1905 (Meiji 38)
Russo-Japanese War Ends; Business Begins to Rebound
Russo-Japanese War Ends; Business Begins to Rebound
Samuel L. Leiter
[Note: This is Chapter 19 in a series devoted to the early history of the Kabuki-za (1889-1911). It is largely based on Vols. 1 and 3 of the Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi (A Hundred Year History of the Kabuki-za), edited by Nagayama Takeomi (1995). A team of 10 writers worked on the project although none are identified in the books for specific contributions. Some material has been cut, some expanded, and other material has been added from different sources. Links are given selectively and usually only for items not so identified in previous entries. Prof. Kei Hibino of Seikei University offered helpful comments during the preparation of this and all previous entries. Corrections and documented additions are welcome.]
We depart from Kyōbashi to
The glittering Ginza Street
Along its brick-paved road
Rows of willows and a cool breeze.
[From Horiuchi Keizō and Inoue Takeshi, Nihon Shōka-Shū.]
These lines are from the “Densha Shōka” (“Streetcar Song”), first heard in October 1905, and created by Tokyo’s three streetcar companies to help the public learn the city’s geography.
On January 1, 1905, the Japanese forces successfully took the Wantai Ravine; the Russians surrendered Port Arthur on January 2. As the New Year was ushered in, bells rang out along the Ginza’s brick-paved street to help sell newspaper extras announcing the victory, and celebrations were held throughout the nation.
This January saw Max Reinhardt’s magnificent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Germany, using a Japanese-influenced revolving stage. In Japan, Natsume Sōseki’s novel Wagahai wa Neko de Aru (I Am a Cat) began its serialization in the magazine Hototogisu, running through the following year. And his short story called “Rondon Tō” (“The Tower of London”) came out in Teikoku Bungaku’s January issues. On January 12, the great bunraku puppeteer Yoshida Tamazō, 77, passed away. And, on January 8, storyteller (kōdanshi) Matsubayashi Hakuen II died; he was 74. He was especially noted for stories about underworld characters and was even nicknamed “Dorobō” (“Thief”) Hakuen; many of his stories were dramatized by Kawatake Mokuami for kabuki.
The fall of Port Arthur was reflected in the theatre. Ichikawa Komazō (later Matsumoto Kōshirō VII) returned to the Kabuki-za from the Tōkyō-za, and Sawamura Tosshō also rejoined the Kabuki-za company, hinting that the first production of the New Year would signal the theatre’s recovery from the previous year’s setbacks. (Komazō also performed at the Tōkyō-za, in kakemochi style—playing at more than one venue.)The rival Meiji-za, following Sadanji I’s death, was now run by Sadanji’s 25-year-old son, Ichikawa Enshō, who—disregarding the risk of failure—continued introducing daring new plays based on foreign originals. For example, there was January’s adaptation by Matsui Shōō of Victor Hugo’s Hernani, March’s production of Schiller’s William Tell, starring Enshō and adapted by Iwaya Sayanami under the title Suisu Giminden (Tale of a Noble Swiss), and so on.
As for Nakamura Shikan at the Tōkyō-za, such popular plays as Hototogisu, Chikyōdai (Foster Sisters), Makaze Koikaze (Winds of Evil, Winds of Love), and Ono ga Tsumi (My Sin), took advantage of shinpa’s rising popularity. Competing with the Tōkyō-za, where the traditionally trained Shikan had recently shared the stage with Komazō, was the Hongō-za, with shinpa stars Takada Minoru and Kawai Takeo and their new style of acting. The rivalry led to competitive performances of Chikyōdai by Shikan/Komazō and Minoru/Takeo in January. The critical consensus is said to have favored the former team while the box office results crowned the latter.
