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One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). U is the sign of the hare. The month of the hare is the 2nd lunar month. There are 5 hare days in the 60 days of the traditional Japanese sexagenary cycle: the 4th, 16th, 28th, 40th & 52nd days. The hour of the hare (worth 2 hours in our time system) starts at 6 AM.

In Japanese:


A wet nurse.

In Japanese: 乳母


A newborn baby's first bath; the act of giving a newborn baby her or his first bath.

In Japanese: 産湯


An old custom of sprinkling water with a ladle on streets and gardens, especially in the summer time, in their house entrances and gardens or in front of their shops to lay the dust, to ease the heat and to feel a refreshing water coolness [more details].

In Japanese: 打ち水


A round-fan.

In Japanese: 団扇


A round-fan seller.

In Japanese: 団扇売


A type of thick wheat flour noodle in Japan [more details].

In Japanese: 饂飩 | うどん


A shop/restaurant selling udon.

In Japanese: 饂飩屋 | うどん屋


A seller of flowers/plants; a florist.

In Japanese: 植木売り


A gardener.

In Japanese: 植木屋

Uemachi Daichi

The Uemachi Plateau in ďsaka [more details].

In Japanese: 上町台地


An important area in Edo/t˘ky˘ history near the Ueno Mountain (Uenoyama). Since the Edo period, Ueno Mountain had been home to the spacious natural environment around the Kan'eiji Temple, a major temple of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was also a famous site for cherry-blossom viewing (hanami). It became a famous shitamachi neighborhood in T˘ky˘. Many important museums were built in this area during the Meiji era. It is nowadays part of the Tait˘ Ward [more details].

In Japanese: 上野

Ueno Sens˘

A 1-day battle fought during the Boshin War between the Sh˘gitai, under Shibusawa Seiichir˘ and Amano Hachir˘, and Imperial troops. it occurred the 4th of July 1868 in Ueno and it ended with the almost complete annihilation of the Sh˘gitai [more details].

In Japanese: 上野戦争

Uesugi Kagekatsu

Son of Uesugi Kenshin, Uesugi Kagekatsu (1556~1623) was a Japanese daimy˘ of the Echigo province [more details]. He is named Nagao Kagekatsu in the Kabuki classic "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘".

In Japanese: 上杉景勝

Uesugi Kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin (1530~1578) was a Japanese daimy˘ of the Echigo province in the late stage of the Sengoku period [more details]. He is named Nagao Kenshin in the Kabuki classic "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘".

In Japanese: 上杉謙信


Ugajin is the God of Harvest and Fertility in Japan.

In Japanese: 宇賀神


One's first battle; baptism of fire.

In Japanese: 初陣


During the Edo period, uir˘ was herbal medicine, used as an antitussive and a breath freshener. Nowadays, it is a sweet steamed cake made of rice flour and sugar.

In Japanese: 外郎

Uji Sadaijin

==> Fujiwara Yorinaga

In Japanese: 宇治左大臣


A famous bridge spanning the Uji River in Uji near Ky˘to.

In Japanese: 宇治橋


A ningy˘ j˘ruri theater founded during the second half of the 17th century in Ky˘to by Uji Kadayű, a j˘jűri reciter from the Kii peninsula. He took the name of Uji Kaganoj˘ in 1677 and shortly afterwards Chikamatsu Monzaemon started to write for him. The Ujiza was quite a popular theater up to the middle of the 1680s but it was quickly overshadowed by its rival in ďsaka, the Takemotoza. Uji Kaganoj˘ died the 21st of 1st lunar month of 1711.

In Japanese: 宇治座

Ukita Akiie

==> Sakazaki Naomori

In Japanese: 宇喜多詮家


Literally pictures of the floating world. Woodblock prints and paintings produced during the Edo period and the Meiji era about Kabuki actors (yakushae), beautiful women, landscapes, sum˘tori, erotic scenes,... [more details].

In Japanese: 浮世繪師 | 浮世絵


An ukiyoe artist.

In Japanese: 浮世絵師 | 浮世繪師


The uky˘, literally the left capital, was an old government post established in Ky˘to by the ritsury˘ system. The head/chief of the uky˘ was the uky˘dayű.

In Japanese: 右京


A courtesy title in the old feodal system. The chief of the uky˘.

In Japanese: 右京大夫


A horse. "The Kabuki stage horse is a work of art, a splendid structure of wood and velvet borne by two specialist assistants. These assistants have exercised a monopoly for generations and there is very little about the behavior of horses that they do not know and reproduce. Their beasts toss their heads, paw the ground, back away from obstacles and fret at the bit like any thoroughbred. Trotting is a proud specialty and the authors have even seen a gentle canter. The actor who rides such horses must give a tip known as "hay money" (kaibary˘) to the artists if he does not wish to risk an undignified fall - the pleasing tradition persists at least, even if present-day stage discipline militates against any such calculated mishaps" (Aubrey and Giovanna Halford in "The Kabuki Handbook").

In Japanese:


One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). Uma is the sign of the horse. Other possible reading: go. The month of the horse is the 5th lunar month. There are 5 horse days in the 60 days of the traditional Japanese sexagenary cycle: the 7th, 20th, 31st, 43rd & 55th days. The hour of the horse (worth 2 hours in our time system) starts at midday.

In Japanese:


Literally "cutting/slashing a horse". Do not worry, no animal was harmed in the making of this drama! This is the nickname of a famous scene in the dramas "Keisei Haru no Tori" or "Sanzen Ry˘ Kogane no Kurairi", in which the hero (either Matsudaira Ch˘shichir˘ or Oda Sanshichir˘ Nobutaka) kills with a single slash a horseman and takes his horse away (a horse loaded with money!).

In Japanese: 馬切り


A packhorse driver.

In Japanese: 馬方

Umayado ďji

==> Sh˘toku Taishi

In Japanese: 厩戸皇子


Plum tree/blossom. It is associated to Ume˘maru, one of the main characters in the epic drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami".

In Japanese:

Umebori Yoshibŕ

The Kabuki name of Umeshibu Kichibŕ.

In Japanese: 梅堀由兵衛


Dances or dramas whose leading character is the otokodate Umebori Yoshibŕ (commonly called Ume no Yoshibŕ). The most famous ume-no-yoshibŕmono in the current Kabuki repertoire is "Suda no Haru Geisha Katagi".

In Japanese: 梅の由兵衛物

Umeshibu Kichibŕ

An ďsaka otokodate from the district of Jűrakumachi. In order to rob him of his money, Umeshibu Kichibŕ killed in 1689 Ch˘kichi, a decchi from the Tenn˘jiya, a famous ry˘gaeya in ďsaka. This terrible murder became the talk of the town and it was quickly adapted to Kabuki in 1690. Umeshibu Kichibŕ became Umebori Yoshibŕ, commonly called Ume no Yoshibŕ, in Kabuki and the most famous ume-no-yoshibŕmono was "Suda no Haru Geisha Katagi".

In Japanese: 梅渋吉兵衛


The Umezu River. The name of the Katsura River flowing in Umezu near Ky˘to.

