Born in 1842 in Kamigata. He started his career in Kamigata around 1854, performing under the stage name of Ichikawa Sumimatsu.
He became a disciple of Sawamura Kunitarô III and took the name of Sawamura Kitô during the first half of the 1860s. He met Sawamura Tosshô II, who was
touring in Kamigata, and the two actors went together to Edo and performed at the Moritaza in the 10th lunar month of 1867.
He became the adopted son of Sawamura Tanosuke III. He went back to Ôsaka,
where he took the name of Sawamura Shozan I in the 11th lunar month of 1872 at the Naka no Shibai.
He appeared on stage for the last time in Summer 1879, in Tôkyô at the Nakajimaza, playing in the drama "Dakki no Ohyaku".
He died the 16th of October 1879.