kimura Kinka, Kinsei Gekidan Shi, Kabuki-za volume.]

Osanai Kaoru, in his critique, thought that this early play of Dr. Tsubouchi’s (published in 1895) was anachronistic, saying it was “already a relic of theatrical reform history,” and that “it lacks ambition, lacks freshness, and lacks our sympathy. The two syllables of ‘boring’ sum it up.” “Putting this play on the stage at this moment is not likely to bring much happiness to the professor. The play’s crime is the producer’s crime, which is the Kabuki-za’s crime,” he roared.
 
Ichimura Uzaemon as Kimura Shigenari, Kataoka Nizaemon XI as Katagiri Katsumoto, in Kiri Hitoha. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi
Here’s a passage regarding the play in Nagai Kafu’s Kōcha no Ato:
 . . . Looking across at it, it’s just like a banquet.

. . . It seems like a department store sale.

. . . The randomly hanging Gifu paper lanterns are exactly like a Japanese teahouse at an International Exposition.

. . . Now that you mention it, the entire décor makes me feel like saying it somehow has a Yokohama-style Japanese feeling.

. . . Pretty pictures of heavenly maidens, old-fashioned carvings of musical instruments on the transoms, tassels hanging from blinds, and then, speaking of the colors, scarlet men on black lacquer, the materials for all the Japanese-y décor as non-expensive as possible, somehow artificial, exportable, feeling like a samurai-style commercialism. Annoying, isn’t it? There are places where some materials were chosen for their luxury, which nowadays reeks of Takanawa no Asano-san, right? If you want a bit more distance, what about the dining room of the merchant ship Nikkō Maru?

. . . Doing Kiri Hitoha in such a place is inappropriate.

. . . The Kabuki-za is to Tokyo what the Opéra House is to Paris. If you’re going to hear real music you don’t go to the Opéra House, That’s a place where you go to see the nation’s leaders. A place you go to see the shoulders of society women. The Kabuki-za is where you go to see Shinbashi geisha. A place where people from the countryside must visit at least once when coming to Tokyo.

. . . Didn’t Tsubouchi write Kiri Hitoha 15 or 16 years ago so it could be done at the Kabuki-za?

. . . Tsubouchi simply hoped that Danjūrō IX would do it. The theatre was another issue entirely.

. . . Why didn’t Danjūrō do it? Wasn’t that foolish?

. . . In brief, it wouldn’t have pleased his guru, Fukuchi Ōchi.[From Nagai Kafū, Kōcha to Ato.]
Prior to the performance of the Kabuki Jūhachiban selection Kamahige, Danshirō and Ennosuke made their formal name-changing announcements. In the end, Kiri Hitoha was supported b a general audience while the father-son name changing drew fans of Danshirō and Ennosuke, thus creating a successful 25-day run that closed on November 1.
 
Ichikawa Ennosuke II (standing) as Mōsaku, in actuality, Tahara Kotōda; Ichikawa Danshirō II as Rokubu Myōden, in actuality Shogun Yoshikado. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi
By the way, during the run, on the evening of October 27, the Nanman Railroad Company sponsored a theatrical party for His Highness Zaixun, Prince Zuang, with a special program including four pieces: Gojō no Meigetsu (Full Moon over Gojō), Yoshinoyama no Hana (Flowers of Yoshino Mountain), Seki no To no Yuki (Snow at the Barrier Gate), and Momiji no Utage (Foliage Viewing Feast). By chance, the famous poet Kitahara Hakushū was there and read a poem hewrote for the occasion.

As the tokiwazu is strummed with a plectrum  
The story glows, the night darkens.

Seki no To no Yuki (usually called just Seki no To) uses tokiwazu music, accompanied by a shamisen (thus the plectrum). In this production, Danshirō played Sekibei, Sōjūrō was Kuronushi, and Kichiemon was Munesada.

