Pen name:

Mimasuya Nis˘ji In Japanese

Other name:

Iseya S˘zabur˘ III In Japanese

Poetry names: Wach˘, Wat˘

Existence: 1784 ~ 5th day of the 8th lunar month of 1856 [1]


Master: Tsuruya Nanboku IV, Sakurada Jisuke I


1784 ~ 1806: born in Kuramae, in a family of fudasashi (Iseya) in the district of Kuramae near Asakusa.

27th day of the 6th lunar month of 1806 [2]: his master Sakurada Jisuke I died.

1812: with the patronage of Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VII, he became sakusha at the Ichimuraza. His pen name was Mimasuya [3] Nis˘ji.

1813: he organized a lavish party, inviting many actors and Kabuki-related people in an expensive restaurant in Edo. As a consequence of this amazing party, he was immediately disowned by his family.

1816: he became disciple of Tsuruya Nanboku IV.

11th lunar month of 1818: the Miyakoza went bankrupt and transferred the Ichimuraza license to the Tamagawaza, where Nis˘ji worked for the tatesakusha Tsuruya Nanboku IV on the kaomise drama "Shitenn˘ Ubuyu no Tamagawa" which starred Matsumoto K˘shir˘ V, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VII, Iwai Hanshir˘ V, Segawa Kikunoj˘ V, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ IV, S˘ry˘ Jinroku II, Ichikawa S˘zabur˘ IV, ďtani Bajű II, Yamashina Jinkichi III and Matsumoto Yonesabur˘ II.

11th lunar month of 1819: Nis˘ji worked at the Kawarasakiza, along with Segawa Jok˘ II (tatesakusha), Hon'ya S˘shichi and Katsu Hy˘suke, on the kaomise drama "Yakko Yakko Edo no Hanayari".

11th lunar month of 1822: Nis˘ji worked at the Nakamuraza, along with Sakurada Jisuke II and Nakamura Jűsuke IV, on the kaomise drama "Gohiiki Azuma Hyakkan", which celebrated the shűmei of Mimasu Gennosuke I and Sakata Hangor˘ IV, and welcomed in Edo the Kamigata actor Nakamura Sank˘ I; the others main actors were Matsumoto K˘shir˘ V, Band˘ Mitsugor˘ III, Iwai Kumesabur˘ II, Arashi Kanjűr˘ I and Yamashina Jinkichi III.

11th lunar month of 1825: Nis˘ji worked at the Nakamuraza, along with Tsuruya Nanboku IV (tatesakusha) and Katsui Genpachi, on the kaomise drama "Oniwaka Kongen Butai". The main roles were played by Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VII, Iwai Shijaku I (Osome) and Iwai Kumesabur˘ II (Hisamatsu); the michiyuki (commonly called "Ukine no Tomodori") is still part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

8th lunar month of 1826: premiere at the Nakamuraza of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's drama "Soga Nakamura Aki no Torikomi"; Nis˘ji was a member of the sakusha team [casting].

11th lunar month of 1826: Nis˘ji worked at the Ichimuraza to assist the tatesakusha Nakamura Jűsuke IV, along with Nagawa Motosuke and Sakurada Jisuke II, on the kaomise drama "Ise Heiji Sh˘ no Kaomise".

11th lunar month of 1827: Nis˘ji worked at the Ichimuraza, along with Matsushima Ch˘fu I and Kanai Sangy˘, on the kaomise drama "Kawaranu Hana Genji no Kaomise", which starred Band˘ Mitsugor˘ III, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VII, Ichimura Uzaemon XII, Band˘ Minosuke II, Ichikawa Ichiz˘ II, Iwai Kumesabur˘ II, Iwai Shijaku I, Osagawa Tsuneyo IV, Nakayama Bungor˘ II, Sawamura Shabaku, Ogino Izabur˘ III, Naritaya S˘bŕ I and Band˘ Tamasabur˘ I.

11th lunar month of 1828: Nis˘ji became tatesakusha and worked at the Kawarasakiza, along with Tsuuchi Jihŕ IV and Shinoda Kinji II, on the kaomise drama "Sakigake Genji no Kibamusha", which welcomed in Edo the actors Sawamura Gennosuke II, Arashi Danpachi and Yoshizawa Enjir˘. Nis˘ji's yearly salary was 85 ry˘ [4].

11th lunar month of 1829: Nis˘ji worked as a tatesakusha at the Kawarasakiza, along with Segawa Jok˘ II and Shinoda Kinji II, on the kaomise drama "Yamatomoji Iroha Kagami".

27th day of the 11th lunar month of 1829 [5]: his second master Tsuruya Nanboku IV died in Edo.

