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Danjuro XI

Ebi-sama (1909-1965)

Danjuro XI
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Born on January 6th 1909 as the eldest son of Matsumoto Koshiro VII. Together with his two younger brothers, Matsumoto Koshiro VIII (later Hakuo) and Onoe Shoroku II, he went on to become one of the leading actors of the post-war period.

Under the name Matsumoto Kintaro he made his debut appearance in January 1915, aged six. In 1929 he took the name Ichikawa Komazo IX, aged twenty-one. In 1939 he was adopted by Ichikawa Sansho (later Danjuro X). In 1940, aged thirty-two, he took the name Ebizo IX. During the war, he performed on many ëcondolenceí tours to factories and schools.

In 1946 he performed Sukeroku at the Tokyo Gekijo, and began to attract fans. In 1951, to great acclaim he played the Shining Prince Genji in Funabashi Seiichiís version of the eleventh century court classic The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari). Such was Ebizoís popularity that commentators began to talk of an ëEbi-sama boomí.

In 1956 his adoptive father Sansho passed away, and those around Ebizo pushed for him to take the name Danjuro XI. He thought the responsibility too heavy and declined. Finally though, he accepted, and in April 1962 at the Kabuki-za he became Danjuro XI. He was the first Danjuro to act under that name since the death of Danjuro IX fifty-nine years before.

His greatest appeal lay in his unusually good looks and his innate sense of grace and dignity.

He passed away on November 10th, 1965, aged fifty-six.

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Text : Hattori Yukio, Ichikawa Danjuro Daidai. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2002.
Photographs : Ishii Masako.
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