Real name: Ichikawa Fukutar˘
Guilds: Takashimaya, Tsuruya
Existence: 16th day of the 7th lunar month of 1843 ~ 18 March 1916
Father: Ichikawa Kodanji IV
Brother: Ichikawa Kodanji V
Son: Ichikawa Udanji II
Grandson: Ichikawa Unosuke II
Great-grandson: Ichikawa Unosuke III
16th day of the 7th lunar month of 1843: born in ďsaka in the Tsuruya chaya. His father is the actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV. His father spending most of his time in Edo instead of ďsaka, he is expected to become a decchi instead of an actor but the call of the stage is too strong.
2nd lunar month of 1852: he makes his first stage appearance, in ďsaka at the Wakadayű no Shibai, where he plays under the name of Ichikawa Fukutar˘ I the role of the taiko mochi Fukuhachi in the drama "Igagoe".
Spring 1862: Fukutar˘ and his mother are invited to Edo by Ichikawa Kodanji IV.
3rd lunar month of 1862: Fukutar˘ performs with his father at the Moritaza. His father and mother quarrel and have to separate. Fukutar˘ quickly goes back to ďsaka with his mother.
8th lunar month of 1862: Ichikawa Fukutar˘ I takes the name of Ichikawa Udanji I in Ky˘to at the Kitagawa no Shibai.
Summer 1881: Udanji founds his own troupe, the Udanji Ichiza, to go on tour in Ise and Toyohashi.
December 1886: Udanji plays at the Kado no Shibai the roles of Sat˘ Shiroby˘ei Tadanobu and the fox Genkur˘ in the "Shi-no-Kiri" scene of the drama "Yoshitsune Sembon Zakura". He also performs as a shamisen player during the "Sushiya" scene, in duo with Nakamura Ganjir˘ I as a singer.
August 1888: Udanji plays at the Kado Gekij˘ the role of Danshichi Kurobei in the drama "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami"; the roles of Issun Tokubei and Tsuribune Sabu are played by Nakamura Ganjir˘ I and Nakamura S˘jűr˘.
July 1891: Udanji plays in Ky˘to at the Tokiwaza the role of Danshichi Kurobei in the drama "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami"; the roles of Issun Tokubei and Tsuribune Sabu are played by Jitsukawa Enzabur˘ IV and Arashi Kitsusabur˘ IV.
1915: Sai'nyű decides to retire. He celebrates it by playing at the Kabukiza the leading role of the dance "Ayatsuri Sambas˘". "Sai'nyű, one of ďsaka's fine old actors, came to say farewell to T˘ky˘ but a short time before his death. The ceremony of retirement was most appropriate. The stage was prepared for a comic dance, and while various performers were attracting the attention of the audience, a large box, such as is used to contain a toy or doll, was carried in and remained to one side while the merriment proceeded. Finally, when curiosity with regard to the box had increased considerably, property men lifted the mysterious object and placed it in the front of the stage, removed the side nearest the audience, and within was disclosed the venerable actor as a marionette. In the many-coloured garments of Sambas˘, the humoresque figure of the N˘ stage, and manifestation of an ancient Shint˘ deity, whose semi-religious dance was performed at dawn with the opening of the theatre, he was brought forth limp and lifeless. Stage attendants attached imaginary wires to his arms and head, and he performed this characteristic dance after the fashion of the dolls. Finally, real wires were attached to his costume and he rose into the air, still making marionette motions with his arms and legs, and disappeared into the regions above stage,--a feat for an actor over seventy years of age." (ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")
18 March 1916: Sai'nyű dies.
Ichikawa Sai'nyű was one of the stage giants in Kamigata during the Meiji era, along with Nakamura S˘jűr˘ and Jitsukawa Enjaku I (s˘en'u). He was able to perform almost any kind of role as a tachiyaku, onnagata, katakiyaku or fukeyaku (in his latter years). He was an outstanding dancer and was equally at home in sewamono, jidaimono or new productions. Just like his father Ichikawa Kodanji IV, he also fond of keren like chűnori or honmizu. His most famous stage trick was a special chűnori for the robber Ishikawa Goemon: a wicker basket (tsuzura) comes into sight, flying in the air without anybody carrying it. It comes to a halt above the hanamichi and Goemon suddenly emerges from it. He places the basket on his shoulder and triumphantly flies off through the air, scornfully laughing at the powerless soldiers who can't stop his escape.
Ichikawa Sai'nyű performing the role of Sambas˘ in the eponymous dance
The Ichikawa Udanji line of actors
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