Monday, November 13, 2017

THE FIRST KABUKI-ZA (1889-1911): Chapter 20. 1906 (Meiji 39)

Chapter 20

1906 (Meiji 39)

When Prince Arthur of Connaught Saw a Kabuki Play about Will Adams

[Note: This is Chapter 20 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 that 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 and answered translation queries during the preparation of this and all previous entries. Corrections and documented additions are welcome.]

Funeral services for journalist/politician/playwright/producer Fukuchi Ōchi were held on January 8, 1906. The sky that day was bright from morning on, and it was unusually warm for mid-winter. At 1:00 p.m. the coffin emerged from Fukuchi’s home in Atago-chō and headed straight for Shiba’s Zōjōji Temple along the tramline route. A Kabuki-za pennant was flying, as were others noting the name and positions of the deceased, as both real and artificial flowers glowed beautifully in the sunlight while lively crowds packed the way. [From Oyama Fumio, Meiji no Isai Fukuchi Ōchi.]

Fukuchi Ōchi, born Fukuchi Genichirō and usually referred to as Fukuchi Koji (koji=a scholar), died on January 4, aged 66.

First-generation Meiji politicians Itō Hirobumi, Inoue Iwao, and Itagaki Taisuke were joined by such second-generation figures as Katsura Tarō and Hara Takashi, along with Diet members, journalists, literary personages, publishers, military and naval officials, and such theatrical stars as Onoe Kikugorō VI, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX’s adopted son, Horikoshi Fukusaburō, Ichikawa Yaozō, and Ichikawa Ennosuke. Also there were masters of the Fujima school of dance and the kiyomoto and tokiwazu schools of music, not to mention scenic master Hasegawa, prop master Fujinami, various front of house personnel, and the proprietors of various Shinbashi geisha houses. It was truly a small world representing a gathering of all social classes.  Over 2,000 mourners made this one of the age’s grand ceremonies. [Same source.]

The first Kabuki-za program of 1906 began on January 14, the initial offering being six scenes from Meiboku Sendai Hagi, in which Onoe Baikō VI played Masaoka for the first time, and Nakamura Kichiemon and Onoe Kikugorō alternated daily as Arajishi Otokonosuke, the aragoto hero in the famous cellar scene. Then came Ichikawa Yaozō, Ichimura Uzaemon XV, and Sawamura Tosshō in Gion Sairei Shinkōki (“Kinkakuji”), which was followed by Enomoto Torahiko’s adaptation of a work by Murai Gensai, Sake Dōraku (Lost to Drink). The show closed with the new nagauta dance, Takarabune Haru no Hatsuyume, which replaced the seven gods of the traditional Japanese treasure boat with seven men (shichinin otoko) dressed as chivalrous commoners (otokodate) lined up in Suruga-chō rather than on the boat.  This appearance was part of a publicity campaign for the Mitsukoshi clothing firm. 
Street postet for the January 1906 production at the Kabuki-za. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.
The running time was overlong; it was the middle of winter yet it ran past 10:00 p.m. and earned complaints from uncomfortable patrons. The run, which closed on February 7, just barely made it to 25 days. The Kabuki-za’s resident playwrights were now Enomoto Torahiko, Takeshiba Takaji, Hama Masagosuke, Kema Teiji (later Kema Nanboku), and Segawa Jokō.

January 1906 also saw the publication of tanka poet/novelist Itō Sachio’s popular love story Nogiku no Haka (The Wild Daisy) in the literary magazine Hototogisu; the story later was adapted for several movies. Shimamura Hōgetsu, who became one of the founders of Japan’s modern theatre, became editor-in-chief of the literary journal Waseda Bungaku this month. On the social front, the Salvation Army began offering free housing to the unemployed homeless and offering introductions for them to prospective employers. And in politics, the cabinet of Prime Minister Katsura Tarō was replaced by that of Saionji Kinmochi.  

In February, the Shōchiku Unlimited Partnership Company rented the Naka-za in Osaka’s Dōtonbori entertainment district and began producing kabuki there with a company headed by Nakamura Ganjirō I. Beginning on February 10, for three days, Tokyo’s Kabuki-za produced fundraising performances sponsored by the Kyōbashi Patriotic Women’s Association (Aikoku Fujin Kai) to help disabled veterans. Over at the Meiji-za this month Kawakami Otojirō’s company presented Yamagishi Kayō’s translation of Maeterlinck’s Mona Vanna.

A group of writer/scholar Tsubouchi Shōyō’s young followers that came to known in 1905 as the Ekifūkai (Society for the Betterment of Manners) now called itself the Bungei Kyōkai  (Literary Society); its nominal head was Ōkuma Shigenobu and its promoters included Shimamura Hōgetsu, Tōgi Tetteki, Tsuchi Shunsho, Kaneko Umaji. On February 17, the Bungei Kyōkei offered an opening ceremony, at Shiba Park’s Momiji Kan, for what was the beginning of shingeki (“new theatre”), Japan’s modern, Western-style theatre movement. Ōkuma was the person in charge. Present among the guests were three important actors, Ichikawa Sadanji II, Ichikawa Danko (later Ennosuke II), and Kawakami Otojirō. The program included Imoseyama (Mt. Imose), based by Nagai Kūgai on the bunraku/kabuki play Imoseyama Onna Teikin, using scenery painted in the Western style and Nara-period language. The bill also presented Tsubouchi’s revolutionary history drama Hototogisu Kojō no Rakugetsu and his dance play Shinkyoku Urashima (New Urashima).