In Japanese: 梅津川


The seaside.

In Japanese: 海辺


A famous place name, in the Minami district in ďsaka. It gave its name to the Kabuki play "Unagidani". The words unagi and dani meaning eel and valley in Japanese, Unagidani is therefore the Valley of Eels! Nowadays, its sh˘tengai (a Japanese commercial district running along a certain street) is quite famous [picture].

In Japanese: 鰻谷


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the southern part of the eastern part of Shimane Prefecture. It was also called Izumo [more details].

In Japanese: 雲州


A fishing boat.

In Japanese: 魚船


The reverse side; the opposite rear. A Kabuki theater is divided into two different worlds (spaces) by the stage hikimaku, the ura and the omote; the ura is the actors/backstage side.

In Japanese:

Urabe Kageyu Suetake

==> Urabe Suetake

In Japanese: 卜部勘解由季武

Urabe Kageyu Suetake

Urabe Kageyu Suetake (950 ~ 1022[?]) was a warrior of the Heian period in the service of Minamoto no Yorimitsu. He was one of the four shitenn˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 卜部季武


A fortune-teller.

In Japanese: 占方


A stagehand; a propman.

In Japanese: 裏方


A back gate.

In Japanese: 裏門


A special costum patter "with a triangle pattern done in silver leaf, making an allover triangle diaper of white and silver that symbolizes the scales of a snake." (Ruth Shaver in "Kabuki Costume")

In Japanese:

Uroko Yoten

One of the five main yoten costumes. "Costumes classified as uroko yoten have a background of white silk with a triangle pattern done in silver leaf, making an allover triangle diaper of white and silver that symbolizes the scales of a snake." (Ruth Shaver in "Kabuki Costume")

In Japanese: 鱗四天


One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). Ushi is the sign of the ox. Other possible reading: chű. The month of the ox is the 12th lunar month. There are 5 ox days in the 60 days of the traditional Japanese sexagenary cycle: the 2nd, 14th, 26th, 38th & 50th days. The hour of the ox (worth 2 hours in our time system) starts at 2 AM.

In Japanese:

Ushi no Gozen

==> Ushijima Jinja

In Japanese: 牛の御前


Ushigome was a neighborhood in Edo. It became the Ushigome Ward in T˘ky˘. In 1947, when the 35 wards of T˘ky˘ were reorganized into 23, it was merged with Yotsuya Ward in the new Shinjuku Ward [more details].

In Japanese: 牛込

Ushijima Jinja

The Ushijima Shrine. A Shint˘ shrine built between 859 and 879 in Muk˘jima. Also called Ushi no Gozen [more details | Ushi-no-Gozen from the series "Famous Places of Edo" (Torii Kiyonaga 1783/84)].

In Japanese: 牛嶋神社


Old province in Japan, which grosso modo corresponded to the prefectures of Yamagata and Akita. It was also called Dewa [more details].

In Japanese: 羽州

Usui Sadamitsu

Usui Yukienoj˘ Sadamitsu (954[?] ~ 1021) was a warrior of the Heian period in the service of Minamoto no Yorimitsu. He was one of the four shitenn˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 碓井貞光

Usui Yukienoj˘ Sadamitsu

==> Usui Sadamitsu

In Japanese: 碓井靭負之丞貞光


A singer in a traditional Nagauta musical ensemble.

In Japanese: 唄方


A ballad with shamisen accompaniment. Often featuring sensational pieces of news like a shinjű.

In Japanese: 歌祭文


"Utazawa is a style of singing with shamisen that comes from the late Edo period. The voice is drawn out and highly ornamented and there is a very subtle relationship between the voice and the shamisen. It began when some samurai and wealthy merchants decided that the popular songs of the time needed to be polished and improved and eventually, this became a separate style." (Source)

The first master of this style was Utazawa Sasamaru, who later took the name of Yamato no Daij˘. This school divided itself into two branches, one led by Utazawa Toraemon and the other led by Utazawa Shibakin.

In Japanese:
歌沢 (for the Toraemon branch)
哥沢 (for the Shibakin branch)
うた沢 (when both branches perform together)


The name of a Japanese seabird, which calls out its children with the onomatopoeia ut˘. The children answer with the onomatopoeia yasukata. Hunters imitate this cry to catch the young birds. The parents seeing their young taken are said to weep tears of blood. "Ut˘" is also a famous N˘ drama, which tells the story of a traveling priest who meets the spirit of a hunter who used to live near the Soto-ga-Hama beach. The spirit asks the priest to contact his wife and child and make an offering of a hat and cloak which he used to wear. He also tears off the sleeve of his kimono and gives it to the priest as a proof of their meeting. The priest goes to Soto-ga-Hama beach and visits the home of the hunter. The spirit appears and, bitterly regretting having killed against buddhist precepts, tells of his misery in hell because of the burden of his bird-killing sin. This legend was revisited in the second act of "ďshű Adachi-ga-Hara".

In Japanese: 善知鳥


A python.

In Japanese:


Uwanari is an unusual word. The ideogram represents a man standing between two women. It means second wife, and by extension jealousy. The jealousy of the first wife against the second woman who has stolen the heart of her husband. In Kabuki, it is associated to shittogoto. Uwanari is also the title of a rarely-staged drama belonging to the Kabuki Jűhachiban

In Japanese:

Wada Gassen

The battle of Wada. The Wada clan against the H˘j˘ clan. It happened in Kamakura the 24th and 25th of May 1213 and ended with the total destruction of the Wada clan. Wada no Yoshimori, the leader of the clan, was killed in action the 24th and Wada no Tsunemori, the heir of the clan, was able to run away but committed suicide the 25th.

In Japanese: 和田合戦


The Wada clan, which existed in Japan between the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura period. It was founded and led by Wada no Yoshimori. They competed against the H˘j˘ clan and were utterly defeated at the Wada Battle.

In Japanese: 和田氏

Wada Tsunemori

Wada no Tsunemori (1172~1213) was the eldest son and heir of Wada no Yoshimori, the head of the Wada clan. He was also the brother of Kobayashi no Asahina. He was a gokenin of the Kamakura Shogunate. He took part in the Battle of Wada, where the Wada clan was defeated by the H˘j˘ clan. He ran away in the Province of Kai, where he committed suicide the 25th of May 1213.

In Japanese: 和田常盛

Wada Yoshimori

Wada no Yoshimori (1147~1213) was an important gokenin of the Kamakura Shogunate and the head of the powerful Wada clan. He led his troops and allies at the Battle of Wada in Kamakura, where his clan was defeated by the H˘j˘ Clan and where he was killed in action the 24th of May 1213 [more details].

