Ranking of Wages of Tokyo Actors

Morikawa Chikashige (active 1869 - January 1882)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Ranking of Wages of Tokyo Actors

(Tokyo haiyū kyūkin zuke)

by Toyohara Chikamitsu, 1895

Morikawa Chikashige (active 1869 - January 1882)

IHL Cat. #1139

About This Print

A depiction of nineteen actors in character, along with a listing of their salaries and the salaries of other leading Tokyo kabuki actors (see below).  The leftmost entry on the scroll running across the top of the print provides a date of Meiji 29 (1896) for the annual salaries that are given above each actor's name. 

It is interesting to compare these 1896 salaries with the salaries in the c. 1883 print by Chikamitsu's teacher Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) titled A Comparison of Actors' Wages (Tokyo) and an 1891 print in the collection of the Japan Arts Council that uses the exact same design of the actors in their roles as this collection's print, but with different written information in the scroll.  (See image below of the Japan Arts Council print.)

 Name Annual Salary
c. 1883 in yen
 Annual Salary 1892 in yen Annual Salary 1896 in yen
 Ichikawa Danjurō IX 市川 團十郎 1,500 2,000 2,000
 Ichikawa Gonjūrō I 市川権十郎 1,000 1,100 1,300
 Ichikawa Kuzō III 市川九蔵 1,100 1,500 1,300
 Ichikawa Sadanji I 市川左団次 1,100 1,500 1,600
 Nakamura Fukusuke IV 中村 福助 1,200 1,100 1,100
 Nakamura Shikan IV 中村芝翫  850 850 1,000
 Onoe Kikugorō V 尾上菊五郎 1,300 1,600 1,600

A Similar Print Issued in 1892 
This same design, picturing the same actors, was originally issued in 1891.  The scroll across the top shows the salaries of top actors for the 1892 kabuki season. 

国周門人周光筆 (周光 ちかみつ)
森本 順三郎
click on image to enlarge

The Actors Pictured in This Collection's Print

The names and roles of the actors pictured, as given in the blue and yellow cartouches.
Right Panel
Top row from right to left:
Sawamura Toshii VII 澤村 訥子 as Jiraiya 自来也 
Ichikawa Kuzō III 市川 九蔵 (市川 團蔵 Ichikawa Danzō VII) as Kumagai Naomi 熊谷直実
Ichikawa Sumizō V 市川 寿美蔵 as the wrestler Inagawa Masaemon 稲川政右衛門

Bottom row from right to left:
Nakamura Shikan IV 中村 芝翫 as Katō Kiyomasa 加藤清正
Iwai Matsunosuke IV 岩井 松之 as Yūgiri 夕ぎり [cartouche appears center panel]
Bandō Kakitsu I 坂東 家橘 as Taemanosuke 絶間之助 [cartouche appears center panel]

Center Panel
Top row from right to left:
Nakamura Fukusuke IV 中村 福助 (Nakamura Utaemon V 中村 歌右衛門) as Orikotōhime 折琴姫
Onoe Kikugorō V 尾上 菊五郎 as Tenjiku Tokubē 天竺徳兵衛 
Ichikawa Yaozō VII 市川 八百蔵 (Ichikawa Chūsha VII 市川 中車) as Udaishō Yoritomo 右大将頼朝

Bottom row from right to left:
Ichikawa Danjūrō IX 市川 團十郎 as Musashibō Benkei 武蔵坊弁慶
Ichikawa Yonezō III 市川 米蔵 (Fujima Kanjūrō 藤間 勘寿郎) as Ofune おふね

Left Panel
Top row from right to left:
Ichikawa Gonjūrō 市川 権十郎 (Arashi Rikaku III 嵐 璃珏) as Mizuno Jūrōzaemon 水野十郎左衛門 
Ichikawa Metora II 市川 女寅 (Ichikawa Monnosuke VI 市川 門之助) as Kazura no hahime? 葛ノ葉姫 
Ichikawa Kodanji V 市川 小團次 as Ushiwakamaru 牛若丸

Center row from right to left:
Sawamura Gennosuke II 澤村 源之助 as Otomi おとみ
Ichikawa Shinzō V 市川 新蔵 as Kimupira? 金ぴら

Bottom row from right to left:
Bandō Shūchō II 坂東 秀調 as Uba? Asaoka 乳母浅岡
Nakamura Ginnosuke II 中村 銀之助 as Chiyomatsu 千代松
Ichikawa Sadanji I 市川 左團次 as Baba Saburobei 馬場三郎兵衛

For profiles of the actors please see the article The Kabuki Actor.

Actors' Wages

While there is some English language information available on both pre and post-Meiji salaries for kabuki actors, there seems to be little information available in English on salaries for Meiji-era kabuki actors.  For the salaries shown on the print's scroll, they are likely yearly salaries as actors contracted with a theater for the entire kabuki season.  On this print, the highest annual salary listed is that of Ichikawa Danjurō IX 市川団十郎 at 2,000 yen.  As a point of reference, the basic starting pay of a policeman in 1881 was 72 yen per year and for an elementary school teacher in 1886, 60 yen.1

In discussing actor salaries at the beginning of the 19th century, Arendie and Henk Herwig state:
[T]op actors’ annual earnings were between 1000 and 1500 ryō2.  According to Brandon3, 1000 ryō would be the equivalent of 400,000 to 800,000 American dollars today.  They did have to pay for their own costly costumes, however.  Popular actors received a formal salary, but they were also supported by wealthy patrons who provided extra revenue or paid for expensive costumes.  In return, the patrons could expect favours such as the presence of actors at their parties or private performances.  It was common practice for actors to honour their patrons with a visit during the first days of the New Year bringing gifts as tokens of gratitude.4

1 Private Academies of Chinese learning in Meiji Japan: The Decline and Transformation of the Kanguku Juku,  Margaret Mehl, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2003, p. xiv.
2 One pre-Meiji ryō was equal to one post-Meiji sen.
3 Kabuki Plays on Stage: Villainy and Vengance, 1773-1799, editors James R. Brandon, Samuel L. Leiter, University of Hawaii Press, 2003, p. 288.

4 Heroes of the Kabuki Stage: An Introduction to the World of Kabuki with Retellings of Famous Playsillustrated by Woodblock Prints, Arendie Herwig and Henk J. Herwig, Hotei Publishing, 2004, p. 40.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1139
 Title (Description) Ranking of Wages of Tokyo Actors  東京俳優給金附 Tokyo haiyū kyūkin zuke
 Artist Toyohara Chikamitsu (active c. 1891- 1896)
Chikamitsu hitsu, pupil of Kunichika  国周門人周光筆
 Seal not sealed
 Publication Date 1895 明治廿
森本 順三郎 Morimoto Junzaburō [Marks: pub. ref. 349 seal not shown]

reading from right to left:
明治廿八年十二月二十日 印刷
Meiji 28, 12th month, 20th day printed
明治廿八年十二月廿日 出版
Meiji 28, 12th month, 25th day published
印刷兼発行者 浅草瓦丁二 八こ千
publisher and printer [followed by address]
森本 順三郎
Morimoto Junzaburō
 Carver not given
 Impression fair - poor registration
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - full size; not backed; horizontal fold across centers of sheets; small tears; light wrinkling
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 14 3/8 x 9 3/4 in. (36.5 x 24.8 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print