On February 24, there was a glittering gathering at the Kabuki-za in honor of the visit to Japan of Prince Arthur of Connaught, there to present Emperor Meiji with England’s highest honor, the Order of the Garter. Important business leaders in attendance included Shibusawa Eiichi, Masuda Takashi, Togawa Ryōhei, and Kondō Kanehira. Algernon Bertram Freeman (A.B.) Mitford (Lord Redesdale), distinguished Japanologist and diplomat, accompanied the prince and wrote a book about the visit in which he said of this event:

As soon as dinner was over we all, including the Imperial Princes and Princesses, drove off to the Kabukiza or Opera Theatre, where the business men of Tokyo had organised a theatrical entertainment in honour of Prince Arthur and of the Nichi-Ei-Dōmei, the Anglo- Japanese alliance. This was a very brilliant affair. The decorations were quite magnificent, the flags of the two countries being, of course, conspicuous everywhere. An immense box, taking up the opposite the stage for the use of the Princes and Princesses; and the body of the hall, what we should call the pit, was crowded with notable men and their wives. [From A.B. Mitford, The Garter Mission to Japan.]

Mitford, who had served in Japan as a British diplomat during the early Meiji period returned as a principal member of Prince Arthur’s entourage because of his deep knowledge of Japanese customs, even consulting on court practices that had since gone out of use. His description of the prince’s legation was published that year in London. He had served as secretary to the British legation in Japan from 1866-1870 and served as the interpreter when Queen Victoria’s second son, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, became the first member of European royalty to visit the country, where he was received by the teenage emperor. This was Mitford’s second visit to Japan. 
February 24, 1906, Miyako Shinbun article about the visit of Sir Arthur of Connaught. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.
In August 1905 the second Anglo-Japanese Alliance treaty had been signed drawing the two nations closer together so Prince Arthur’s visit was intended to further their mutual friendship.

In addition to the Kabuki-za’s resident company, actors seen by the prince included Nakamura Shikan and Ichikawa Komazō of the Tōkyō-za, the latter appearing at his both home theatre and the Kabuki-za that month as per the practice of kakemochi. Opening the program was Masuda Tarō Kaja’s new play Mukashi Gatari Nichiei Dōmei (The Anglo-Japanese Alliance), about a real-life English sailor-adventurer Will Adams, who lived in Japan during the early 17th century. Then came the Soga brothers’ revenge play Youchi Soga, which was followed by a new dance play, Chōkokushi no Yume (The Sculptor’s Dream). Mitford wrote of the first play:

The story of the play was based upon that of Will Adams, whom the Japanese call Anjin, "the Pilot," as a fitting subject for an entertainment designed to celebrate the alliance; and the second act gave an opportunity for the introduction at Anjin's marriage of a troop [sic] of the most famous geishas of the city, who performed a new dance and song composed in honour of the Wakamiya—the " young Prince." I annex translations of the story of the play, the programme of the dance, and the song made by our hosts.
. . .
Act I. Scene 1. Locality—By the sea-shore at Hemi in Soshu,Period—Autumn in the year 1609.Autumn flowers are blooming, and between the rocks waves are seen raging. On a rock in the centre of the stage Iwai Tetsunojo, a ronin (unattached samurai) of Osaka, stands holding the girdle of Otsu, a young girl who is gazing distractedly in the direction of the sea.

Giheijij father of Otsu, has gone to look for her brother who has been absent for many days on a fishing expedition, and the girl, fearing that her father also is in danger,was endeavouring to put out in a small boat to his rescue when the ronin Iwai interfered. This ronin is in love with Otsu, but being a man of bad character (one of a band by whom the people of the vicinity are much oppressed) he has been unable to obtain her father’s consent to their union. He now restrains Otsu from her desperate undertaking; points out to her that a boat managed by one weak woman could not possibly live in such a sea, and declares that the punishment of heaven has now overtaken her father for refusing her lover's suit. Otsu angrily repels him, and asks whether she could ever become the wife of a man who urges her to desert her father in his extremity. Iwai, rendered desperate by her resistance, threatens to use his sword, and is forcing her to accompany him when Anjin (Will Adams), attracted by the noise of the struggle, runs up and separates them. Iwai reviles him as a foreigner, and warns him that his life will be the cost of interference. But Anjin replies that all nations alike recognise the duty of the strong to succour the weak. Iwai attempts to cut him down, but Anjin gets the better in the struggle and Iwai flies. Anjin then, learning the cause of Otsu's trouble, leaps into the boat she had intended to use and succeeds in saving her father, who, on recovering from his swoon, tells her that all hope of her brother's life must be abandoned. Father and daughter then express profound thanks to Anjin, and, in the course of the ensuing conversation, they learn from him that if they are grieving for the loss of a son and brother, he has been nine long years lamenting his separation from his family in England, and is now rejoicing in the thought that a Dutch vessel has reached Hirado, and that he will be able to return to his country forthwith. He then insists on aiding Giheiji, who has not yet recovered from the effects of his immersion. But on the way they are attacked by a band of ronin with Iwai at their head; Anjin is seized and bound, and although Otsu and her father offer to take his place, the ronin carry him off.
Scene 2. Neighbourhood of the same place: Prince Tokugawa lyiyasu [sic] approaches riding in a “norimono” (palanquin), and with a large retinue of samurai. Giheiji runs up desperately and prostrates himself in front of the procession. He is quickly followed by Otsu, and father and daughter vie with one another in calling aloud for assistance. To present a petition direct to the Shogun being a capital crime, Giheiji and Otsu are seized and bound by the Tokugawa chiefs [sic] retinue. But on learning their errand, lyiyasu orders their release and sends a party of samurai under Giheiji's guidance to rescue Anjin. During the absence of the samurai lyiyasu questions Otsu, and learns from her the occasion that induced her and her father to brave death for Anjin’s sake. Presently the samurai return leading Anjin, Iwai, and the latter's fellow-ronin. Iwai, questioned by lyiyasu, accuses Anjin of dealing in necromancy and producing supernatural effects; but lyiyasu replies that he himself has been Anjin's pupil in the science of Western civilization, and that when the ronin, without any due authorisation, subjected Anjin to indignity, they were guilty of a direct insult to the Shogun. They are bound in ropes and led off in custody. Anjin then asks lyiyasu as to the latter's object in visiting Hemi, and lyayasu replies that it is to solicit the continued presence of Anjin in Japan. He explains that after granting permission for Anjin to take passage home by the Dutch vessel, he reflected that to perpetuate the peace in which Japan was now rejoicing, her intercourse with foreign countries must be extended, and that the assistance of Anjin would be essential for that purpose. Anjin nevertheless declares himself unable to abandon the hope of seeing his family once more, and then lyiyasu confesses that, apprehending this difficulty, he has already sent away the Dutch ship.

