Stage names:

Yamashita Ky˘emon I In Japanese
Yamashita Hanzaemon I In Japanese
Yobuka Hanzaemon In Japanese

Other name: Jűkichi

Poetry name: Mott˘ (?)

Line number: SHODAI (I)

Existence: 1652 ~ 18th day of the 1st lunar month of 1717 [1]


Adopted son: Yamashita Kamenoj˘ I

Brother-in-law: Yoshizawa Ayame I (married with Yamashita Ky˘emon I's wife's younger sister)

Son-in-law: Sawamura Ch˘jűr˘ I

Disciples: Kataoka Nizaemon I, Yamashita Matashir˘ I, Yamashita Bunzaemon, Yamashita Hanzaemon II, Yamashita Karumo, Yamashita Tokujir˘

Nephew: Yamashita Matatar˘ I (Ky˘emon II)


1652 ~ 1676: born in Ky˘to. His father was a lacquer ware craftman. He started his career at an unknown date, performing under the name of Yobuka Hanzaemon.

1676: Yobuka Hanzaemon took the name of Yamashita Hanzaemon and performed as a wakashugata in Ky˘to at the Nawate no Shibai.

17th day of the 5th lunar month of 1683: the courtesan Yamatoya Ichinoj˘ and her lover Goze no Ch˘emon committed suicide together in ďsaka. This event caused quite a stir and three ďsaka theaters decided to capitalize on the situation by simultaneously producing the first shinjűmono of Kabuki history [more details]. Yamatoya Jinbŕ II produced this shinjűmono, starring the actors Murakami Ichinoj˘ and Hanzaemon in the roles of the courtesan and her lover.

11th lunar month of 1686: Hanzaemon performed as a tachiyaku in ďsaka at Araki Yojibŕ I's theater. His yearly salary was 200 ry˘; his stage partners were Araki Yojibŕ I, Iwai Hanshir˘ I, Yamamura Kanzabur˘, Sakurayama Rinnosuke I, Sodeoka Masanosuke II, Sakata T˘kur˘, Takenaka Hanzabur˘, Matsushima Han'ya II, Kozakura Kodayű, Takigawa Kiyosabur˘, Yoshikawa Genzabur˘, Mihara Jűdayű I, Wakabayashi Shiroemon and Sadoshima Denpachi.

1st lunar month of 1687: Hanzaemon's rank in "Yar˘ Tachiyaku Butai ďkagami" was (superior) [visual]. He shared this ranking with Araki Yojibŕ I, Uemura Kichiya II, Takeshima K˘zaemon I, Suzuki Heizaemon I, Nakamura Kazuma II, Takenaka Kichisabur˘ I, Fujita Koheiji I and Karamatsu Kasen.

3rd lunar month of 1693: Hanzaemon became zamoto and produced in Ky˘to at Miyako Mandayű's theater Chikamatsu Monzaemon's drama "Butsumo Mayasan Kaich˘", which was written for the star Sakata T˘jűr˘ I; Hanzaemon played the role of Itohori Magosaku.

1695: Hanzaemon's rank in the Ky˘to hy˘banki, tachiyaku section, was j˘-j˘-kichi (superior - superior - excellent) [visual].

11th lunar month of 1697: Hanzaemon produced in Ky˘to at Hayagumo Ch˘dayű's theater the drama "Miyako no Eh˘ Yomeiri Bunsh˘", which celebrated the arrival in the Imperial City of the Edo actor Nakamura Shichisabur˘ I.

1st lunar month of 1698: premiere at Hayagumo Ch˘dayű's theater of the drama "Keisei Asama-ga-Dake", which was produced by Hanzaemon; he played the role of Hanaoka Wadaemon [casting].

11th lunar month of 1704: Yamashita Hanzaemon I took the name of Yamashita Ky˘emon I and played in Ky˘to at Miyako Mandayű's theater the role of Izuminosuke in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's kaomise drama "Kissh˘ Tennyo Anzan no Tama".

11th lunar month of 1707: Ky˘emon played in Ky˘to at Miyako Mandayű's theater the role of Sanj˘ Kichiji in the kaomise drama "Sanmen Daikoku Zeni".

11th lunar month of 1708: Ky˘emon moved to Hayagumo Ch˘dayű's theater and played the role of Sanj˘ Kichiji in the kaomise drama "Ebisuk˘ Musubi no Gojin".

