The Tweezers



Kabuki Plus

by Terada Shima

Costumes resembling ancestors

Danjo’s costume and sword carry the three-square “mimasu” crest of the Ichikawa Danjuro family. The light-green kamishimo pants were devised by Danjuro V, one of the major stars of the mid Edo Period. When the show was revised in the late 19th century by Sadanji II, he wore a kamishimo with checkered pattern of light-green and black. The Ichikawa family since Danjuro XI wore kamishimo with auspicious shrimp pattern based on an ukiyoe print of Danjuro VII.

Aragoto plus extra

Though Danjo does not wear the usual aragoto makeup, he offers many aragoto moments. For example, in the scene where Danjo is surprised by the dancing tweezers, the actor uses five different mie poses using a sword, fan and tobacco pipe. Also, when he thrusts his spear into the ninja hiding in the ceiling, he makes a lyrical shout with a classic mie pose. When he exits down the hanamichi, he carries a dagger as a token of the marriage and briefly jumps in dramatic roppo style, but then walks calmly out off the stage. Thus, this is not a simple aragoto drama.

Hero with intelligence and compassion


Danjo is somewhat different from the prototypical aragoto character. He is sexually attracted to both men and women, but soon retreats when he is rebuffed. He does not solve problems with force but writes a witty letter on behalf of Manbei, and solves the mystery by observing the strange movement of his tweezers while plucking his beard, showing his intelligence. He is a wise ruler role helping to referee problems, but also a wajitsu role that is gentle and sincere. This makes him an interesting character.

Link with Narukami

The fourth act of Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura is called Narukami. That play’s Princess Kumo no Taema is in love with Danjo’s ruler in Kenuki. She is the love rival of Princess Nishiki no Mae, who suffers the mysterious illness in the latter show. Nishiki no Mae’s veil has a charm blessed by a monk in Narukami. The calligraphy is a treasure that supposedly cures draughts and proves necessary to overcome the draught caused by Narukami.

Secret magnet


Kabuki scholar Gunji Masakatsu supposes that the trick with a magnet may be based on a tale about a famous general Yamamoto Kansuke from an old book of the mid-1600s. The magnet that the ninja drops from the ceiling may be either block-shaped, U-shaped or compass-shaped. The magnet’s power to attract only steel was surprising for people long ago, and this was adapted as a stage trick.