He declares that his first consideration must be for the good of the country which he has been trusted by the Emperor to administer, and that he is content to incur resentment if he can be conscious of having done his duty. Anjin becomes reconciled. He declares that it is the will of heaven, and he bows to lyiyasu's frank statement that if he has subjected his foreign visitor to a hard lot, it was done because of the high esteem in which he holds Anjin's services. The Shogun then expresses a desire to make some amends to Anjin, and suggests that as Anjin is separated from his sister, and as Otsu has just lost her brother, they should endeavour to console one another.

It is finally arranged. Iyiyasu laughingly observes that a woman's hair is proverbially strong enough to bind even a big elephant, and that a Japanese girl will soften the pains of exile for Anjin. He orders that an income of 50 koku of rice shall be given to Giheiji, who, in the excess of his delight, almost forgets to express his gratitude.

Act II. The interior of the Shogun's Castle in Yedo. lyiyasu, Anjin, Otsu, Giheiji, several nobles (Daimyo), and a number of attendants and dancing-girls are present. The occasion is the celebration of Anjin's wedding with Otsu, A congratulatory series of couplets are uttered by the Daimyo, each delivering a line separately until the last, when all speak in unison. lyiyasu expresses his satisfaction that Anjin is to remain. He says that though Japan is a small country, her people mean to make her the Japan of the world, and that the ceremony of this evening shows how close East and West are after all.

Anjin and Otsu perform the prescribed rite of exchanging wine-cups, and on its conclusion lyiyasu confesses that he has still one apology to make to Anjin: the Dutch ship has not been sent away from Japan; she is still at Hirado. Does Anjin still wish to return by her? Giheiji and Otsu await Anjin's answer with much anxiety, but he declares that he will remain in Japan. The ceremony ends with a geisha dance.

The dance was called “Wakamiya” (Young Prince), and the accompanying lyrics went (in Mitford’s translation):
 “A young Prince came to the land of rising sun.Chorus—Wakamiya WelcomeYoi, Yoi, Yoiya, Sa.He is the envoy of British Lion very very highly honoured.Chorus—Wakamiya WelcomeYoi, Yoi, Yoiya, Sa.Now, the two countries unite in love for ever, and ever, and ever.Chorus—Wakamiya WelcomeYoi, Yoi, Yoiya, Sa.”

According to Mitford:

The first scene, by the seashore at Hemin, was exceedingly well managed. The waves of the sea quite seemed to break upon the shore, while the trees were waving to and fro in the wind, an effect which I never saw on the European stage. The illusion was very well kept up. The second act was of great interest, because it might be taken to give a correct representation of a wedding in the house of a personage of exalted rank.

Mitford describes the party to which the guests were ushered midway through.

At the end of the second act we were all taken to a great room upstairs, where supper was served, at which all the geishas appeared and played at waiting upon the guests. Their pretty little ways, their dainty movements and graceful manners were very charming; but unfortunately they still had on all the coat of paint on face and lips, which to our eyes is excessive even on the stage, but off it, at close quarters, is anything but determined that we should be pleased, and we were as determined as they. So all was well.

I take it that this entertainment, from beginning to end, must have been a novel experience to the members of the Imperial family, who for once broke through the bonds of Court etiquette. At any rate I think everybody enjoyed it, and nobody more thoroughly than the Wakamiya, “the envoy of the British Lion.” The business men of Tokyo may congratulate themselves on the success of a show got up with lavish expenditure of thought and money, of which all their guests will carry away the pleasantest and most grateful recollection. It was a pretty thought to choose for our entertainment the “premiere” of a piece founded on the one episode in the old history of Japan in which an Englishman could be made the hero. Let us hope that author and actors may be rewarded by a great run. [From A.B. Mitford, The Garter Mission to Japan.]

The men wore either uniforms or swallow-tailed coats while the women wore Western evening wear with deep decollates or white-collared, multicolored kimono (montsuki) with dyed family crests. The decorations inside the theatre were undertaken by Mitsukoshi, with red- and white striped fabric, bundles of fresh cedar leaves, floors of unfinished wood, gold folding screens, live pine, cherry, and plum flowers, and so on. Good feelings flowed from Prince Arthur’s arrival at 9:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., when the gathering dispersed (although one source says this was 1:00 a.m.)

Chairs were used for seating throughout the theatre and a gas stove was provided near Prince Arthur’s seat but the Kyōbashi Station interfered and didn’t permit brazier heating in the orchestra seating so the dressed-up ladies and gentlemen had to shiver in the cold.

On February 26, Bandō Matasaburō, the Nissen Danshū (“Twopenny Danjūrō”), collapsed while acting at the Miyato-za. He was unable to return to the stage and died at 53. On February 27, Ichikawa Aragorō, a disciple of Ichikawa Danzō III, died at 74. That day also began a five-day series of charity performances at the Kabuki-za, running to March 3. It was under the sponsorship of Senge Takatomi, lieutenant governor of Metropolitan Tokyo, and an association of celebrity wives, to raise money for Tōhoku prefecture following a bad harvest season. The program included Youchi Soga, with Yaozō as Gorō and Uzaemon as Jūrō, Reppu Shikinami (The Virtuous Shikinami), starring Onoe Baikō, the kyōgen-based, tokiwazu dance play Utsubo Zaru (The Monkey Quiver), with Kikugorō as the female daimyō, and Oshi Musume (The Deaf-Mute Girl). One source, the Kabuki Nendaiki, says that the program ended with Chōkokushi no Yume.

On March 7, the Tōkyō-za gave the first full production of Tsubouchi Shōyō’s Hototogisu Kojō no Rakugetsu, starring Shikan as Yodogimi and Ieyasu and Ennosuke as Katsumoto. Also that day, a nō club called Yanō (Evening Nō) offered its first performance.