In Japanese: 和田義盛


The "gentle style". One important Kabuki acting style, usually opposed to the aragoto style. The father of wagoto was the great Kamigata actor Sakata T˘jűr˘. The typical wagoto hero is a young, soft, romantic refined gallant, the heir of a rich family of merchants and deeply in love with the most beautiful courtesan of the ďsaka pleasure quarter. He has spent all the family fortune in the pleasure quarter or doesn't have enough money to buy back the contract of his lover. At the end of the play, he often has to run away with her lover, committing a beautiful shinjű in order to live happy together in the afterlife. Speech and gesture in wagoto are much more realistic and delicate than in the aragoto style. The two most famous wagoto roles are Fujiya Izaemon and Hiranoya Tokubŕ in the plays "Kuruwa Bunsh˘" and "Sonezaki Shinjű". The wagoto style symbolizes the Kamigata Kabuki, whereas the aragoto style is associated to Edo Kabuki.

In Japanese: 和事


One subdivision of tachiyaku: a wagotoshi is an actor specialized in roles in the wagoto style.

In Japanese: 和事師


One subdivision of tachiyaku: wajitsu is a subtle mix of wagotoshi and jitsugotoshi. The best example is Sait˘ no Sanemori in "Sanemori Monogatari".

In Japanese: 和実


A young master, the heir of a merchant. The wakadanna is a classic character in Kabuki. In many plays, he is in trouble as he has been disinherited after spending too much money in the pleasure quarter.

In Japanese: 若旦那


A young master.

In Japanese: 若殿


Literally "Junior Elder". A high-ranking government official during the Edo period under the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867) [more details].

In Japanese: 若年寄


Mount Wakakusa. Also known as Mount Mikasa. It is a 342-metre-high mountain located in Nara to the east of Nara Park. Its old name was Mount Tsuzura [more details].

In Japanese: 若草山


A young prince.

In Japanese: 若宮


Actor onnagata specialized in young maiden or princess roles.

In Japanese: 若女方


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the southern part of the current prefecture of Fukui. It was also called Jakushű.

In Japanese: 若狭


A young adolescent.

In Japanese: 若衆


Actors specialized in young adolescent roles.

In Japanese: 若衆方


The lowest class of samurai, the young retainers in a clan.

In Japanese: 若党 / 若黨


A youngster; a neophyte.

In Japanese: 若僧


Supporting role. A supporting role actor.

In Japanese: 脇役


Dances or dramas whose main characters are Wan'ya Kyűbŕ and his lover, the courtesan Matsuyama. Kyűbŕ, nicknamed Wankyű, is the son of a wealthy ďsaka drygoods dealer. He spends all his time and family's money in the pleasures quarter and his extravagance has no limit. His parents are so exasperated that they decide to confine him in a room. He escapes and wanders in the countryside in a state of madness, desperately looking for his lover. This story is based on some real facts. There was a man named Wan'ya Kyűemon, who led an extravagant life in the Shinmachi pleasure quarter, loving a courtesan named Matsuyama. Many legends surrounded his life and he became the hero of a book written by the famous writer Ihara Saikaku. One of these legends was about a new year party done in the middle of summer, using expensive decorations, including some real pieces of gold to be picked up by the crowd. The death of Kyűemon is still a mystery. He was punished by his parents and confined in a room. In one version, he escaped, became crazy and fell into a river. The other version is less romantic: he was sent off in Ky˘to and died of illness there. His tombstone is located in the Jiss˘ji temple in ďsaka.

The most famous wankyűmono are "Ninin Wankyű", "Maboroshi Wankyű" and "Wankyű Sue no Matsuyama".

In Japanese: 椀久物

Wan'ya Kyűemon

The merchant Wan'ya Kyűemon, who lavishly spent money in the pleasure quarter of ďsaka, was imprisoned by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Ihara Saikaku wrote his life story and his love story with the courtesan Matsuyama.

In Japanese: 椀屋久右衛門


Known as "Japanese horseradish", its root is used as a spice and has an extremely strong flavor [more details].

In Japanese: 山葵

Wasa Daihachir˘

Wasa Daihachir˘ or Wasa Norit˘ (1642~1696) was a famous 17th century samurai archer. He was the rival of Hoshino Kanzaemon. He became a character in the Kabuki drama "Keisei Yamato Z˘shi" with the slightly modified name of Wada Raihachi.

In Japanese: 和佐大八郎


Japanese hand-molded traditional paper.

In Japanese: 和紙


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Nara Prefecture. It was also called Yamato.

In Japanese: 和州

Watanabe Kuranosuke

==> Watanabe Tadasu

In Japanese: 渡辺内蔵助

Watanabe Kuranosuke Tadasu

==> Watanabe Tadasu

In Japanese: 渡辺内蔵助糺

Watanabe Tadasu

Watanabe Tadasu (???~1615) was a bush˘ of the Azuchi-Momoyama period and of the beginning of the Edo period. He was at the service of the Toyotomi Clan. He was a master of the spear and served Toyotomi Hideyori as the instructor of the art of spears. He fought and was defeated by Uesugi Kagekatsu in the Battle of Kamono during the winter campaign of the Siege of ďsaka. He died the 3rd of June 1615. His tsűsh˘ was Kuranosuke.

In Japanese: 渡辺糺


A cotton thread spinning frame.

In Japanese: 綿繰


Literally the spinning frame (watakuri) horse (uma). The expression was used in the drama "Sanemori Monogatari", with the departure of Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori on his horse (uma) at the end of the play and the young boy Tarokichi imitating him on the spinning frame (watakuri) as though it were a horse.

In Japanese: 綿繰馬

Watanabe Genji Tsuna

==> Watanabe Tsuna

In Japanese: 渡邊源氏綱

Watanabe Tsuna

Watanabe Genji Tsuna (953~1025) was one of the four retainers (shitenn˘) of Minamoto no Yorimitsu. He also held the positions of governor (kami) of the provinces of Settsu and Tango [more details].

In Japanese: 渡邊綱


A ferryman (or ferrywoman).

In Japanese: 渡守


A cotton merchant.

In Japanese: 綿屋

Yabase no Ura

The Yabase Bay is a famous bay on Lake Biwa and one of the "Eight Views" of ďmi (ďmi Hakkei), "the Boats Returning to Yabase". On Hiroshige's famous print, a poem tells about "the boats that come with swelling sails to Yabase have been chased by the wind along the coasts of Uchide" (as it was translated by Mr. Binyon for the British Museum catalogue).

In Japanese: 八橋の浦

Yabo Daijin

An uncouth wealthy countryside bumpkin.

In Japanese: 野暮大尽

Yada Gor˘emon

Yada Gor˘emon Suketake (1675~1703) was one of the 47 r˘nin of Ak˘ (Ak˘ R˘shi). Like the others, he committed seppuku the 4th of the 2nd lunar month of the 16th year of the Genroku era (the 20th of March 1703 in the western calendar).

In Japanese: 矢田五郎右衛門


Literally 'multi-layered cherry tree'. This is a common word used in Japan for cherry blossoms with more than five petals. Because of the double layers of petals, theyĺre said to be a symbol of strength.

In Japanese: 八重桜 | 八重櫻


Literally "arrow shape". The name of the cornet fish, an extremely elongated fish [more details].

