Artist: Ōta Masamitsu (太田雅光)

Print: Nakamura Kichiemon I (中村吉右衛門) as Ichijō Ōkurakyō (一條大蔵卿), number 5 from the series Flowers of Contemporary Theatre (現代舞台芸花)

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Dates: 1954,created
Dimensions: 10.75 in,17.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Masamitsu (雅光)
Number - embossed in lower right: 172 [of 200]
Printer's mark: Miyake Koshodo shosatsu

Related links: Waseda University; Portland Art Museum;

Physical description:

The text seen below is part of the information provided about this particular character which be found at Kabuki21.

"Ichijō Ōkura (Fujiwara) Naganari is leading an abnormal life of feigned madness. Many people think that he is feebleminded and that his only matter of concern is performing Nō. But, in fact, he hates being involved in the war between the Genji (Minamoto) and Heike (Taira) clans--the two main powers in late 12th century Japan. Now the Heike are in power, but Taira Kiyomori [1118-1181], the leader of the Heike, is too arrogant and hardhearted. Ōkura was once, and still is deep in his heart, a strong supporter of the Genji clan and hopes for their return to power. He began to feign madness in order to avoid being listed by the Heike government as a suspected subversive. Kiyomori thinks Ōkura is now harmless to the Heike cause. So certain is he that Ōkura is completely innocuous that he orders him to marry Tokiwa Gozen, widow of the late Minamoto Yoshitomo [1123-1160], the late leader of the Genji clan. She is the mother of three sons including Minamoto Yoshitsune [1159-1189]. Yoshitsune escaped from Heike pursuit after his father Yoshitomo was defeated in rebellion against the Heike clan during the Heiji Disturbance of 1160. Kiyomori declined to execute Yoshitsune and his half-brother Yoritomo [1147-1199] because of their youth. He demanded in exchange, however, that Yoshitomo's widow Tokiwa Gozen become his mistress. Soon after, when she lost her charm, he cast her off. That is how Tokiwa became Ōkura's wife."


The curatorial files at the Portland Art Museum say:

"Nakamura Kichiemon I (1886-1954) is regarded as one of the most outstanding kabuki actors of the first half of the 20th century. A specialist in male action roles, he was influential in modernizing kabuki’s appeal as modern theater. He acted under the stage name of Kichiemon from his childhood debut in 1897 until a few months before his death. Kichiemon is portrayed here in the climactic moment from “Ichijō Ōkura monogatari (The Tale of Ichijō Ōkura)—an excerpt from a longer drama originally written in 1731. In the title role, he plays a nobleman of the late 12th century who is forced to feign madness in a time of political turmoil. He is sympathetic to the Minamoto clan of warriors, but Kyoto and the countryside are ruled by their rivals, the Taira. One day a Minamoto retainer visits his mansion and asks for a family heirloom—a special sword—that Ichijō has held in safekeeping for the young Minamoto heir. Knowing that the Taira have spies in his household, Ichijō uses the sword as a prop in a Noh dance. He holds the sword, encased in a special lacquered wood box, in his left hand, while he raises a fan with his right hand; the tension in the pose and on his face reveals the strain."


Another source says that this is from the play Kiichi Hōgen Sanryaku no Maki.