Scene at the Fire-Watching Tower on New Years' with the Takashima Troupe
(Hatsu yagura uwasa no takashima)
both sheets signed Toyokuni ga within artist's Toshidama seal, with publisher Otaya Takichi's seal Yo, Takichi on the upper sheet and Yo on the lower sheet, the title on the upper sheet, Hatsu yagura uwasa no takashima, censor's date seal Man'en-ichi aratame (Man'en 1 , approved), and the actor's roles identified, reading from the top, Ojo Kichisa, Osho Kichisa, and Obo Kichisa, 1860
oban tate-e diptych 28 5/8 by 9 3/8 by 10 in., 72.7 by 23.7 by 25.5 cm
lower sheet is wider 25.5 (10 in.)
This complex composition captures act III, scene 4, Under the Fire-Watching Tower in Hongo (Hinomi yagura no ba), from the play, Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai (The Three Kichisas and the New Year's First Visit to the Pleasure Quarters). The play premiered at the Ichimura theatre in the 1st lunar month of 1860. Three prominent actors portray three Kichisa bandits fighting off their pursuers on the scafolding of a watchtower. The upper sheet depicts the actor Iwai Kumesaburo III (Iwai Hanshiro VIII, 1829-1882) in the role of Ojo Kichisa, a young theif who often uses a female disguise. The lower sheet continues with the actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV (1812-1866) in the role of Osho Kichisa, a priest, and the actor Kawarazaki Gonjuro I (Danjuro IX, 1838-1903) is in the role of Obo Kichisa, a ronin.
Gonjuro I was the fifth son of Ichikawa Danjuro VII (1791-1859), who was arguably the most important kabuki actor of the late Edo Period (1600-1868). Gonjuro I (who became Ichikawa Danjuro in 1874) is largely credited with adapting and revitalizing kabuki during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and into the modern era.
Waseda University Theater Library, accession nos. 006-0008 and 006-0009
(inv. no. 10-5117)
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