Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as the Fox Tadanobu from the series One Hundred Roles of Ichikawa Danjūrō

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as the Fox Tadanobu

from the series One Hundred Roles

of Ichikawa Danjūrō

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1898

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Daikokuya Sōroku from the series One Hundred Roles of Ichikawa Danjūrō

IHL Cat. #2165

About This Print

The actor Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (1838-1903) as Kitsune (Fox) Tadanobu in the play Yoshitsune Sanbon-zakura ("Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees"). The Honolulu Museum of Art notes, “The vibrant red on the drum and subject's lips and the flash of deep purple in the robe lining are hallmarks of his [Kunichika’s] careful but exquisite use of color.” As in keeping with the rest of the series, extensive embossing is employed in creating the hair-like texture on the fox robe worn by Tadanobu. (See detail below.)

For a profile of Ichikawa Danjūrō IX please see the article The Kabuki Actor and for a fascinating interview with the actor see Interview with Ichikawa Danjūrō IX.

detail of embossing
click on image to enlarge

The Play "Yoshitsune Sanbon-zakura"
First staged for the kabuki theater in 1748, the story is set in the aftermath of the 12th century Genpei Wars. The play tells of shogun Yoritomo's jealousy of his brother Yoshitsune, fed by people who want to divide the brothers. After being attacked at his home on order of his brother, Yoshitsune goes on the run with his followers. As he is preparing for departure, Yoshitsune's lover Shizuka Gozen catches up with him and asks to be taken along, but is not allowed to join the group. Yoshitsune gives her the little drum called Hatsune, covered in fox skin, as a keepsake. Shizuka Gozen pursues Yoshitsune to Mt. Yoshino, where the famous cherry trees are in full bloom. She notices that Tadanobu, Yoshitsune's loyal retainer, strangely appears out of nowhere every time she beats the drum. The drum, Hatsune, is made from the skin of the fox spirit's parents. To fulfill his filial duty, the fox spirit inhabits Tadanobu to be close to the drum. Hearing his story, Yoshitsune and Shizuka give the drum to Tadanobu. Tadanobu does not forget their kindness, coming to their rescue with his magical powers in the play’s final battle scene under the blossoming cherry trees.

The play is famous for its use of special effects in the Fox-Tadanobu transformation.

The Series One Hundred Roles of Ichikawa Danjūrō

Source: Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900), Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 1999, p. 127 and 26.

"In 1893 Kunichika undertook a commission for two series of single-sheet portraits that were each dedicated to an individual actor.  The first of these, One hundred roles of Danjūrō, featured the major roles of Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (1838-1903) in a set of half-length portraits.  A square cartouche in the upper register of each print contains a verse or illustration, and the series title cartouche is backed by peonies, a flower associated with Danjūrō IX."

“While his best-known pieces from this period are triptychs, Kunichika produced some outstanding series of single-sheet portraits, such as the One hundred roles of Ichikawa Danjuro IX (Ichikawa Danjuro engei hyakuban) and One hundred roles of Baiko (Baiko hyakushu no uchi).   Like Kunisada’s set of ‘large-head’ portraits, Kunichika’s two series may be regarded as ‘monuments to his [Kunichika’s] career’.  Whilst Kunisada attempted an overview of all the greatest actors of the age, Kunichika’s two series focus on the Kabuki doyens, Ichikawa Danjuro IX and Onoe Kikugoro V.

The publisher Fukuda Kumajiro (together with Gusokuya Kahei) commissioned Kunichika to begin work on the One hundred roles of Ichikawa Danjuro IX in 1893.  The series was completed posthumously in 1903, the year of the actor’s death and under the supervision of Fukuda Shojiro (d. 1925.)  The prints in the series were sumptuously printed using expensive materials and techniques.  Each image documents the actor’s most successful roles; a text or illustration appears in the upper register.”

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2165
 Title (Description) Ichikawa Danjūrō 市川団十郎 as Fox Tadanobu 狐忠信 [in the play Yoshitsune Sanbon-zakura 義経千本桜]
 Series One Hundred Roles of Ichikawa Danjūrō
 市川団十郎演芸百番 Ichikawa Danjūrō engei hyakuban
 Artist Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
国周筆 Kunichika hitsu
 Seal Toshidama seal 年玉印
 Publication Date
Printed and published May 1898 (明治卅一年五月 日 印刷仝月 日発行 )
 Publisher Fukuda Kumajirō 

right (printer and publisher): 臨写印刷兼発行者

center (publisher's address): 東京日本橋区長谷川町十九番地
19 banchi Hasegawa-chō, Nihonbashi-ku, Tokyo

left (publisher's name and telephone number):
福田熊次郎 電話浪花 二九四
Fukuda Kumajirō Phone naniwa 294

[Marks: pub. ref. 071; seal not shown]

hori Yata 彫弥太 [Watanabe Yatarō 彫工渡辺弥太郎 (1850-1913)]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - full size; backed; minor soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Format vertical ōban
 H x W Paper
 15 1/4 x 9 15/16 in. (37.1 x 25.1 cm)
 H x W Image
 12 15/16 x 8 5/8 in. (31.4 x 21.9 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Honolulu Museum of Art 26551Waseda University Cultural Resource Database 007-1808
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