11th lunar month of 1832: Nis˘ji worked as a tatesakusha, along with Uba J˘suke II, Shinoda Ginz˘ and Shinoda Kinji II, at the Kawarasakiza on the drama "Tanomiaru Gohiiki no Tsuna"; which celebrated the shűmei of Yamashita Kinsaku IV.

3rd lunar month of 1833: premiere at the Kawarasakiza of the dance-drama "Ochiudo", starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V and Onoe Kikugor˘ III in the roles of Kanpei and Okaru; the lyrics were written by Nis˘ji.

11th lunar month of 1833: Nis˘ji worked as a tatesakusha, along with Namiki Gohei III (who celebrated his shűmei), Takarada Jusuke and Nanboku Magotar˘ IV, at the Moritaza, on the kaomise drama "Shitenn˘ Kabuki no Yorizome".

2nd lunar month of 1835: premiere at the Ichimuraza of "Ume no Haru Gojűsan Tsugi" [6], a drama written by Nis˘ji, Nakamura Jűsuke IV and Nanboku Magotar˘ IV.

11th lunar month of 1835: Nis˘ji worked as a tatesakusha, along with Nanboku Magotar˘ IV and Sakurada Jisuke III, on the kaomise drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami", which starred Onoe Kikugor˘ III, Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V, Matsumoto K˘shir˘ V, Osagawa Tsuneyo IV, Onoe Kikujir˘ II (who celebrated his shűmei), Iwai Shijaku I, Onoe Eizabur˘ III and Arashi Kanjűr˘ I.

11th lunar month of 1837: Nis˘ji worked, along with Tsuruya Nanboku V and Takarada Jusuke, at the Kawarasakiza (which celebrated its reopening!) on the drama "Sekai ha Taira Ume no Kaomise".

11th lunar month of 1838: Nis˘ji worked, along with Sakurada Jisuke III, Nakamura Jűsuke IV, Matsushima Ch˘fu II and Tsuruya Nanboku V, at the Nakamuraza on the drama "Isse Ichidai Kuriki no My˘noji", which celebrated the isse ichidai performance of the Edo star Onoe Kikugor˘ III.

9th lunar month of 1839: premiere at the Kawarasakiza of the Kiyomoto-based dance-drama "Shimero Yare Iro no Kakegoe" (commonly called "Kanda Matsuri"), which starred Sawamura Tossh˘ I, Onoe Eizabur˘ III and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V; the lyrics were written by Nis˘ji.

11th lunar month of 1839: Nis˘ji worked, along with Namiki Gohei III, at the Kawarasakiza on the drama "Seishű Akogi-ga-Ura", which starred Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V and Sawamura Tossh˘ I in the roles of Hiragawara no Jiroz˘ and Akogi no Heiji and welcomed in Edo the Kamigata actor Band˘ Jutar˘ I.

11th lunar month of 1840: Nis˘ji worked at the Nakamuraza on the drama "Yasa Heike Kabuki no Gunbai" with Band˘ Hikosabur˘ IV as zagashira.

7th lunar month of 1841: premiere at the Nakamuraza of the dance "Ame no Gor˘", which was performed by Onoe Tamiz˘ II as part of a nine-role hengemono entitled "Yae Kokonoe Hana no Sugatae"; the lyrics were written by Nis˘ji.

1843: publication of the book "Sakusha Tana Oroshi" (literally "Playwright Inventory").

11th lunar month of 1845: Nis˘ji worked, along with Tajima Konosuke II, Toyoshima Shinz˘ and Namiki Gohei III, at the Nakamuraza on the drama "Hana no Sakazuki ďeyama", which celebrated the shűmei of Onoe Kikujűr˘ I.

1846: publication of the book "Okuramae Baka Monogatari" (literally "Stories of the Fools of Okuramae"), commonly called "Jűhachi ďtsű" (literally The Eighteen Great Golden Boys") [7].

11th lunar month of 1847: Nis˘ji worked, along with Sakurada Jisuke III, Namiki Gohei III, Fujimoto Kichibŕ, Shimizu Sh˘shichi II and Fukumori Kyűji, at the Ichimuraza on the drama "Genke Hachidai Megumi no Tsuwamono", which welcomed back in Edo the actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV.

1848: publication of the book "Sakusha Nenjű Gy˘ji" (literally "Annual Calendar for Playwrights").

11th lunar month of 1848: premiere at the Kawarasakiza of the dance-drama "Takigi ďyukima no Ichikawa", commonly called "Yamanba"; the lyrics were written by Nis˘ji [more details]. Afterwards, he stopped working as a sakusha and left the Kabuki world.

1849: publication of the books "Gakuya Suzume" (literally "Backstage Sparrows" [8]), "Shibai Hidenshű" (literally "Secrets of the ThÚÔtre"), "Kabuki Shűdan" (literally "Selected Conversations about Kabuki") and "Sakusha Meimoku" (literally "Index of Playwrights").

