Takemoto Gidayu

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  • Born: 1651
  • Died: 1714/9/10
  • Japanese: 竹本 義太夫 (Takemoto Gidayuu)
  • Other names: Kiyomizu Gorobei, Takemoto Chikugo no Jô

Takemoto Gidayû was a jôruri chanter and the creator of a style of chanted narration for Japan's puppet theatre which was used ever since. The name "gidayû" has since become the term for all jôruri chanters. He was a close colleague of the famous playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon, and founder and manager of the Takemoto-za puppet theatre.

Life and Career

Gidayû was originally from the Tennôji neighborhood of Osaka, performed originally in Kyoto, as apprentice to Uji Kaganojô. In 1684, he left Kaganojô and Kyoto, returning to Osaka and founding the Takemoto-za theatre. The year after his arrival saw a competition between Gidayû and Kaganojô for audiences in Osaka, as well as number of failed countryside tours, but also marked the beginning of Gidayû's collaborations with Chikamatsu, who he had met in Kyoto. Together, the pair overhauled the traditional elements of jôruri and reinvented the form, transforming it into the form which would be popular through much of the Edo period, and which it retains today.

The Chihiroshû ("A Collection a Thousand Fathoms Deep"), Gidayû's first work to be published, was produced in 1686, though his most important treatise would come the following year. The Jôkyô yonen Gidayû danmonoshû ("Collection of Jôruri Scenes of the Fourth Year of Jôkyô"), like his other works, contained a lengthy preface containing elements of Gidayû's theories and attitudes regarding the theatre and performance. This text would remain a foundational one for jôruri performers up through the end of the 19th century.

Though Gidayû fully acknowledged the older traditional forms which jôruri drew upon, he thought of his art as a contemporary creation, and was known to poke fun at those who valued lineage and tradition over skill and beautiful performance. His writings also established frameworks for the structure of jôruri plays, based upon those described by Zeami Motokiyo for the Noh theatre. A play constructed according to Gidayû's framework has five acts, performed over the course of a whole day. The first act is an auspicious opening, the second characterized by conflict, the third, the climax of the play, by tragedy and pathos, the fourth a light michiyuki travel scene, and the fifth a quick and auspicious conclusion.

Gidayû, along with all jôruri chanters in the tradition after him, chanted the narration of a play alone, along with all the spoken (or sung) lines of every character. The chanting style shifts dramatically between speaking and singing, and is based on a notation exclusive to jôruri, inscribed into the chanter's copy of the script. Chanters may not perform an entire play, changing places with another chanter after an act or two or three, but they only very rarely perform simultaneously alongside another chanter. These, and many others, are all traditions and form established, or significantly altered, by Gidayû.

His son Takemoto Seidayû followed him as director of the Takemoto-za and continued the style and forms established by Gidayû.


This article was written by User:LordAmeth and contributed to both the Samurai Archives Wiki and Wikipedia; the author gives permission for his work to be used in this way.

  • Gerstle, