|ICHIKAWA DANSHIRÔ I|
Line number: SHODAI (I)
Poetry name: Enshô
Existence: 1651 ~ 2nd day of the 5th lunar month of 1717
Master: Ichikawa Danjûrô I
1651~1687: he starts his career at an unknown date, as a disciple of Ichikawa Danjûrô I, who gives him the name of Ichikawa Sukeroku. Later on, he takes the name of Ichikawa Danshirô I.
11th lunar month of 1687: Danshirô changes the ideogram for "Dan" in his first name:
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Fall 1695: Danshirô goes to Ôsaka.
Fall 1699: Danshirô goes back to Edo.
1st lunar month of 1704: Danshirô plays the role of Arajishi Otokonosuke in the eponymous drama, which is staged at the Moritaza.
11th lunar month of 1707: Danshirô plays at the Ichimuraza in the kaomise drama "Hachinoki Ôkagami", which celebrates the arrival in Edo of the Kamigata actor Otowa Jirosaburô I; his others stage partners are Takeshima Kôzaemon I, Hayakawa Hatsuse and Kanazawa Goheiji.
1st lunar month of 1708: Danshirô plays in the same theater the role of Yamada Saburô in the new year drama "Aigyô Sumidagawa"; he retires and takes the tonsure in a temple of Gyôtoku in the Shimosa province. It is said that Danshirô has taken this decision because he fell in love with a shinyoshiwara courtesan, who was none other than his real sister. They were separated when Danshirô was 10 years old and they did not recognize each other when they met for the first time (a common case in many Kabuki dramas).
1711: Danshirô is back on stage in Edo for one year. He achieves a great success at the Moritaza by playing the role of the priest Mongaku. Then, he definitively retires from the Kabuki world and goes back to his temple.
2nd day of the 5th lunar month of 1717: Danshirô dies in his temple.
Ichikawa Danshirô I was a talented disciple of Ichikawa Danjûrô I. He was specialized in supporting tachiyaku or katakiyaku roles in jidaimono. This short-sized actor excelled in the aragoto style and he was endowed with a powerful voice.
"In the middle of his career this first Danshirô shaved his head and became a Buddhist priest, retiring to a provincial temple. As Edo Kabuki of those days was lacking in good actors, messengers were frequently sent to his distant temple asking him to return to the stage, but he repeatedly refused. At last he consented upon the condition that at the end of the performances he was to return to his holy profession. He acted the rôle of Mongaku Shônin, the samurai who made love to the heroic Kesa Gozen, or the Lady Kesa. Wishing to get rid of her husband, the samurai planned to kill him in his sleep. Kesa Gozen gave Mongaku a sign by which he would know the right head to cut off--the hair was to be freshly washed. But to his horror the assassin found that he had killed the Lady Kesa herself, who had thus sacrificed her life to preserve her honour and by her act had saved the life of her husband. In penitence for this deed, Kesa Gozen's lover became a priest, and the interest of the Edo playgoers in Danshirô's return to the stage in this priestly rôle may well be imagined. True to his word, this follower of Danjûrô returned to his temple and died there in 1717." (Zoë Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")
Ichikawa Danshirô I in an ilustration from the book "Kokon Shibai Irokurabe Hyakunin Isshu" (1st lunar month of 1693)
The Ichikawa Danshirô line of actors
The Ichikawa Danshirô line of actors
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