5th day of the 8th lunar month of 1856 [1]: Nis˘ji died in Edo.


Mimasuya Nis˘ji was an important Edo sakusha, who was active during the first half of the 19th century. Some of his creations are still in the Kabuki repertoire: "Ochiudo" (1833), "Kanda Matsuri" (1839), "Ame no Gor˘" (1841) and "Yamanba" (1848).

"A playwright and fan of Danjűr˘ VII. The son of a wealthy rice merchant, in his early years he was the archetypal spendthrift son, but his dissipation obviously served him well since he went on to write the lyrics for popular dance dramas like The Elopers (Ochiudo), Kanda Festival (Kanda Matsuri), Osome, Gor˘ and Ubae. He has also been of immense benefit to future Kabuki researchers, as he wrote a book about the structure of the theatre year, and another book of memories about Kabuki playwrights. It is said that Danjűr˘ interceded to get him a job in the theatre, and when his family heard about the lavish party he threw to celebrate, they disowned him." (from www.naritaya.jp)

"For many years after Nanboku Tsuruya, there were no playwrights capable of filling his place except Mimasuya Nis˘ji, who gained a position in Edo because of his long service to Edo Kabuki. For twenty years Nis˘ji wrote for the third Kikugor˘, the fourth Nakamura Utaemon, and the seventh Danjűr˘, but his work consisted largely in revision. He belonged to a wealthy family and began to write for his own amusement. On account of extravagance and dissipation, he was sent away from his home, and died in his seventies. Nis˘ji and Nanboku were great friends, and they played practical jokes upon each other. Nanboku was once slightly ill and Nis˘ji asked a Court doctor to go and examine him. A kago, or palanquin, carried on the shoulders of six stout bearers proceeded to Nanboku's humble dwelling. The Kabuki sakusha had received no warning of the Court physician's visit, and was greatly surprised. Taken unawares, he got out of his bed and bowed low on the mats. When the great medical man took his departure, the kago bearers asked for money, but the maker of plays was incurably poor, and could only pay a small portion of the kago men's demands. In order to get even with Nis˘ji, Nanboku planned a counter joke. There was a certain shrine in Shinagawa, a suburb of Edo, where the spirit of the famous general, Kat˘ Kiyomasa, was enshrined, and it was Nis˘ji's habit after visiting the shrine to repair to a tea-house in the vicinity. There was some gossip that Nis˘ji had carried on a flirtation with the daughter of the tea-house keeper, and Nanboku ordered a lantern to be made bearing his friend's crest together with that of the tea-house maiden, and hung it up in front of the shrine. Nis˘ji was much perplexed, and acknowledged that Nanboku had evened up the score." (ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")

[1] The 5th day of the 8th lunar month of the 3rd year of the Ansei era was the 3rd of September 1856 in the western calendar.

[2] The 27th day of the 6th lunar month of the 3rd year of the Bunka era was the 11th of August 1806 in the western calendar.

[3] Mimasu, the three measures (of rice), was the mon of the Ichikawa Danjűr˘ line of actors.

[4] Tsuruya Nanboku IV, the best Edo playwright, was paid 175 ry˘. Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VII, the zagashira at the Kawarasakiza, was paid 700 ry˘.

[5] The 27th day of the 11th lunar month of the 12th year of the Bunsei era was the 22nd of December 1829 in the western calendar.

[6] "Given the title, audiences might have expected a version of Jippensha Ikku's (1765ľ1831) best-selling comic novel T˘kaid˘chű Hizakurige (popularly known as Shank's Mare), but what they got instead was a spectacle of frightening scenes, along with erotic interplay and comic spoofing of Nanboku's favorite themes. Ume no haru, like its predecessor, included a monstrous demon cat, but also added a renegade priest who masters rat magic and a thief named Nezumi Koz˘ ("Kid Rat"). With these elements, the play qualified as a type of drama called neko-s˘d˘mono." (from osakaprints.com)

[7] A book about a group of 18 people called Jűhachi Daitsű, the eighteen big connoisseurs of Edo. A group of rich, elegant and highly-cultured men who spent a lot of money in parties and at the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter. Many of them were fudasashi, a business well-known by Mimasuya Nis˘ji, who used to be himself a fudasashi at the Iseya, one of the most famous rice brokers in Edo.

[8] In the Kabuki world, the backstage sparrows are fans who are always in the Kabuki dressing rooms.

The name of Mimasuya Nis˘ji in a 1836 Edo hy˘banki (the name within the red box); all the names were the sakusha at the Ichimuraza (right block) or the Moritaza (left block)

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