Kichiemon in the role of Takechi Mitsuhide


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kichiemon in the role of Takechi Mitsuhide

(in the play Toki-ha Ima Kikyō no Hataage)

by Terasawa Kōtarō, 1915

IHL Cat. #261

About This Print

This print is one of two small format prints created by Terasawa Kōtarō (fl. ca. 1915) for the short-lived 1915 magazine Shin Nigao whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints.  This print appeared in the second issue of the magazine, published in July 1915, and portrays the actor Nakamura Kichiemon in his famous role of Takechi Mitsuhide.

For more information on this short-lived magazine whose purpose was to advertise the Kabuki theater and renew interest in actor prints, see the article Shin Nigao Magazine.

The Actor in this Print

Source: The Japan Times Online, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003 “Son pays tribute to a kabuki master” by Rei Sasaguchi and as footnoted.
Kichiemon I (1886-1954) was a unique figure in 20th-century kabuki theater. The son of a mediocre kabuki actor from Osaka who was married to the daughter of a restaurant owner who catered food to the Ichi-muraza Theater in Tokyo, Kichiemon I's great talent and unstinting efforts made him one of the most influential kabuki actors of the time. An ardent admirer of Ichikawa Danjuro IX, the master of the gallant aragoto style of kabuki acting native to Edo, Kichiemon developed his acting skill in jidaimono (historical plays), competing with Onoe Kikugoro VI, who was unrivaled in sewamono (realistic plays). 

One of Nakamura Kichiemon I's best roles is that of Takechi Mitsuhide in the play Toki-ha Ima Kikyô no Hataage1

The Play Toki-ha Ima Kikyō no Hataage

This drama is a five-act play written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755-1829), and first performed in 1808. This drama was reduced to three acts during the Meiji era and received the title "Toki-ha Ima Kikyō no Hataage".2

Source: website oSekidobashi Sakura
This story is based on the actual revolt by Akechi Mitsuhide against his lord Oda Nobunaga. Mitsuhide cornered Nobunaga in an attack on Honnoji Temple in 1553 causing Nobunaga to commit suicide. When the play was performed, the government had forbidden any performance based on a real incident. Thus the writer Nanboku needed to change names of characters in his drama, changing the real-life Akechi Mitsuhide to the character Takechi Mitsuhide.

1 Kabuki 21 website
2 Kabuki 21 website

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #261
 Title [Nakamura] Kichiemon [in the role of] Takechi Mitsuhide (武智光秀) - as shown in the two cartouches top right of print.  [The play Toki-ha Ima Kikyō no Hataage (or Badara Mitsuhide)]
The presentation sheet reads Matsuhide (Kichiemon) (吉右衛門) 光秀

 Series Magazine: Shin Nigao (New Portraits) volume unknown 新似顔 第一年
 Terasawa Kōtarō (fl. ca. 1915)
 Terasawa Kōtarō ga (printed on the presentation page print is mounted to.)
unread seal
 Date July 1915
 Edition First and only edition printed in magazine Shin Nigao
 Publisher  Nigaodō 似顔洞
 Carver and Printer Igami Bonkotsu (1875-1933)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - foxing on magazine page with several spots on bottom margin of print
 Genre shin hanga (new prints); nigao-e
 Format Koban
 H x W Paper 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (18.4 x 12.1 cm)
 Collections This Print The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-0461; The British Museum 1991,1112,0.193.2 (entire magazine, only front cover shown); Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University  BM-SJ193-02  (British Museum's copy of entire magazine with all pages shown)
 Reference Literature