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Machiai Jaya

The machiai jaya were establishments with rooms for rent for a short time where visitors and courtesans/prostitutes could (physically) entertain themselves. Synonymous: deai jaya.

In Japanese: 待合茶屋

Machi Bugy˘

The machi bugy˘ were samurai officials of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo period. They were not daimy˘. Most of them were hatamoto. They were the central public authority in the Japanese urban centers. They had to manage a wide range of administrative and judicial responsibilities and their role was an mix of chief of police, magistrate, and mayor. In the city of Edo, they were 3 machi bugy˘: the kita machi bugy˘, the minami machi bugy˘ and the honjo machi bugy˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 町奉行

Machi Musume

A townsfolk daughter.

In Japanese: 町娘


"Generally translated as "city elders", these were high-ranking city officials during the Edo Period charged with assisting the machi bugy˘. In Edo their duties included transmitting laws and decrees issued by the Tokugawa Shogunate to residential quarters, collecting various taxes, investigating issues related to petitions submitted by commoners, and laying out new residential areas on land reclaimed from T˘ky˘ Bay. Machidoshiyori were not salaried but received grants of land from the Sh˘gun, which they were free to rent out. They also received grants and loans. The position of machidoshiyori was hereditary. After the 1610s, there were three city elder positions in Edo claimed by the Naraya, Taruya and Kitamura families." (Roman Cybriwsky in "Historical Dictionary of T˘ky˘")

In Japanese: 町年寄


In the Edo period, a machigakae was a district employee, who received monthly payments from the jurisdictions they served. Some worked as spy, city guard or low level torite. They could assist in investigations, arrests and security work.

In Japanese: 町抱 | 町抱え


Front hair lock (forelock).

In Japanese: 前髪


A (young) pack-horse driver.

In Japanese: 馬子

Mai no Utage

A dance party.

In Japanese: 舞の宴


An abbreviated style of . It literally means "dance and music".

In Japanese: 舞囃子


A maiko is an apprentice geisha [more details].

In Japanese: 舞妓

Maiko no Hama

The Maiko Beach. A famous beach in Hy˘go Prefecture. It is located nowadays in the Tarumi Ward of the city of K˘be.

In Japanese: 舞子の浜

Makie Sakazuki

A traditional gold lacquer work sake cup.

In Japanese: 蒔絵盃


A stepchild.

In Japanese: 継子

Mamako Ijime

Stepchild bullying.

In Japanese: 継子いじめ


A traditional practice done in households, shrines or temples for the day of the Spring festival (setsubun). Fortune beans (fukumame) are thrown out the door while people say Oni wa Soto, Fuku wa Uchi (literally "Demons out! Luck in!").

In Japanese: 豆まき

Manabe Akifusa

Manabe Akifusa (1666~1720) was a daimy˘ of the Edo period. He was close to the 6th Sh˘gun Tokugawa Ienobu and held numerous important posts within the administration of the Tokugawa shogunate, including Echizen-no-Kami (kami of the province of Echizen) [more details].

In Japanese: 間部詮房


Prior to Ky˘to's year-end kaomise Kabuki performances at the Minamiza, traditionally held from the 30th of November to the 26th of December, there is the annual maneki-kaki, followed by the maneki-age, an event where huge wooden boards called maneki kanban are raised. The boards feature the names of Kabuki performers appearing in the show and they are placed over the front of the Minamiza on a huge takeyarai.

In Japanese: まねき上げ


The ceremony of making the maneki kanban at the My˘denji Temple in Ky˘to. The calligrapher soaks his brush in special ink mixed with sake for the purpose of purification and glossing, and writes the names all actors with strong strokes in kanteiryű characters. These maneki kanban will be raised (maneki-age) before the start of the kaomise Kabuki performances at the Minamiza in December.

In Japanese: まねき書き

Maneki Kanban

A huge wooden board with the name of a Kabuki actor written on it in black ink. These name boards are traditionally roofed, rectangular cypress planks that are roughly 1.8 meters long and about 30 centimeters wide. They are traditionnaly made in a temple. The calligrapher soaks his brush in special ink mixed with sake for the purpose of purification and glossing, and he/she writes the names with strong strokes in kanteiryű-styled calligraphy.

In Japanese: まねき看板


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 18th day of the 3rd lunar month of 1860 (the 8th of April 1860 in the western calendar) and ended the 19th of the 2nd lunar month of 1861 (the 29th of March 1861 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Man'en were Ansei and Bunkyű.

In Japanese: 万延


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 23rd day of the 7th lunar month of 1658 (the 21st of August 1658 in the western calendar) and ended the 25th day of the 4th lunar month of 1661 (the 23rd of May 1661 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Manji were Meireki and Kanbun.

In Japanese: 万治


Buns with bean paste filling.

In Japanese: 饅頭


The Man'y˘shű is literally the "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves". It is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled sometime after 759 during the Nara period. This famous and revered anthology contains poems ranging from 347 to 759 [more details].

In Japanese: 万葉集


Originally based around a festival to welcome the New Year, manzai traces its origins back to the Heian period. The two manzai performers (manzaishi) came with messages from the gods and this was worked into a standup routine, with one performer showing some sort of opposition to the word of the other [more details].

In Japanese: 萬歳 | 万才 | 漫才


A manzai performer.

In Japanese: 萬歳師 | 万才師 | 漫才師


A traditional ball (for children to play with).

In Japanese:  | 


A traditional ball-bouncing game.

In Japanese: 毬突き | 鞠突き

Marubashi Chűya

Marubashi Chűya (???~1651) was a 17th century r˘nin from Yamagata, and instructor in martial arts and military strategy, most famous for his involvement in the 1651 Keian Uprising which sought to overthrow Japan's Tokugawa Shogunate [more details].

In Japanese: 丸橋忠弥


Kabuki dramas adapted from the puppet theater (Ningy˘ J˘ruri) [=> gidayű ky˘gen].

In Japanese: 丸本物


A famous kuruwa in the city of Nagasaki. The other kuruwa was Yoriaimachi.

In Japanese: 丸山町


Masamune, also known as Gor˘ Nyűd˘ Masamune was widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith. He created swords and daggers in the S˘shű tradition. No exact dates are known for Masamune's life, and he has reached an almost legendary status. It is generally agreed that he made most of his swords in the late 13th and early 14th centuries [more details].

In Japanese: 正宗

Mashiba Hisaaki

The Kabuki role name of Toyotomi Hideyori during the Edo period. Because of strict Shogunate censorship, the playwrights had to change the names. However, the changes were quite light and the audience had no problem to understand who was who.

In Japanese: 真柴久秋

Mashiba Hisatsugu

The Kabuki role name of Toyotomi Hidetsugu during the Edo period. Because of strict Shogunate censorship, the playwrights had to change the names. However, the changes were quite light and the audience had no problem to understand who was who.

In Japanese: 真柴久次

Mashiba Hisayoshi

The Kabuki role name of Hashiba Hideyoshi during the Edo period. Because of strict Shogunate censorship, the playwrights had to change the names. However, the changes were quite light and the audience had no problem to understand who was who.

In Japanese: 真柴久吉

Matano Gor˘

==> Matano Kagehisa

In Japanese: 俣野五郎

Matano Gor˘ Kagehisa

==> Matano Kagehisa

In Japanese: 俣野五郎景久

Matano Kagehisa

Matano Kagehisa was a bushi of the late Heian period. He was the brother of ďba Kagechika. He fought on the Heike side during the Genpei War. He was victorious at the Battle of Ishibashiyama. He died the 2nd of June 1183 at the Battle of Shinohara, where the Heike forces led by Taira no Munemori were defeated by the Genji warlord Kiso Yoshinaka. His tsűsh˘ was Gor˘ and he was often called Matano Gor˘ or Matano Gor˘ Kagehisa.

In Japanese: 俣野景久


A wandering gambler.

In Japanese: 股旅


Drama depicting the adventures of a wandering gambler.

In Japanese: 股旅物


The pine tree.

In Japanese:

Matsu no ďr˘ka

The Great Pine Hallway was part of Edo Castle [more details].

