YOSHIZAWA AYAME I

Stage names:

Yoshizawa Gonshichi
Yoshizawa Kikunojô
Yoshizawa Ayame I

Other name: Tachibanaya Gonshichi

Guild: Tachibanaya

Line number: SHODAI (I)

Poetry name: Shunsui

Existence: 1673 ~ 15th day of the 7th lunar month of 1729

Connections:

Sons: Yoshizawa Ayame II, Yamashita Matatarô I, Nakamura Tomijûrô I, Yoshizawa Ayame III

Grandsons: Yoshizawa Ayame V, Yamashita Matatarô II

Great-grandson: Yoshizawa Iroha II

Disciples: Yoshizawa Tamazuma, Yoshizawa Sengiku, Yoshizawa Takegorô

Family map: the Yoshizawa Clan

Career:

1675 ~ 1690: born in Kyôto. His career starts in the world of male prostitution. A man named Tachibana Gorozaemon spots him and helps him to move to the theater world. He becomes a disciple of Mizushima Shirobei and learn the art of acting in the company of Arashi San'emon I.

1690 ~ 1693: first stay in Edo; he plays at the Moritaza and the Nakamuraza under the name of Yoshizawa Ayame.

3rd lunar month of 1693: premiere in Kyôto at Miyako Mandayû's theater of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's drama "Butsumo Mayasan Kaichô", written for the star Sakata Tôjûrô I; Ayame plays the role of Kofuji.

11th lunar month of 1695: second stay in Edo; Yoshizawa Ayame takes the name of Yoshizawa Kikunojô and plays at the Yamamuraza in the drama "Kaomise Jûnidan"".

1696: he goes back to Kamigata and takes back the name of Yoshizawa Ayame I.

1st lunar month of 1698: premiere at Hayagumo Chôdayû's theater of the drama "Keisei Asama-ga-Dake", which is produced by Yamashita Hanzaemon; Ayame plays the role of the courtesan Miura [casting]. Ayame's stage partner is the Edo actor Nakamura Shichisaburô I, the author of this play, which becomes a great success and a long run. The play is about the apparition of a courtesan's ghost to her unfaithful lover and becomes both a milestone in Kabuki history and a classic theme. Ayame's rank in the Kyôto hyôbanki, wakaonnagata section, is jô-jô-kichi (superior - superior - excellent).

11th lunar month of 1698: Ayame plays the role of Takane no Mae in the drama "Kantô Koroku Imayô Sugata", which is staged at Hayagumo Chôdayû's theater.

1st lunar month of 1700: Ayame plays the role of the courtesan Sango in the drama "Keisei Zen no Tsuna", which is produced in Kyôto by Yamatoya Jimbei II.

1st lunar month of 1703: Ayame settles in Ôsaka and achieves a great success by playing the role of the courtesan Ôiso no Tora in the drama "Soga Kuhon no Matsu", which is produced by le zamoto Matsumoto Nazaemon III.

11th lunar month of 1710: Ayame goes to Kyôto and plays the role of Ofuku in the drama "Inari Chôja Yotsugimaru", which is produced by Yamashita Karumo at Ebisuya Kichirôbei's theater.

3rd lunar month of 1711: Ayame's rank in the Kyôto hyôbanki, wakaonnagata section, is goku-jô-jô-kichi (extreme - superior - superior - excellent).

1st lunar month of 1712: Ayame becomes zamoto and produces the drama "Onna Wankyû" at Ebisuya Kichirôbei's theater. The roles of Wankyû and the courtesan Matsuyama are played by Yamashita Kyôemon I and Uemura Kichiya III.

11th lunar month of 1713: third stay in Edo; Ayame plays two roles at the Nakamuraza in the drama "Onna Kusunoki Tenka Taiheiki".

1st lunar month of 1714: Ayame's rank in the Edo hyôbanki, wakaonnagata section, is goku-jô-jô-kichi (extreme - superior - superior - excellent).

11th lunar month of 1714: Ayame goes to Kyôto and plays the role of Otoyo in the kaomise drama "Yorozuyo Saiwai Gura", which is staged at Miyako Mandayû's theater.

