Stage name:

Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ I In Japanese

Line number: SHODAI (I)

Existence: 1700 ~ 13th day of the 7th lunar month of 1757 [1]


Grandfather: Sadoshima Denbŕ

Father: Sadoshima Denpachi

Disciples: Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ II (???) [2], Sadoshima Ch˘z˘, Sadoshima ???


1700~1712: born in Kamigata. Son of the d˘kegata Sadoshima Denpachi and grandson of Sadoshima Denbŕ, who headed one of the Onna Kabuki ('Woman Kabuki') troupe in Ky˘to. He started his career at the end of the Sh˘toku era, performing in ďsaka as a wakashugata. An interesting story about Ch˘gor˘'s youth:
"Ever since my fifth year I was taught dancing by my father Denpachi. He took me to Edo and had me do a doll act on a go board. We had engagements all over the place, and worked from Spring to the ninth month. I attracted the attention of a certain gentleman and was frequently summoned by him to dance my go board dance. So great was his regard for me that he ordered some pottery figures of myself sitting on a go board to be made in Hizen, and they pleased him so much that he had three of them made and delivered to him. When we were travelling to Ky˘to in the tenth month of that year, word got around about my go board doll dance, and I was asked to do it at every inn we stayed at. I always complied with these requests. When I reached my ninth year I was no longer able to perform on a go board." (from "The Actors' Analects" by Charles J. Dunn and Torigoe Bunz˘)

12th day of the 12th lunar month of 1712 [3]: his father Sadoshima Denpachi died.

11th lunar month of 1719: Ch˘gor˘ played in Ky˘to at Miyako Mandayű's theater the role of Suminoe Nasakenosuke in Sadoshima Sabur˘zaemon's kaomise drama "Sh˘j˘ Zakaya Mannen-gura".

1st lunar month of 1720: Ch˘gor˘ played in Ky˘to at Miyako Mandayű's theater in the new year drama "Keisei Hachimannichi". He achieved a great success by performing the dance "Nich˘ Tsuzumi". The origin of this dance was quite interesting: while on tour in Ise, Ch˘gor˘ had almost no musician with him and only one instrument, a kotsuzumi (shoulder drum). Ch˘gor˘ cut a piece of bamboo and made an ˘tsuzumi (hip drum) out of it. He decided to call this short dance "Nich˘ Tsuzumi", which literally means "the two drums".

11th lunar month of 1720: Ch˘gor˘ played at the Kado no Shibai the role of Miumanosuke [illustration] in the kaomise drama "Hana Yakata Chibikizuru", which was produced by Kirinoya Gonjűr˘ I.

11th lunar month of 1722: Ch˘gor˘ played at the Naka no Shibai the role of the gofukuya Hanzabur˘ (in reality Ichiy˘ Kaguranosuke) in the kaomise drama "Odori Hotei", which was produced by Takeshima K˘zaemon II.

11th lunar month of 1723: Ch˘gor˘ played at the Naka no Shibai the role of Minamoto no Yorimitsu in the kaomise drama "Chűshin Futaba no Matsu", which was produced by Matsushima Hy˘tar˘.

Summer 1730: tour in the Yamato province with Sugiyama Kanzaemon III.

Fall 1731: Ch˘gor˘ went to Edo.

11th lunar month of 1731: Ch˘gor˘ played at the Nakamuraza the role of En'ya Hangan in the kaomise drama "Wag˘ Ichiji Taiheiki". He successfully performed within this drama a dance called "Kantan".

1st lunar month of 1732: Ch˘gor˘ played in the same theater the role of Soga Jűr˘ in the new year sogamono drama "Hatsugoyomi Ainai Soga"; his stage partners in the roles of Soga Gor˘ and Kud˘ Saemon Suketsune were Ogino Izabur˘ I and Sawamura S˘jűr˘ I.

11th lunar month of 1733: Ch˘gor˘ played at Kameya Kumenoj˘'s theater (Ky˘to) the role of Tanomonosuke in the kaomise drama "Ch˘seiden Kogane no Shikigawara", which was produced by Sakakiyama Shirotar˘ I.

1741: Ch˘gor˘ sent an invitation to Ichikawa Ebiz˘ II (and his adopted son Ichikawa Danjűr˘ III) to perform in ďsaka in his theater. The Edo star "demanded an enormous salary for those days, something quite out of the ordinary in the way of remuneration. And Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘, thinking that Ebiz˘ would never ask such a sum unless he had something startling to offer, did not hesitate to comply with the extraordinary request" (ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan"). The sum was 2,000 ry˘!

11th lunar month of 1741: Ch˘gor˘ produced at the ďnishi no Shibai the kaomise drama "Bankoku Taiheiki", which included the "Uir˘ Uri" scene and starred Ichikawa Ebiz˘ II, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ III, Yamamoto Ky˘shir˘ I, Arashi Shichigor˘ I, Onoe Kikugor˘ I, Yamashita Kinsaku I, Nakamura Jir˘sa I, Band˘ Toyosabur˘ I, Shibazaki Taminosuke, Yamanaka Heijűr˘ I and Yamatogawa Akashi.

1st lunar month of 1742: premiere at the ďnishi no Shibai of the drama "Narukami Fud˘ Kitayama Zakura", which was produced by Ch˘gor˘ [casting].

Fall 1747: Ch˘gor˘ went to Edo.

11th lunar month of 1747: Ch˘gor˘ performed at the Moritaza in the kaomise drama "Aruji M˘ke Onna Hachinoki", which celebrated the shűmei of Sawamura S˘jűr˘.

1748: Ch˘gor˘ went back to Ky˘to, retired from the Kabuki world and took the tonsure. His new name was Renchib˘ and he settled in front of the famous Kenninji Temple. Later on, he settled in ďsaka, where he died.

13th day of the 7th lunar month of 1757 [1]: Ch˘gor˘ died in ďsaka.


"This Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ was the son of Denpachi, a d˘kegata, or comedian, and a dancer of great skill who was prominent just before Genroku. Ch˘gor˘ was fortunate in having such an experienced stage father, and he was soon apprenticed to dancing. The chroniclers of Kabuki tell how the father taught the boy to dance on the goban, or small table used for playing go, the national chess game. The child was often summoned by persons of high degree to take part in entertainments, and once a prince ordered an artist to make a model of him dancing on the goban. He never seriously competed for a place among the actors, but long remained Kabuki's most famous dancing teacher. When he reached old age he shaved his head and retired from the world, taking up his abode in front of Kenninji, a Buddhist temple of Ky˘to. Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ left one of Kabuki's literary treasures, the "Sadoshima Nikki", or "Journal of Sadoshima", in which he disclosed the secrets of shosagoto. He criticised the actors of his time as having gone astray from the true path of dramatic art, and reflected in his writing the change that had already set in--the beginning of the decline of Kabuki, for the brilliancy of the Genroku period and the progress of H˘reki were not repeated in the years that followed." (ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")

[1] The 13th day of the 7th lunar month of the 7th year of the H˘reki era was the 27th of August 1757 in the western calendar.

[2] Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ II was listed as a disciple of Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ I in the book "Kabuki Jinmei Jiten" but the master died in 1757 and the disciple was born in 1768...

[3] The 12th day of the 12th lunar month of the 2nd year of the Sh˘toku era was the 8th of January 1713 in the western calendar.

[4] His tombstone was located in the precincts of the Yaku˘ji Temple.

Sadoshima Ch˘gor˘ I performing in the kaomise drama "Bankoku Taiheiki", which he produced in the 11th lunar month of 1741 at the ďnishi no Shibai

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