In Japanese: 松之大廊下


drama or Ky˘gen ( farce) adapted for Kabuki, using a giant pine tree backdrop (matsubame in Japanese) as the main stage setting.

In Japanese: 松羽目物


A pine grove.

In Japanese: 松原

Matsuchiyama Sh˘den

Matsuchiyama Sh˘den or Matsuchiyama Sh˘ten. The common name of the Honryűin temple in Asakusa, a constituent subtemple of the famous Sens˘ji Temple. It was built around 595 on top of Mount Matsuchi (Matsuchiyama), overlooking the Sumida River. His main object of adoration and prayers is Kangiten, the God of Bliss, commonly called Sh˘den or Sh˘ten (lit. "sacred god" or "noble god").

In Japanese: 待乳山聖天

Matsuda Kaja

==> Minamoto no Tomonaga

In Japanese: 松田冠者

Matsudaira Ch˘shichir˘

Matsudaira Ch˘shichir˘ Nagayori was said to be the son of Tokugawa Tadanaga. After the sad death of his father (forced to commit seppuku by his elder brother), Ch˘shichir˘ lived an adventurous life among the commoners in Edo or ďsaka.

In Japanese: 松平長七郎

Matsudaira Nobuyasu

Matsudaira Nobuyasu (1559 ~ 1579) was the eldest son of Tokugawa Ieyasu. His mother was Tsukiyama Gozen. It is generally believed that Nobuyasu's mother and Nobuyasu's wife Princess Toku, a daughter of Oda Nobunaga, did not get along. In 1579, whether out of a desire for revenge or to remove her mother-in-law's meddling in their marriage, Princess Toku wrote a letter to her father, accusing her mother-in-law of a treasonous plot with the Takeda clan, the ennemies of Oda Nobunaga. When Nobunaga brought the allegations to the attention of Ieyasu, he had his wife executed and Nobuyasu received his father's order to commit suicide (seppuku). He dit it the 5th of October 1579. Nobuyasu's tsűsh˘ was Jir˘sabur˘. Because he was a son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, he is often called Tokugawa Nobuyasu. he was also called Okazaki Sabur˘ as he was the lord of Okazaki Castle [more details].

In Japanese: 松平信康


Dramas or dances, which deal with the two famous salt-making sisters Matsukaze and Murasame, who both fell in love with the same man, the courtier Ariwara no Yukihira (818~893), an exile at Suma. This story, along with several of Yukihira's poems from famous compilations, form the basis of Kan'ami's (1333~84) play, which was entitled "Matsukaze" and in which the ghosts of Matsukaze and Murasame wait at Suma beach for Yukihira's promised return, cherishing his outer cloak and cap left as keepsakes.

In Japanese: 松風村雨物


The Matsumoto-ryű is a school of Buy˘, which came from the Fujima-ryű and was established by Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VIII. The second iemoto was Matsumoto K˘shir˘ IX. The third and current iemoto is Matsumoto K˘shir˘ X. His stage name as a Buy˘ headmaster is not his Kabuki name but Matsumoto Kinsh˘.

In Japanese: 松本流


Literally the pine insect. A species of cricket which is very common in Japan and China. Scientific name is xenogryllus marmoratus (==> Xenogryllus).

In Japanese: 松虫 | マツムシ

Matsunaga Hisahide

Matsunaga Hisahide (1510~1577) was a 16th century daimy˘ in the Yamato province. His history is quite complex with lots of fighting, alliances and sudden changes of alliance depending on the turn of the ongoing war. Main events in his life were the 1565 rebellion with the Miyoshi clan against Ashikaga Yoshiteru, his defeat against Oda Nobunaga, whom he started to serve, in 1568, his brief alliance with the Miyoshi clan against Oda Nobunaga in 1573 followed by his return to the Oda side and his final defeat against his former master in 1577. Defeated by Oda Nobunaga in his own castle, Hisahide committed suicide and ordered his head destroyed to prevent it becoming a trophy. He was accused of the destruction of the famous T˘daiji temple in Nara and, because of this infamy, he became a villain in dramas [more details].

In Japanese: 松永久秀

Matsunoo Taisha

The Matsunoo Shrine (jinja). A famous Shint˘ shrine in Ky˘to, which is located at the far western end of Shij˘ Avenue (first construction started around 700) [more details].

In Japanese: 松尾大社


A festival sponsored by a local shrine or temple. It usually features a procession of portable shrines, which serve as vehicle for deities.

In Japanese:


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Kataoka Kamez˘ and Kataoka Shinnosuke.

In Japanese: 松島屋


A revolving stage.

In Japanese: 回り舞台


Literally a 'revolving room'. In kuruwa during the Edo period, a mawashi-beya was a room used by low-ranking prostitutes in turn to meet their customers.

In Japanese: 廻し部屋


Mount Maya. A 698.6-metre high mountain in Hy˘go Prefecture [more details].

In Japanese: 摩耶山


A semi-official detective.

In Japanese: 目明し


Literally "wife revenge". The Tokugawa legal code gave the samurai husband, who was victim of adultery, the right to do a "wife revenge" (megatakiuchi), usually by murdering both his wife and her lover.

In Japanese: 女敵討


Literally the Me group (me is one of the syllables of the Japanese Hiragana syllabary). The Megumi was one of the 48 firefighting brigades in Edo. The tobi of this group became famous because of a spectacular street brawl in 1805 against a group of sum˘tori. This brawl, which was called Megumi no Kenka, became the subject of the Kabuki drama "Kami no Megumi Wag˘ no Torikumi".

In Japanese: め組

Megumi no Kenka

A big fight between a group of sum˘tori led by Yotsuguruma Daihachi and a group of tobi belonging to the Megumi brigade. It happened in the 2nd lunar month of 1805 near the Shiba Shinmei Shrine.

In Japanese: め組の喧嘩

Meifu no Kuni

The Netherworld.

In Japanese: 冥府国


In Japanese history, the Meiji period is an imperial era which started the 8th day of the 9th lunar month of 1868 (the 23rd of October 1868 in the western calendar) and ended the 30th of July 1912. The 2 eras before and after Meiji were Kei˘ and Taish˘.

In Japanese: 明治

Meiji Ishin

The Meiji Restoration. A series of events which restored the imperial power in Japan in 1868. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure, and spanned both the late Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period [more details].

In Japanese: 明治維新


Kabuki dramas which dramatized events related to the Meiji Restoration.

In Japanese: 明治維新物


==> Nagoya-j˘

In Japanese: 名城


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 13th day of the 4th lunar month of 1655 (the 18th of May 1655 in the western calendar) and ended the 23rd day of the 7th lunar month of 1658 (the 21st of August 1658 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Meireki were J˘˘ and Manji.

In Japanese: 明暦


Meisho are sites in Japan which are famous for their associations with specific poetic or literary references [more details].

In Japanese: 名所

Meisho Edo Hyakkei

Literally "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo". It was a famous series of prints made by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797ľ1858). The prints were first published in serialized form during the second half of the 1850s, with Utagawa Hiroshige II completing the series after Utagawa Hiroshige I's death. It was tremendously popular and much reprinted [more details].

In Japanese: 名所江戸百景


In Japanese history, the Meiwa period is an imperial era which started the 2nd day of the 6th lunar month of 1764 (the 30th of June 1764 in the western calendar) and ended the 16th day of the 11th lunar month of 1772 (the 10th of December 1772 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Meiwa were H˘reki and An'ei.

In Japanese: 明和


The Chinese Ming Empire.

In Japanese: 明帝


A concubine, a mistress.

In Japanese:


A blind man; blindness.

In Japanese:


A mask.

In Japanese:


Literally a wet nurse. In fact, a menoto was more than a wet nurse for the aristocracy. The big clans used to employ women of high birth to raise and educate their children. In the menoto system, the child was often taken away from his/her real mother and trusted to the menoto to be brought up separately. It used to be accepted as the right way to raise children.

In Japanese: 乳人


A menuki is a decorative metal ornaments which is woven under the handle wrapping of a traditional sword.

In Japanese: 目貫


A craftsman who makes menuki for swords.

