KUNICHIKA (1835-1900)

Ichikawa Danjuro IX in Kagami Jishii
Signed: Kunichika hitsu
Series: 100 Roles of Danjuro IX
Publisher: Fukuda Kumajiro
1898 12th month

Very good impression and colors. Album backing. Deluxe printing with metallic pigments, burnishing and gaufrage effects.


One of the best loved of the shin Kabuki Juhachiban (the appended list of 32 plays to the Kabuki Juhachiban) is the “lion dance” or Kagami Jishi which was premiered by Danjuro IX (with his 2 daughters! as the butterflies) in 1893.
"Kagami Jishi" is a fantasy whose story is related through the movements of the dancers.  Yayoi, a lady in waiting at the shogun’s palace, is chosen to dance holding a lion’s head mask at the New Year celebrations.  She is locked in a room with the mask and told to practice.  She dances timidly at first, but becomes engrossed in the dance and gradually the spirit of the lion takes her over.  Two butterflies appear and are pursued by the lion head.  Finally the dancing maiden disappears altogether, leaving only the rampaging spirit of a lion.

In addition to using his daughters onstage after the ban on women performing in the Kabuki was lifted, he accepted a woman as his pupil, in 1882.  She became Ichikawa Kumehachi (1846-1913), the first woman to perform major roles in both the Kabuki and modern theater and became known as “the female Danjuro”.

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