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Ichikawa Omezō IV as Hayase Iori in Katakiuchi tengajaya mura at the Mitsukoshi Theater

The actors Bandō Hikosaburō V as Ukiyo Tohai, Ichimura Kakitsu IV as Nozarashi Gosuke and Ichikawa Danzō VI as Rokuji Namuemon

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ichikawa Omezō IV as Hayase Iori

in Katakiuchi tengajaya mura 

at the Mitsukoshi Theater

by Sasajima Kihei, 1948

Sasajima Kihei (1906-1993)

IHL Cat. #1384

About This Print

This print depicts the actor Ichikawa Omezō IV (1898-1969) in the role of Hayase Iori in the play Katakiuchi tengajaya mura, a classic tale of revenge, at the Mitsukoshi Theater in September 1948.

The play was performed at the Mitsukoshi Theater (三越劇場 Mitsukoshi gekijō) in September 1948. The print is one of an unknown number of prints created by Sasajima for the 1948 and 1949 kabuki seasons at the Mitsukoshi Theater.  

The inscription in the cartouche reads 伊織 (Iori) and the kana below reads おめぞう (Omezō)1  

For details of this performance please visit the website "Kabuki on the web" at:
1 Details on the performances during the Mitsukoshi Theater 1948 and 1949 kabuki seasons can be found at Kabuki on the Web http://www.kabuki.ne.jp/

I have only seen general references to these small prints depicting various productions during the 1948 and 1949 kabuki seasons at the Mitsukoshi Theater.  One reference appearing in Shizuya Fujikake's 1953 print survey book Japanese Wood-Block Prints, simply states "Since 1947, he [Sasajima] is producing a great many Kabuki prints in his unique, black and white style."1  [As can be seen by several of the prints in this collection,  Sasajima also used subtle color in some of the prints, hand-applying ink to the print's verso.] Another reference notes that in 1948 (Shōwa 23), at the age of 42, Sasajima "produces Mitsukoshi kabuki prints, but the work affects his health and he suspends the activity after three years."2 

Japanese Wood-block Prints, Shizuya Fujikake, Japan Travel Bureau, 1953, p. 173-174.
The Play - Katakiuchi tengajaya mura
Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979, p. 293.

Author: Nagawa Kamesuke, Nagawa Jusuke
Alternate Name: Tengajaya(mura)
Acts and Play Type: Jidaimono, six acts
First Performed: December 1781 at the Kado no Shibai, Osaka.

This dramatization of a revenge incident that took place in Osaka's Tengajaya area is a representative work in the category of revenge plays (adauchi mono).  Hayase Genjirō and his brother Iori are wandering in search of their late father's enemy and murderer, Tōma Saburoemon.  Their servant, Adachi Motoemon, turns traitor when drunk and eventually leads Tōma to the brothers, whohave become outcasts.  As a result, Iori is slain. Genjirō's difficulties end when successfully caries out his vendetta at Tengajaya.

The Mitsukoshi Theater
Source: Tokyo from Edo to Showa 1867-1989 : the Emergence of the World's Greatest City, Edward Seidensticker et al., Tuttle Pub., 2011.

The Mitsukoshi Theater played a significant role in the revival of kabuki after the damage inflicted to the major Tokyo kabuki theaters during WWII. "Ever since its rebuilding after the 1923 earthquake [Great Kantō Earthquake], Mitsukoshi had had an auditorium which it rented out for meetings and performances. The name was changed from Mitsukoshi Hall to Mitsukoshi Theater in 1947, at which time it became a full-fledged, full-time theater.  In addition to providing another place for Kabuki, a somewhat more sumptuous and elegant one than the Tōkegi [the only major Kabuki theater to survive the WWII bombing], the Mitsukoshi Theater was very important in passing Kabuki on from an aging generation to an emerging one."

The theater was last used for kabuki in 1951, the year the Kabuki-za opened.

The Actors in the Print

For background on the actors see their respective entries in the article The Kabuki Actor on this site.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1384
 Title Ichikawa Omezō IV as Hayase Iori in Katakiuchi tengajaya mura at the Mitsukoshi Theater
 Series Mitsukoshi Kabuki Hanga 三越歌舞伎版画 [untitled series of prints for the Mitsukoshi Theater 1948 and 1949 kabuki seasons]
 Sasajima Kihei (1906-1993)
 not signed
笹 (artist's "sasa" seal)
 Publication Date
 likely Mitsukoshi Gekijō or the artist
 Carver self-carved
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - irregularly cut left margin
 Genre sosaku hangakabuki-ga
 H x W Paper 3 5/8 x 5 7/16 in. (9.2 x 13.8 cm)
 H x W Image 3 3/8 x 3 in. (8.6 x 7.6 cm)
 Collections This Print 

 Reference Literature