In Japanese: 目貫師

Meoto Iwa

The two "wedded" rocks in Futami-ga-Ura, which are considered to be male and female and are named Izanagi and Izanami. They represent the primal couple in Japanese traditional history. According to the legend, they gave birth to all the Japanese islands [more details].

In Japanese: 夫婦岩

Meoto Yado

An inn dedicated to married couples.

In Japanese: 夫婦宿


Literally the place where the rice is polished and cooked, which means a kitchen.

In Japanese: 飯焚所


A servant.

In Japanese: 召使


A restaurant; an eating place; an eating house; an eatery.

In Japanese: 飯屋


The metsuke was a censor or an inspector of the Shogunate during the Edo period. A Bakufu officials ranking somewhat lower than a machi bugy˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 目付


One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). Mi is the sign of the snake. Other possible reading: shi. The month of the snake is the 4th lunar month. There are 5 snake days in the 60 days of the traditional Japanese sexagenary cycle: the 6th, 19th, 30th, 42nd & 54th days. The hour of the snake (worth 2 hours in our time system) starts at 10 AM.

In Japanese:


A dance interlude, which is part of a Kabuki drama. It generally depicts two young lovers on the way to commit suicide or two travelling characters with a romantic implication attached to their journey. Some famous michiyuki are frequently performed independently from their drama ("Yoshinoyama"). Others are the only surviving scene of a forgotten drama ("Kasane").

In Japanese: 道行


The official wife of a Sh˘gun or a highest-ranking nobleman.

In Japanese: 御台所


A Kabuki program made up of an act from a historical play (jidaimono), a dance number (shosagoto) and a realistic play (sewamono).

In Japanese: 見取


An action-crystallizing self-contained dramatic pose performed by a tachiyaku actor.

"The mie has a motionless quality about it; it is the climax to all preceding movement. It may be likened to the curve of a shooting star through the sky, there is a bright flash but the flash is the apex in an arc of light, which to the eye rises and fades with even speed. This is the quality which is so important in a mie, it must merge in the action which precedes and follows without any apparent effort. It is unquestionably a difficult art to acquire and one which was practised far more in former times than it is today. According to many Japanese critics the real art of the mie has been lost and modern actors fail to get the quality of continuity in their action. Whether this is so or not, it remains a dramatic technique which appeals with its na´vety of exaggeration" (A. C. Scott in "The Kabuki Theatre of Japan").

"Mie poses are struck at moments of heightened tension and, like a picture or a sculpture they present to the audience in physical form a powerful crystallization of emotion (Paul M. Griffith)".

In Japanese: 見得


The substitution of one person for another.

In Japanese: 身替り


A scene or a drama with a substitution of one person for another. "Dramatic pathos is often created by substituting one's child for that of one's Lord, either as an act of penance or as an unsolicited gesture of loyalty." (from "The Kabuki Handbook")

In Japanese: 身替り物


The Miidera is a famous Buddhist temple located at the foot of Mt. Hiei, in the city of ďtsu, in Shiga Prefecture. It was founded in 672 and was formally called Onj˘ji [more details].

In Japanese: 三井寺


The Mikage Shore. A shore which used to be in the province of Settsu. It is now part of the city of K˘be (Higashinada Ward) in Hy˘go Prefecture.

In Japanese: 御影浜 | 御影濱


==> Wakakusayama

In Japanese: 三笠山


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Ichikawa Danz˘, Ichikawa Ginnosuke and Ichikawa Momotar˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 三河屋


A temporary Shint˘ shrine built in each neighborhood for a matsuri, where the sanctified sake of the gods (miki means literally god-sake) is kept and where carriers of omikoshi stop and often share a meal.

In Japanese: 神酒所


An unmarried shrine maiden.

In Japanese: 巫女


The carriage of the Emperor.

In Japanese: 御車

Mimeguri Jinja

The Mimeguri Shrine. A Shint˘ shrine built in Muk˘jima [more details].

In Japanese: 三圍神社


The old name of the Isuzu River flowing in Ise.

In Japanese: 御裳濯川


Minakuchi-juku or Minakuchi-shuku. The 50th (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 445.7 km from Edo and 45.5 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 水口宿

Minami Machi Bugy˘

One of the three machi bugy˘ in the city of Edo. Literally the South machi bugy˘. His official residence was physically to the south of the official location of his counterpart, the kita machi bugy˘.

In Japanese: 南町奉行

Minamoto Mitsunaka

Minamoto no Mitsunaka (912~997) was an important warrior and Court official of the Heian period and the father of Minamoto no Yorimitsu. He was also known as Tada no Mitsunaka or Tada no Manjű (Manjű being the Sino-Japanese reading of the ideograms for "Mitsunaka"). Tada was the name of a place in the province of Settsu, where Mitsunaka settled when he retired [more details].

In Japanese: 源満仲

Minamoto Noriyori

Minamoto no Noriyori (1150~1193) was a general of the Genji clan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. He was the 6th son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo and the younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Sh˘gun of the Kamakura shogunate. He was also called Kaba no Kaja (Kanja) Noriyori. Accused of conspiracy by Yoritomo, he was killed in 1193 [more details].

In Japanese: 源範頼

Minamoto Sanetomo

Minamoto no Sanetomo (1192~1219) was the third Sh˘gun of the Kamakura Shogunate from 1203 to 1219. He was the son of Minamoto no Yoritomo and H˘j˘ Masako [more details].

In Japanese: 源実朝

Minamoto Tametomo

Minamoto no Tametomo (1139 ~ 1170) was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi, and the brother of Minamoto no Yukiie and Minamoto no Yoshitomo. He fought in the H˘gen Rebellion of 1156. He was also called Chinzei Hachir˘ or Chinzei Hachir˘ Tametomo [more details].

In Japanese: 源為朝

Minamoto Tameyori

Minamoto no Tameyori was the third son of Minamoto no Tametomo. In 1190, he was granted his territory in Hei and Kesen by Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Sh˘gun of the Kamakura shogunate. He took on the name of Hei Yorimoto. He most likely died around 1220.

In Japanese: 源為頼

Minamoto Tameyoshi

Minamoto no Tameyoshi (1096 ~ 1156), son of Minamoto no Yoshiie, was the leader of the Genji clan. He led the Minamoto in the H˘gen Rebellion. He died the 17th of August 1156. He was called Mutsu Shir˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 源為義

Minamoto Tomonaga

Minamoto no Tomonaga (1144 ~ 1160) was a Genji warrior and the 2nd son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo [more details].

In Japanese: 源朝長

Minamoto T˘ru

Minamoto no T˘ru (822 ~ 895) was a poet and a stateman of the Heian period. He was said to be the model for Hikaru Genji in the novel "Genji Monogatari" and his ghost became the main character in the N˘ drama "T˘ru" [more details].

In Japanese: 源融

Minamoto Yoriie

Minamoto no Yoriie (1182 ~ 1204) was the first son of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Sh˘gun of the Kamakura Shogunate. His mother was H˘j˘ Masako, the daughter of H˘j˘ no Tokimasa. He was the second Sh˘gun of the Kamakura Shogunate from 1202 to 1204. Seriously ill, he wanted to name both his younger brother Minamoto no Sanetomo and his son Ichiman to succeed him. He plotted against his powerful father-in-law H˘j˘ no Tokimasa and was defeated. He was forced to abdicate and was finally assassinated. He was indeed succeeded by Minamoto no Sanetomo but his younger brother was just a puppet in the hands of the H˘j˘ clan [more details].

In Japanese: 源頼家

Minamoto Yorimitsu

Minamoto no Yorimitsu (948 ~ 1021) was the first important warrior in the Minamoto clan. Son of Minamoto no Mitsunaka, he served the regents of the Fujiwara clan, taking the violent measures the Fujiwara were themselves unable to take. He was also called Minamoto no Raik˘ (Raik˘ being the Sino-Japanese reading of the ideograms for "Yorimitsu"). He featured in a number of famous legends and tales, including the legend of Kintar˘, the legend of Shuten D˘ji, and the legend of Tsuchi-gumo (the spirit of the Ground Spider). He was usually accompanied by his four legendary retainers, known as the shitenn˘ (The Four Guardian Kings) [more details].

