Stage names:

Nakamura Jakuemon IV In Japanese
ďtani Tomoemon VII In Japanese
ďtani Hirotar˘ I In Japanese

Real name: Aoki Kiyoharu

Guilds: Ky˘ya, Akashiya

Line number: YODAIME (IV)

Existence: 20 August 1920 ~ 23 February 2012


Grandfather: Nakamura Sagisuke II

Father: ďtani Tomoemon VI

Father-in-law: Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VII

Sons: ďtani Tomoemon VIII, Nakamura Jakuemon V

Grandsons: ďtani Hirotar˘ III, ďtani Hiromatsu II

Disciples: Nakamura Ky˘z˘, Nakamura Ky˘emon, Nakamura Ky˘ka, Nakamura Ky˘tae, Nakamura Ky˘zabur˘, Nakamura Ky˘gor˘, Nakamura Ky˘shi, Nakamura Ky˘nosuke


December 1927: he made his first appearance on stage at the Ichimuraza, receiving the name of ďtani Hirotar˘ I.

March 1948: ďtani Hirotar˘ I took the name of ďtani Tomoemon VII at the T˘ky˘ Gekij˘, performing in the drama "Suma no Miyako Genpei Tsutsuji".

May 1949: premiere at the T˘ky˘ Gekij˘ of the dance-drama "Higaki"; Tomoemon played the role of Ono no Komachi [casting].

December 1949: Chikamatsu Monzaemon's drama "Ikutama Shinjű" was revived at the Mitsukoshi Gekij˘, using a new script written by Uno Nobuo; Tomoemon played the role of Kashiwaya Osaga [more details].

1952: Tomoemon played the role of Gohei in Naruse Mikio's movie "Okuni to Gohei"; the role of Okuni was played by the actress Kogure Michiyo.

1954: Tomoemon played the role of Dr. Motaba in Mizoguchi Kenji's movie "Uwasa no Onna" ("A Woman of Rumour"); his movie partner was the famous actress Tanaka Kinuyo.

March 1958: Tomoemon took part in the final Kabuki performance at the ďsaka Kabukiza [more details].

November 1962: revival at the Kabukiza of the drama "Fud˘" [1]; Tomoemon played the role of Chitoseya Miyoshino [more details].

June 1963: premiere at the Kabukiza of Hagiwara Yukio's Nagauta-based dance-drama "ďeyama Shuten D˘ji"; Tomoemon played the role of Wakasa [casting].

September 1964: ďtani Tomoemon VII took the name of Nakamura Jakuemon IV at the Kabukiza, playing the roles of Princess Yuki, Omiwa and Matsutar˘'s wife in the plays "Kinkakuji", "Mikasayama Goten" and "Hitoyo"; in "Kinkakuji", he performed in ningy˘buri style (the puppeteer was Iwai Hanshir˘ X) and his stage partners in the roles of Matsunaga Daizen and Konoshita T˘kichi were Onoe Sh˘roku II and Ichikawa Jukai III; in "Mikasayama Goten", the new Jakuemon shares the stage with Onoe Sh˘roku II (Fukashichi, in reality Kanawa Gor˘ Imakuni), Band˘ Mitsugor˘ VIII (Soga no Iruka), Morita Kan'ya XIV (Motome) and Nakamura Senjaku II (Princess Tachibana).

June 1965: Nakamura Jakuemon IV, Ichikawa Ennosuke III, Sawamura Tanosuke VI and Ichimura Takenoj˘ VI celebrated their shűmei in ďsaka at the ďsaka Shinkabukiza; Jakuemon played the roles of the shiraby˘shi Hanako, Shizuka Gozen and Princess Yaegaki in "Musume D˘j˘ji", "Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata" and "Jusshuk˘"/"Kitsunebi"; his stage partners in "Jusshuk˘" were Kataoka Nizaemon XIII (Katsuyori), Sawamura Tanosuke VI (Nureginu), Arashi Kichisabur˘ VII (Nagao Kenshin), Ichimura Takenoj˘ VI (Shirasuga Rokur˘) and Onoe Kikujir˘ IV (Hara Kobunji); in "Kitsunebi", Princess Yaegaki was performed in ningy˘buri style (the puppeteer was Kataoka Nizaemon XIII).

November 1966: opening ceremony of the National Theatre in T˘ky˘ with the full length performance of the classic "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami"; Jakuemon played the roles of Tatsuta-no-Mae and Yae [casting].

December 1966: second month of the opening ceremony of the National Theatre with the full length performance of the classic "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami"; Jakuemon played the role of Yae [casting].

March 1967: revival at the National Theatre of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "Sakura Hime Azuma Bunsh˘", which was supervised by Gunji Masakatsu; Jakuemon played the roles of Princess Sakura and Fűrin Ohime [casting].

April 1976: revival in 5 acts and 9 scenes at the National Theatre of Namiki Gohei I's drama "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri"; Jakuemon played the roles of Sonoo-no-Kata and Oritsu [casting].

October 1982: premiere at the Kabukiza of the Kiyomoto-based d˘j˘jimono "Bungo D˘j˘ji"; Jakuemon played the role of Kiyohime [casting].