A day later, the March Kabuki-za program opened. Kataoka Ichizō, ecstatic at the safe conclusion of his son Jūzō’s military service as a sergeant proposed that the management produce a show honoring his son and 20 other actors who had served during the Russo-Japanese War. When he couldn’t arouse much interest in the idea he financed the show out of his own pocket, using the same scenery seen in the production for Prince Arthur. The bill began in mid-afternoon, at 3:00 p.m., with Oku no Kiroku (Record of Oku), a play that Miyazaki Sanmai had written for the Kyōfūkai (Japan Women’s Christian Organization), and that was revised by Kawatake Shinshichi III. Second was Gunjin Katagi (A Soldier’s Spirit), adapted by Takeshiba Umematsu from a work by a certain war veteran, and costarring Ichizō and his son, Jūzō. A dance play, Yakko Dōjōji (Footman’s Dōjōji), using tokiwazu, nagauta, and Western music ended the show; Jūzō starred. The victorious atmosphere fostered by victory in the Russo-Japanese War was still palpable and this production advertised as honoring actors who had returned from the military campaign filled the houses throughout the run. The actor-veterans themselves participated in a march organized at the Aoyama Parade Grounds for a ceremony in which the First Army honored its dead.

With this production, Enomoto Torahiko became the Kabuki-za’s head playwright (tate sakusha), the first time a writer from outside the traditional kabuki playwright (kyōgen sakusha) held this position.

March also saw the publication of Shimazaki Tōson’s Hakai (The Broken Commandment), a revolutionary novel about the burakumin pariah class; novelist Natsume Sōseki wrote to his disciple, writer Morita Sōhei, “If the Meiji period were published as a novel it would be The Broken Commandment.” On March 11, the actor Iwai Matsunosuke, 49, passed away while on tour. The same day, transfer savings accounts were introduced, while on March 14, the now highly institutionalized cleaning establishment called Hakuyosha began operating at Nihonbashi. On March 26, the Dai Nippon Bakushū (Great Japan Beer) company (predecessor of Asahi Beer) was established, and on the 31st the Railway Nationalization Act was promulgated.  

The Kabuki-za was used on April 1 for a martial arts convocation. Regular programming returned on April 11, which opened at 1:00 p.m. with Mokuami’s domestic drama Mekura Nagaya Ume ga Kagatobi, and then presented Yoshino Yama Yuki no Furugoto, a 1786 tokiwazu dance play, a.k.a. Myoto Gitsune (Husband and Wife Foxes). The closing piece was the kiyomoto dance play Modori Kago Iro ni Aikata. 

During this production, Bandō Yasosuke advanced to the name Bandō Mitsugorō VI, the formal announcement (kōjō) coming before the second play, and including Ichikawa Yaozō, Onoe Baikō, Ichimura Uzaemon, Kikugorō, and Kichiemon in the lineup. All were dressed in formal kamishimo to offer their verbal support. The new Mitsugorō’s performance as a man who reveals his true nature as a fox fitted him perfectly and showed how deserving of the new name he was. In Modori Kago Komazō was excellent as the kago bearer Jirōsaku, Uzaemon was a handsome Yoshirō, and Sawamura Tosshō as Tayori, the kamuro or courtesan’s handmaiden, also shone. The run ended on May 5, after 25 days.

April 4th saw the passing of actor Onoe Onozō, at 42. The same day, playwright Matsui Shōō left for a journey to the West. On April 15, Ichikawa Enzō II, a disciple of Danjūrō IX, died at 40. On April 16, the fastest express train began operations between Tokyo’s Shinbashi and the city of Kobe, traveling 44 kilometers per hour and making the trip in 13 hours and 40 minutes. On May 2, medical and dental practitioner laws were promulgated. 
Shinbashi Station, 1906. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.
On May 6, the great musician Tokiwazu Rinchū passed away, aged 65. He was honored at the Kabuki-za by a concert of the music he’d created in October 1896 for Danjūrō IX in Yasuna, for Kodakara Sanbasō in November 1896 when the Kabuki-za’s joint stockholder company was organized, and for the 1897 production of Seki no To starring Danjūrō and Kikugorō.

On May 9, the Wakaba-Kai group of literary men cum amateur actors presented their second program, beginning at 1:00 p.m. It opened with Sugi Gannami’s Uchiumi Ochi, followed by the “Kumagai Jinya” scene from Ichinotani Futaba Gunki, and finishing with Uta Torahiko’s Kinpira Tengu Mondō (The Kinpira-Goblin Debate), done in old-school Tosa jōruri style. A critic wrote: “The house was full well before the scheduled curtain time. Their skill continues to mature and even ‘Jinya,’ so very difficult for professional actors, was performed smoothly throughout, which should show just how much these gentlemen put into this.”

On May 9, stage designer/painter Kubota Beisen died at 55. On May 23, the great Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen died. Also this month, Suzuki Miekichi published “Chidori” in Hototogisu.

June’s Kabuki-za program, which followed the recent practice of beginning at 1:00 p.m., featured Nakamura Shikan, returning nearly four years after a conflict with manager Inoue Takejirō. Opening day was May 27, beginning with Enomoto Torahiko’s new play Nantō Enjō (The Nara Conflagration), starring Shikan and Yaozō. Then Uzaemon starred for the first time as Sukeroku in the ever-popular Sukeroku Yukari Edo no Zakura, followed by Komazō making his first appearance as Benkei in Kanjinchō, a role he would play so often (as Matsumoto Kōshirō VII) it became associated with him. Then Kikugorō acted the lead in Totoya no Chawan (The Fish Shop Teacup), a shorter title for Kawatake Mokuami’s Sandai Banashi Totoya no Chawan (1882), a once-popular Meiji-period play. 
Nantō Enjō, with Shikan as the female character on the steps.From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.
Since problems raised the previous year regarding Komazō’s performing Kanjinchō and Uzaemon’s doing Sukeroku were now resolved in one fell swoop, Shikan was concerned that his return after four years had little effect  on his casting, and Yaozō was angry about his seemingly secondary place on the program, even though his parts included Togashi in Kanjinchō and Ikyū in Sukeroku. So Shikan and Yaozō were placated by their roles in Enomoto’s new play only for Onoe Baikō to complain about his roles, further intensifying the managerial headaches.