In Japanese: 矢柄


Actor guild name. The equivalent of a store name for actors. During the feudal times, lower class people were not allowed to hold family names. It was however possible for a merchant or an employee to use his store name as a family name. For example, Ch˘bŕ, head clerk at the Yamadaya liquor shop was called Yamadaya Ch˘bŕ. The Kabuki actors used family names, like Ichikawa, Nakamura, Onoe, Kataoka or Band˘ to name the most famous ones, but it was of course a breach in the law and the yag˘ was a good way to give the illusion to the Shogunal authorities that actors were not trying to usurp some privileges of the higher classes. The yag˘ is very important in Kabuki, more important than the family name of the actor, because it strictly defines the guilds (acting families). For example the Ichikawa clan is divided in several guilds like Naritaya, Omodakaya or Mikawaya. Without the yag˘, there would be no way to understand the close link between the Onoe Kikugor˘ and Band˘ Hikosabur˘ lines of actors, which share the same guild name (Otowaya). The first ideogram used in a yag˘ is ya, which means roof/house/shop in Japanese.

In Japanese: 屋号

Yaguchi no Watashi

The Yaguchi Ferry. A famous place with a ferry landing on the Rokug˘ River.

In Japanese: 矢口の渡し


Literally the "drum tower". A traditional turret built on top of the Kabuki theaters to symbolize the license to produce theater performances granted by the authorities during the Edo period. There used to be a drum in the yagura, which was beaten to open or close a performance everyday. Nowadays, there is still one yagura on top of the Kabukiza but no more drum or license.

In Japanese:

Yagyű Shinkage Ryű

One of the most famous Japanese schools of swordsmanship [more details].

In Japanese: 柳生新陰流


A famous bridge in Okazaki [print].

In Japanese: 矢矧橋

Yaheiby˘e Munekiyo

==> Taira no Munekiyo

In Japanese: 弥平兵衛宗清 | 彌平兵衛宗清


A daimy˘'s mansion

In Japanese:


A traditional roofed pleasure boat.

In Japanese: 屋形船


Low-ranking footman serving a high-ranking samurai. They lead their Lord cortege to free the streets with their spears when he travels in the country. They are key roles in many Kabuki dramas, helping either the hero or the villain of the play and they are at the center of many famous tachimawari. Yakko's costums are always colorful and they often put on kumadori make-up.

In Japanese:


Play or dance whose main character is a yakko.

In Japanese: 奴物


The strangling of a person or an animal with one's bare hands.

In Japanese: 扼殺



In Japanese: 役者


A traditional Japanese print (ukiyoe) depicting Kabuki actors.

In Japanese: 役者絵

Yakusha Gakuya Tsű

An illustrated book containing 36 actors portraits, drawn by either Utagawa Toyokuni I or Utagawa Kunimasa I. The texts were written by Shikitei Samba and the book was published in 1799. The actors are (in the alphabetical order) : Arashi Sanpachi I, Arashi Shichigor˘ III, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ III, Band˘ Minosuke I, Band˘ Mitsugor˘ II, Band˘ Zenji I, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VI, Ichikawa Danz˘ IV, Ichikawa Hakuen I, Ichikawa Komaz˘ III, Ichikawa Omez˘ I, Ichikawa Tomoz˘ II, Ichikawa Yaoz˘ III, Iwai Hanshir˘ IV, Iwai Kiyotar˘ II, Iwai Kumesabur˘ I, Kirinoya Monz˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘ IV, Matsumoto Kunigor˘, Matsumoto Yonesabur˘ I, Morita Kan'ya VIII, Nakajima Wadaemon, Nakamura Denkur˘ IV, Nakamura Noshio II, Nakayama Tomisabur˘ I, Onoe Matsusuke I, Osagawa Tsuneyo II, ďtani Hiroji III, ďtani Tokuji I, ďtani Tomoemon II, Sanogawa Ichimatsu III, Sawamura S˘jűr˘ III, Sawamura T˘z˘ I, Segawa Kikunoj˘ III, Segawa Kikusabur˘ II and Segawa Tomisabur˘ II.

In Japanese: 俳優楽室通

Yakusha Hy˘banki


Yakusha Mono Iwai

Literally "A Celebration of Actors". "Yakusha Mono Iwai" was an illustrated book dedicated to Kamigata actors, illustrated by Ryűk˘sai Jokei and published by Inaba Shin'emon and Murakami Kuhŕ in ďsaka in 1784. Illustrations of 49 actors in two books, each with a poem, his yag˘ and his haimy˘: Anegawa Daikichi I, Anegawa Minato II, Arashi Bungor˘ I, Arashi Hinasuke I, late Arashi Kichisabur˘ I, Arashi Sanpachi I, Arashi San'emon VI, Arashi Sangor˘ II, Arashi Sanjűr˘ IV, Arashi Shichigor˘ II, Arashi Shinpei II, Asao Kunigor˘ II, Asao Tamejűr˘ I, Asao Toyoz˘ I, Band˘ Iwagor˘, late Fujikawa Hachiz˘ I, Fujikawa Hachiz˘ II, Fujikawa Kanekur˘, Fujikawa Sango, Hanagiri Toyomatsu III, Imamura Shichisabur˘ III, Mihogi Gizaemon II, late Mimasu Daigor˘ I, Mimasu Daigor˘ II, Mimasu Matsugor˘ I, Mimasu Tokujir˘ I, Nakamura Jiroza II, Nakamura Jűz˘ II, Nakamura Kashichi I, Nakamura Ky˘jűr˘ II, Nakamura Noshio II, Nakamura Tomijűr˘ I, Nakamura Utaemon II, Nakayama Bunshichi I, Nakayama Raisuke II, late Nakayama Shinkur˘ II, Nakayama Taz˘, Ogawa Kichitar˘ I, Onoe Kikugor˘ I, Onoe Shinshichi I, Onoe Tamiz˘ I, Sawamura Kunitar˘ I, Shibazaki Rinzaemon II, Somematsu Shichisabur˘ II, Yamamura Giemon II, Yamashina Jinkichi II, Yamashita Kamenoj˘ IV, Yamashita Kinsaku II, Yamashita Yaoz˘ I and Yoshizawa Iroha I.

In Japanese: 旦生言語備

Yakusha ďkagami

Literally the "Great Mirror of Actors". A series of hy˘banki books which were published in the 2nd lunar month of 1692 (Ky˘to/ďsaka), the 1st lunar month of 1695 (Edo), the 2nd lunar month of 1695 (Ky˘to/ďsaka) and the 2nd lunar month of 1697 (Edo/Ky˘to/ďsaka).

In Japanese: 役者大鑑

Yakusha ďkagami Gassai

==> Yakusha ďkagami

In Japanese: 役者大鑑合彩

Yakusha Yoyo no Tsugiki

An important book in 5 volumes about Kabuki, which was published during the 1840s in Edo and which provided readers with data about famous lines of actors. The author was named Haiyűd˘ Muyű.