January 1983: revival of "Nanatsu Men" [1] at the National Theatre; Jakuemon played the role of the keisei Akoya [casting].

January 1984: historic revival at the National Theatre of the play "Sankai Nagoya"; Jakuemon played the role of the courtesan Katsuragi [casting].

January 1985: revival at the National Theatre of the drama "Kan U" [1]; Jakuemon played the role of shiraby˘shi Manju, in reality the keisei Akoya, later the concubine ď Bijin [casting].

1991: Jakuemon received the prestigious title of Living National Treasure (Ningen Kokuh˘ in Japanese).

15 December 1992: Jakuemon joined the prestigious Japan Art Academy (Nihon Geijutsuin).

November 2002: the Kabukiza commemorated the 74th anniversary (75th memorial service) of the passing away of Nakamura Jakuemon III; Jakuemon played the prestigious role of Princess Princess Yaegaki in the drama "Jusshuk˘". He was supported by an all-star ensemble: Onoe Kikugor˘ (Katsuyori), Nakamura Shikan (Nureginu), Nakamura Tomijűr˘ (Nagao Kenshin), Ichikawa Danjűr˘ (Shirasuga Rokur˘) and Kataoka Nizaemon (Hara Kobunji).

January 2008: Jakuemon played at the Kabukiza the role of the keisei Ishikawaya Masagoji in the drama "Onna Goemon"; the role of Mashiba Hisayoshi was played by Nakamura Kichiemon II.

February 2008: Jakuemon took part in the k˘j˘ which was staged at the Kabukiza to commemorate the 26th anniversary (27th memorial service) of the passing away of his late father-in-law Matsumoto Haku˘ I.

January 2010: Jakuemon appeared on stage for the last time, in T˘ky˘ at the Kabukiza, where he played the role of the empress in the auspicious dance "Haru no Kotobuki", which was staged to launch the final few months of performances at the Kabukiza before the final closing for rebuilding. Jakuemon being too frail, he danced only the 19th. He was replaced by Nakamura Kaishun the others days.

23 February 2012: Jakuemon passed away from pneumonia at St. Luke's International Hospital in T˘ky˘.


Living National Treasure Nakamura Jakuemon IV was an amazing onnagata actor who played all the most difficult princesses and courtesans roles of the Kabuki repertoire. His favourite roles were Agemaki ("Sukeroku"), Chiyo ("Terakoya"), the shiraby˘shi Hanako ("Musume D˘j˘ji"), Hanjo-no-Mae ("Sumidagawa"), Izayoi ("Izayoi Seishin"), Kasane ("Kasane"), Matsuyama ("Ninin Wankyű"), Okaru ("Chűshingura"), Omiwa ("Imoseyama"), Onoe ("Kagamiyama"), Otatsu ("Natsu Matsuri"), Otoku ("Domo Mata"), Otomi ("Kirare Yosa"), Sagami ("Kumagai Jin'ya"), Princess Taema ("Narukami"), Takiyasha ("Masakado"), Princess Toki ("Kamakura Sandaiki"), Umegawa ("Koi Bikyaku"), Princess Yaegaki ("Honch˘ Nijűshik˘"), Yatsuhashi ("Kagotsurube") and Princess Yuki ("Kinkakuji").

"Jakuemon's Yatsuhashi is the highlight of this production. When the onnagata first tackled the role in 1958 he was coached by Nakamura Utaemon VI (1917~2001), at the time kabuki's foremost onnagata -- a prominence established with his performance of Yatsuhashi in 1947. When Jakuemon played Yatsuhashi for two seasons in 1997, he again received instruction from Utaemon, then on his sickbed. And this month, Jakuemon is taking on Yatsuhashi -- performing this most demanding of roles for 25 consecutive days -- a real feat for an actor in his 80s! Traditionally, it is essential for an onnagata to perform courtesans perfectly. Jakuemon has observed that, for him, an onnagata's performance is a "crystallization" of femininity into something of highly restrained beauty, a process he learned from the late Nakamura Utaemon. In the past decade, since Utaemon retired from the Kabuki stage in 1993, Jakuemon has increasingly characterized his performances, while carefully adhering to the kata (acting patterns) he mastered under Utaemon. Jakuemon's performances are now uniquely his own, warm and sensuous, different from the cool, ethereal beauty of the late Utaemon. Audiences forget his real age as -- thanks to his superb acting and exquisite elocution -- Jakuemon suggests youthfulness and freshness even when performing opposite handsome male leads considerably younger than himself. And, needless to say, this octogenerian keeps himself physically fit by exercising regularly. Jakuemon's Yatsuhashi is the spellbinding achievement of a more than 50-year career and should not be missed." (Sasaguchi Rei about Nakamura Jakuemon IV's performance in the role of Yatsuhashi in the drama "Kagotsurube", which was staged in September 2002 at the Kabukiza)

[1] A drama belonging to the Kabuki Jűhachiban.

Nakamura Jakuemon playing the role of the Wisteria Maiden in the dance "Fuji Musume"
Print courtesy of Paul Binnie (all rights reserved)

Prints & Illustrations

The ďtani Hirotar˘ line of actors

The ďtani Tomoemon line of actors

The Nakamura Jakuemon line of actors

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