A year earlier Ennosuke had gotten permission to perform Kanjinchō, which, as one of the plays in the Kabuki Jūhachiban collection, belonged to the Ichikawa Danjūrō family, by paying 500 yen for the rights. Tamura Nariyoshi, serving as the Kabuki-za’s representative, later wrote of how he got the rights to both Kanjinchō and Sukeroku, also a Kabuki Jūhachiban play:

Thus there was the matter of copyright, which last year’s story holds cost a single 500 yen payment. But I, as a way to show the value of the Jūhachiban, purposely offered four times 500 yen (2,000 yen) for each play, and Danjūrō’s widow said she’d throw in the costumes and everything else for another 1,000 yen so I avoided an aggressive bargaining dispute and happily agreed. This set the subsequent price for doing a Jūhachiban play. On the other hand, increasing the price strengthened the validity of the Jūhachiban. [From Tamura Nariyoshi, Kabuki-za Ima Mukashi Monogatari, Vol. 11: Kōmyō Jidai.]

For the first six days of the June production, the Japanese Railways Joint Stock Corporation celebrated its independence by buying seats for over 10,000 invited stockholders, with Tokyo’s foremost geisha attending to them in red aprons. This spurred business and the production was a sellout that closed on June 28 after a rare long run of 33 days. From midmonth on the teahouse men and the theatre’s ushers began the new custom of dressing in Western clothes, serving bentō lunches, and pouring tea from earthenware pots, a highly unusual sight in those days. Ushers were in black, teashop workers in gray. In the end, the production was so successful it not only covered the theatre’s deficits but allowed for a small dividend to be paid to shareholders. Starting from this program, the Kabuki-za’s longstanding sluggishness began to improve and, gradually, welcome an age of bright possibilities.

Other May theatre news included the name changing of Jitsukawa Enko to Jitsukawa Entarō (later Kawarazaki Kunitarō IV) at the Tōkyō-za. On May 2, Ichikawa Sadanji I’s disciple, Ichikawa Shōjaku died, aged 52. And on May 8, Ichikawa Sumizō V, one of Danjūrō’s leading followers, and the adopted father of the actor who would become Ichikawa Jukai III, died, aged 62.

The prosperity ushered in by the Russo-Japanese War didn’t last long. On June 7, an imperial edict established the South Manchurian Railway Joint Stock Corporation; the Japanese government capitalized it with 200 million yen, and its stock prices continued to jump. The situation changed in January of 1907 when the stocks began to decline as companies speculating on the war and small and midsize banks doing business with them started to go bankrupt.

Ichikawa Shōzō, a disciple of Danjūrō IX’s, was 49 when he died on June 6. June also witnessed the first appearance in Tokyo of the great shinpa female-role specialist Kitamura Rokurō since the founding of the Seibidan shinpa company 12 years earlier. He had been summoned by Takada Minoru, who needed someone to play a female role in Yanagawa Shunyō’s Yadorigi (Mistletoe) at the Hongō-za. His costars were Takada and Fujisawa Asajirō. Another June 1906 milestone was the publication of Sekine Mokuan’s Engeki Taisen (Theatre Encyclopedia).

From July 1 to July 4 the great dancer-choreographer Fujima Kanemon took over the theatre for a “once-in-a-lifetime” recital by his Onshū Kai (Rehearsal Company). It employed 11 kabuki traveler-curtains (hikimaku) and was a big success. This month also saw the establishment by Umeya Shōkichi of M. Pathe, Japan’s third major film company, which offered its first program at the Shintomi-za.

On July 14, at 5:00 p.m., the next Kabuki-za program commenced, with Inoue Takejirō and his brother-in-law, playwright Murai Gensai, serving as the independent producers of a “drama for the encouragement of morality” (kyōfū engeki). Murai, whose temperance drama, Sake Dōraku, had been done at the Kabuki-za in January, now oversaw the production of his Onna Dōraku (Woman Crazy), which called for ending the practice of concubinage. But the idea drew public protests, with journalistic attacks, including newspapers like the Chūō Shinbun printing headlines such as “Jōfū Engeki Otoko Dōraku” (Drama for Driving Away Immorality: Man Crazy), the first two words a play on kyōfū engeki and the rest, according to Prof. Kei Hibino, implying that indulging in men, i.e., actors, the idols of women and children, was a foolish means for improving morality. There was so much negative response that the production, which was scheduled for 20 days, closed after 17, making it a giant flop.

On August 18, a strike at the Kure naval arsenal turned violent; toward the end of the month, there was another strike at the arsenal in Koishikawa, Tokyo. On September 1, the popular cigarette brand “Golden Bat” was introduced. And, at Osaka’s Asahi-za, Iwasaki Shunka’s dramatization of Izumi Kyōka’s Tsūya Monogatari (The Vigil’s Tale) was presented. 
From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.
The Kabuki-za was used on August 20 for the awarding of prizes to actors who were voted on in a national poll conducted by the Miyako Shinbun: first prize went to Onoe Eizaburō VI (later Bandō Hikosaburō VI), the runners-up being Yamaguchi Sadako (adopted daughter of shinpa actor Yamaguchi Sadao), and Ichikawa Enshō II (soon to become Sadanji II). Arriving in positions four, five, and six were Nakamura Kichiemon, Ichikawa Sakimatsu (later Ichikawa Shōchō II), and Ichikawa Ginnosuke. The program concluded with the awardees offering non-costumed dances (suodori) wearing regular kimono. From August 26 to September 1 the theatre showed movies from Paris.
From the program of the September Kabuki-za production. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-shi.
From September 8-17, shinpa star Ii Yōhō of the Masago-za produced an independent show at the Kabuki-za but, since the company itself was weak, Kawai Takeo of the Kawakami Company at the Hongō-za joined on for the ten-day gig. The first piece, which began at 5:00 p.m., was an adaptation of Alphonse Daudet’s French drama Sappho, the next was Mori Ōgai’s Tamakushige Futari Urashima, and the next was the comedy Shian no Hoka by Masuda Tarō Kaja. Attendance was good but a downturn was foreseen and the show closed after its tenth performance.