In Japanese: 俳優世々の接木

Yakuwari Banzuke

Yakuwari banzuke were sold at theatres and teahouses. In Edo, the yakuwari banzuke was similar to a booklet, consisting of six page sheets of paper. The opening page displayed the blazon and name of a theatre in the center, surrounded by the actors' blazons (mon), which lend these works the alternate name mon banzuke. The second page presents the actors' names and mon, followed by the ˘nadai (the Kabuki ky˘gen title of the day), konadai (titles for each act) and titles of chants, as well as the casts, playwrights and the name of the theatre. In ďsaka, single sheets were usually used, while a set of two long, horizontal sheets were used in Ky˘to. The names of the actors and cast lists were shown on these (from the Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center).

In Japanese: 役割番付


An itinerant Buddhist priest practicing asceticism in the mountains. The most famous one is the monk warrior Musashib˘ Benkei, commonly called Benkei, faithful retainer of the young Lord Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

In Japanese: 山伏

Yamai Hachimaki

Literally a sickness headband. When a character in Kabuki is ill, he often wears a purple headband with the knot on his/her left. Why purple? The legends said that it could be the plant used to dye it purple which was also a useful medicine, or that the purple color was said to ward away evil spirits. You can see yamai hachimaki in many Kabuki dramas. Two good examples are Matsu˘maru in "Terakoya" and Minamoto no Yorimitsu in "Tsuchi-gumo".

In Japanese: 病鉢巻

Yamamoto Hisashi

Born in 1910. He inherited his father's movie billboard painting business. He became not only a talented painter and print maker but also an actor, performing with an amateur theater troupe called Murasakiza (literally the 'Purple Troupe'). His real name was Kanesaka Kan'ichi and he died the 4th of May 1999.

In Japanese: 山本ひさし


Yamanba is the supernatural mountain hag of the Japanese legends. In Kabuki, she is the mother of Sakata Kintoki, a strong boy who was one of the four shitenn˘ of Minamoto no Yorimitsu.

In Japanese: 山姥


Dramas or dances whose main character is yamanba. One of the most famous yamanbamono is Chikamatsu Monzaemon's drama "Komochi Yamanba".

In Japanese: 山姥物

Yamaneko Sanji

In Kabuki, one of the 6 members of the Kumokiri Gonin Otoko gang.

In Japanese: 山猫三次

Yamaoka Takayuki

==> Yamaoka Tesshű

In Japanese: 山岡高歩

Yamaoka Tesshű

Yamaoka Tesshű (1836~1888), also known as Ono Tetsutar˘, Yamaoka Tetsutar˘ or Yamaoka Takayuki, was a samurai and keng˘ of the Bakumatsu period. He played an important role during the Meiji Restoration and he was the founder of the Itt˘ Sh˘den Mut˘-ryű school of swordsmanship. He was one of the three Bakumatsu no Sanshű [more details].

In Japanese: 山岡鉄舟 | 山岡鐵舟

Yamaoka Tetsutar˘

==> Yamaoka Tesshű

In Japanese: 山岡鉄太郎 | 山岡鐵太郎


Yamashina was a farming village located between Ky˘to and the province of ďmi. It became Yamashina-ku, a ward of the city of Ky˘to..

In Japanese: 山科


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the southern part of Ky˘to Prefecture today [more details].

In Japanese: 山城


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Nara Prefecture. It was also called Washű.

In Japanese: 大和

Yamato Hasedera

The Yamato Hasedera Temple in the province of Yamato (nowadays in the city of Sakurai the Nara Prefecture). It is the main temple of the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism and it is famous for its bell named Onoe no Kane [more details].

In Japanese: 大和長谷寺

Yamato Katsuragisan

Mount Yamato Katsuragi or simply Mount Katsuragi is a mountain in the province of Yamato. The peak elevation is 959.2 metres [more details].

In Japanese: 大和葛城山

Yamato K˘riyama

It was the castle town of K˘riyama in the province of Yamato. It was renamed Yamato K˘riyama, a city in the prefecture of Nara [more details].

In Japanese: 大和郡山


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Band˘ Shűch˘ and Iwai Hanshir˘.

In Japanese: 大和屋

Yamauchi Masajir˘

==> Sagamiya Masagor˘

In Japanese: 山中政次郎

Yamazaki no Tatakai

The battle of Yamazaki. A battle which happened in 1582 near Ky˘to. Akechi Mitsuhide, a retainer of the warlord Oda Nobunaga, attacked his lord as he rested in the Honn˘ji Temple in Ky˘to. He forced him to commit seppuku and took over Nobunaga's power and authority around the Ky˘to area. Thirteen days later, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, another retainer of Oda Nobunaga, met Mitsuhide and his troops at Yamazaki and easily defeated him, avenging his lord and seizing authority and power for himself [more details].

In Japanese: 山崎の戦い


The name of a precious jewel belonging to Kat˘ Saemon Shigeuji in the drama "Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto".

In Japanese: 夜明珠


A willow tree.

In Japanese:


Yanagibashi was a famous hanamachi in Edo/T˘ky˘. Located near the eponymous bridge.

In Japanese: 柳橋


Literally the Willow Tree Bridge. A bridge in Edo/T˘ky˘ built over the Kanda River, near the Sumida River.

In Japanese: 柳橋


Literally the Yanagisawa dispute (s˘d˘) plays. These plays dramatize a huge dispute which occurred in the heart of the ruling Tokugawa clan and whose main people were the 5th Tokugawa Sh˘gun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi and Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, an exceptionally influential advisor to the Sh˘gun. The first yanagisawa-s˘d˘mono was the ni-no-kawari drama "Keisei Yanagi Zakura", which was written by Tatsuoka Mansaku and Chikamatsu Tokus˘, and was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1793. Others yanagisawa-s˘d˘mono were Tsuruya Nanboku IV's 1819 drama "Ume Yanagi Wakaba no Kagazome" and Kawatake Shinshichi II's 1875 drama "Ura Omote Yanagi no Uchiwae".

In Japanese: 柳沢騒動物


The name of a district in Edo shitamachi during the Edo period. The name is no more used. If we compare to nowadays, the old Yanagishima district was precisely located in both Sumida Ward (districts of Narihira, Yokokawa, Taihei and Kinshi) and K˘t˘ Ward (district of Kameido) of T˘ky˘.

In Japanese: 柳島


A famous temple town in Edo/T˘ky˘. It is located north of the district of Ueno and it is famous for its cemetery surrounded by more than 60 small temples [more details].

In Japanese: 谷中

Yanaka Sansaki-ch˘

An Edo period district in Yanaka. Nowadays, it is the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th districts of Yanaka in Tait˘ Ward [pictures and more details in Japanese].

In Japanese: 谷中三崎町


A roofer.

In Japanese: 屋根屋


The owner of a house; a landlord or a landlady.

In Japanese: 家主


A greengrocer.

In Japanese: 八百屋

Yaoya Oshichi

Oshichi was a 16 year-old girl, daughter of a vegetable store (yaoya in Japanese) owner, living in the district of Hong˘ in Edo (the current Bunky˘-ku ward in T˘ky˘). In 1681 Oshichi fell in love with a young priest whom she met at his temple while seeking shelter from a large fire. Hoping to see him again, she set fire in 1682 to her own home, causing a massive blaze that destroyed a huge section of Edo. She was arrested, trialed and condemned to be executed for arson. She was burnt alive to pay for her crime. Her grave is located in a temple in the district of Hakusan (Bunky˘-ku, T˘ky˘). Yaoya Oshichi became a legend and a leading character in several Kabuki plays.

