Stage names:

Ichikawa Sai'nyű I In Japanese
Ichikawa Udanji I In Japanese
Ichikawa Fukutar˘ I In Japanese

Real name: Ichikawa Fukutar˘

Guilds: Takashimaya, Tsuruya

Line number: SHODAI (I)

Existence: 16th day of the 7th lunar month of 1843 [1] ~ 18 March 1916


Father: Ichikawa Kodanji IV

Brother: Ichikawa Kodanji V

Son: Ichikawa Udanji II

Grandson: Ichikawa Unosuke II

Great-grandson: Ichikawa Sai'nyű II

Disciples: Ichikawa Kigan IV, Ichikawa Shinsh˘ IV


16th day of the 7th lunar month of 1843 [1]: born in ďsaka in the Tsuruya chaya. His father was the actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV. His father spending most of his time in Edo instead of ďsaka, he was expected to become a decchi instead of an actor but the call of the stage was too strong.

2nd lunar month of 1852: he made his first stage appearance, in ďsaka at the Wakadayű no Shibai, where he played under the name of Ichikawa Fukutar˘ I the role of the taiko mochi Fukuhachi in the drama "Igagoe".

Spring 1862: Fukutar˘ and his mother were invited to Edo by Ichikawa Kodanji IV.

3rd lunar month of 1862: Fukutar˘ performed with his father at the Moritaza.

5th lunar month of 1862: premiere at the Moritaza of the drama "Shinpan Ukina no Yomiuri"; Fukutar˘ played the role of Osome [more details].

Spring 1862: his father and his mother quarreled and had to separate. Fukutar˘ went back to ďsaka with his mother.

8th lunar month of 1862: Ichikawa Fukutar˘ I took the name of Ichikawa Udanji I in Ky˘to at the Kitagawa no Shibai.

12th lunar month of 1862: Udanji played at the Kitagawa no Shibai the roles of Sanbas˘, Sonobe Saemon and Osome in "Sanbas˘", "Shin Usuyuki Monogatari" and "Some Moy˘ Imose no Kadomatsu".

1863: Udanji went back to ďsaka where he received the support of Onoe Tamiz˘ II and his son Ichikawa Ichiz˘ III.

8th day of the 5th lunar month of 1866 [2]: his father Ichikawa Kodanji IV died in Edo.

May 1874: Udanji played at the Kado no Shibai the roles of En'ya Hangan and Okaru in the classic "Kanadehon Chűshingura".

Summer 1881: Udanji founded his own troupe, the Udanji Ichiza, to go on tour in Ise and Toyohashi.

June 1882: premiere at the Saruwakaza of Kawatake Mokuami's Nagauta-based matsubamemono "Imay˘ Mochizuki" (commonly called "Mochizuki"); Udanji played the role of Ozawa Gy˘bu Tomofusa [casting].

November 1882: premiere at the Saruwakaza of Kawatake Mokuami's kuroda-s˘d˘mono "Imay˘ Mochizuki"; Udanji played the roles of K˘y˘ (the osh˘ of the An'y˘ji Temple), Karakiya K˘emon, Asakawa Mondo and the cha no s˘sh˘ Hishikawa Kazan [casting].

January 1883: premiere at the Shintomiza of Kawatake Mokuami's drama "Medeshi Yanagi Midori no Matsumae"; Udanji played the role of Yagyű Matajűr˘ [casting].

December 1886: Udanji played at the Kado no Shibai the roles of Sat˘ Shiroby˘e Tadanobu and the fox Genkur˘ in the "Shi-no-Kiri" scene of the drama "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura". He also performed as a shamisen player during the "Sushiya" scene, in duo with Nakamura Ganjir˘ I as a singer.

August 1888: Udanji played at the Kado Gekij˘ the role of Danshichi Kurobŕ in the drama "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami"; the roles of Issun Tokubŕ and Tsuribune Sabu were played by Nakamura Ganjir˘ I and Nakamura S˘jűr˘.

October 1888: Udanji played at the Naniwaza the roles of Kan Sh˘j˘ and Shund˘ Genba in the drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami".

July 1891: Udanji played in Ky˘to at the Tokiwaza the role of Danshichi Kurobŕ in the drama "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami"; the roles of Issun Tokubŕ and Tsuribune Sabu were played by Jitsukawa Enzabur˘ IV and Arashi Kitsusabur˘ IV.

November 1891: Udanji played at the Kado Gekij˘ the roles of Igami no Gonta, Shizuka Gozen and Yokawa no Zenji Kakuhan in the drama "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura".

February 1907: Udanji played at the Bentenza the role of Ishikawa Goemon in the drama "Kama-ga-Fuchi".

March 1907: Udanji played at the Bentenza the roles of ďboshi Yuranosuke, Hayano Kanpei and Kakogawa Honz˘ in the classic "Kanadehon Chűshingura".

January 1909: Ichikawa Udanji I and his son Ichikawa Unosuke I respectively took the names of Ichikawa Sai'nyű I and Ichikawa Udanji II at the Kadoza.

1915: Sai'nyű decides to retire. He celebrated it by playing at the Kabukiza the leading role of the dance "Ayatsuri Sanbas˘". "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 Sanbas˘, the humoresque figure of the 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 died.


Ichikawa Sai'nyű I 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.

[1] The 16th day of the 7th lunar month of the 14th year of the Tenp˘ era was the 11th of August 1843 in the western calendar.

[2] The 8th day of the 5th lunar month of the 2nd year of the Kei˘ era was the 20th of June 1866 in the western calendar.

Ichikawa Sai'nyű I performing the role of Sanbas˘ in the eponymous dance

Prints & Illustrations

The Ichikawa Fukutar˘ line of actors

The Ichikawa Udanji line of actors

The Ichikawa Sai'nyű line of actors

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