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Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Musashibō Benkei in the play Kanjinchō from the series The Kabuki Eighteen (Kabuki Jūhachiban)

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Narukami Shōnin in the play Narukami from the series The Kabuki Eighteen (Kabuki Jūhachiban)

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Musashibō Benkei

in the play Kanjinchō from the series

The Kabuki Eighteen (Kabuki Jūhachiban)

by Tori Kiyosada and Tori Kiyotada VII, 1896

Torii Kiyotada VII (1875-1941)

IHL Cat. #1255

About This Print

Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, in the lower left panel, playing the role of the warrior priest Benkei in the kabuki play Kanjinchō 勧進帳 (The Subscription List).  Above his likeness is an unidentified actor in the role of Togashi (冨樫 as seen on his blue robe). The Ichikawa family crest (mon) of nested squares is shown to the left of Danjūrō, beneath which appears 九世市川団十郎 (9th Generation, Ichikawa Danjūrō) and the character played 武蔵坊弁慶 (Musashibō Benkei.)

While not visible in the above scan of this print, this print, as with others in the series, displays deluxe printing techniques, including embossing covering most of the prints background and the use of a subtle pattern on Benkei's robe, visible only when held up to the light at a certain angle.

The Play Kanjinchō (The Subscription List)

Source: Kabuki Eighteen Traditional Dramas, Kawatake Toshio, Chronicle Books, 1985, p. 14.
"Ichikawa Danjūrō VII created this play which he based on aNō play called “Ataka.”  It was firstperformed in 1840.  Minamoto Yoshitsuneis with his followers and his most faithful retainer Benkei, fleeing from thesoldier of his nasty and insecure brother, Yoritomo.  He has to pass through the Ataka barrier toreach the northern part of Japan. Togashi who was warned by Yoritomo that Yoshitsune and his party wouldtry to get through disguised as mountain priest is immediately suspicious whenthey arrive.  Benkei announces that theyare collecting money for the restoration of the Tōdai Temple in Nara butTogashi argues that if they were real priests they would have a subscriptionlist.  Benkei immediately produces oneand skillfully “reads” it.  Admiring hisloyalty and presence of mind Togashi decides at this moment to let them passthrough.  He is by now enjoying their actand even offers to contribute to their fund. They are allowed to leave but then a guard warns Togashi that one of thepriests looks like Yoshitsune.  Togashicannot ignore ths and probably hopes that Benkei will save the situation.  Benkei initially feebly argues that it ispossible for people to look like others but then out of sheer despair strikesYoshitsune with a wooden stick.  In theend Benkei, who was treated to food and drink and performed a dance for Togashileaves on the hanamichi quietly thanking him since he knows that Togashi willhave to commit suicide."

The Kabuki Eighteen
Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979, p. 152.
"The Kabuki Eighteen," a collection of plays established by Ichikawa Danjūrō VII, stresses the special aragoto acting art of the Danjūrō line.  In the Meiji period other acting families began to gather their most successful plays into similar collections.  See the Title Page from the series The Kabuki Eighteen (Kabuki Juhachiban) for a list of the plays.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Ichikawa Danjūrō IX as Musashibō Benkei in the play Kanjinchō
 九卋市川団十郎 勧進帳 武蔵坊弁慶
 Series The Kabuki Eighteen (Kabuki Jūhachiban) 
 Artist Torii Kiyosada (1844-1901) and Torii Kiyotada VII (1875-1941)
right-most signature: Torii Kiyosada ga 鳥居清貞画 followed by 画楽 Chōhō seal
left-most signature: Tadakiyo ga 忠清 followed by tripod-shaped seal
 Seal as shown above: 画楽 Chōhō seal right, beneath signature - Tadakiyo tripod-shaped seal left, beneath signature
 Publication Date May 20, 1896 (Meiji 29) 明治二十九年五月廿
長谷川寿美 Hasegawa Sumi (appearing in left margin) [Marks: seal 25-406 長谷川寿美; publisher ref. 102]
address: Tokyo Asakusa Imadochō 59-banchi
彫工弥太 Horikō Yata (cartouche appearing at bottom of left margin)
 Printer 楷工大亀 Surikō Ōkame (translation unconfirmed) (see above cartouche)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - not backed; light toning and soiling; minor handling creases  
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e (役者絵)
 Miscellaneous embossing throughout 
 Format vertical oban 
 H x W Paper 
 15 1/4 x 10 in. (38.7 x 25.4 cm) 

 Collections This Print
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston RES.53.12; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 5721-C8-19; Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-0141 and 201-0180 and 201-0199 and 201-0989; Edo Tokyo Museum 94202531