In Japanese: 八百屋お七


A Spear.

In Japanese:

Yari Odori

Dance with a Spear (keyari). This kind of dance was created by the great dancer Mizuki Tatsunosuke I during the Genroku era.

In Japanese: 槍踊り


The tip of a spear.

In Japanese: 槍先


A doer; a go-getter; a shrewd person; a hot shot; a brothel madam.

In Japanese: 遣り手

Yar˘ Sanza no Wabi

An actor hy˘banki published in Edo in the 3rd lunar month of 1684.

In Japanese: 野良三座詫

Yar˘ Tachiyaku Butai ďkagami

The "Great Mirror of Adult Male Role Players" [1], which was published in ďsaka by Izumiya Yazaemon in the 1st lunar month of 1687, was a Kabuki hy˘banki.

In Japanese: 野良立役舞台大鏡

Yar˘ Y˘kyű

A hy˘banki published in Edo in 1693. Literally 'The Actors' Toy Bows'. Yar˘ meant adult actors (nowadays it is an insult meaning b@st@rd, @ssh@le, son of a b@tch or any similar colorful insulting expression) and Y˘kyű was a traditional bow toy (y˘kyű).

In Japanese: 野郎楊弓

Yasaka Jinja

The Yasaka Shrine (jinja). A famous Shint˘ shrine in Ky˘to in the district of Gion (first construction started in 656) [more details].

In Japanese: 八坂神社


The mansion of a samurai family.

In Japanese: 屋敷

Yashima no Tatakai

The battle of Yashima. A major Heike naval defeat against the Genji, which occured the 22nd of March 1185 near the city of Takamatsu, just off the coast of Shikoku Island [more details in English/more details in Japanese].

In Japanese: 屋島の戦い


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current prefecture of Tochigi. It was also called Shimotsuke.

In Japanese: 野州


Yasui was a small city in the province of Settsu. It became a district, the district of Yasui in the Sakai Ward of the city of Sakai in the ďsaka Prefecture.

In Japanese: 安井

Yasukuni Jinja

Yasukuni Shrine. A national shrine built atop Kudanzaka in T˘ky˘ to enshrine those who have died fighting in service of the emperor during the wars involving Japan. It was named T˘ky˘ Sh˘konsha between 1869, year of the construction, to 1879 [more details].

In Japanese: 靖国神社

Yatai kuzushi

A spectacular pavilion or building destruction on a Kabuki stage (keren).

In Japanese: 屋台崩し

Yatsu Yűjo

Sex slave during the Edo period. The yatsu yűjo were women condemned to be sold for life service as prostitutes in a kuruwa.

In Japanese: 奴遊女


A former rich man fallen into the lower classes because he spent all his money for the love of a courtesan.

In Japanese: 俏し


Nimaime actor excelling in yatsushigoto roles.

In Japanese: 俏し方


One form of wagoto, with the main character being a yatsushi.

In Japanese: 俏し事


Spring. The third lunar month in the traditional Japanese calendar.

In Japanese: 弥生 | 彌生

Yayoi Ky˘gen

A play performed in Edo during the Edo period in the 3rd lunar month of the year (yayoi). In Kamigata, the 3rd lunar month plays were called san-no-kawari.

In Japanese: 弥生狂言 | 彌生狂言


Night watch. A night watchman.

In Japanese: 夜番


The 4th generation; the 4th holder of a name; the 4th actor in a lineage.

In Japanese: 四代目


==> Yodogimi.

In Japanese: 淀殿


The Yodo River. This 120 km long river begins at Lake Biwa and ends in the ďsaka bay. The Yodo River is the principal river in ďsaka Prefecture. It is also called the Seta River and the Uji River at portions of its route (in Ky˘to Prefecture) [more details].

In Japanese: 淀川


Yodogimi (1567~1615), also called Yodo-dono or Yodo-no-Kata, was a concubine and second wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. She also became the mother of his son and successor, Toyotomi Hideyori. Her original first name was Chacha. When Hideyoshi died, she became a Buddhist nun and took the name of Daik˘in. In 1614, she led with her son a rebellion against Tokugawa Ieyasu. They failed and Yodogimi and her son committed suicide on the 4th of June 1615 as ďsaka Castle fell to the Tokugawa forces [more details].

In Japanese: 淀君


The Yodo Domain. An important domain of the Edo period in the province of Yamashiro. The center of this domain was Yodo Castle [more details].

In Japanese: 淀藩


The Castle of Yodo. The castle of the Yodo Domain in the province of Yamashiro (nowadays the Fushimi Ward in Ky˘to). It was built in 1623 by Matsudaira Sadatsuna. It belonged to several clans like the Ichikawas or the Inabas. It was dismantled in 1871. A few stones from the honmaru and a moat are still visible.

In Japanese: 淀城

Yodomachi Gozen

The Kabuki role name of Yodogimi during the Edo period. Because of strict Shogunate censorship, the playwrights had to change the names. However, the changes were quite light and the audience had no problem to understand who was who.

In Japanese: 淀町御前


==> Yodogimi.

In Japanese: 淀の方


Yogor˘ was the tsűsh˘ of the warrior Kanzaki Noriyasu.

In Japanese: 与五郎

Yoi G˘shin

==> k˘shin machi

In Japanese: 宵庚申


A toothpick; a toothbrush.

In Japanese: 楊枝


A toothpick/toothbrush maker.

In Japanese: 楊枝屋


Literally "bewitching apparition". Y˘kai are supernatural creatures in the Japanese folklore [more details].

In Japanese: 妖怪


Y˘kihi is the Chinese imperial consort Yang Guifei in Japanese.

In Japanese: 楊貴妃


A small toy bow that can be shot while sitting. This game was very popular during the Edo period [more details].

In Japanese: 楊弓

Y˘mei Tenn˘

Emperor Y˘mei (517 ~ 587) was the 31st Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 585 until his death the 21st of May 587 [more details].

In Japanese: 用明天皇


A type of popular Japanese literature of Edo period. Yomihon were distinguished from books, enjoyed mainly for their illustrations, and were noted for their extended plots culled from Chinese and Japanese historical sources. These novels were openly moralistic romances, and their highly schematized characters often included witches, fairy princesses, and impeccably noble gentlemen [more details].

In Japanese: 読本


During the Edo period and up to the Meiji era, the yomiuri were street peddlers singing, reciting or narrating some pieces of news, with or without musical accompaniment (shamisen, percussions).

In Japanese: 読売 | 讀賣


A childhood name for a person.

In Japanese: 幼名


A famous kuruwa in the city of Nagasaki. The other kuruwa was Maruyamamachi.

In Japanese: 寄合町


Working under the machi bugy˘, the yoriki were samurai who managed patrols and guard units composed of lower ranking police officials. Yoriki, being of a higher class, were able to ride a horse while performing their duties and were trusted to carry out police assignments of high importance [more details].