A major shinpa production at the Hongō-za in October gathered many famous actors for a successful production of Takano no Bijin (The Beauty of Takano), by Nakazato Kaizan. In Osaka, Horikoshi Fukusaburō made his Naka-za debut. On October 10, Bandō Minosuke V fell ill while performing in Kariya, Aichi Province, and died, aged 61. October 1910 also saw the construction of Luna Park in Asakusa. The kabuki training school at the soon-to-open Teikoku Gekijō offered its first trial performance, Tōku no Kojō (The Distant Princess.

On October 22, the Tokyo Theatre Association (Tōkyō Gekijō Kumiai) was established, with its top executive positions held by the Kabuki-za Miyake Hyōza and the Ichimura-za's Tamura Nariyoshi. Komiya writes:

The rules to which the eighteen participating theatres subscribed included most significantly this one: ‘No theatre will make use of the services of an actor attached to another theatre without the permission of the second theatre.’ The association was clearly organized to combat the Imperial [Teikoku] Theatre. The Imperial did not join, nor did Shōchiku. Under Nishino Keinosuke, its managing director, the Imperial set about luring actors from the other theatres. [From Toyotaka Komiya, Japanese Music and Drama in the Meiji Era, tr. Donald Keene and Edward Seidensticker.]

The November issue of the literary magazine Shinshichō (New Tides of Thought) carried Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s story “Shisei” (The Tattooer), in which he expressed a world of erotic perversion. On the 29th, Shirase Nobu and his 27-man team set forth from the Shibaura coast of Tokyo Bay aboard the Kainan Maru with the ambitious goal of exploring the Antarctic. And actor-director Inoue Masao formed the New Age Theatre Society (Shinjidaigeki Kyōkai), which gave its first performance at the Yūraku-za this month. The play was George Bernard Shaw’s 1909 comedy set in the old West, The Showing Up of Blanco Posnet, rendered by Mori Ōgai as Uma Dorobō (The Horse Thief).

Also in November, Seki Sanjūrō V bought the Kokka-za in Asakusa and renamed it the Hōrai-za. It seated 1,303 and would be destroyed by the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. Hayashi Yukio, son of Nakamura Ganjirō, changed his name to Nakamura Senjaku II at Kyoto’s Naka-za. He became one of the great Kansai actors of the last century. And, on November 16, Osaka's Naniwa-za, reconstructed, reopened after seven years. The celebratory opening production featured an all-star lineup including Nakamura Shikan, Ichikawa Yaozō, Onoe Baikō, Ichimura Uzaemon, Ichikawa Monnosuke, and Kataoka Nizaemon.

In December, Ishikawa Takuboku’s Ichiaku no Suna (A Handful of Sand), a collection of tanka poems, was published. The Osaka comedy troupe called Rakutenkai made its Tokyo debut at the Hongō-za. The Jiyū Gekijō gave its third production, Gorky’s The Lower Depths, at the Yūraku-za, translated as Yoru no Shuku (A Night’s Lodging) by Osanai Kaoru. On the 19th, Tokugawa Yoshitoshi piloted Japan’s first successful aircraft flight, flying 3,000 meters over the Yoyogi Parade Grounds. On December 30, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department posted the following proscriptions, called the “New Six Commandments for Theatre” (Engeki Shin Rokkai), as part the Revised Theatre Control Regulations (Gekijō Torishimari Kisoku Kaichō).

1. Opposing the principle of the “encouragement of virtue and the chastisement of vice” (kanzen chōaku).
2. Crossing the boundaries of obscenity in speech and movement, and in cruelty.
3. Doing plays involving politics.
4, Even when not corresponding to the above conditions, anything that might in speech or behavior threaten harm to the public welfare or customs.

In addition to these first four things being strictly forbidden there were the following two items:

Producers sending actors into and out of the audience during performances, or audience members going in and out of the dressing rooms is not permitted.
Actors going in and out of the audience during performances and audience members going in and out of the dressing rooms, or permission for such ingress and egress will not be granted. [From Rikura Kōichi, ed., Zokuzoku Kabuki Nendaiki.]

This year Japan began importing rotating mimeograph machines and thermos flasks.


For world events (including births and deaths) of 1910, click here. For international theatrical achievements, click here.





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