In Japanese: 源頼光

Minamoto Yoritomo

Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147~1199) was the first Sh˘gun of the Kamakura Shogunate from 1192 to 1199 [more details: wikipedia/samurai-archives].

In Japanese: 源頼朝

Minamoto Yoriyoshi

Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (998~1075) was the head of the Genji clan and the victor of the Zenkunen war [more details].

In Japanese: 源頼義

Minamoto Yoshiie

Minamoto no Yoshiie (1039~1106) was a warlord of the late Heian period. He was the victor of the Zenkunen and Gosannen wars. He was also called Hachiman Tar˘. He was the father of Minamoto no Tameyoshi [more details].

In Japanese: 源義家

Minamoto Yoshikata

Minamoto no Yoshikata (1126 (?) ~ 1155) was a Genji warrior of the late Heian period. He was the second son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi and the father of Kiso no Yoshinaka. He was killed at the battle of ďkura by his nephew Minamoto no Yoshihira the 14th of September 1155. His son, named Koma˘maru at that time, safely escaped to Kiso with the help of warriors like Hatakeyama no Shigetada or Sait˘ no Sanemori. He was never called Kiso but, as his son took this name, in Kabuki Yoshikata was also called Kiso Senj˘ Yoshikata or Kiso no Yoshikata.

In Japanese: 源義賢

Minamoto Yoshitomo

Minamoto no Yoshitomo (1123 ~ 1160) was the head of the Genji clan and a general of the late Heian period. He was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi and the father of Minamoto no Yoritomo, Minamoto no Noriyori, Minamoto no Yoshitsune and 6 others sons. He died the 11th of February 1160 [more details].

In Japanese: 源義朝

Minamoto Yoshitsune

Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159~1189) was a general of the Genji clan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. He was the son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo and Tokiwa Gozen. He was the younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Sh˘gun of the Kamakura shogunate. Yoshitsune's name in childhood was Ushiwakamaru. He was a great and popular warrior of his era [more details].

In Japanese: 源義経


Old province, which corresponds grosso modo to the central and southern part of the current prefecture of Gifu. It was also called N˘shű.

In Japanese: 美濃


Seeing somebody off.

In Japanese: 見送り


A rice wine with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content [more details].

In Japanese: 味醂


A (low class) sideshow.

In Japanese: 見世物


A wooden stall where sideshows were produced during the Edo period.

In Japanese: 見世物小屋


A producer of (low class) sideshows during the Edo period.

In Japanese: 見世物師

Mita Bungaku

A famous Japanese literary magazine established in 1910 at Kei˘ University. It still exists nowadays [more details | official website].

In Japanese: 三田文学 | 三田文學

Mitani Kabuki

A Kabuki drama created and directed by the playwright, screenwriter, actor and film director Mitani K˘ki.

In Japanese: 三谷かぶき


The portrayal of actors in imagined or fantasy roles which they never in fact played.

In Japanese: 見立絵


The Mito Domain. An important domain of the Edo period in the Hitachi Province. The capital of this domain was the city of Mito [more details].

In Japanese: 水戸藩

Mitsugumi Sakazuki

A traditional set of three large sake cups.

In Japanese: 三組杯


The action which was taken by the customer of a courtesan to pay off her debts during the Edo period. It was a legal way to redeem her so that she no longer needed to work as a courtesan.

In Japanese: 身請

Miura ďsuke

==> Miura Yoshiaki

In Japanese: 三浦大介

Miura ďsuke Yoshiaki

==> Miura Yoshiaki

In Japanese: 三浦大介義明

Miura Yoshiaki

Miura Yoshiaki (1092 (?) ~ 1180) was a bush˘ and the leader of the Miura Clan and master of the Kinugasa Castle in the province of Sagami. His tsűsh˘ was ďsuke and he was also called Miura ďsuke or Miura ďsuke Yoshiaki.

In Japanese: 三浦義明

Miura Yoshimura

Miura Yoshimura (??? ~ 1239) was a samurai at the service of the Kamakura Shogunate. He killed his own brother Miura Taneyoshi, who had rebelled against H˘j˘ Yoshitoki, on a battlefield in 1221.

In Japanese: 三浦義村


The Miura Clan. One of the branch families descended from the Heike Clan. The Miura Clan supported Minamoto no Yoritomo in the foundation of the Kamakura Shogunate. They were later annihilated by Hojo Tokiyori in 1247.[more details].

In Japanese: 三浦氏

Miuraya Komurasaki

"[..] the leading courtesan Of the Great Miura, whose name appears in many of the "Who's Who Among Courtesans" from 1674 to 1681. She had certain detractors and was criticized for having a local lover, "a violation of the courtesans' code of conduct." The writers of Hitotabane (ca. 1680) and Akutagawa (1681) were particularly vituperative and described her as "licentious," "conceited," "lame of one leg," or "a disgrace." How she was able to attain her ranking of tayű is puzzling, therefore, but she was evidently high-spirited and outstandingly beautiful" (Cecilia Segawa Seigle in "Yoshiwara: The Glittering World of the Japanese Courtesan").

In Japanese: 三浦屋小紫


This term can roughly be translated as "selling oneĺs body". In the Edo period, it was not uncommon for a woman or a daughter to sell herself to a brothel in order to help her family (either merchants or samurais) in difficult times. This is a common element in many Kabuki plots.

"Ces moyens extrŕmes sont moins ressentis comme infamants que comme dÚcisions hÚro´ques permettant de satisfaire jusqu'au bout aux vertus cardinales de la morale confucÚenne : respect du pŔre et du mari" (Pierre Faure in "Le Kabuki et ses Úcrivains")

In Japanese: 身売り


The first name of the Kanda Gekij˘, from 1891 to 1915.

In Japanese: 三崎座


Mishima-juku or Mishima-shuku. The 11th (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 113.5 km from Edo and 377.7 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 三島宿

Mishima Kabuki

Kabuki dramas written by the writer Mishima Yukio (1925-1970). The two most famous ones are "Iwashi Uri Koi no Hikiami" (1954) and "Chinsetsu Yumihari-zuki" (1969).

In Japanese: 三島歌舞伎


Gift; present; souvenir.

In Japanese: 土産

Miyaji Shibai

Kabuki performances stages in the precincts of temples or shrines.

In Japanese: 宮地芝居


Miya-juku or Miya-shuku. The 41st (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 350.2 km from Edo and 141 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 宮宿


Miyagawa-ch˘ is a famous hanamachi in Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 宮川町


The Miyato River. The old name of the Sumida River.

In Japanese: 宮戸川


One school of music in Kamigata, which was created by a disciple of Miyakoji Sonohachi, who was himself a disciple of Miyakoji Bungonoj˘. He took the name of Miyazono Sonohachi in 1762 and held it up to 1766, when he became Miyazono Ranb˘ken. This style is also called Sonohachi.

In Japanese: 宮薗


Guild name (yag˘) for the actor Kamimura Kichiya.

In Japanese: 美吉屋


A scene in a Kabuki drama in which the hero uses real water on stage, immersing himself in a barrel or a big bucket full of water. The best example is the mizuiri scene of "Sukeroku".

In Japanese: 水入り


A traditional rice cake.

In Japanese:


Prince Mochihito (1151 ~ 1180). Son of Emperor Goshirakawa, he had an important role in starting the Genpei War. He was also called Takakura-no-Miya or Sanj˘-no-Miya [more details].

In Japanese: 以仁王


The move from bad to good for a character, a villain at the beginning of the play who repents of all his bad deeds at the end. Committing ritual suicide or mortally wounded by a character on the good side, he reveals to the audience that he has secretly accomplished some good deeds leading to the salvation of the heroes of the play. He dies as a noble-hearted character. The best example is Igami no Gonta in the "Sushiya" scene of the classic "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura".

