Kumesaburo (1799-1800) was the eldest son of Iwai Hanshiro V (formerly Kumesaburo I), who was the leading female role actor (onnagata) of the previous generation. He made his debut with the name Iwai Kyujiro in 1804, performing with his father. He took the name Kumesaburo II in 1812 and with Segawa Kikunojo V was the leading actor of wakaonnagata (young female) roles. In 1822 he was chief female-role actor (tate onnagata) at the Nakamura theatre, while his father had the same position at the Ichimura theatre, and his younger brother Iwai Shijaku I at the Morita theatre.
Like other actors, he was punished in 1827 for flouting sumptuary laws, and was put under house arrest. He was forced to leave Edo following the 1829 that destroyed the Edo theatres, but unlike the other Edo actors he could not go to Kamigata (Osaka and Kyoto) because of his frail constitution. In 1832 he succeeded to his father’s name and became Hanshiro VI, ill health dogged him until his death in 1836. He was renowned for playing multiple roles.
Organised for Japan 2001
The Fitzwilliam Museum is especially grateful to John Carpenter, Tim Clark, Paul M. Griffith, Hideyuki Iwata and Ellis Tinios for their generous help during the preparation of this exhibition.
Funded by Japan 2001