Meanwhile, the reason the Kabuki-za failed to garner popularity for any rivalry among new actors was that its policy focused on old plays. January 7 was its next opening day, beginning at 11:00 a.m. with the katsureki or “living history” play Sōma Heishi Nidai Banashi, rewritten by Fukuchi Ōchi as Miyako Ōji Isamu Harugoma. Next was Uzaemon XV in the nagauta dance Mochizuki, after which came Komazō in Hanagawa Doki Kioi no Manaita (the “Manaita no Chōbei” scene), with the program ending in a pair of dances: 1780’s kiyomoto piece Jūnidan and the tokiwazu piece Hatsugasumi Iro mo Sumiyoshi, better known as Kappore and based on the comic street performer’s dance of that name. During the show, the six-year-old son of Sawamura Tosshō, Takamaru, made his debut; he eventually became famous as Suketakaya Takasuke V).
The entire company—which included Ichikawa Yaozō, Ichimura Uzaemon, Onoe Baikō, Ichikawa Komazō, Nakamura Kichiemon, Onoe Kikugorō, and so on—appeared in the latter, and the famous musician Rinchū performed. It’s said that of the entire program, this last work was the most interesting, but that, despite the shows being tepid, the fall of Port Arthur was a godsend and attendance was so good the show did great business for 24 days, closing on January 30.
On January 22, a huge workers’ strike occurred in St. Petersburg, the Russian capital; when the marchers moved toward the Winter Palace the military fired on them with mass casualties. The day became known as Bloody Sunday and became one of the major steps that led to the Russian Revolution of 1917. On January 23, Osaka actor Jitsukawa Enzaburō died at 42; a day later, he was followed by Osaka onnagata Arashi Minshi, who was 52.
From February 2 to February 8, the theatre hosted benefit performances for the Imperial Drowning Victims Relief Association (Teikoku Suinan Kyūsai Kai), the program consisting of movies of the Russo-Japanese War; outside the theatre a 60 foot wide triumphal arch was erected to celebrate the military exploits of Generals Tōgō and Uemura, and numerous national flags were flown over it. Packed houses attended both day and evening programs. For two days, February 11 and 12, Kabuki-za programs were sponsored by the Kyōbashi Ward Wartime Wives’ Association (Senji Fujin Kai) to raise funds for the nation’s armed forces, with guest performances by top musicians Tokiwazu Rinchū, Kiyomoto Enjudayū, Kineya Rokuzaemon, and Kineya Kangorō, as well as various actors.
From February 16, in celebration of the Hōchi Shinbun newspaper’s 10,000 issue, novelist Murai Gensai, a relation of Kabuki-za producer Inoue Takejirō, rented the theatre from him as a guest producer, and, using the Kabuki-za's acting company, offered a 25-day run of two of his own plays. The first was called Akoya after its famous heroine, the second was Shokudōraku (The Gourmand). Both were examples of the writer’s extreme amateurism; they lacked even a single saving grace and were both critically ravaged. The only novelty was having Onoe Baikō VI distribute cream puffs to the audience during the second play.
February 1905 also saw the introduction of Jintan, a widely popular breath mint cum health supplement manufactured by the Morishita Nanyōdō company. On February 14, Bandō Tamasaburō, the 23-year-old daughter of Morita Kanya XII, died while living in the United States. The Kabuki21.com website says:
Born in Tôkyô in 1883. Fifth child and daughter of the zamoto Morita Kan'ya XII, she started to learn many arts from an early age: Nagauta, Tokiwazu, koto, ikebana, tea ceremony and Buyō. She joined in March 1888 a Kabuki women troupe and took the name of Bandō Kimie at the Shintomiza. She took the name of Bandô Tamasaburō III in March 1889 but the Kabuki women experience was a failure and the troupe had to disband. She went to New York in 1904, with a troupe of Japanese artists. Her performances were successful and she decided to settle in the USA to teach Buyō. She died in New York in February 1905.
On March 10, the Japanese army occupied Mukden after the Battle of Mukden; the Japanese and Russian casualties exceeded 160,000.
|Ichikawa Komazō in Rōei no Yume. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.|
Inoue Takejirō took over again as Kabuki-za producer for the April production, which opened on March 29 at 11:30 a.m., the first offering being the classic, puppet-theatre derived Imoseyama Onna Teikin, followed by the first Japanese-created opera, Western-style composer Kitamura Sueharu’s Rōei no Yume (A Dream of Battle Camp), starring Ichikawa Komazō. The next play was another kabuki classic, Otokodate Gosho no Gorozō, with the concluding dance piece being Enomoto Torahiko’s Kosode Maku Genroku Moyō. In the opera, Komazō played a soldier away at war who dreams of his mother back in his home town. At the time, this piece, in which Komazō spoke dialogue as well as singing solos, was considered the apex of sophistication. Although it was a failure, it played an important role in the history of Japanese opera, as noted here.
