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Tōzō in the role of Susanoo no Mikoto


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Tōzō in the role of Susanoo no Mikoto

(in the play Nippon Furisode Hajima)

by Natori Shunsen, 1915

IHL Cat. #581

About This Print

This print appears on the cover of the last issue (#5) of the magazine Shin Nigao, published in November 1915.  It is one of 30 prints (including 2 cover prints and 2 frontispieces) designed by Natori Shunsen for the five issues of the magazine.  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.

Shunsen has designed a dynamic bust portrait of the actor Nakamura Tōzō V in the role of Susanoo no Mikoto,
younger brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu in Shintō mythology, for the cover of this last issue.  The table of contents further identifies this print as depicting the character Susanoo in the play Nippon Furisode Hajimewhich played at the Imperial Theater in November 1915.  In the play Susanoo and a dragon fight viciously for the life of a princess, who the dragon has consumed.  The princess uses a sword she found in the dragon's tail to cut herself free through its belly with Susanoo striking a fatal blow to the dragon, in a final defiant pose as the curtain closes.2

1 British Museum website http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/asia/k/kawanabe_ky%C5%8Dsai,_susanoo_no_m.aspx

The Actor in the Print - Nakamura Tōzō V

Source: Kabuki 21 website http://www.kabuki21.com/ntozo.php
The actor Ōtani Tomoemon VI held the name of Nakamura Tōzō V from November 1911 to March 1920.  For additional information on
Ōtani Tomoemon VI see the article The Kabuki Actor.

The Last Issue of Shin Nigao, No. 5 新似顔 第一年第五編

The last issue of Shin Nigao contained twenty-one prints - ten portraits of actors performing in plays staged in October and November of 1915 at the Ichimura-za, Kabuki-za and Shintomi-za, five prints commemorating the November enthronement ceremonies for Emperor Yoshihito (Emperor Taishō), five portraits of famous geisha and the cover print.

The colophon provides the date of printing as Taisho 4, 10th month, 28th day (October 28, 1915) and the date of registration as Taisho 4, 11th month, 1st day (November 11, 1915).1

1 My thanks to CPS on the Ukiyo-e Q&A site http://www.ukiyo-e.se/wwwboard/wwwboard.html for this information.

click on pages to enlarge
front inside cover - table of contents listing contributors and their works.
possibly a poem by
Yosano Akiko
與謝野晶子 (1878-1942)

rear inside cover

rear outside cover

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #581
 Title Nakamura Tōzō [V] ) in the role of Susanoo no Mikoto [in the play Nippon Furisode Hajime]
中村東蔵 素盞嗚尊
Note: the kanji characters are those appearing in the two cartouches in the lower left of the print.

 Series Magazine: Shin Nigao (New Portraits) volume five 新似顔 第一年五編
 Natori Shunsen (1886-1960)
Shunsen 春仙
 Date November 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 excellent
 entry in table of contents for Issue #5 of Shin Nigao

[日本振袖始]   (
hyōshi (front cover)
Teikoku gekijō (Imperial Theater)
November Kyōgen (November Plays)
Nippon Furisode Hajime
Susanoo no Mikoto
 Genre shin hanga (new prints); nigao-e
 Format koban
 H x W Paper print size: 7 1/8 x 4 1/2 in. (18.1 x 11.4 cm)
 cover size: 9 3/4 x 7 5/16 in. (24.8 x 18.6 cm)
 Collections This Print National Gallery of Australia NGA2015.576; The British Museum 1991,1112,0.193.5 (entire magazine, only front cover shown); Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University BM-SJ193-05  (British Museum's copy of entire magazine with all pages shown)
 Reference LiteratureCatalogue Raisonné – Ukiyoe Kabuki Gi Han Ga: Shunsen Natori (TheSkill of Natori Shunsen in Kabuki Prints), Kushigata Municipal ShunsenMuseum, Kushigata, Japan, 1991, p. 91, image not numbered.
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