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Danjuro Dictionary
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Genroku mie

In the pre-war period a statue of Danjuro IX performing this particular mie from the play Just a Minute! (Shibaraku) could be found in the grounds of the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Local residents whispered that it was thanks to the powerful pose of the statue that the temple was spared the fires that ravaged much of Tokyo after the great earthquake of 1923. Ironically, in the 1940s the statue was melted down for the war effort and the temple soon burnt down in an air-raid. In the Genroku mie, the actor poses with his left hand on the hilt of his sword, his right hand clenched above his head, and the left leg thrust forward. The power of the pose comes from the hips. It is a typical aragoto pose, replicated in several plays, including The Subscription List (Kanjincho) where Benkei poses with a scroll in his right hand and a rosary in his left.

In 1986 a replica of the statue was restored to pride of place at Sensoji Temple.

Gyoyo botan

ëApricot leaves and peonyí. One of the crests of the Ichikawa family. This crest is made up of two sets of apricot leaves (gyoyo) surmounting a peony flower (botan). The crest is used for the famous Ichikawa role of Sukeroku, where it is reproduced on the actorís costume.


ëWhite monkeyí. The poetic penname used by Danjuro VII. In the kiyomoto dance lyrics to The Elopers (Ochiudo), first danced by Danjuro VIII, the words make a punning reference to how his characterís face looks just like that of a ëWhite Monkeyí, i.e. the actorís father. Hakuen was also used as a penname by Danjuro V, and written with different characters, by Danjuro II and Danjuro IV. Danjuro VII used the White Monkey penname in a self-deprecatory way. Even though he was famous for his many intellectual friends, he ironically entitled a volume of his poetry and essays ìThe Friendless Monkeyî.


I remember my mother talking of a handsome actor in silent movies called Ichikawa Hataya. Even as a child I recall thinking that this was a strange name for an actor. The meaning of the name, however, runs deep. Family tradition has it that the Ichikawa family were of samurai ancestry and once served the famous Hojo clan. With the defeat of the clan at the siege of Odawara in 1590, the family then moved to a village called Hataya in Shimousa province and began farming. Danjuro Iís father, Juzo, gave his land to his younger brother and moved to the city of Edo. Hataya is about 3.5 miles from Narita and is now famous for its golf courses.

Hikaru Genji

Genji, the ëShining Princeí, from the 11th century court classic The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari). The Ichikawa family is best known for its guardianship of the aragoto acting style, but there have been two Danjuros who were sufficiently handsome to play romantic lead roles ñ Danjuro VIII and Danjuro XI. Just like the cherry blossom, both tragically died young but there is another unexpected similarity between them.

In 1851, Danjuro VIII played a character modelled on the Shining Prince in a kiyomoto dance drama based on Ryutei Tanehikoís parodic novel An Imposter Murasaki and a Rustic Genji (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji). Then, a century later in 1951, Danjuro XI achieved fame for his portrayal of Genji in the first official stage production of The Tale of Genji.


ëThe Scrap-paper Hermitageí. In his old age Danjuro V was prone to illness and would complain to visitors that he was already at an age when he should have retired but was still sitting before a mirror applying white makeup. Finally, he made his last bow in 1796 and retired to a hermitage, the Hogoan that he had built for himself in Ushijima. There he gave over his days to the study of art, under the name Naritaya Shichizaemon. He liked to hold poetry gatherings at the hermitage, and in fact died in the midst of one of these gatherings. His death poem read,

Whence do they go? / rain-clouds scudding / before a wintry wind

Horikoshi Juzo

The father of Danjuro I. He was said to be a considerate and generous man, happy to use his influence to help those around him ñ perhaps something like a local councillor today. He seems to have had a scar on his face, hence the nickname ëScarfaceí Juzo.

Ichikawa Shojo Kabuki (Ichikawa Girlsí Kabuki)

An all-girl kabuki troupe that was founded in Toyokawa (Aichi prefecture) just after the war. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there had been many more of these female troupes, but the Ichikawa Girlsí Kabuki was the last remaining example.

A troupe of girls who had studied traditional dance was formed in 1948, under the direction of Ichikawa Masujuro. They were direct pupils of the main Ichikawa house and thus were permitted to use the Ichikawa name. They became popular enough to appear at large theatres like the Meiji-za in Tokyo, but as the girls grew older the troupe disbanded.

Ichikawa-ryu (Ichikawa school)

Danjuro VII had a deep interest in dance and he founded this school of traditional dance. The schoolís artistic foundations and direction were cemented by Danjuro IX, and it was inherited by his eldest daughter Suisen II. The headship later passed to her niece Ichikawa Kobai, who took the name Ichikawa Suisen III, but unfortunately she died without any heirs. The current head of the school is Danjuro XII, aided by his sister Kobai II.

Ippon guma

ëSingle-line shadowí. A style of kumadori make-up in which thick lines of red and black are drawn around the eyes and in a half-moon shape from temples to cheeks. It was used in early aragoto, with the role of Watonai from Coxinga (Kokusenya) being a famous example.


A Buddhist temple in the Shiba district of Tokyo, located near to Zojoji Temple, the famous mausoleum of the Tokugawa shoguns. Joshoin has several links to the theatre world. A memorial near its entrance celebrates the tragic heroine of the play Maiden in the Yellow Chequered Kimono (Koi musume mukashi hachijo), and the temple contains the graves for Danjuro I through to Danjuro VIII. Danjuro VIII died in Osaka, so he was originally buried there and later transferred to Joshoin. Danjuro IX was a believer in Shinto, so he was buried at the Aoyama cemetery.

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