Why Ichikawa Ebizo’s “Name-Unveiling Performance of Danjuro Ichikawa’s Assumption of the Title” is still disheartening | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Ichikawa Ebizo’s “Name-Unveiling Performance of Danjuro Ichikawa’s Assumption of the Title” is still disheartening

The cast of "Danjuro Ichikawa Danjuro Ichikawa Shirataru Shirasyo Performance" has been decided and Ebizo seemed to be training with great enthusiasm, but .....

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Ebizo and Kangen-kun throwing beans at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple (Narita City, Chiba) on February 3 this year.

The co-stars of Ichikawa Ebizo’s (47) “Ichikawa Danjuro Ichikawa Shirasaru XIII Assumption of the Title of Ichikawa Shirasaru (Shinnosuke Ichikawa VIII’s first stage performance)” (Kabuki-za, Tokyo) to be held in November and December have finally been announced.

Women’s magazines had reported that Kangen Horikoshi, 9, who will assume the name “Shinnosuke Ichikawa VIII,” was having difficulty deciding on a co-star for “Kegai,” in which he will become the youngest actor ever to star in December, but when the lid opened, big names such as Shikan Nakamura (57) and Uidanji Ichikawa (58) decided to support Kangen’s Kangen’s stage will be supported. It was also announced that Botan Ichikawa (11), Ebizo’s eldest daughter and a dancer, will play the role of Okane of Omi in “Danjuro Musume” in the December evening performance, and the three members of the Ebizo family will perform in the name presentation.

The performance was postponed for two years due to the COVID-19 crisis, and the originally three-month performance was shortened to two months. Naturally, Ebizo must be very enthusiastic. However, he is said to be a little different from the past Ebizo.

Last January, Botan played the role of a wisteria spirit in one of the performances, “Fujimusume” at the “Hatsuharu Ebizo Kabuki” performance. At that time, Ebizo received quite a bit of criticism. In addition, Botan’s performance of “Fujimusume” was a major role that had been played by Onoe Kikugoro VI and Bando Tamasaburo. The fact that he had a 9-year-old girl play this role was criticized as “parental ego” and so on.

However, Ebizo is said to have refuted the criticism because he believes that ‘what’s wrong with a woman performing on the Kabuki stage? He also praised her on his YouTube page, saying, “My (daughter’s) dancing skills are perfect,” and “I think this is the first time in history that a 9-year-old dances Fujimusume. He even made a statement that seemed to backbite those involved.

This time, too, with Kangen’s starring role in “Kegai” and Botan’s appearance at the Kabuki-za, the same criticisms have been voiced, such as “You can do whatever you want even in a succession performance,” but so far, Ebizo seems to be going through the motions without refuting any of them. If anything, he is rather disheartened or …….” (A person related to the pears garden)

A person related to Shochiku speculated as to the reason for this as follows.

The “Hatsuharu Ebizo Kabuki” was performed not at the Kabuki-za but at the Shinbashi Enbujo theater, and there were no actors of higher rank than Ebizo. In other words, he could do what he wanted. However, that is not the case with the performance at the Kabuki-za theater for the presentation of the assumed name. The heavyweights of the Kabuki world are all there. For Ebizo, it had been a longtime goal to have Botan perform at the Kabuki-za, so he finally pushed for it, but that does not mean that even he can afford to refute the criticism. Now that he is here, he may finally, in a real sense, understand his position and begin to feel the pressure of the performance to unveil his successor’s name.

A new spark has begun to smolder: “Josei Jishin” (Women’s Own) reported on September 6 that Onoe Kikugoro (79), a living national treasure, has said that he will not appear at the Danjuro’s name-unveiling performance. Kikugoro, along with Danjuro, is one of the twin namesake of Nashien. It would be unthinkable for Kikugoro and Danjuro not to appear on the stage.

Not only Botan, but other women have appeared on stage at the Kabuki-za, including Botan Ichikawa III in 2006 and 16-year-old Takako Matsu, 45, once in 1993. Kikugoro’s eldest daughter, Shinobu Terajima (49), however, was not allowed to take the stage. This was only because Kikugoro placed such importance on the traditions of Kabuki. Ostensibly, it was because of the pain in his leg, but some people in the know say he is furious with Ebizo for disrespecting the tradition.

The Danjuro name-succession performance has a special significance for the Kabuki world. However, as usual, there is no end to the internal turmoil. The situation is likely to remain unpredictable until the performance.

  • POHOTO Shinji Hasuo

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