In Japanese: 与力


==> Tsukudajima

In Japanese: 鎧島 | 鎧嶋


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Shinjir˘ and Nakamura Shid˘.

In Japanese: 萬屋


==> ninsoku yoseba

In Japanese: 寄場


An adopted child.

In Japanese: 養子


A district located in Nihonbashi in Edo, then in T˘ky˘. This is one of the 6th hanamachi in Edo/T˘ky˘.

"Yoshi-ch˘, also known as Nihonbashi Yoshi-ch˘, is considered the most elegant geisha district in T˘ky˘. Situated in the heart of the city, it is home to dozens of geisha and eminently popular among the high-class of Japan. The traditional music played by the geisha of Yoshicho, along with the poems they recite, are said to be invaluable. One of the few hanamachi still prosperous and thriving, already setting it apart from the others, it also welcomes foreigners to witness geisha performances, unlike most other districts." (T˘ky˘'s Hidden Geisha Culture)

In Japanese: 芳町 | 葭町

Yoshida Chűzaemon

==> Yoshida Kanesuke

In Japanese: 吉田忠左衛門

Yoshida Chűzaemon Kanesuke

==> Yoshida Kanesuke

In Japanese: 吉田忠左衛門兼亮

Yoshida Jinja

The Yoshida Shrine. A Shint˘ shrine, which was founded in Ky˘to in 859 by the Fujiwara clan [more details].

In Japanese: 吉田神社

Yoshida Kanesuke

Yoshida Kanesuke (1640~1703) was one of the shijűshichishi. His tsűsh˘ was Chűzaemon.

In Japanese: 吉田兼亮

Yoshimine Munesada

==> S˘j˘ Henj˘

In Japanese: 良岑宗貞


The Yoshino River. The name of the River of Ki in the city of Nara.

In Japanese: 吉野川


Mount Yoshino. A mountain located in the district of Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, Japan [more details]. "Mount Yoshino is quite simply one of Japan's very best cherry blossom viewing locations. An amazing 30,000 trees encompassing 200 varieties cover the mountain and from early April, when the blossoms at the foot of the mountain start to bloom, the whole mountain is slowly blanketed in pink until later in the same month when the green shoots appear. Toyotomi Hideyoshi is known to have held a grand cherry blossom viewing party with 5000 guests in 1594 but is not alone in big names making the journey to this Mecca of blossoms as Matsuo Bash˘, Shimazaki T˘son, Tanizaki Jun'ichir˘ and a number of other novelists and scholars are also known to have visited Yoshino" (source).

In Japanese: 吉野山

Yoshitsune Shitenn˘

This expression comes from the four Deva kings in Buddhism. It was used for the four valiant and strong retainers of Minamoto Yoshitsune: Suruga Jir˘, Kamei Rokur˘, Kataoka Hachir˘ and Hitachib˘ Kaison.

In Japanese: 義経四天王


Famous pleasure quarter in Edo. The Shogunal authorities ordered the construction of Yoshiwara in 1615. The first location was the current district of Nihonbashi Ningy˘ch˘. Destroyed during the big fire of 1657, Yoshiwara moved to the district of Asakusa and took the name of Shin-Yoshiwara.

In Japanese: 吉原


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Ehime prefecture on Shikoku island. It was also called Iyo.

In Japanese: 予州


Nighthawk (literal meaning). The second meaning is the lowest level of street prostitute in Edo (called s˘ka in ďsaka or Ky˘to).

In Japanese: 夜鷹


The yoten is the name of a famous Kabuki costume. "There are five distinct types of yoten costumes: nishiki or gold brocade, shiro or white, kuro or black, hana or flower, and uroko or scale. Yoten are worn only in scenes where speedy action occurs, such as the stylized fighting scenes known as tachimawari. Though the wearers also referred to as yoten, are widely divergent personalities- including courageous warriors, brave men, police chiefs, ordinary policemen, notorious thieves, and sorcerers-the cut of their costume is essentially alike. The sleeves are always large and have wide openings, and the bottom of the top garnment is split at each side [...] the split on each side divides the bottom into three sections: two in front and one in back." (Ruth Shaver in "Kabuki Costume")

In Japanese: 四天

Yotsuguruma Daihachi

Yotsuguruma Daihachi (1772 ~ 1809) was a famous sum˘tori of the Edo period. He was involved in a spectacular street brawl in 1805 between sum˘tori and tobi. This brawl became the subject of the Kabuki drama "Megumi no Kenka".

In Japanese: 四ツ車大八


Literally the "Four Valleys". An (historically) important district in Edo/T˘ky˘. Before the growth of Edo, Yotsuya was a farming village outside the city. With the digging of the gigantic outer moat around Edo Castle, many temples and shrines were relocated in Yotsuya and many workers settled in the area. Following the devastating Meireki fire, many more people moved to Yotsuya, which gradually became part of the city of Edo. It became a ward of T˘ky˘ during the Meiji era. In 1947, when the 35 wards of Tokyo were reorganized into 23, it was merged with Ushigome ward and Yodobashi to form the modern Shinjuku Ward [more details].

In Japanese: 四谷

Yotsuya Mitsuke

A watch tower built on the outer moat around Edo Castle near Yotsuya.

In Japanese: 四谷見附


Cherry blossoms hanami at night. In the Edo period, yozakura meant specifically for Edo people enjoying the cherry blossoms at night in the heart of Yoshiwara.

In Japanese: 夜桜

Y˘zei Tenn˘

The emperor Y˘zei (869~949) was the 57th emperor of Japan; he "ruled" over his empire from 876 to 884 [more details].

In Japanese: 陽成天皇


A sudden afternoon shower.

In Japanese: 夕立


Returning from the bathhouse (after bath).

In Japanese: 湯帰り


A kettle, a cauldron to boil water, a water boiler in a bathhouse.

In Japanese: 湯釜


Mount Yuga. A famous mountain located in the province of Bizen [Mount Yuga in Bizen Province from the series Wrestling Matches between Mountains and Seas (Utagawa Hiroshige 1858)].

In Japanese: 由加山


A famous 3,2 km beach near Kamakura [more details].

In Japanese: 由比ヶ浜 | 由比ヶ濱

Yui Sh˘setsu

Yui Sh˘setsu (1605~1651) was a military strategist and a leader of the unsuccessful 1651 Keian Uprising [more details].

In Japanese: 由井正雪


Somebody without a fixed occupation; a man of leisure; a gambler; a playboy.

In Japanese: 遊人


A prostitute.

In Japanese: 遊女


A brothel owner.

In Japanese: 遊女屋


Yukan used to be the ceremonial washing of the dead body with lukewarm water before encoffining it in the coffin.

In Japanese: 湯灌


The yukanba was the dedicated room used for yukan (bathing of corpses).

In Japanese: 湯灌場


Unlined cotton kimono (for loungewear or sleepwear). Informal summer light kimono.

In Japanese: 浴衣



In Japanese:

Yuki Daruma

A snowman.