Also interesting was Enomoto’s dance play, alternately known as Shin Hanami Odori (New Flower Viewing Dance) and Genroku Hanami (Genroku Flower Viewing). It was based on an 1879 dance similarly known as Genroku Hanami Odori and served as a colorful promotion tie-up with the Genroku Moyō (Genroku Period Style), a fashion in women’s wear then being popularized by the Mitsukoshi Department Store. Tamura Nariyoshi was involved in these arrangements since actors and geisha led the way in fashionable wear; the theatre’s zashiki galleries were ablaze with Shinbashi geisha dressed in Genroku-patterned kimono, and Mitsukoshi contributed costumes to the theatre. It was only natural to produce Genroku Hanami in this situation. Even before this the Genroku style had taken the town by storm. For the first time in a long while, the house was filled daily and the program ran for 26 days, two of them following the sosori tradition mentioned in the previous chapter, with the closing date being April 23.
The same month, the cartoon (manga) magazine called Tōkyō Pakku (Puck) began publication. At the Tōkyō-za, the program honored the memory of Nakamura Shikan IV. And, at the Shintomi-za, the comic brothers Soganoya Gorō and Soganoya Jūrō made their first Tokyo appearance, only to flop. On April 28, Tsubouchi Shōyō and actors Tōgi Tetteki, Mizoguchi Biyō, and Dohi Shunshō formed a public reading group called Ekifū Kai and gave a public reading of Chikamatsu Hanji’s classic puppet/kabuki drama Imoseyama Onna Teikin at the Seifūtei restaurant in Ushigome, Akasaka.
From the fifth of May, for five days, a proposal by noblewomen Madame Nabeshima and Madame Mori, of the Wives’ Division of the Imperial Navy Society (Teikoku Kaigun Kyōkai), led to their sponsorship of a Grand Entertainment for the Creation of a Volunteer Fleet, featuring eminent musicians in a program of nagauta, kiyomoto, and tokiwazu music; suodori (uncostumed) dance numbers by Komazō, Tosshō, Kikugorō, Kichiemon, Yasosuke, Eitarō, and Fujima Kanemon; and scenes from Youchi Soga, Rōei no Yume, Ataka no Seki, and Momijigari, starring actors from the April Kabuki-za production. The proceeds went to a military construction fund.
On May 9, the Morinaga candy company began to use its famous Angel trademark. And two important plays by Tsubouchi Shōyō premiered this month: one, Maki no Kata, starring Nakamura Shikan in the title role, at the Tōkyō-za (it had been written in 1896); the other, better known, was the Shakespeare-influenced Hototogisu Kojō no Rakugetsu (The Sinking Moon over the Lonely Castle Where the Cuckoo Cries), opened at Osaka’s Kado-za, with Kataoka Gatō as Yodogimi and Katagiri Katsumoto. The latter, a historical drama about “the decline and fall of the House of Toyotomi,” as the author put it, was a foundational work in the creation of what came to be called shin kabuki or “new” kabuki.
|Nakamura Shikan as Yodogimi in Hototogisu Kojō no Rakugetsu. From Kabuki no 20 Seki: 100 Nen no Kiroku.|
On May 11, at 1:00, what gained the name “Literary Men’s Theatre” (Bunshi Geki) began when theatre critics from each newspaper created an amateur theatrical group called the Wakaba Kai (Young Leaves Society) to offer a program of plays. There were nine members: Uta Takehiko and Kurishima Sagoromo of the Asahi, Oka Onitarō and Okamura Shikō of the Ni Roku, Kashima Ōkō of the Hōchi, Isaka Baisetsu of the Jiji, Matsumoto Tōshirō of the Jinmin, Oide Rokusui of the Miyako, and Sugi Gannami of the Mainichi, with Miki Takeji of Kabuki magazine serving as their sponsor, negotiating with Tamura and Inoue for use of the Kabuki-za.
