Dance titles Oshiegusa Yoshiwara Suzume  In Japanese
Yoshiwara Suzume  In Japanese
Authors Sakurada Jisuke I (lyrics)
Kineya Sakujűr˘/Fujita Kichiji (Nagauta music)
Kiyomoto Enjudayű I (Kiyomoto music)

The first version of the dance "Yoshiwara Suzume" was staged for the first time in the 11th lunar month of 1768 at the Ichimuraza, under the title "Oshiegusa Yoshiwara Suzume", within the kaomise drama "Otokoyama Yunzei Kurabe". This Nagauta-based dance starred Ichimura Uzaemon IX and Azuma T˘z˘ II in the roles of the warrior Hachiman Tar˘ disuised as a bird seller and the spirit of a falcon disuised as the female bird seller. A Kiyomoto version was written by Kiyomoto Enjudayű I and staged under the title "Katami no Hana Tamuke no Sodenoka" in the 2nd lunar month of 1824 at the Ichimuraza. It starred Band˘ Hikosabur˘ IV and Ichimura Uzaemon XII. Nowadays, "Yoshiwara Suzume" is staged with either a Kiyomoto or a Nagauta ensemble. The Kiyomoto-based version, which is more popular and more frequently staged, is also called "Shin-Yoshiwara Suzume" (Shin-Yoshiwara being the new Yoshiwara).

Key words Kaomise Buy˘

"Yoshiwara Suzume" is a colorful dance set against the backdrop of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter and depicts two sparrow sellers. Purchasers set the birds free as part of a Buddhist ritual (called h˘sh˘e), and references are made to the geisha of Yoshiwara being caged like the birds and longing to be free.

Courtesy of Jean Wilson (1999)


"Yoshiwara Suzume", which literally means Yoshiwara's sparrow, is also an expression used for the non-paying people, who thronged the streets of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter, loitering about without entering any tea house.

The actors Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VIII and Iwai Kumesabur˘ III playing the male and female vendors in the dance "Shin-Yoshiwara Suzume", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1852 at the Kawarasakiza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

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