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Danjuro IV

Danjuro the iconoclast (1711-78)

Danjuro IV
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Danjuro IV was born the second son of the important teahouse proprietor Izumiya Kanjuro in Sakai-cho in Edo, but it is rumoured that he was in fact the illegitimate son of Danjuro II.

At the age of three he was adopted by the actor Matsumoto Koshiro I, and aged nine he made his first stage appearance, under the name Matsumoto Shichizo.

Until the age of twenty-four he specialized in female roles, but then suddenly switched to male roles. In the eleventh month 1735, at the same performance at which Danjuro II became Ebizo II and Masugoro became Danjuro III, Shichizo succeeded to his adoptive fatherÝs name, becoming Matsumoto Koshiro II. He was twenty-five years old.

In the eleventh month of 1754, aged forty-four, he was adopted by Ebizo II and achieved his long-held desire to become Danjuro IV, the first actor to hold the name since the death of Danjuro III twelve years before.

In 1770 he passed on the Danjuro name to his son, Matsumoto Koshiro IV, who thus became Danjuro V. He himself returned to his former name of Koshiro.

In 1776, on the final day of his run at the Ichimura-za he suddenly shaved his head and announced his retirement. He took the name Zuinen and retired to his house in Fukagawa Kiba, where he often met with haiku poets and men of honour. People referred to him with affection as the ýboss of Kibaţ.

While in retirement, he started an acting study group known as the Shugyoko, inviting his son Danjuro V and his pupils Matsumoto Koshiro IV and Nakamura Nakazo I as members.

He died on the 25th day of the second month, 1778, aged sixty-eight.

Danjuro IV is said to have been a highly-strung, emotional man who was prone to fits of temper. Physically he was tall with unusually long arms and legs, and his face was long and somewhat thin. With his double eyelids and glaring triangular eyes, he was most suited to the role of the jitsuaku villain. These physical characteristics meant that Danjuro IV departed dramatically from the family image that had been established by Danjuro I and II. Danjuro was unsuited to playing clear-cut, positive aragoto roles, but he managed to find a way out of this bind by developing parts such as Kagekiyo that were more in tune with his own acting style. In the end he not besmirch the Ichikawa name, and he succeeded in passing on the Ichikawa art to his son, Danjuro V.

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Text : Hattori Yukio, Ichikawa Danjuro Daidai. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2002.
Illustrations : Collection of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University.
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