|Various critics in the first of the amateur kabuki performances of the Bunshi Geki Kai. From Kabuki magazine.|
The performances included Tenmokuzan (The Line Between Victory and Defeat), a history play by Okamoto Kidō of the Nichi Nichi Shinbun about the death of Takeda Katsuyori; Act 3 of the classic Chūshingura, in which Moronao incites Enya Hangan to strike him; Mori Ōgai’s Nichiren Shōnin Tsuji Seppō, which Ichikawa Komazō had starred in a year earlier; and the dance play Yasuna. Gannami’s Moronao, played in the style of Ichikawa Danzō, overwhelmed all the other performances. Onitarō’s Nichiren shrank in comparison to Komazō’s version, and Baisetsu’s Yasuna enjoyed the services of Onoe Kikugorō and Ichikawa Yasosuke (later Bandō Mitsugorō VII) as kōken holding butterflies on the ends of sashigane poles. Although the day was intended merely to introduce these individuals’ connection to the stage it somehow drew a full house, thus inspiring what eventually became the flourishing Bunshi Geki tradition.
The 16th budget for the Kabuki-za Joint Stock Corporation declared a profit for the second half of the previous year totaling 728 yen, 31 sen. In Osaka, Jitsukawa Shōjaku took the name Jitsukawa Enzaburō V.
May 22 was opening day for the next regular Kabuki-za production, which honored the third anniversary of the death of Kikugorō V and the 13th of the death of Bandō Kakitsu I. First on the program, which commenced at 11:00 a.m., was Enomoto Torahiko’s new work based on the nō play Shōzon but written as a history drama with the title Horikawa Youchi (Night Attack at Horikawa). Next was the popular nagauta dance drama, Tsuchigumo, starring Onoe Baikō VI, followed Ichimura Uzaemon XV in the historical classic, Ōmi Genji Senjin Yakata, a.k.a. Moritsuna Jinya. Then came Kikugorō’s first performance as Benten Kozō in one of kabuki’s fondest plays, here titled Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami but usually called simply Benten Kozō. Komazō undertook Nippon Daemon, while Uzaemon played Nango Rikimaru. Benten became one of Kikugorō’s most representative characters. Finally, there was Takeshiba Shinkichi’s dramatization of a rakugo story, Sangen Nagaya (Three-House Tenement). The program ended on June 13, after 25 showings.
Baikō played Tsuchigumo using the kata of his late father, Onoe Asajirō III, each one of which was excellent, and Uzaemon’s Moritsuna was thoroughly outstanding, being the production’s standout. Concerning Kikugorō’s first Benten, one critic said, “He was gorgeous when he appeared disguised as a young woman but after he reverted to his true self as Kikunosuke he was indescribably charming; there was nothing he could do about the plumpness of his hands and feet when sitting cross-legged, so unlike his late father’s, but taking this into consideration, his performance was surely superb” [From Kinsei Engeki-Shi.]
On May 27 and 28, Japan’s Combined Fleet destroyed Russia’s Baltic Fleet in the Battle of the Japan Sea (a.k.a. Battle of the Tsushima Strait). On June 14 began the events that led over the following days to the mutiny aboard Russia’s battleship Potemkin and a revolt on the Odessa steps during which thousands were killed. Also in June, Ichikawa Komanosuke (later Ichikawa Jukai III) was adopted by Ichikawa Sumizō V and changed his name to Ichikawa Tōshō at the Miyato-za. And bunraku chanter Takemoto Kumidayū died on July 25 at 59.
