Stage names:

Ichikawa Danshirô I In Japanese
Ichikawa Danshirô I In Japanese
Ichikawa Sukeroku In Japanese

Guild: Omodakaya

Line number: SHODAI (I)

Poetry name: Enshô

Existence: 1651 ~ 2nd day of the 5th lunar month of 1717 [1]


Master: Ichikawa Danjûrô I


1651~1687: he started his career at an unknown date, as a disciple of Ichikawa Danjûrô I, who gave him the name of Ichikawa Sukeroku. He took the name of Ichikawa Danshirô I at an unknown date.

11th lunar month of 1687: Danshirô changed the ideogram for "Dan" in his first name:

Previous writing for Danshirô New writing
段四郎 團四郎

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Fall 1695: Danshirô went to Ôsaka.

11th lunar month of 1695: Danshirô performed in the kaomise drama "Mongaku Shônin", which was produced in Ôsaka by Iwai Hanshirô I.

Fall 1699: Danshirô went back to Edo.

11th lunar month of 1699: Danshirô played at the Moritaza the role of Akamatsu Mushanosuke in the kaomise drama "Tôsei Okuni Kabuki".

1st lunar month of 1704: Danshirô played the role of Arajishi Otokonosuke in the eponymous drama "Arajishi Otokonosuke", which was staged at the Moritaza.

19th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1704 [2]: his master Ichikawa Danjûrô I was stabbed to death by the actor Ikushima Hanroku.

Spring 1704: Danshirô's rank in the Edo hyôbanki, tachiyaku section, was jô-jô (superior - superior) [visual].

11th lunar month of 1707: Danshirô performed at the Ichimuraza in the kaomise drama "Hachinoki Ôkagami", which celebrated the arrival in Edo of the Kamigata actor Otowa Jirosaburô I; his others stage partners were Takeshima Kôzaemon I, Hayakawa Hatsuse and Kanazawa Goheiji I.

1st lunar month of 1708: Danshirô played in the same theater the role of Yamada Saburô in the new year drama "Aigyô Sumidagawa"; he retired and took the tonsure in a temple in the Shimôsa province. It was said that Danshirô has taken this decision because he fell in love with a Shin-Yoshiwara courtesan, who was none other than his real sister. They were separated when Danshirô was 10 years old and they did not recognize each other when they met for the first time (a common case in many Kabuki dramas).

1711: Danshirô was back on stage in Edo for one year. He achieved a great success at the Moritaza by playing the role of the priest Mongaku. Then, he definitively retired from the Kabuki world and went back to his temple.

2nd day of the 5th lunar month of 1717 [1]: Danshirô died in his temple.


Ichikawa Danshirô I was a talented disciple of Ichikawa Danjûrô I. He was specialized in supporting tachiyaku or katakiyaku roles in jidaimono. This short-sized actor excelled in the aragoto style and he was endowed with a powerful voice.

"In the middle of his career this first Danshirô shaved his head and became a Buddhist priest, retiring to a provincial temple. As Edo Kabuki of those days was lacking in good actors, messengers were frequently sent to his distant temple asking him to return to the stage, but he repeatedly refused. At last he consented upon the condition that at the end of the performances he was to return to his holy profession. He acted the rôle of Mongaku Shônin, the samurai who made love to the heroic Kesa Gozen, or the Lady Kesa. Wishing to get rid of her husband, the samurai planned to kill him in his sleep. Kesa Gozen gave Mongaku a sign by which he would know the right head to cut off--the hair was to be freshly washed. But to his horror the assassin found that he had killed the Lady Kesa herself, who had thus sacrificed her life to preserve her honour and by her act had saved the life of her husband. In penitence for this deed, Kesa Gozen's lover became a priest, and the interest of the Edo playgoers in Danshirô's return to the stage in this priestly rôle may well be imagined. True to his word, this follower of Danjûrô returned to his temple and died there in 1717." (Zoë Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")

[1] The 2nd day of the 5th lunar month of the 2nd year of the Kyôhô era was the 10th of June 1717 in the western calendar.

[2] The 19th day of the 2nd lunar month of the 17th year of the Genroku era was the 24th of March 1704 in the western calendar.

Ichikawa Danshirô I in an ilustration from the book "Kokon Shibai Irokurabe Hyakunin Isshu" (1st lunar month of 1693)

Prints & Illustrations

The Ichikawa Danshirô line of actors

The Ichikawa Danshirô line of actors

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