In Japanese: 戻り


The Modori Bridge. A famous bridge in Ky˘to, located on Ichij˘ and built above the Hori River. It was first built in 794 in Heian-ky˘, present-day Ky˘to. There was a legend related to this bridge: Watanabe Genji Tsuna, one of the shitenn˘ at the service of Minamoto no Yorimitsu, came at the Modori Bridge at midnight and saw a beautiful woman standing there who asked him to take her home as she was scared to return home alone late at night. Although he considered her behaviour suspicious, he accepted and let her on his horse. Then the woman suddenly transformed herself into a demon and grabbed Watanabe Tsuna's hair and flew away with him toward Mt. Atago. Watanabe Tsuna was able to escape by cutting the demon's arm off with his sword. He kept the demon's arm at his home, but a second legend said that the demon recovered it by disguising himself as Watanabe Tsuna's mother-in-law. The first legend was the subject of the dance-drama "Modoribashi". The second legend was used for the dance-drama "Ibaraki". Nowadays, the Modori Bridge, which was rebuilt in 1995, is located in the Kamigy˘ Ward.

In Japanese: 戻橋


A blind official, member of the T˘d˘za, who specialized as a musician, a masseur or acupuncturist.

In Japanese: 盲官


The maple leaves in Autumn.

In Japanese: 紅葉



In Japanese: 盲目


A family blazon.

In Japanese:


Mongaku (1139 ~ 1203) was the buddhist name of the warrior End˘ Morit˘. He was a famous priest of the Shingon school. He was also called Mongaku J˘nin (Saint Mongaku). He was said to turn to religion after having accidentally killed his lover Kesa Gozen (this story was integrated in some Kabuki plays or dance-dramas). Exiled in Izu in 1180, he met the head of the Genji clan Minamoto no Yoritomo and incited him to revolt against the Heike.

In Japanese: 文覚

Monju Bosatsu

Manju Bosatsu is in Japanese the bodhisattva Manjusri associated with transcendent wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism [more details].

In Japanese: 文殊菩薩


An old Japanese unit of mass. Then, a silver monetary unit. "During the Edo period, the Tokugawa Shogunate government employed a tri-metallic monetary system based on gold, silver, and copper coins. Gold coins had face values based on the quaternary system, with the denomination of one koban gold coin being set at 1 ry˘, equivalent to 4 bu and to 16 shu, while silver coins were traded by weight with monme used as the basic unit of 1 monme, equivalent to 3.75 grams. Finally, one copper coin had the denomination of 1 mon." [more details].

In Japanese:

Mononobe Moriya

Mononobe no Moriya was a high-ranking noble and the head of the Mononobe Clan during the Asuka period. As he was a devoted opponent of Buddhism, his fortunes turned when Emperor Y˘mei became Buddhist. Following the death of Emperor Y˘mei in 587, Mononobe's party and his rival Soga no Umako's party each sought to influence the succession. Mononobe no Moriya was killed in battle in 587. He was credited with setting fire to the first Buddhist temples in Japan [more details].

In Japanese: 物部守屋


The Mononobe Clan. It was known for its military opposition to the Soga Clan. The clan was defeated in 587 and disappeared with the death of his final ruler Mononobe no Moriya [more details].

In Japanese: 物部氏


An important scene in a Kabuki drama in which the leading character tells the story of past events, with words or in mime, using only his fan to describe some actions. A famous example of monogatari is the one made by the warrior Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori in the "Sanemori Monogatari" scene of the epic drama "Genpei Nunobiki no Taki".

In Japanese: 物語


Kabuki dance or drama in which the leading character is a street peddler, selling for example moxa ("Uir˘ Uri"), dumpling ("Dango Uri"), fermented soja ("Natt˘ Uri") or Bonito ("Katsuo Uri").

In Japanese: 物売物

Mon Yaburi


In Japanese: 門破り


Temple town; the neighbourhood around a temple.

In Japanese: 門前

Morikawa Chikashige

Morikawa Chikashige was an ukiyoeshi of the Meiji era, who was active between 1869 and 1882. Little is known about this artist. He was a disciple of Toyohara Kunichika and his real name was Morikawa Otojir˘.

In Japanese: 守川周重


==> Tsukudajima

In Japanese: 森島 | 森嶋


One of the 3 most famous Edo theaters (Edo Sanza) [more details].

In Japanese: 守田座 (森田座)

Moriyoshi Shinn˘

Prince Moriyoshi. Also called Prince Morinaga or ďt˘-no-Miya. Born in 1308, he was the son of Emperor Godaigo. He was accused by Ashikaga Takauji of a plot to overthrow his father, imprisoned in Kamakura and beheaded the 12th of August 1335 [more details].

In Japanese: 護良親王


The old word for China in Japanese during the Edo period.

In Japanese: 唐土


A boss, a manager.

In Japanese: 元締め

Motoyoshi Shir˘

==> Fujiwara Takahira

In Japanese: 本吉四郎


A traditional paper string used to tie the topknot of a chonmage hairstyle. Another possible and common reading for this word is mottoi.

"In ancient times, a braided cord or hemp string was used, but during the Edo period a type of paper string called a mizuhiki began to be used for tying the topknots. Motoyui were made in a long process that involved braiding thin strips of paper together, drying them in the sun, polishing them with rice powder and finally giving them a lustrous finish using glutinous-rice powder. Motoyui were once essential everyday items and what's more were only used once. Even today when tying hair in the traditional Japanese hairstyle the hair is said to not sit properly without a motoyui." (source: Ishikawa prefecture website)

In Japanese: 元結


A shop making and selling motoyui.

In Japanese: 元結屋

Mugen no Kane

The legendary Bell of Hell. The person who strikes this bell becomes immensely rich in this world but will go directly to hell after his/her death to suffer eternally. In Kabuki, many dances were created based on this legend and in association with the world of courtesans, always desperately helping their lover in need of money and ready to sacrifice themselves by striking the Bell of Hell. Nowadays, the only surviving mugen no kane scene is part of one act of the epic drama "Hirakana Seisuiki", commonly called "Mugen no Kane" or "Kanzaki Ageya".

In Japanese: 無限の鐘


Muj˘ means uncertainty or impermanence and mon means gate. In the Edo period, it was a gate normally closed and used only for funeral on the mansion of the daimy˘.

In Japanese: 無常門


An old and important district in the province of Settsu.

In Japanese: 武庫


It literally means "the island on the other side". Muk˘jima is located on the opposite bank of the Sumida River from Asakusa. In the Edo period, rice was cropped and gold fish were raised in Muk˘jima. There were many second houses for the feudal lords. Nowadays, it is also famous for its 650 cherry blossom trees blooming in spring on the banks of the Sumida River.

In Japanese: 向島

Muk˘ Ry˘goku

A popular entertainment district in Edo.

In Japanese: 向両国

Mura Musume

==> inaka musume

In Japanese: 村娘

Muramatsu Hidenao

Muramatsu Hidenao (1642~1703) was one of the shijűshichishi. His tsűsh˘ was Kihŕ.

In Japanese: 村松秀直

Muramatsu Kihŕ

==> Muramatsu Hidenao

In Japanese: 村松喜兵衛

Muramatsu Kihŕ Hidenao

==> Muramatsu Hidenao

In Japanese: 村松喜兵衛秀直

Muramatsu Sandayű

==> Muramatsu Takanao

In Japanese: 村松三太夫

Muramatsu Sandayű Takanao

==> Muramatsu Takanao

In Japanese: 村松三太夫高直

Muramatsu Takanao

Muramatsu Takanao (1677~1703) was one of the shijűshichishi. His tsűsh˘ was Sandayű.

In Japanese: 村松高直

Muromachi Jidai

The Muromachi era. A period of Japanese history that marks the governance of Japan by the Ashikaga Shogunate, officially established in 1338 in Ky˘to by Ashikaga Takauji, the first Ashikaga Sh˘gun. It ended in 1573 when Ashikaga Yoshiaki, the 15th and last Ashikaga Sh˘gun, was driven out of Ky˘to by the warlord Oda Nobunaga [more details].

In Japanese: 室町時代


Murotsu was a harbor city in the province of Harima with a long history (around 1300 years). It is nowadays part of the city of Tatsuno in the Hy˘go Prefecture [Muro Harbor in Harima Province].

In Japanese: 室津


A very prestigious rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: unequaled.

In Japanese: 無類


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to T˘ky˘ Metropolis, most of Saitama Prefecture and part of Kanagawa Prefecture. It was also called Bushű [more details].

