Toyohara Kunichika Kawarazaki Sansho as Banzui Chobei Tweezing

Toyohara Kunichika, 1835-1900

Preparatory Drawing of 'Kawarazaki Sansho as Banzui Chobei Tweezing'
(Makezu otorazu Banzui Chobei: Kawarazaki Sansho)

preparatory ink on paper drawing of a half-length portrait from behind of an actor holding a hand-mirror and tweezing his facial hair, inscribed and dated at right in sumi ink likely by a later hand, Toyohara Kunichika hitsu, followed by the date (erroneosly off by the 12 year zodiac cyle), jurokunen nigatsu toka ji (written in year 16 [1883] February 10th), title at the upper right Makezu otorazu Banzui Chobei: Kawarazaki Sansho, with notations indicating how the artist would like the colors printed including: mizu (light blue) on the tweezers and on the surface of the mirror, on the reflection of his clothes within the mirror, shiro (white), kuro (black), aka (red), aka again on the fabric protecting the edge of the mirror, and sahi (for sabi, or rust) on the mirror frame, the collar of the Sansho's clothes note kuro twice, and on the sleeves from the right aka, and kuro, ca. 1871

15 3/8 by 10 7/8 in., 39 by 27.5 cm

The portrait is identified at the upper right as the actor Kawarazaki Sansho. Sansho is the poetry name of Kawarazaki Gonjuro I, who is more famously known as Ichikawa Danjuro IX (1839-1903). Danjuro IX was one of the most important stars of the Meiji Period, largely credited with adapting and revitalizing kabuki for the modern era.

The role of Banzui Chobei that of a chivalrous commoner, or okotodate, who were morally upstanding characters of low social rank who resist corrupt yet higher status samurai. His character recurred throughout kabuki theater in various adaptions of his story.

Tokyo Metropolitan Library, acquisition no. 5714-C77-6
(inv. no. C-1802)


Toyohara Kunichika

Tokyo Metropolitan Library, no. 5714-C77-6


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
October 28, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475