For 15 days, beginning June 24, the Kabuki-za hosted a panorama-like presentation called Kineorama; business at first was good but as things progressed the situation worsened and the incompetence of the technicians was sharply criticized, resulting in poor attendance. Such devices were actually a quite popular entertainment in early 20th-century Japan, and famous writer Edogawa Ranpo described the Kineorama showing the Battle of Port Arthur in a 1926 piece, “The Port Arthur Sea Battle Hall” (Ryojun Kaisenkan):
The kineorama was a fairly large mechanism for its time. When the curtain opens, the surface of the stage is a giant sea. Blue sky above the horizon line and deep-blue undulating water beneath it. The kineorama lights create the illusion of waves moving on the sea. A high whistle blows and a sailor delivers a brief introduction. Then from one side of the stage a squadron of ships, led by the flagship the Mikasa, advances boldly, parting the waves. A fluttering Rising Sun flag, puffs of black smoke rising into the air, toy warships on the panorama-like stage—as I look it all seems real. Then a squadron of enemy ships appears from the opposite side. Slowly in the beginning and gradually more violently, the artillery duel is begun. The sound of gunfire assaults the ears. Introduction xv White smoke blankets the sea. Spray. Enemy ships on fire. Sinking ships. After that comes the night battle scene. The moon appears. The kineorama creates the illusion of clouds passing in front of the moon. Lights on the ship gunwales go on. A beacon shines. It reflects on the water and rolling waves gleam. Each time the cannon is fired streaks of red sparks appear. The beauty of the ships on fire. That was all there was to the show, but I was enchanted by it. [From Strange Tale of Panorama Island, tr. Elaine Kazu Gerbert.]
From July 15 for 15 days, the bunraku company of Takemoto Ōsumidayū occupied the Kabuki-za with a full repertory of puppet plays, but the critics turned thumbs down and business suffered. July also saw the Tachibana-za in Yotsuya change its name to the Hisago-za.
On August 1, the victims of mine pollution from the Ashio Copper Mines massed in great numbers in Tokyo to present a petition regarding their grievances. The same day, a concert hall opened in Hibiya Park. For ten days beginning on August 2, the theatre was used for a presentation of motion pictures depicting the Russo-Japanese War, under the sponsorship of the Imperial Motion Picture Association (Teikoku Katsudō Shashin Kai); the appearance of geisha from Yoshi-chō served as an additional attraction, and the show did good business, extending its run for two days.
An interesting theatrical event occurred in August concerning the notorious geisha Oume, released from prison in 1903 after 15 years for having killed her assistant and lover Minekichi in 1887. A biography of her had appeared called Meiji Ichidai Onna (Life of a Meiji Woman) and she now went on stage to act her story at the Yokohama-za, followed by tours to other cities. Copycat productions were frequent elsewhere.
On September 2, the Shōkyokusai Ten’ichi Company, celebrating its recent tour of the West, produced its big magic show at the Kabuki-za, where it ran for 15 days. Business boomed for three days and all seemed fine but on September 5, the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed in Portsmouth, Maine, on September 5. When its contents were announced, the Japanese people, having believed their nation won the Russo-Japanese war, became enraged at what they considered a diplomatic disgrace; for all its positives, it neither granted Japan all of Sakhalin nor required a Russian monetary indemnity. An anti-peace movement arose and violence, including arson in Hibiya Park, occurred, making theatergoing out of the question. Theatres closed on the sixth and seventh and box office income took a big blow. Thus, on September 16, the entire day’s receipts were contributed to the volunteer fleet movement so that Ten’ichi could save face.
On September 6, the government placed the Tokyo region under martial law; from the seventh, numerous newspapers in eastern and western Japan, beginning with the Yorozu Chōhō, Miyako Shinbun, Ni Roku Shinbun, and Hōchi Shinbun, which had published articles on the anti-peace activities, were forced to stop publication.
