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Kataoka Roen V as Yaoya Oshichi in Date musume koi no hikanoko 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

Kataoka Roen V as Yaoya Oshichi in

Date musume koi no hikanoko 

at the Mitsukoshi Theater

by Sasajima Kihei, 1948

Sasajima Kihei (1906-1993)

IHL Cat. #1383

About This Print

This print depicts Yaoya Oshichi ("greengrocer's daughter), played KataokaRoen V  (1910-1993) in act VI, Yaoya, from the kabuki drama Date musume koi no hikanoko. 

The play was performed at the Mitsukoshi Theater (三越劇場 Mitsukoshi gekijō) in October 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.1  

The inscriptions on the print provide the actor's name 芦燕 (Roen) and the character played 八百屋お七 (Yaoya Oshichi).

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/

Sasajima's Mitsukoshi Theater Prints

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 Real Story of Yaoya Oshichi / 八百屋お七 

"Oshichi, the greengrocer's daughter"
This is the true story of a young girl who was executed for arson in 1683. The fire was extremely destructive and she was executed by being burned alive. Her story was so striking that it was soon told in literature in Ihara Saikaku’s “Five Women who Loved Love” and a series of puppet plays. Eventually Oshichi became one of the iconic roles of kabuki, with all kinds of conventions for portraying her. For example, her distinctive underkimono with in crepe silk with white spots and stripes of red and blue seems to have been the invention of an onnagata actor. This caused a fashion craze and even today, this is the standard costume for Oshichi.

The Play - Yaoya (Act VI from the play Date musume koi no hikanoko)
Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979, p. 53.

Writers: Suga Sensuke, Matsuda Wakichi and Wakatake Fuemi
Other names: Yagura no Oshichi; Yaoya Oshichi
First performed: April 1773 at Kita Horie-za, Osaka

Today theatres present only the sixth act of this play, which presents the love story of Yaoya (Greengrocer) Oshichi and Kichisaburō, page at the Kisshoin Temple.

Because of the loss of a famous heirloom sword, which had been returned to the Imperial Palace by the young lord of the Takashima family, the sword's guardian, Yasumori Genjirō, must assume responsibility and commit ritual suicide (seppuku).  His son Kichisaburō has become a page at Edo's Kisshoin Temple in the Komagone district; having heard the news of his father's death, he is searching for the sword. Kichisaburō had fallen in love with Oshichi when her family had taken refuge at his temple after a fire had destroyed their house.  The time limit for the sword's recovery expires on the following day, and Kichisaburō is resolved to die.  Oshichi learns that the sword is in the hands of Kamaya Buuhei.  She must let Kichisaburō know this, but night has fallen and the wooden gates between the streets of Edo are shut. Understanding that her punishment for this act will be to be burned at the stake, she climbs the fire tower and rings the bell, hoping to get the gates opened.

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 #1383
 Title Kataoka Roen V as Yaoya Oshichi in Date musume koi no hikanoko 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 excellent - minor handling/printing creases
 Genre sosaku hangakabuki-ga
 H x W Paper 7 9/16 x 5 3/8 in. (7.6 x 13.7 cm)
 H x W Image 3 1/4 x 2 1/2 in. (8.3 x 6.4 cm)
 Collections This Print 

 Reference Literature