From September 19 to 25, the Kabuki-za showed two bills daily of Japanese and English films. The same month, the Meiji-za honored the three-year anniversary of Ichikawa Sadanji I’s death, with Ichikawa Enshō taking the name Sadanji II. For the occasion, he played the role of Marubashi Chūya in Keian Taiheiki. The production was a big success and was a warm payoff for the struggles he’d undergone in running the Meiji-za after his late father’s death. He then began planning an extensive trip to Europe.

The Kabuki-za Corporation’s balance sheet for the first half of 1906 showed a profit of 17,441 yen and 14 sen. Inoue Takejirō, who had been producing theatre at the Kabuki-za for 10 years, hearing that it would cost 850,000 yen to build a large theatre in Marunouchi, with business expenses amounting to 150,000 yen, said that the rising cost of managing a theatre had become so problematic he had abandoned the idea. A major Kabuki-za shareholder, he decided to sell his shares and retire from the theatre world.

During a gathering at Kagetsu, a Shinbashi restaurant, he was introduced by Miyake Hyōza to several people with deep connections to the family of the late Count Gōtō Shōjirō, among them Inoue Kakugorō, Fujiyama Raita, Okamoto Teikyū, and Ōgawara Terutake, all distinguished men from Mita (also meaning they were graduates of Keio University) with an abiding interest in theatrical production. While holding on to the 50 shares that allowed him to remain on the board of directors, he sold the remainder of his shares, valued then at 17 yen each, at the inflated rate of 36 each. Inoue also owned the costumes and some of the privileges [whose specifics are unclear] regarding spectators in the low-priced ōmukō balcony section, where hardcore aficionados sat, but the ōmukō privileges or rights were sold to Ōgawara Terutake while the costumes, along with house costumer Ōi Ichimatsu, were transferred to the Mitsukoshi Department Store for 20,000 yen. They became the basis for the Mitsukoshi Costume Collection. Inoue Takejirō felt greatly relieved, saying his descendants would have no connection to the theatre. He is said never to have had anything to do with the Kabuki-za again.

Meanwhile, Inoue, wanting to emulate the retirement of Kabuki-za founder Chiba Katsugorō 10 years older by going out in style, sought to invite Osaka star Nakamura Ganjirō to participate. He and Ichikawa Yaozō, with whom he was on good terms, along with Tamura Nariyoshi to serve as the negotiator, traveled to Osaka to work things out with producer Shirai Matsujirō, to whom Ganjirō was contracted. Ganjirō himself assented to going, and he thus set foot on the Kabuki-za stage for the first time in 17 years.

Nakamura Ganjirō I (1860-1935), son of Nakamura Ganjaku III, debuted at three but was soon separated from his father, who divorced his mother. He was adopted into his mother’s fan-selling family and was brought up to sell dry goods. However, at 12, he was introduced by dance teacher Yamamura Tomogorō II to the famous Kamigata actor Jitsukawa Enjaku I, and resumed his stage training. He debuted as Jitsukawa Ganjirō in 1873, while performing in Kyoto, He followed the unusual secondary path, from 1875 to 1889, of working as a puppet handler at Osaka’s Bunraku-za, using the name Yoshida Tamatarō. In 1877, he and his father, who was acting in Kyoto, were reunited for the first time in 17 years. A year later they acted together in Osaka when he took the name Nakamura Ganjirō I. He and Kataoka Gatō (later Kataoka Nizaemon XI) shared great popularity as rising young stars.  He thereafter became famous as an actor who typified the unique traditions of Kamigata.

In 1890, he took his talents to Tokyo’s Shintomi-za, where was praised as Sasaki Moritsuna, one of his best roles, in Moritsuna Jinya. Soon after, he formed his own company and returned to Kamigata, appearing in the plays of Chikamatsu Monzaemon and other playwrights of the region. He became closely associated with Shirai Matsujirō, who cofounded the Shochiku Company, and served as standard bearer for Shirai’s efforts to produce top-quality kabuki, which helped Ganjirō become king of Kamigata kabuki.

He played often in Nagoya and Kobe, as well as in Kyoto and Osaka, before returning to Tokyo for the first time in nearly 17 years in 1906. He became a leading player at the Kabuki-za, periodically returning to Kamigata, and being recognized as one of kabuki’s greatest figures. Critics said he combined the best qualities of his teachers, Jitsukawa Enjaku, Sawamura Sōjūrō, Danjūrō IX, and Kikugorō V.

Ganjirō I was outstanding as both males and females, being handsome, sexually appealing, and artistically skillful. His was considered “the face of Osaka.” His abilities lay mainly in domestic plays (sewamono), with a specialty in the gentle style called wagoto, being particularly notable in the plays of Chikamatsu, as when he played Kamiya Jihei in the “Kawashō” scene of Shinjū Ten no Amijima (The Love Suicides at Ten no Amijima). He collected his greatest roles in the Ganjirō Jūnikyoku collection, among them Chūbei in Meido no Hikyaku and Izaemon in Kuruwa Bunshō. He also was renowned for period dramas like Chushingura, in which he played both Kanpei and Yuranosuke, and as Kumagai in Kumagai Jinya. His performance in Hiki Mado was so popular it revived interest in the piece, which became a regular part of the repertory. New kabuki plays in which he excelled included Akanezome, Tōjūrō no Koi, Koi no Shio, and so on. [Adapted from my New Kabuki Encyclopedia.]

Further, Ichikawa Ennosuke, now the company head (zagashira) at the Tōkyō-za, which was on a declining path, hadn’t been able to appear at the Kabuki-za for the special production honoring Prince Arthur and longed for a chance to return to its stage. He thus joined with Ganjirō for the production, which opened on October 10.