In Japanese: 武蔵

Musashi Abumi

Literally the 'Musashi Stirrups'. It was a hy˘banki published in Ky˘to in the 1st lunar month 1699.

In Japanese: むさし鐙


Leprosy; Hansenĺs disease. The expression raiby˘ is no more used as it was considered to be discriminatory.

In Japanese: 筵小屋


Insect peddler (esp. fireflies and suzumushi).

In Japanese: 虫売


Literally "without lodging". A vagrant, a homeless person. During the Edo period, the mushuku were people whose names has been removed from the family register and were excluded from lawful social activities. Some mushuku were also ex-convict released from jail.

In Japanese: 無宿


A daughter.

In Japanese:


An actor specialized in musume roles.

In Japanese: 娘方

Mutsu Shir˘

==> Minamoto Tameyoshi

In Japanese: 陸奥四郎

My˘jin T˘ge

My˘jin Pass. A pass at 900m on Mount Mikuniyama, at the border between the prefectures of Kanagawa, Yamanashi and Shizuoka.

In Japanese: 明神峠

Nadai (1)

Special actor status setup during the Meiji era and awarded to actors who were considered by their elders as "fully-fledged", enabling them to play more significant roles. Nowadays, it is a very difficult exam for Kabuki actors, in theory mandatory for the stars' sons but some do not care (need) to take the exam, open to actors after 10 years of training and stage appearance.

"There are three ranks of nadai: ˘nadai, chűnadai and hiranadai (major nadai, middle nadai and ordinary nadai). Major Kabuki roles are played by ˘nadai, while the supporting roles are played by chűnadai. The kind of roles an actor plays is determined by the status of his family. The actors who play the main roles, the ˘nadai, are the bosses of the Kabuki world; [...] The chűnadai are below them in rank, and then the hiranadai. Although there is no formal way of separating these ranks, this is the way that actors think about the status of Kabuki actors." (Nakamura Mataz˘ in "Kabuki Backstage, Onstage")

The minor actors who are not nadai are called nadaishita ("below nadai") and make up the bottom league of Kabuki actors.

In Japanese: 名題

Nadai (2)

In the Edo period, a nadai was the owner of the right to organize Kabuki performances in Kamigata. Just like the zamoto in Edo, the circle of nadai in Ky˘to or ďsaka was limited to a few families, who transmitted their names and rights from father to (adopted) son, especially in Ky˘to. Here are a few names: Shioya Kuroemon (ďsaka), ďsaka Kuzaemon (ďsaka), ďsaka Tazaemon (ďsaka), Fukunaga Tazaemon (ďsaka), Matsumoto Nazaemon (ďsaka), Miyako Mandayű (Ky˘to), Hoteiya Umenoj˘ (Ky˘to), Hayagumo Ch˘dayű (Ky˘to), Kameya Kumenoj˘ (Ky˘to) and Ebisuya Kichir˘bŕ (Ky˘to).

In Japanese: 名代


Traditional long trailing hakama (trousers).

In Japanese: 長袴


An old district name in ďsaka. During the Edo period, this district was a shukuba. It was renamed Nipponbashi from 1792.

In Japanese: 長町

Nagara Zutsumi

The Nagara Embankment on the Yodo River in ďsaka. It used to be on the Old Yodo River, not nowadays Yodo River. Nagara is also the name of a district in the Kita Ward of the City of ďsaka.

In Japanese: 長柄堤


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the prefecture of Yamaguchi. It was also called Ch˘shű [more details].

In Japanese: 長州


Literally "long song". One of the most important schools of traditional music:

"When the shamisen was first used in the Kabuki, probably sometime before 1650, the music played was a type of Kouta. These short songs, however, were found to be insufficient for the extended dances that were being developed. Longer pieces were written, and by around 1740 a new, mature form of Nagauta was created which had all the lyricism of the shorter forms plus the sustaining power of the more narrative music. After the time of the first Kineya Kisabur˘ (early eighteenth century), many of the earlier forms of Kabuki music and the older styles of Nagauta were absorbed into this one form. The fame of Nagauta and the Kineya clan of musicians spread side by side through all the theatres." (William Malm in "Japanese Music and Musical Instruments")

"Nagauta was created entirely to meet the requirements of the Kabuki theatre and became a musical style which served a number of purposes on the stage. A notable feature of its development lay in the fact that it received a great deal of inspiration from the music of the theatre and the y˘kyoku, vocal music of the , was adopted into Nagauta, but was used with the shamisen, an instrument completely foreign to the orchestra. The latter, known as hayashi, consisted of kan or flute, taiko, a drum beaten with two sticks, kotsuzumi, a small drum played on the shoulder, and ˘tsuzumi, a slightly larger drum played at the waist. These instruments were taken into the orchestra with the shamisen and the special music they gave rise to marks Nagauta apart from all other styles. Nagauta may be described as the general purpose music of the Kabuki theatre. It is popular for dance plays but it serves many other needs as well." (A. C. Scott in "The Kabuki Theatre of Japan")

In Japanese: 長唄


A type of rowhouse divided into small units for rent during the Edo period [more details].

In Japanese: 長屋


A traditional Japanese weapon, which looks like a halberd. The traditional weapon for ashigaru or warrior monks.

In Japanese: 薙刀


==> Owari-han

In Japanese: 名古屋藩


The Nagoya Castle. This important castle was constructed by the Owari Domain in 1612 during the Edo period on the site of an earlier and smaller castle belonging the Oda clan and built during the Sengoku period. Nagoya Castle was the heart of Nagoya-juku, the important post station of Nagoya on the Minoji road linking two of the important Edo Five Routes, the T˘kaid˘ and the Nakasend˘. Nagoya Castle was destroyed in 1945 during the bombing of Nagoya in World War II. It is nicknamed Meij˘ or Kinj˘ (literally the golden castle) [more details].

In Japanese: 名古屋城

Naimaze Ky˘gen

A Kabuki drama which twists together separate narrative strands belonging to different sekai.

In Japanese: 綯交ぜ狂言


Literally an Inside Samurai. It was a female official post in medieval Japan. It was the title of all the court ladies serving in an office named Naishi no Tsukasa in the women's quarters of the Imperial Palace. The title was also used for shrine maiden in some Shint˘ shrines like the Ise Shrine or the Itsukushima Shrine.

In Japanese: 内侍


A low rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: middle class. The word naka means centrum, center, midpoint, inside, middle ... and also averageness or mediocrity!

In Japanese:


It literally means centrum, center, midpoint, inside or middle. This is the middle scene of a 3-scene act in the puppet theater (Bunraku).

In Japanese:


A waitress.

In Japanese: 仲居


A fellow, a companion, an associate, a comrade, a footman, a partner, ...

In Japanese: 仲間

Nakamura Hanjir˘

==> Kirino Toshiaki

In Japanese: 中村半次郎

Nakamura Jirokichi

Nakamura Jirokichi (1797~1831) was a famous Edo thief. In 1822, he was caught, tattooed and banished from Edo. He was captured again in 1831 and confessed to the burglary of over 100 samurai estates. He was tied to a horse and paraded in public before being beheaded at the Suzu-ga-Mori execution grounds. So many pilgrims chip away pieces of his tombstone for charms that substitute stones have had to be constructed since shortly after his death. He was nicknamed Nezumi Koz˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 仲村次郎吉


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke.

In Japanese: 中村屋


One of the 3 most famous Edo theaters (Edo Sanza) [more details].

In Japanese: 中村座


Nakanoch˘ was the main street in Yoshiwara, along which were many brothels.

In Japanese: 仲の町


An intermediate rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: superior in the middle class.

In Japanese: 中ノ上


An intermediate rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: superior - superior in the middle class.

In Japanese: 中ノ上上


An intermediate rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: middle in the middle class.

In Japanese: 中ノ中


An alternate trade route to the T˘kaid˘, running from Nihonbashi in Edo to Sanj˘ ďhashi in Ky˘to. This road was 534 km long and there were 69 Stations [more details].

In Japanese: 中山道

Nakatomi Kamatari

==> Fujiwara no Kamatari

In Japanese: 中臣鎌足


The Nameri river. A river flowing in Kamakura, from the Asaina Pass in northern Kamakura to the beach in Yuigahama [more details].