In Japanese: 雪だるま | 雪達磨

Yuki Jor˘

==> yuki onna

In Japanese: 雪女郎

Yuki Onna

A traditional y˘kai which is the Snow Woman. Also called yuki jor˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 雪女


The Yűki Domain. A feudal domain in the province of Shim˘sa during the Edo period. It was centered at Yűki Castle, in what is now part of the city of Yűki in the prefecture of Ibaraki [more details].

In Japanese: 結城藩


Literally "Torture in the Snow". In reality it is more "Bullying in the Snow" or "Beating up in the Snow" than "Torture in the Snow". In this kind of semeba scene, an innocent character is beaten up by an evil character with a bamboo stick or a bamboo broom in the snow. The two best examples are in "Chűj˘ Hime" or in "Akegarasu".

In Japanese: 雪責め


A dream.

In Japanese:


A bowyer; a bow maker; an archer.

In Japanese: 弓師


During the Edo period, there were many kinds of bath. In some baths, there were beautiful girls called yuna (literally "hot water woman"). They went into the bath with customers to take care of them: undressing the customer, washing his body, doing his hair and dressing him again. It goes without saying that their services included sexual care, which explains the popularity of the yuna.

In Japanese: 湯女


A port in the province of Tango.

In Japanese: 由良


A ghost; a spectre; an apparition.

In Japanese: 幽霊

Yushima Tenmangű

A Shint˘ shrine in T˘ky˘ dedicated to Tenjin, the God of Scholarship [more details].

In Japanese: 湯島天満宮


Blackmail scene in a Kabuki play.

In Japanese: 強請場


A public bathhouse.

In Japanese: 湯屋


"Yuya" is a famous play of unknown authorship [more details].

In Japanese: 熊野


The head of a Kabuki troupe. The zagashira was the main artistic producer of all the performances and the supervisor of the scripts provided by the playwrights. He was also in charge of the organization of both stage and backstage, working closely with both the zamoto and the tatesakusha. It seems that no onnagata actor ever held this title.

In Japanese: 座頭

Zama Jinja

The Zama Shrine is one of the most important Shint˘ shrines in ďsaka. Its real name is the Ikasuri Shrine but it is commonly called Zama Shrine. Worshippers come here to pray for the protection of their homes or safety during travel.

In Japanese: 座摩神社


Kabuki performances promoter during the Edo period. Owner of the right to organize Kabuki performances. There were important differences between Edo and the Kamigata:

  • In Edo, the zamoto was somebody who received a license from the Shogunal authorities to produce Kabuki in his own theater. He had the right to transmit his title, his license and his name to his son or adopted son. The most famous lines of zamoto in Edo were Nakamura Kanzabur˘ (Nakamuraza), Ichimura Uzaemon (Ichimuraza), Morita Kan'ya (Moritaza), Kawarasaki Gonnosuke (Kawarasakiza) and Yamamura Ch˘dayű (Yamamuraza).
  • In Kamigata, the zamoto was an actor, who produced Kabuki performance in the name of a nadai (the owner of the right to organize Kabuki performances). It was usually a yearly assignment.
  • In Japanese: 座元 (座本)


    The "Cropped Hair Plays". Genre of sewamono dramas, created by the playwright Kawatake Mokuami and the actor Onoe Kikugor˘ V, dealing with contemporary Meiji characters:

    "The designation, "cropped hair," refers to the fact that in the Meiji Era with the abolition of certain social distinctions, hair-styles also changed. Until Meiji a man's station in life was indicated by his hairdo, i.e., the way the scalp was shaved and the length of hair and method of tying it. With the levelling of all ranks of men, ordinary close-cropped hair (zangiri) became the fashion for all classes high and low. Kikugor˘'s "Cropped Hair Plays" were so-called because the characters appeared with the characteristic haircut and costume of the Meiji Era. These plays were the second step in the development of a modern theatre in Japan, and the first time since Genroku that Japan had even the semblance of a contemporary theatre." (Faubion Bowers in "Japanese Theatre")

    In Japanese: 散切物


    The killing of a person with a katana.

    In Japanese: 斬殺


    An important wooden-built religious building within the precincts of the Kinpusanji Temple.

    In Japanese: 蔵王堂


    A sieve.

    In Japanese:


    A person selling sieves (zaru).

    In Japanese: 笊売り


    A Japanese-style drawing room used to welcome guests (with an alcove in one corner). A standard feature on many Kabuki scenes.

    In Japanese: 座敷


    A blind masseur. The 4th official rank in the T˘d˘za.

    In Japanese: 座頭

    Zeami Motokiyo

    Zeami Motokiyo, who was also called Kanze Motokiyo, was the son of Kan'ami Kiyotsugu and was one of the most important actor and playwright in N˘ history [more details].

    In Japanese: 世阿弥元清


    The zegen were paid by brothelkeepers to purchase from poor families beauties for the pleasure quarters. They were women-trafficking brokers who traded girls, often of a young age.

    In Japanese: 女衒



    In Japanese:


    A Zen priest.

    In Japanese: 禅師


    A medieval 9-year war in ďshű, which started in 1051 and ended in 1062. The Minamoto clan, appointed by the Imperial Court in Ky˘to, went to fight and defeat the Abe clan in their own lands, the ďshű provinces [more details].

    In Japanese: 前九年


    A progressive leftist theater troupe founded by Kawarasaki Ch˘jűr˘ IV and Nakamura Kan'emon III in May 1931. They succeeded in building their own theater in 1937 in Kichij˘ji (a suburb of T˘ky˘) in the face of great difficulties. The troupe, which survived the military dictatorship and the after-WW2 chaos, is still active today, performing in its own theater (rebuilt in 1980), at the Minamiza in January and at the National Theatre in May. The repetoire of the Zenshinza mixes up Kabuki plays/dances and modern politically-oriented productions. The Zenshinza is also famous for its revivals of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's dramas.

  • First generation of actors: Kawarasaki Ch˘jűr˘ IV, Nakamura Kan'emon III, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ V, Segawa Kikunoj˘ VI, Arashi Yoshisabur˘ V, Fujikawa Buzaemon IV and Nakamura Tsuruz˘ IV.
  • Second generation: Nakamura Umenosuke IV, Arashi Keishi, Arashi Yoshisabur˘ VI and Nakamura Tsuruz˘ V.
  • Third generation: Arashi Yoshisabur˘ VII, Nakamura Baijaku II, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ VI, Segawa Kikunoj˘ VII and Fujikawa Yanosuke.
  • In Japanese: 前進座


    An elephant.

    In Japanese:


    A straw sandal.

    In Japanese: 草履


    Literally a straw sandal bearer. The equivalent in the world of samurai of a batman.

    In Japanese: 草履取


    To hit somebody's head with a straw sandal. A very insulting and humiliating act in old Japan. The most famous z˘riuchi is in the play "Kagamiyama Koky˘ no Nishikie".

    In Japanese: 草履討ち


    A monk in charge of buddhist scriptures and books in the temple storehouse.

    In Japanese: 蔵主


    Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the eastern part of the prefecture of Shizuoka. It was also called Izu [more details].

    In Japanese: 豆州




    [1] Translation from Samuel Leiter in the "New Kabuki Encyclopedia".

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