Katsukawa Shunshō
Ichikawa Danzō III in the Shibaraku Scene
c. 1768

Publisher’s logo: hayashi (Hayashiya Shichi’emon); hosoban, 31.5 x 14.5 cm; nishiki-e with kimekomi

Ichikawa Danzō III, clearly identified by the mimasu-mon on is costume, is playing Kamakura no Gongorō Kagemasa in the “Shibaraku” scene. Under his kimono he is wearing armour and on top of his wig an eboshi, the kind of hat worn at court, with folded strips of paper as a symbol of divine energy. In this mi-e pose his face is grim; the red makeup, a sign of the good hero in kabuki theatre, makes his expression seem more dramatic.

Provenance: F. Succo; A. Lemp, Zurich (September 1969)
Riese Collection #40

Shibaraku means “Wait a moment!”. In 1714 Ichikawa Danjuro II was acting the same role Danzō is acting here, that of a hero who appears at the moment that all seems lost to the forces of evil, chastising the wicked and restoring order. The villain in this early play was a celebrated actor Yamanaka Heikurō. Apparently there was a great deal of animosity between the two actors, and at the climax of the play when Heikurō spoke the lines which were Danjūrō’s cue to appear, the curtain at the end of the hanamichi, the long raised platform running from the back of the theatre to the left side of the stage along which dramatic entrances were made, remained closed. Heikurō angrily repeated his lines, and after a pause Danjūrō’s voice was heard saying Shibaraku! By this time furious, Heikurō repeated his lines yet another time, and finally the curtain opened, and Danjuro strode onto the hanamichi toward the stage. The effect of the delay was so dramatic that the incident became part of the staging or the play, and the scene became popular that the Ichikawa clan made it part of the Jūhachiban, the Eighteen Plays which were the possession of their family and could only be acted by others with special permission.
Quite apart from it fine design, this print is of a special interest because it is Shunshō’s first Shibaraku subject, “Red Danjuro”, and because it shows the light planks of the hanamichi along which Danzō proceeded to the stage.

Reproduced in F. Succo, Katsukawa Shunshō, pl. 32
Riese, Asiatische Studien, 1972, p. 89, no. 14 (colour)