Artist: Natori Shunsen (名取春仙)

Print: Sawamura Gennosuke IV as Nikki Danjō in
The Precious incense and Autumn Flowers of Sendai (Meiboku Sendai hagi)

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Dates: 1928,created
Dimensions: 10.75 in,15.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Taishidō Shunsen ga
('Green covered cave' Shunsen drawing)
Publisher's seal: Watanabe-kō (渡辺工)

Related links: Waseda University; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo - b & w; National Gallery of Australia; University of Michigan;

Physical description:

Nikki Danjō is one of the great villains of kabuki theater. He is also a great sorcerer. This is described well in Earle Ernst in his book Kabuki Theater, p. 100. "A somewhat curious exit outside the curtain is that of the evil magician Nikko Danjō in The Famous Tree at Sendai. The warrior Arajishi has seized a large rat which carries in its mouth a scroll containing the names of a group of conspirators among which is Nikki Danjō. After a struggle, the rat escapes from Arajishi, runs to the hanamichi, and disappears into the trap-door at the shichi-san (the trap called the suppon) in a cloud of smoke. Immediately after, Nikki Danjō, transformed from a rat into a human being, dressed in mouse-colored clothes, and holding the scroll in his mouth, slowly ascends on a trap-lift. Arajishi defies him from the stage in a mie, and the curtain closes. Nikki Danjō makes a series of mystical passes with his hands and then turns toward the agemaku. He has given himself the mystic power to walk on smoke, and his extremely slow, quiet exit conveys the impression of this rare form of locomotion."

It should be noted that no matter which play the character of Nikki Danjō is in, the principles remain the same: Transformation into a rat and back again, the scroll with the list of conspirators and the element of smoke is always important. (JSV)


From an edition of 150.


"Shunsen illustrates Sawamura Gennosuke IV, a senior actor of the 1920s, portraying the climactic moment when Nikki Danjō emerges from beneath the stage. The sorcerer holds a scroll in his mouth, and his forehead bears a fresh gash, to convey his transformation from the rat. The grey kimono mimics the color of the rat."

Quoted from: Stars of the Tokyo Stage by Lucie Folan, et al., p. 86.



1. In color in Stars of the Tokyo Stage by Lucie Folan, et al., on pages 18 and 87.

2. In a small black and white reproduction in Modern Japanese Prints by Dorothy Blair, #161.

3. In color reproduction in Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, p. 201.

4. In color in 名取春仙, 1991, p. 46.

There is another copy in the Toledo Museum of Art.