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Nakamura Shikan II (Utaemon IV)

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Nakamura Shikan II (Utaemon IV)

Shikan II (1796-1852) became the disciple of his uncle, the dance master Fujima Kanjuro I, and began his career as Fujima Kamesaburo. After becoming Kanjuro’s adopted son in 1807, he worked as a choreographer before entering the household of Nakamura Utaemon III in 1811 and changing his name to Nakamura Fujitaro. While performing in Osaka in 1813 he changed his name again to Nakamura Tsurusuke, gaining experience at the local small theatre (koshibai). While playing in Kyoto in 1825 he finally assumed the name Shikan II, which he kept until 1836, when he was adopted by Utaemon III (who changed his name to Tamasuke) and acceded to the name Utaemon IV.

Back in Edo from Kamigata in 1827, he was punished along with other actors for flouting sumptuary laws, and was put under house arrest. He became a very popular actor. Unlike Utaemon III, he was big an imposing in stature, and he excelled in large-scale ‘history’ or ‘period play’ (jidaimono) roles such as Matsuomaru in Sugawara denju tenarai kagami (Sugawara and the secrets of calligraphy). He was not so good at domestic play roles (sewamono), but although he specialised in male leads (tachiyaku) he occasionally played female roles (onnagata).

His artistic secrets were handed down to Danjuro IXShikan IV was his adopted son.

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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