This was the first trip to Tokyo for Shirai Matsujirō, who accompanied Ganjirō, and was an important step forward in getting Shōchiku involved in the Tokyo theatre scene. Just two months earlier, Shōchiku had gained control of Kyoto’s principal theatre, the Minami-za.

The October program opened at 11:00 a.m. on the 10th and closed on November 4. The show opened with Mokuami’s Kawanakajima Azuma Nishiki-e. The second starred Ganjirō in the “Hiki Mado” (“Skylight”) scene of Futatsu Chōchō Kuruwa Nikki, belonging to his collection of family hits, the Ohako (Eighteen Best Plays), followed by Baikō replicating Kikugorō V’s performance in Inaka Genji. Then came the “Kawasho” scene from Shinjū Ten no Amijima, with Ganjirō starring as Kamiya Jihei, and the show concluded with Ganjirō, Kikugorō VI, and Mitsugorō VII giving highly praised performances in the dance Kioi Jishi Matsuri Nigiwai. Kichiemon was unwell so he had to step down from Kioi Jishi, his role taken over by Bandō Mitsugorō.

“Kawasho” was an attraction that spectators wanted to get out and see. In disposition and attitude Ganjirō’s Jihei was a portrayal that no first-class Tokyo actor could possibly embody or duplicate. Of course, Ganjirō held a monopoly on how he seemed to be someone living in the present day, a prodigal townsman with Osaka coursing through his veins. He was 47 at the time but had this been ten years earlier it would have been all the more the case. [Kimura Kinka, Kinsei Gekidan-Shi: Kabuki-za Volume.]

A sellout, it added a day onto its run, giving 26 performances.

After Inoue Takejirō sold his shares, his responsibilities were taken up by Ōgawara Terutake and Fujiyama Raita, officials of the huge Nippon Yusen shipping line, as well as important businessmen like Inoue Kakugorō, Okamoto Teikyū, Itō Kinsuke, Tetsuka Takemasa, and other graduates of Keiō University (then called Keiō Gijuku), with Miyake Hyōzō acting as middleman. 

Miyake thereafter took on the burden of running the Kabuki-za. He came before the board to boast of his decision to revolutionize the theatre’s interior: “You shareholders now are the so-called seven Mita men but you’re a bunch of quibblers so I’d like to ask that from the tenth we fix up the venue; if we ignore it the place will soon grow filthy and will never become the best in Japan.” Thus began the meeting, with Ōgawara elected chairman, and Fujiyama, Okamoto, Itō, and Tetsuka elected as board members (torishimariyaku). Miyake became the official advisor, and Tamura Nariyoshi was production consultant. Others were chosen to serve in various other managerial posts, including treasurer.  

It was also necessary to select actors to become what were called “Principal Actor Members” (Kanbu Gigei Iin) and to prevent actors from performing the same month at both the Kabuki-za and elsewhere (the kakemochi tradition), including the incipient Imperial Theatre, which was just then getting off the ground. The Principal Actor Member system was conceived as a countermeasure to the Kabuki-za’s coming rival, where the actors would want to play while also performing at the Kabuki-za. The Principal Actor Members were Shikan (soon to become Nakamura Utaemon V),Yaozō (the future Ichikawa Chūsha VII), Baikō, Uzaemon, Komazō (later Matsumoto Kōshirō VII), Ennosuke (later Ichikawa Danshirō II), Tosshō (later Sawamura Sōjūrō VII), and Ganjirō, a total of eight, while the secondary (jun kanbu) members were Kikugorō, Kichiemon, and Onoe Matsusuke. Shikan was elected committee (iinchō), a title that became a nickname—“Iinchō!”—called out by fans in the ōmukō section until the end of his career. The term thus became the modern equivalent of the word zagashira to refer to an actor-manager. 

In October, Iwai Kujirō took the name Iwai Kumesaburō V at the Tōkyō-za. During the same show, Okayasu Kikujirō took his late father’s name of Okayasu Kisaburō. On October 14, master prop maker Fujinami Yohei I died, aged 78; he had been responsible for developing the craft of making stage properties in accord with the needs of modern kabuki’s development. October also saw Kawakami Otojirō’s staging of Sardou’s Patrie! (Sokoku in Japanese), translated by Taguchi Kikutei.

On October 18, at the Ginko (Bank) Club in Sakamoto-chō, the first general meeting of the Teikoku Gekijō (Imperial Theatre) Joint Stock Corporation, was held, its supporters including statesman Itō Hirobumi; this new theatre would prove to be a formidable rival to the Kabuki-za several years down the line. The committee chair was Shibusawa Eiichi, and its members included Fukuzawa Sutejirō, Sōda Heigorō, Fukuzawa Tōsuke, Hiki Ōsuke, Tanaka Jōtoku, Tetsuka Takemasa, and Nishino Einosuke.

October also saw the publication by Fusanbō of the Nihon Katei Hyakka Jiten (Japan Family Encyclopedia), and the Asahi Shinbun’s serialization until the end of December of Futabatei Shimei’s Sono Omokage (An Adopted Husband).

At noon on November 6, the Miyako Shinbun sponsored another artistic achievement awards ceremony at the Kabuki-za, honoring various musicians for specific works.  

Tsubouchi Shōyō’s Bungei Kyōkai gave its first regular performance, introduced at the Kabuki-za on November 10 by scholar Ihara Seiseien, beginning at 5:00 p.m. with the Katagiri Mansion and Nagara Riverbank scenes of Shōyō’s Kiri Hitoha, followed by Shōyō’s translation of The Merchant of Venice’s courtroom scene. It was followed by Tokoyami (Everlasting Darkness), one of Japan’s earliest operas, with libretto by Shōyō and music by actor Tōgi Tetteki. It used a Western orchestra and a chorus of over 70, with a full company of 120 performers. Forty male and female performers appeared in costumes from the Age of the Gods, with the 26-year-old Fujikage Shizue playing the role of a girl. Fujikage was a pioneer of the shinbuyō (new dance) movement, which allowed anyone who wished the chance to study kabuki-based dance, leading to the proliferation of female-dominated dance schools, of which there are nearly 170.