In Japanese: 滑川

Nanbokuch˘ Jidai

Literally "Southern and Northern courts period". During this period, there existed a Northern Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Ky˘to, and a Southern Imperial Court, established by Emperor Godaigo in Yoshino. This period started in 1336 and ended in 1392. During this period, there were 6 emperors at the Northern Imperial Court and 4 emperors at the Southern Imperial Court. The Northern Imperial Court, under the control of the Ashikaga clan, won the war. This period was the beginning of the Muromachi Shogunate [more details].

In Japanese: 南北朝時代


The Southern Imperial Court of the Nanbokuch˘ period [more details].

In Japanese: 南朝


The old name of ďsaka.

In Japanese: 浪速 / 難波 / 浪花

Naniwa Tachigiki Mukashi Banashi

An actor hy˘banki published in ďsaka in the 11th lunar month of 1686.

In Japanese: 難波立聞昔語


The Nanzenji is an important Zen Buddhist temple in Ky˘to, which was established in 1291 [more details].

In Japanese: 南禅寺


A buddhist temple located in the 1st district of Takada in the Toshima Ward in T˘ky˘. It was oringally built during the Muromachi period.

In Japanese: 南蔵院


Literally the honest samurai. This was the nickname of Kataoka Naojir˘ (1793~1832), who started his career in evil as doing menial offences and ended as an Edo outlaw. He was one of the 6 tenp˘ rokkasen.

In Japanese: 直侍

Nara Jidai

The Nara Period of the history of Japan, from AD 710 to 794 [more details].

In Japanese: 奈良時代

Nara Kaid˘

An old highway in Japan linking ďsaka to Nara through Makioka and Ikoma.

In Japanese: 奈良街道


A port in the province of Tango.

In Japanese: 成合


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Baijaku, Nakamura Kotar˘, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Fukunosuke, Nakamura Utanosuke, Nakamura Toranosuke, Nakamura Jűjir˘, Nakamura Baika, Nakamura Kamenoj˘, Nakamura Shinobu and Nakamura Sennoj˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 成駒屋


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Kudanji, Ichikawa Shinjűr˘ and Ichikawa Shinz˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 成田屋


A buddhist temple office (for receiving offerings or donations).

In Japanese: 納所


The Nasuno Heath, a wild and volcanic region on the border between today's prefectures of Tochigi and Fukushima.

In Japanese: 那須野原

Natori Shunsen

Natori Shunsen (1886~1960) was was a 20th century ukiyoeshi, who was considered by many to be the last master in the art of yakushae. His real name was Natori Yoshinosuke [more details].

In Japanese: 名取春仙


Summer in Japanese.

In Japanese:

Natsu Ky˘gen

Literally "summer play". Kabuki dramas staged in summer during the Edo period. Most of the stars were not casted because of the hot weather. They were either off or on tour in Ise, Miyajima or any other cooler place. These summer productions allow young actors to perform leading roles. It was also a good opportunity to feature midair stunts (keren), ghost stories (kaidanmono) and real water (honmizu). The members of the audience used to welcome ghosts or water on stage to cool themselves down. In addition to this cooling effect, ghost plays were also staged in summer because it was the season of the famous Bon festival celebrating the annual return of the departed souls. "Yotsuya Kaidan", "Tenjiku Tokubŕ" or "Okuni Gozen" are good examples of natsu ky˘gen.

In Japanese: 夏狂言


A path between paddies.

In Japanese:


One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). Ne is the sign of the rat. Other possible reading: shi. The month of the rat is the 11th lunar month. There are 5 rat days in the 60 days of the traditional Japanese sexagenary cycle: the 1st, 13th, 25th, 37th & 49th days. The hour of the rat (worth 2 hours in our time system) starts at midnight.

In Japanese:


Negishi, also known locally as Uguisudani, was a village located six kilometers north of Nihonbashi, the bridge which was considered as the center of Edo. As it was close to the Sumida River, the pleasure quarter of Yoshiwara, the districts of Asakusa, Honjo and Ueno, Negishi became a famous place for artistic retirement or retreat.

In Japanese: 根岸


A cat.

In Japanese:

Neko S˘d˘

A family dispute (s˘d˘) and a cat (neko). The cat is always a demon cat with magical powers, which took possession of one human, hiding his real identity during day time and transforming into a monster evil cat at night.

In Japanese: 猫騒動


Kabuki or puppet dramas dealing with neko s˘d˘.

In Japanese: 猫騒動物


Nene (1546~1624) was the principal wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. She was also known by the title of Kita-no-Mandokoro. Her childhood name was Sugihara Yasuko. When Hideyoshi died, she became a Buddhist nun and took the name of K˘daiin [more details].

In Japanese: ねね


A rat, a mouse.

In Japanese:

Nezumi Koz˘

Literally "the mouse kid". It was the nickname of the Edo thief Nakamura Jirokichi (1797~1832).

In Japanese: 鼠小僧


Rat poison.

In Japanese: 鼠取薬

Nezumitori-gusuri Uri

A (street) seller of rat poison (nezumitori-gusuri).

In Japanese: 鼠取薬売


The second section of a Kabuki program during the Edo period [more details].

Nibanme has also the meaning of sewamono.

Synonyms: nibanmemono, nibanme ky˘gen.

In Japanese: 二番目


The 2nd generation; the 2nd holder of a name; the 2nd actor in a lineage.

In Japanese: 二代目


Nigatsud˘ is one of the important structures of the T˘daiji temple in Nara. It is on the hillside of Mount Wakakusa [more details].

In Japanese: 二月堂

Nihon Zutsumi

The Nihon Embankment. One of the 100 famous views in Edo.
"The traveller could get to the Yoshiwara overland, but the most common way was to be taken by boat, alight at the San'ya Ditch, then walk or be carried to the Great Gateway along a pathway called the Nihon Embankment; originally nihon was written to mean 'two paths', denoting that it need not be trodden single file, but this was later rewritten with the meaning 'Japan'. The embankment was raised above marshland, with water visible on either side, on clear nights reflecting the moon (the planet of yin). The traveller then turned left and went down a hill called Clothing Slope (Emon-zaka) into the lower, wetter world of the well-clad female, finally crossing into the moated Yoshiwara across more water. It was conventional to depict the Nihon Embankment not only in moonlight (which is how it would have been viewed, since the quarter was only visited by night) but also in the rain - that is, sodden with the elementary force of the yin."
(Timon Screech in "Sex and the floating world: erotic images in Japan, 1700-1820")

In Japanese: 日本堤


The Nihonbashi River. A 4,8 km river flowing in Central T˘ky˘. It is a distributary of the Kanda River which flows into the Sumida River near the Eitai Bridge [more details].

In Japanese: 日本橋川


Nij˘ Castle was built in Ky˘to. In 1601, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered all the feudal lords in Western Japan to contribute to the construction of a new castle, which was completed in 1626, during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu [more details].

In Japanese: 二条城

Nikai tokoyama

Literally "second floor hairdresser". Hairdresser specialized in female roles wigs.

In Japanese: 二階床山


Actor specialized in the roles of handsome and refined young lovers, often performed in the wagoto style.

In Japanese: 二枚目

Nimaime Sakusha

A second-ranking playwright (sakusha).

In Japanese: 二枚目作者


A porter; a luggage bearer.

In Japanese: 荷持


A way of acting which imitates the exaggerated motions of the puppets. A stage assistant, dressed as a puppeteer, is behind the actor and gives the illusion that he is handling the puppet.

In Japanese: 人形振り

Ningy˘ J˘ruri

The fusion of two arts into one: puppetry (ningy˘ or ningy˘ shibai) and chanted narrative (j˘ruri). It is also commonly called Bunraku.

In Japanese: 人形浄瑠璃


The human feelings [=> giri/ninj˘].

In Japanese: 人情


A genre of illustrated romantic fiction in 19th century Japan.

In Japanese: 人情本


Literally human-interest drama. A sewamono Kabuki play full of ninj˘.

In Japanese: 人情物


Literally the "second change". The new year program in ďsaka and Ky˘to during the 18th century. It was the second program produced after the kaomise. The title usually started with the word keisei, as a veiled reference to the old days shimabara ky˘gen.

