Why Asakusa Okamisan-kai is Furious with Shochiku for its Preferential Treatment of Ebizo
On November 7, the Kabuki-za Theater opened its first performance of Danjuro Ichikawa Shirasaru XIII’s succession to the title of Ichikawa Danjuro Shirasaru. Teruyuki Kagawa, 56, aka Ichikawa Chuguruma, was suddenly scheduled to return in the December Grand Kabuki. However, he had actually made his return to the stage at the “Face Yose Teuchi Ceremony” held on October 31.
He was inconspicuously small in the back of the lineup of actors on stage. I hadn’t seen your face for a long time, but you didn’t look well. He looked exhausted.
The “omoyose teuchi shiki” is an important ceremony in Kabuki that has continued since the Edo period, in which all actors and stage personnel gather together before a performance to present the title and program of the kyogen play to be performed. The 96 actors and stage management lined up from one end of the stage to the other, so most of the audience was probably unaware of Kagawa’s presence. It is easy to imagine that Kagawa’s desire not to be seen by the other dignitaries on the stage, which was his return to the theater, was what made him small. However, there was another reason why he had to stay small.
The “Asakusa Okamisan-kai” is said to be furious with Shochiku’s decision to make a comeback.
In fact, the Asakusa Okamisan-kai (“Okamisan-kai”) had asked Shochiku to allow Kagawa to appear in the “New Year Asakusa Kabuki 2023” to be staged in January next year at the COVID-19 crisis for the first time in three years. However, Shochiku refused, saying that it was too early. The Okamisan-kai even submitted a petition. Even so, Shochiku would not budge.
After that, Shochiku decided to make the film. Shochiku decided on Kagawa’s appearance in the December Kabuki with a single word from Ebizo. The Okamisan-kai was furious at Shochiku’s response. As a result, Kagawa must have been obliged to become smaller because he had wronged the Okamisan-kai,” said an insider involved in the Pearson’s garden.
The “Asakusa Okamisan-kai” is a cooperative association established in 1967 to promote Asakusa. It was founded by Teruko Tominaga, the fourth generation owner of Asakusa Nakamise, with the aim of not only supporting the business of Asakusa’s danshon but also contributing to the development of Asakusa’s traditions and development. It is known for having introduced Japan’s first “double-decker London bus” and for having invented the “Asakusa Samba Carnival. She is also known for her generous support of the “New Year Asakusa Kabuki,” a gateway to success for young kabuki actors, and has a close relationship with the kabuki world.
Ms. Teruko Tominaga is outraged as follows.
The Kagawa issue was settled three years ago. He has received enough social sanctions. He was fully remorseful and worked hard in his training. So I thought that the Asakusa Kabuki Theater at the beginning of the year would be the perfect stage for his comeback. Since the actors are mainly young, Mr. Kagawa can address the audience and patrons properly by delivering a speech as “kami yori” (an elder actor who plays the role of a leader in a play in which young actors are the main performers).
But Shochiku said absolutely not. And yet, they suddenly decided to perform in the December performance. It’s just not right, no matter how you look at it. Mr. Kagawa, you were sitting apologetically at the back of the stage in “Kao Yose”. I don’t think any of the audience noticed. It’s too bad that he had to make a comeback like that.
Since Danjuro Ichikawa, a major Kabuki actor, had requested it, Shochiku may have had no choice but to give Ebizo the “Ebizo treatment. However, by rejecting the request of the Okamisan-kai, with whom it has a close relationship, there is no doubt that a deep rift was created between the two parties.
The confusion that Kagawa and Ebizo are causing in the Kabuki world does not seem likely to subside for the time being.
Photo： Pasya/Afro, Shinji Hasuo