In The Merchant of Venice Portia was played by Dohi Shunshō (1869-1915) opposite Tōgi Tetteki’s Shylock and Mizoguchi Biyo’s Antonio, each of them a shingeki actor and each praised for his performance. The production was another milestone in the development of early shingeki.  It was the fourth Japanese production of The Merchant of Venice, the first having been in April 1885 at Osaka’s Ebisu-za (later, Naniwa-za) under the title Sakura Doki Zeni no Yononaka, a kabuki adaptation that set the story in Japan among Japanese characters. However, this program lost a lot of money, a burden Shōyō assumed himself.

Later in the month, for four days starting on November 22, the Bungei Kyōkai’s dramatic section (engeibu) was at the Hongō-za, where it offered Shōyō’s translation of Hamlet, his Daigokuden (Great Hall of State), revised by Sugiya Daisui, and his dance drama Shinkyoku Urashima. Its four days’ run showed a growing interest in the group’s work, which led Shōyō to assume direction as its artistic director.

Elsewhere this November, Tamura Nariyoshi, Kawarazaki Gonnosuke, and Takeshiba Kisui were responsible for a production at the Shintomi-za during which a memorial service was held for Morita Kanya XII, with his third son, Bandō Mitahachi being promoted to billboard status and taking the name Morita Kanya XIII during a performance of Renjishi. And, at the Hongō-za, Kitamura Rokurō starred in Kyōenroku by Satō Kōroku, who became a regular shinpa playwright following this hit. Kitamura’s performance as Bandō Takeshi became one of his most popular roles.

A charity performance of kabuki for the Tokyo Poorhouse was given for seven days, from November 24 to 30. It began with three acts of Ehon Taikōki, followed by the dance plays Fukitori Zuma and Chūjō-Hime, and concluding with Enomoto Torahiko’s comedy, Arabiya Yobanashi (The Arabian Nights). Shikan’s Mitsuhide in Ehon Taikōki was a big flop, it being said that while there were those who recommended that he play it, he was just as wrong as them in accepting it. It was also noted that while Ennosuke and Tosshō performed in pure gidayū style, Komazō, Yaozō, Komasuke, and others acted in realistic katsureki style, creating a rather poor ensemble.

On December 1, the Shōchiku Corporation purchased Kyoto’s Minami-za from Mr. Yasuda of Gifu, becoming the theatre’s producers. They renovated the place and then, calling it a Commemoration Honoring the Renovation Completion, they produced a kaomise production starring Ganjirō and Ichikawa Udanji. The same day, and through December 5, the Wakaba-Kai group of literary men cum amateur actors was absorbed by the Mainichi Shinbun, at the suggestion of Sugi Gannami. As a literary men’s theatre group belonging to a division of the company, it followed the rules to acquire a license and opened at the Meiji-za as the Mainichi Shinbun Engeki Kai (Mainichi Newspaper Theatre Association) for its first production.

Also on December 1, beginning at noon, another Miyako Shinbun awards ceremony was held at the Kabuki-za, with performances from a variety of plays from different genres although it’s not clear what the prizes were for. And from December 10 through 16, starting at 1:00 p.m., the Kokumin Shinbun sponsored charity performances for the Okayama Orphanage. The regular Kabuki-za company appeared in Ichiharano Danmari, a pantomime with tokiwazu music; the “Kuruma Biki,” “Ga no Iwai,” and “Terakoya” (with Yaozō playing Genzō opposite Uzaemon’s Matsuō) scenes of Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami; Saikai Suzuri (The Ink Stone of Saikai) a.k.a. Nasuno Yoichi; and the kiyomoto-nagauta-takemoto dance play Rokkasen.

On December 2, Ichikawa Sadanji II departed from Yokohama on the Kamakura Maru for an extended study tour of Western theatre, making him the first kabuki actor to do so. Sadanji had an enterprising spirit; fascinated by the Western travels of his close friend, the theatrical soldier of fortune Kawakami Otojirō, who urged him to go, and by what he’d learned from playwright Matsui Shōō, just then studying in Paris, he decided to go. As a bright young actor, he realized how valuable such a trip could be for the development of the modern Japanese stage. Writing in a theatre periodical, he said:

To be frank, I had earned a considerable profit from my father’s memorial production that year and, for a time, considered using it to build a statue in his honor. But then I realized that he’d be very happy in the hereafter if, rather, I used the money to travel abroad, learning about theatre. Finally, I resolved to do so. [From “Meika Shinsō Roku” in Engei Gahō, 1909, No. 11.]

On December 11, Kataoka Ichizō, a leading player of villain roles (katakiyaku) died. He was 56. On December 30, the first meeting was held of the Teikoku Gekijō (Imperial Theatre) board, led by Chairman Shibusawa Eiichi. On December 6, the Tokyo Underground Electric Railway Company was established. On December 11, a strike broke out at Osaka’s arsenal, and on December 13 the Tōkyō-za showed films rendered in natural color.

The year 1906 saw a general social and economic upturn following the Russo-Japanese War’s armistice. Partly, this was reflected in the upsurge of nouveau riches; these conditions also were reflected in the theatre. Esperanto found popularity and trumpet music was widely played. The military color of khaki was created, and the number of newborn female babies registered dropped off radically because it was a “Fire Horse Year” (hinoeuma), which comes every 60 years, with women born during such years believed to make terrible wives.

For information on world events of 1906, including births and deaths, click here. Important plays of the year are here and major theatres completed in 1906 are here.

Monday, September 11, 2017

THE FIRST KABUKI-ZA (1889-1911): Chapter 19. 1905 (Meiji 38)

Chapter 19

1905 (Meiji 38)

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 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: NagautaTokiwazu, 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 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.
Ichikawa Ennnosuke as Benkei. From Kabuki-za Hyakunen-Shi.
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 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.