September 23 was opening day for the next Kabuki-za program, which honored the death three years earlier of Ichikawa Danjūrō IX. The production, sparked by a suggestion of Kawarazaki Gonnosuke VIII, and proposals by Ichikawa guild members Komazō and Ennosuke, was to be performed by the actors gratis, with all income being put aside for a fund to build a statue in Danjūrō’s memory. The proceeds eventually came to 16,000 yen, which was the basis for the statue that ultimately was created. The production was given right in the midst of the arson in Hibiya stemming from the anti-peace disturbances of the moment. The statue is described on the Naritaya website as follows, under the rubric “Genroku Mie”:
In the pre-war period a statue of Danjuro IX performing this particular mie from the play Just a Minute! (Shibaraku) could be found in the grounds of the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Local residents whispered that it was thanks to the powerful pose of the statue that the temple was spared the fires that ravaged much of Tokyo after the great earthquake of 1923. Ironically, in the 1940s the statue was melted down for the war effort and the temple soon burnt down in an air-raid. In the Genroku mie, the actor poses with his left hand on the hilt of his sword, his right hand clenched above his head, and the left leg thrust forward. The power of the pose comes from the hips. It is a typical aragoto pose, replicated in several plays, including The Subscription List (Kanjincho) where Benkei poses with a scroll in his right hand and a rosary in his left. [From the “Danjuro Dictionary” section of the Naritaya website.]
The abundant program, which ended on October 9 after 17 days, began at 11:00 a.m. with Iwaya no Kagekiyo, moved on to Takatoki, shifted to Kanjinchō, then offered Ōmori Hikoshichi (in whose title role Komazō, Sumizō, and Ennosuke alternated on a daily basis), followed it with Yanone, backed this with Tsukiyo no Ryō (Moonlit Night Fishing), and concluded with a seventh piece, Ninin Dōjōji. Following the first play, the theatre’s entire staff, backstage, front of house, and acting company, as well as all the members of Danjūrō’s family, appeared on stage for a formal kōjō announcement memorializing Danjūrō IX. Speeches were given by Sumizō, Yaozō, Komazō, Enshō, Otora, Ennosuke, Kodanji, and Kikugorō. And Gonnosuke’s eldest son, Kawarazaki Toranosuke (later Kawarazaki Chōjūrō), made his stage debut by sitting among the others during the ceremony.
Most of these plays were chosen from either the Danjūrō line’s Kabuki Jūhachiban collection of favorites or from Danjūrō IX’s Shin Kabuki Jūhachiban grouping. Ichikawa Ennosuke I, who had played Benkei years earlier in a production of Kanjinchō at Osaka’s Naka-za not authorized by the Ichikawa family head (Danjūrō IX’s son-in-law), had been banned from the family guild (a procedure called hamon), having to perform for a time under the name Matsuo Ennosuke as a result. All was now forgiven and he performed the role again, this time legally, while Danjūrō’s daughters, Jitsuko and Fukiko, as they were then known, who had studied for several years with choreographer Fujima Kanemon, played the dual shirabyōshi roles in Ninin Dōjōji, adding to the buzz.
Donald Keene, in Modern Japanese Diaries, includes a chapter called “Mineko’s Diary,” in which he discusses the diary of Mori Mineko, mother of the great Meiji writer Mori Ōgai. This cultured woman, whose relations with her son’s second wife, Shigeko, were rather strained, seems to have found her principal pleasure in theatergoing; she went to see kabuki regularly and wrote up her theatre experiences, reflecting her sharp opinions. She referred to this December 1905 program honoring Danjūrō’s third death anniversary with these biting words: “Went to the Kabuki Theater. The ‘Eighteen Famous Plays of Danjūrō’ were performed by actors well matched in their ineptitude. There must have been many people who, remembering [actors of] the past, wept.” [Donald Keene, trans. Modern Japanese Diaries.]
Keene goes on: “A mother’s natural partiality toward the work of her son did not temper the severity of Mineko’s judgments. On December 1, 1906, she attended a performance of Ōgai’s Nichiren Shōnin Tsuji Seppō . . . and commented, “It wasn’t good, but it was somewhat interesting.” This was in reference to a theatre event at the Meiji-za sponsored by the Mainichi Shinbun in which, according to Kimura Kinka’s Meiji-za Monogatari (Story of the Meiji-za), the role of Nichiren was taken by dramatist-critic Oka Onitarō.
The production was scheduled to run for only 15 days but when it began selling out on the second day two more were added to the run. The gross came to 16,000 yen, which was deposited in the bank until the statue project was able to begin. Also during the show, Ichikawa Saisaburō was promoted to nadai status and took the name Danshō.