Fall 1716: First Kabuki adaptation of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's masterpiece "Kokusen'ya Gassen", which is produced by the zamoto Sakakiyama Shirotarô I in Kyôto at Miyako Mandayû's theater and starred the actors Sakakiyama Koshirô I (Watônai), Shibazaki Rinzaemon I (Kanki), Yamamoto Kamon (Kinshôjo), Murayama Heijûrô (Rôikkan), Ayame (Watônai's mother), Kikukawa Kiyotarô I (Watônai's wife Komutsu), Mihogi Gizaemon I (Ritôten) and Kikuta Zen'emon (Kairokuô).

11th lunar month of 1718: Ayame settles in Ôsaka and plays in the drama "Suehiro Chôja Bandaigura", which is produced by Sawamura Chôjûrô I.

11th lunar month of 1720: Ayame goes back to Kyôto and plays in the drama "Jûni Chôshi Megumi no Kodakara", which is produced by Sakakiyama Shirojûrô.

1st lunar month of 1721: Ayame achieves a great success in the same theater, playing a female role and a male role in the drama "Keisei Ôhara Sanemori".

11th lunar month of 1721: Yoshizawa Ayame becomes tachiyaku and takes the name of Yoshizawa Gonshichi, playing the role of Sakuragi Ôinosuke in Yoshida Jûrobei's drama "Yamato Uta Denju No Tomigura", which is produced by Arashi Sanjûrô I.

1st lunar month of 1723: Yoshizawa Gonshichi becomes wakaonnagata again and takes back the name of Yoshizawa Ayame, playing in Kyôto in the drama "Keisei Hitomaru Zuka".

11th lunar month of 1723: Ayame settles in Ôsaka and plays in the drama "Fukujukai Kogane no Minato", which is produced by Sakakiyama Shirotarô I.

Spring 1728: Ayame appears on stage for the last time, in Ôsaka at the Kado no Shibai; he plays the role of Akashi no Tsubone in the drama "Ato Meron Keizu no Hakozaki", which is produced by Arashi Sanjûrô II.

Comments:

"Yoshizawa Ayame I was regarded as the greatest onnagata or female impersonator of his time and was an artist of ability, who developed the unique technique which was to be a model for the actors of the future. His ideas and secrets were written down in a book called "Ayamegusa", which was afterwards regarded as the Bible of the female impersonator" (A. C. Scott in "The Kabuki Theatre of Japan")

"Ayame s'était prostitué très jeune après la mort prématurée de son père : on se rappelle que la carrière des onnagata commençait souvent, aux dix-septième et dix-huitième siècle dans les établissements spécialisés. De fait, c'est là qu'il eut l'occasion de rencontrer un protecteur fort versé dans les choses du théâtre, qui l'engagea à étudier la technique de l'onnagata en s'efforçant de donner de la femme l'illusion la plus complète possible : en ce sens, Ayame qui, bien que de vingt-cinq ans le cadet de Tôjûrô, eut l'occasion de jouer à ses côtés, fut conduit à appliquer à son domaine les mêmes principes réalistes qui avaient inspiré le jeu de son partenaire. Puisque le monde du Kabuki était désormais interdit aux femmes, il fallait, par un entraînement intensif, s'efforcer de les remplacer avec le maximum de vraisemblance, et Ayame élabora dans ce but une curieuse théorie du jeu de l'acteur, qui mêlait indissolublement la vie à l'art : si l'onnagata, disait-il, ne vit pas quotidiennement comme s'il était une femme, il ne pourra prétendre devenir un bon comédien. Et pendant plus de deux siècles, la scène devint ainsi le simple prolongement de l'existence d'onnagata qui, hors du théâtre même, s'habillaient en femme, se maquillaient, portaient perruque, allant même jusqu'à utiliser la partie des bains réservée à l'usage féminin" (Michel Wasserman in "Théâtre classique du Japon")

Yoshizawa Ayame I in an illustration from the book "Amayo no Sambai Kigen" (1693)

The Yoshizawa Ayame line of actors

 
Search this site powered by FreeFind
  Site map | Disclaimer
Contact | Main | Top | Updates | Actors | Plays | Playwrights | Programs | Links | FAQ | Glossary | Chronology | Illustrations | Prints | Characters | Derivatives | Theaters | Coming soon | News