Taira Kagekiyo (平景清) (role )

Akushichibyoe (nickname - 悪七兵衛)



The historical figure

"Son of Fujiwara Tadakiyo, was adopted by the Taira and showed great valor. He fought Yoshinaka at Yukiie. Made prisoner at Dan-no-ura (1185), he was brought to Kamakura but starved himself to death. Legends have embellished his life: they represent him taking the disguise of a bonze to assassinate Yoritomo during some ceremony, or again, plucking out his own eyes, not to see the triumphs of the enemies of his family."

Quoted from: Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan by E. Papinot, p. 623.


He was nicknamed "Akushichibyoe" (bad man of the seventh degree) because he killed his uncle.


Kagekiyo and the theater

"Many a story has been written of Taira-no-Kagekiyo, an impetuous warrior of the twelfth century, better known as Akushichibyōe. So popular did he become in the fourteenth century that his life formed the subject of Nō plays: Kagekiyo and Daibutsu Kuyō. Influenced by these plays the celebrated Chikamatsu wrote a Jōruri entitled Shusse Kagekiyo in A.D. 1686. This work was adapted by two Jōruri composers collaborating in the Dannoura Kabuto Gunki, which was staged in Osaka in A.D. 1732. Thenceforward Kagekiyo figured in many dramas and puppet-shows. In the mean-time the subject " Kagekiyo" found its way into Nagauta, which sprang up in Yedo in the early part of the eighteenth century, and the piece called Fukagawa Tanzen no Oborodzuti came to be written in the beginning of the nineteenth century."

Quoted from: "Jubiläumsband herausgegeben von der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens anlässlich ihres 60jährigen Bestehens 1873-1933 by S. Yoshitake, in Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, Vol. 7, No. 3 (1934), p. 659.

Henk Herwig wrote in Andon 105 on page 60: "The role of Kagekiyo has a special significance for the Ichikawa Danjūrō lineage. Already in 1732, an early version of the play Ōichō sakae Kagekiyo (Glorious Kagekiyo and the large ginkgo leaf topknot), written for Ichikawa Danjūrō II, premiered at Edo’s Nakamura Theatre. Since that first performance, all subsequent generations of the Danjūrō actors have staged the role of Kagekiyo. In 1840, Ichikawa Danjūrō VII, then using the name Ichikawa Ebizō V, established a collection of plays, the so-called kabuki jūhachiban (eighteen Kabuki plays), associated with the Danjūrō family. Kagekiyo was one of these eighteen favourite plays."