In Japanese: 二の替り

Ninsoku Yoseba

"A special facility for criminals regarded as capable of rehabilitation. The ninsoku yoseba was opened in 1790 at the recommendation of [...] Hasegawa Heiz˘ Ś who was also its first director Ś and the approval of [...] Matsudaira Sadanobu. Its inmates were those convicted of minor crimes, as well as mushuku, people whose names had been removed from the family register and were excluded from lawful social activities (including people who had been banished for earlier crimes). At the ninsoku yoseba, these people received lessons in ethics and vocational training of various types. Moreover, the inmates were actually paid for the products of their labors, a practice virtually unheard of at the time" [more details].

In Japanese: 人足寄場

Nippon Daemon

A famous thief in Kabuki (most notably "Shiranami Gonin Otoko"). This role was modelled on the real thief Nippon Saemon.

In Japanese: 日本駄右衛門

Nippon Saemon

A notorious thief, born in 1719 and executed in 1747. He was the leader of a gang with more than 200 thieves, who were active mainly in the ďmi province, around the T˘kaid˘. He was the model for the Kabuki thief Nippon Daemon.

In Japanese: 日本左衛門


Kabuki dramas whose main character is the larger-than-life thief Nippon Daemon. The best examples are "Shiranami Gonin Otoko" or "Akiba Gongen".

In Japanese: 日本駄右衛門物

Nirami no Mie

This is the traditional mie of the Ichikawa clan, which is used in important k˘j˘ (shűmei). The word nirami comes from the verb niramu, which means "to glare at". At the beginning, Kamigata katakiyaku actors used to glare to the audience with eyes rolling over in their sockets. Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I decided to use this technique for himself when he was on tour in Ky˘to in 1693/1694. Here is the method for a nirami no mie: the actor has to remove one arm from his outer sleeves, take with his left hand a small wooden tray holding a ceremonial scroll, close the fist of his right hand and put it on his chest, rest one knee on the ceremonial red carpet, then strike his terrifying glaring mie at the audience. It is said that if you can catch the actor eyes, you won't catch any cold during the coming year.

In Japanese: にらみの見得

Nishi ďr˘

==> Denmach˘ R˘yashiki

In Japanese: 西大牢

Nishikido Tar˘

==> Fujiwara Kunihira

In Japanese: 西木戸太郎 | 西城戸太郎 | 錦戸太郎

Nishiki Yoten

One of the five main yoten costumes. The nishiki yoten is an upper class warrior and his costume is a rich gold brocade. The most lavish of the yoten designs, it is fringed with a heavy ropelike gold braid that sways furiously when he executes a step. A good example of nishiki yoten is Sat˘ Masakiyo in "Ehon Taik˘ki".

In Japanese: 錦四天


==> Hyűga

In Japanese: 日州


The Nitta clan. This clan rose to importance in the early 13th century and they controlled the province of K˘zuke. They supported the Southern Imperial Court (nanch˘) during the Nanbokuch˘ period [more details].

In Japanese: 新田氏

Nitta Shir˘

==> Nitta Tadatsune

In Japanese: 仁田四郎

Nitta Shir˘ Tadatsune

==> Nitta Tadatsune

In Japanese: 仁田四郎忠常

Nitta Tadatsune

Nitta Tadatsune (1167~1203) was a bush˘ of the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura era. His tsűsh˘ was Shir˘.

In Japanese: 仁田忠常

Nitta Yoshioki

Nitta Yoshioki (1305~1358) was a warlord of the Nitta clan who fought for the Southern Imperial Court (nanch˘) in the Nanbokuch˘ period [more details].

In Japanese: 新田義興


N˘ is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 13th century. The ideogram for means "skill" or "talent". It is written Noh in most of western books but we do prefer N˘ [more details].

In Japanese:


A wandering warrior.

In Japanese: 野武士


A Kabuki drama created and directed by Noda Hideki. It can be a revised version of a Kabuki classic ("Nezumi Koz˘", "Togitatsu no Utare") or a newly-created Kabuki drama based on Verdi's opera "Aida" (2008).

In Japanese: 野田版


A flea.

In Japanese:


A traditional y˘kai which is a faceless ghost [more details].

In Japanese: のっぺらぼう


Old province, which corresponds grosso modo to the central and southern part of the current prefecture of Gifu. It was also called Mino.

In Japanese: 濃洲


Old province in Japan, which grosso modo corresponds to the northern part of the Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan, including the Noto Peninsula. It was also called Noto [more details].

In Japanese: 能州


Old province in Japan, which grosso modo corresponds to the northern part of the Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan, including the Noto Peninsula. It was also called N˘shű [more details].

In Japanese: 能登

Noto-no-Kami Noritsune

==> Taira Noritsune

In Japanese: 能登守教経


A drama adapted for Kabuki.

In Japanese: 能取物


The village of Nozaki in the province of Kawachi during the Edo period. It is now a district of the city of Dait˘, a suburb of ďsaka.

In Japanese: 野崎村


Skull and bones in a field; a skull lying on the ground under tall grass. A famous motif (cloth pattern or tattoo) during the Edo period.

In Japanese: 野晒

Nunobiki no Taki

The Nunobiki Falls. A set of waterfalls near downtown K˘be. The Nunobiki Falls are considered as one of the greatest "Divine Falls" [more details|A print at the British Museum].

In Japanese: 布引の滝


Nuno-zarashi is not the name of a particular dance, but rather a technique seen in Kabuki and traditional Japanese dance, which involves the waving about of two long strips of cloth in the air so as not to let them touch the ground. The performer usually wears high geta clogs. It is based on the idea of women washing cloth and then bleaching it in the sun, hence nuno (Ĺclothĺ), and sarasu (Ĺto expose to the airĺ). This technique is seen, for example, in the 18th century onnagata dance "Sarashi Sanbas˘" and in such 19th century works as "Sarashime" (also called "ďmi no Okane") and "Echigo Jishi".
(P. Griffith 8/2012)

In Japanese: 布晒し


A love scene in a Kabuki drama.

In Japanese: 濡れ場


Synonymous with nureba; style and techniques used by an actor portraying either a young man or a young woman in a love scene (nureba).

"The word for love scene in the Kabuki is nuregoto, which means, literally, "moist business". In a curtain speech at the Ichimuraza in Edo just after permission to erect a roof had been received, the leading actor said, 'Hereafter we will not do any more love scenes (nuregoto), for we have received permission to put up a roof." (Earle Ernst in "The Kabuki Theatre")

In Japanese: 濡れ事


A thief.

In Japanese: 盗人


A wife role.

In Japanese: 女房

Nyogo no Shima

Literally the women-protecting island. An imaginary island in Japanese legends said to be populated only with women. A man setting foot on this island was not able to return easily in Japan as he was claimed by the women living on the island. Another possible reading is Nyogo-ga-Shima.

In Japanese: 女護島


Literally lay monk. It not only referred to monks and priests who took the vows and shaved their head but also to members of the Emperor's family and the nobility, when they took the tonsure and used Buddhist robes. Many famous daimy˘ or rulers of Japan became also nyűd˘. The most famous example was Taira no Kiyomori who was also called Kiyomori Nyűd˘, the nyűd˘ Kiyomori.

"Sometimes the boundaries between warriors, nobles, and priests became blurred. When Kamakura served as Japan's capital, courtiers from Ky˘to mingled freely with the nation's military rulers, who in turn appointed an imperial prince as shogun. After the capital shifted to Ky˘to in 1336, marriages between members of warrior and aristocratic families became more frequent. Distinctions were shaded in another way by those who combined the roles of warrior and priest, or noble and priest, or noble and warrior. Not only did warriors like Akamatsu [i.e., Dait˘'s uncle, Akamatsu Norimura, 1277Ś1350] call themselves lay monks (nyűd˘), but the monks of several temples actually bore arms and affected the military balance. Emperors who took Buddhist vows and other aristocratic renunciants exemplified the noble-priest combination" (Kenneth Kraft in "Eloquent Zen: Dait˘ and Early Japanese Zen").

In Japanese: 入道

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