Entertainment Reporter Toshio Ishikawa’s “Behind the Scenes at ……
The loss of Nakamura Kichiemon, a living national treasure, feels like the loss of a major pillar of the kabuki world.
His dream of playing Benkei in “Kansincho” at the age of 80 did not come true.
This dream did not come true. One day before the final performance of the March Grand Kabuki this year, he suffered a heart attack and had to leave the stage. Kichiemon was hospitalized as an emergency. He continued to undergo intensive treatment, but on November 28, he died of heart failure.
He was 77 years old. Mr. Kichiemon had led a turbulent life.
He was born as the second son of Koshiro Matsumoto VIII (Koraiya), and his older brother, two years older than him, was Somegoro Ichikawa (now Matsumoto Hakugou). As the second son, Kichiemon was adopted by his maternal grandfather, Kichiemon I. When the daughter of Kichiemon I (Harimaya) married Koshiro VIII, she was opposed to the marriage.
She promised to give birth to two boys.
She made a promise. The second son she gave birth to was adopted by Kichiemon. The family was then transferred from Shochiku to Toho Kabuki. I think it was in 1961.
His older brother, Koshiro, moved to Toho, where he performed in a number of major productions, including the musicals “The Man of La Mancha” and “The King and I”. In 1978, he was chosen to play the leading role in NHK’s historical drama, “Golden Days”. He was a star on the rise.
Kichiemon, on the other hand, only played opposite Toho actresses. He was not in the same fortunate situation as his brother.
Wanting to concentrate on kabuki, he returned to Shochiku in 1974. However, he was treated as a “newcomer” to the company, and had a very difficult time.
Nevertheless, Kichiemon had always wanted to be a Kabuki actor and had been honing his craft since he was a child, so he was able to return to the best stage in the world. The TV drama series “Onihei Hankacho” was a major factor in Kichiemon’s becoming a popular actor.
The series started in 1989 and continued until 2004, including specials and theatrical movies. His role as Heizo Hasegawa, who cracked down on thieves in Edo, became one of his best roles.
Returning to the world of Kabuki, Kichiemon has an illustrious record of awards, including the Art Festival Award for Excellence, the Japan Art Academy Award, the Grand Prize in the Theater Division of the Art Festival, and the Cultural Merit Award, in addition to being a Living National Treasure.
Mr. Ishikawa Goemon in “Rumon Gozangiri,” for which he was unable to make it to the final curtain, Ooboshi Yuranosuke in “Kanadehon Chushingura,” Shoomaru in “Terakoya,” Toshihiro in “Toshihiro,” Naomi Kumagai in “Kumagai Jinya,” the list goes on and on.
He was said to be one of the best actors to play the role of a living person in Edo. His daughter-in-law, Kikunosuke Onoe, tearfully said
Kikunosuke Onoe, his son-in-law, said in tears, “No matter how hard it was, he put his all into his plays and never spared anything. I wish I could have learned more from him.
His words left a deep impression on me. My heart goes out to him.
Text： Toshio Ishikawa (entertainment reporter)
Born in Tokyo in 1946. Born in Tokyo in 1946, he has a unique career path: from the advertising department of Shochiku to a reporter for a women's magazine to an entertainment reporter. After working on "The Wide" and "Information Live Myaneya" (both on Nippon Television Network Corporation), he is now a regular contributor to "Mentai Wide" (Fukuoka Broadcasting System), "Sumataman" (Yomiuri Television), and Rainbow Town FM.
Photo： Natsuki Sakai/Afro