11th lunar month of 1709: Ky˘emon moved to Ebisuya Sh˘dayű's theater and played the role of Kuranosuke in the kaomise drama "Yomeiri ďkeizu".

11th lunar month of 1710: Ky˘emon played in Ky˘to at Ebisuya Sh˘dayű's theater the role of Kokonoe Inarinosuke in the kaomise drama "Inari Ch˘ja Yotsugimaru", which was produced by his disciple Yamashita Karumo; his stage partners were Fujikawa Buzaemon I, Yoshizawa Ayame I and Sawamura Ch˘jűr˘ I.

7th lunar month of 1711: Ky˘emon played in the same theater the role of Hanaoka Wadaemon in the drama "Keisei Asama-ga-Dake"; his stage partners were Yoshizawa Ayame I (the courtesan Miura) and Sawamura Ch˘jűr˘ I (Asama Tomoenoj˘). The performance was a huge success and was extended up to october 1711.

1st lunar month of 1712: Ky˘emon played in the same theater the role of Wankyű in the drama "Onna Wankyű", which was produced by Yoshizawa Ayame I; the role of the courtesan Matsuyama was played by Uemura Kichiya III.

1st lunar month of 1713: Ky˘emon went to Kameya Kumenoj˘'s theater and played the role of Mikura Kingoemon in the kaomise drama "Fukubiki Miuma no ďkamado".

3rd lunar month of 1713: Ky˘emon played in the same theater the roles of Kusunoki Masanari and Bingo no Sh˘ji in the drama "Onna Kusunoki".

Fall 1713: Ky˘emon went to Edo to perform at the Nakamuraza but he did not appear on stage and went back to Kamigata.

1st lunar month of 1714: Ky˘emon played the role of Hanaoka Wadaemon in the drama "Keisei Asama-ga-Dake", which was produced by Yamamoto Hikogor˘ in ďsaka; his stage partners were Sawamura Ch˘jűr˘ I (Asama Tomoenoj˘), Kirinami Takie (the courtesan Miura), Yamashita Kamenoj˘ I (the courtesan ďshű), ďtori Michiemon (Hy˘suke) and ďshima Kajűr˘ (Yotar˘).

1st day of the 11th lunar month of 1715 [2]: his best disciple Kataoka Nizaemon I died.

1st lunar month of 1716: Ky˘emon played in Ky˘to at Hoteiya Umenoj˘'s theater the role of Shirasuga Rokur˘ in the new year drama "Keisei Otokoyama".

3rd lunar month of 1716: Ky˘emon appeared on stage for the last time, in the same theater, playing the role of Wadasaki Man'emon in the drama "Keisei Sennin Kagami". He retired from the Kabuki world.

18th of the 1st lunar month of 1717 [1]: Ky˘emon died.


Yamashita Ky˘emon I was a Ky˘to stage giant of the Genroku era. His stage presence and his vocal projection were both outstanding. He was equally at home in sewamono and jidaimono dramas and excelled in jitsugotoshi and bud˘goto roles. He was the founder of the Yamashita clan.

"The historians of Kabuki agree that he was a man of fine bearing and gentle disposition, and that while he did not quite equal T˘jűr˘'s grand manner he was in no way an actor of little talent. It is said of Ky˘emon that even a rustic from the provinces, who had never seen him before, and knew nothing concerning him, could not fail to be impressed by his presence, and to understand without being informed that he was the leading actor. He had his little frailties, however, for he was too fond of applause, and so eager for the praise of the audience that he pandered to the tastes of the lower classes, and was given to making vulgar asides. This was entirely unlike T˘jűr˘, who had a high moral character. Like T˘jűr˘, however, he held the mirror up to nature, and the side-lights upon his stage methods that have been handed down reveal the fact that he excelled as a samurai, particularly as a r˘nin." (ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")

[1] The 18th day of the 1st lunar month of the 2nd year of the Ky˘h˘ era was the 28th of February 1717 in the western calendar.

[2] The 1st day of the 11th lunar month of the 5th year of the Sh˘toku era was the 26th of November 1715 in the western calendar.

Yamashita Ky˘emon I

Prints & Illustrations

The Yamashita Ky˘emon line of actors

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