In 1904, the Tokyo Urban Railway (Tōkyō Shigai Tetsudō), nicknamed Gaitetsu, began operations, its street cars passing the outer moat of the Imperial Palace. The “Streetcar Song” cited earlier, written in October, noted:
Again on the Gaitetsu from HibiyaFrom Sukiyabashi to Owari-chō
Crossing Miharabashi BridgeThe Kabuki-za at Kobiki-chō!
From Horiuchi Keizō and Inoue Takeshi, Nihon Shōka-Shū.]
October also was when Kaichōon (The Sound of the Tide), Ueda Bin’s epochal poetry anthology, was published, introducing symbolist poetry to Japan and blowing fresh wind into the country’s poetry world, where it had a major impact.
From October 10 to 19, motion pictures related to the fall of Port Arthur were screened at the Kabuki-za. On October 21, the Tōkyō Jitsugyōka Dantai (Tokyo Businessmen’s Group) sponsored a performance of kabuki actors and Shinbashi geisha at the Kabuki-za on behalf of several hundred British visitors who were in Japan in connection with the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance (Nichi-Ei Dōmei). The program offered Yashima Gassen (Battle of Yashima), a geisha dance, Renjishi, starring Uzaemon and Kikugorō as the twin lions, and Dōjōji, starring Komazō as the dancing girl and Uzaemon as the oshimodoshi character who repels the serpent.
The autumn program in November, which began at 11:00 a.m. on the second, featured Baikō, Uzaemon, and Tosshō, back from touring around Japan. The show opened with Hirakana Seisuiki’s “Genta Kandō” (“Genta’s Disinheritance”) and “Sakaro” (“Backward Rowing”) scenes, after which a new nagauta dance play by Enomoto Torahiko based on the nō play Fuji Daiko and starring Baikō. Next was Kajiwara Homare no Ishikiri, in which Kichiemon celebrated his having been promoted to nadai or “name” status, which allowed his name to appear on the billboards. During his name-taking kōjō, he was joined by Yaozō, Uzaemon, Tokizō, and Kashō. It was followed by Kawatake Mokuami’s 1881 Sanpuku Tsui Ueno no Fūkei (better known as Kumo ni Magō Ueno no Hatsuhana, with one-half referred to as Kochiyama and the other as Naozamurai), and concluded with the dance play Hidari Kogatana (Left-Handed Small Sword), a.k.a. Kyō Ningyō (Capital City Doll). It had been some time since the Kabuki-za resident company performed; joined to the appeal of Kichiemon’s promotion announcement, the production did rather well during its 25-day run.
From December 1 to December 3 the Kabuki-za was home to a joint benefit performance for local orphanages. On December 16 and 17, there were fundraising performances for disabled soldiers sponsored by the Hōchi Shinbun. And on from December 21 to December 24 the theatre’s staff offered amateur performances.
Shinpa actor Honda Koichirō died at 43 on November 5. At Kyoto’s Minami-za, Kataoka Gatō’s (later Nizaemon XII) three-year-old son Chiyonosuke (later Nizaemon XIII) made his debut in the dance piece Teuchi (Hand-clapping). The same program included a hit production of Tayasu Gekkō’s new play, Sakura Shigure (Cherry Blossom Shower), starring Gatō.
In 1905 Albert Einstein produced his theory of relativity, among three other of his big contributions during what was called the “annus mirabilis” or “miracle year.” England’s greatest actor, Sir Henry Irving died at 68. It was also the year in which Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi designed Barcelona’s Casa Mili, American cartoonist Winsor McKay developed his comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis was published posthumously, the Bloomsbury group began to meet, American novelist Edith Wharton published The House of Mirth, Claude Debussy’s symphonic poem La Mer premiered in Paris, Richard Strauss’s opera Salomé opened in Dresden, fauvism shot into notice in France, and expressionism gained attention in Germany.
For other major events of 1905, including births and deaths, see here, while major new plays that opened and important theatres that were built that year can be found here.