Kikugoro-family Genealogy

Genealogy > Onoe Kikugoro III / IV

Kikugoro III, Who Renovated the Kabuki Theatre together with Tsuruya Nanboku, and Kikugoro IV, Who Specialised in Historical Dramas

Onoe Kikugoro III image 桜丸「車引」
Onoe Kikugoro III image 早野勘平「忠臣蔵」
Onoe Kikugoro III image 仁木弾正「先代萩」

Onoe Kikugoro III (1784-1849)

Since the direct line of descent was broken as a consequence of the early death of Kikugoro II, the Kikugoro name was bequeathed to his pupil, Onoe Matsusuke. There is a story of Kikugoro III, when he was still a young man, looking at himself in the mirror in the dressing room and muttering to himself 'Why am I such a good-looking fellow, I wonder!' Nobody who heard these words thought they were inappropriate and someone said: 'Whoever sees him thinks he's good-looking, so it's hardly surprising that he should think so too!' This gives some idea of what a dashing young fellow he was.

Kikugoro III was born in 1784 in the Kodenma-cho district of Edo as the son of the furniture-maker Senjiro. He was adopted at an early age by Onoe Matsusuke I (who later became Shoroku I), and he made his stage debut at the Ichimura-za theatre under the name of Onoe Eizaburo in 1788. As a young leading actor, he succeeded to the name of Matsusuke II in 1809. In 1814 he received the name Onoe Baiko III, the Baiko name previously having been assumed by Kikugoro I and II, and the following year was accorded the name Onoe Kikugoro III, after a gap of 30 years during which the Kikugoro name was left unused.

He rose to prominence during the Bunka era (1804-17) and made his reputation in roles such as Fukuoka Mitsugi in Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba (The Dance of Death at Ise), the chief lady-in-waiting, Iwafuji, in Kagamiyama Kokyo no Nishikie (The Women's Chushingura), and Kanpei in Kanadehon Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers). He had an extensive repertory ranging from tachiyaku male roles to onnagata female roles, and was well known in his day for his versatility (kaneru) in this regard. He often played completely different roles in the same play such as those of Masaoka and Nikki Danjo in Meiboku Sendai Hagi (The Disputed Succession) and those of Iwafuji and O-Hatsu in Kagamiyama Kokyo no Nishikie.

He excelled especially in the roles of Enya Hangan Takasada and Hayano Kanpei in Chushingura, Kan Shojo and Sakuramaru in Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (The Secrets of Sugawara's Calligraphy), Gonta and Tadanobu in Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (The Thousand Cherry Trees), and Sashichi and the carpenter Rokuzaburo in the contemporary Edo Period drama O-Matsuri Sashichi. He specialised particularly in the ghost story roles that he inherited from his adoptive father Shoroku. The style of today's Otowaya was brought to perfection during the era of Kikugoro III.

In the seventh month of 1825 he took part in the first performance of Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (The Ghost of Yotsuya), written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV. Kikugoro play the three roles of O-Iwa, Kohei and Yomoshichi employing the rapid change of costume technique and created a new genre known as kizewamono that depicted the real lives of the citizens of Edo during the decadent years of the late Edo Period. Other works by Nanboku include Hitoritabi Gojusantsugi (53 Stops on a Journey Undertaken Alone), which was first performed at the Kawarazaki-za in 1828.

In the eleventh month of 1838 he retired to Terashima-mura in Mukojima, but his strong attachment to the stage meant that he made frequent comebacks. He collapsed on stage at a performance given at the Kado no Shibai theatre in Osaka in the first month of 1849, and died in his 66th year at Enshu Kakegawa on the 24th day of the fourth month on his way back to Edo.

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Onoe Kikugoro IV image 白拍子桜木
Onoe Kikugoro IV image 後室貞高

Onoe Kikugoro IV (1808-60)

Onoe Kikugoro IV was born in Osaka in 1808. He took the name of Onoe Kikue in 1831 after marrying the daughter of Kikugoro III, who had been appearing at the Kado no Shibai theatre in Osaka. In the eighth month of the same year he assumed the name of Eizaburo III and travelled to Edo. In the ninth month of 1839 he was much praised for his performance in the role of the courtesan Koiginu, who was victimised and killed by an old hag played by Ebizo V (Danjuro VII) in Oshu Adachi-ga-hara at the Kawarazaki-za theatre. He gradually attained a firm footing in the theatrical world, and in the first month of 1846, he took the name of Baiko IV at the age of 38. He subsequently assumed the name of Kikugoro IV at the age of 48 in the spring of 1856.

Kikugoro IV specialised in historical dramas rather than contemporary sewamono dramas and obtained a high reputation particularly for the good taste and warmth that he applied to his interpretations of the role of the nurse Masaoka in Meiboku Sendai Hagi (The Disputed Succession), a role that he learned from his predecessor Kikugoro III. Other roles in which he excelled included Tonase in Chushingura, Dazai no Koshitsu Sadaka in Imoseyama Onna Teikin (An Example of Noble Womanhood), Shigenoi in Shigenoi Kowakare, and the lady-in-waiting Onoe in Kagamiyama Kokyo no Nishikie (The Women's Chushingura). Apart from roles in historical dramas, he also gained a high reputation for his renditions of women preyed on by fate such as Goshuden O-Kuma in Kozaru Shichinosuke, O-Tomi in Kirare Yozo, and the courtesan Tamagiku.

Kikugoro IV died on June 28, 1860 at the age of fifty-three. Because he spent much of his stage career appearing under the Baiko name, he is also sometimes referred to as Baiko Kikugoro.

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