The Female Danjūrō:
Revisiting the Acting Career of Ichikawa Kumehachi
Ichikawa Kumehachi (1846?–1913) is best remembered in the
history of Japanese theater as the first female disciple of the renowned
kabuki actor and head of the Naritaya house, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX. This
article reconsiders the complex relationship of these two important
actors, arguing that Kumehachi’s career cannot be reduced simply to her
association with Danjūrō. Although she received intangible benefits from
this prestigious connection, her career was largely independent of his.
Ultimately, she was typecast as an "old-school" kabuki actress and
viewed as the "female Danjūrō," which precluded her from making her
reputation in the emerging "new-school" genres.
Volume 34, Number
1 (Winter 2008)
© 2008 Society for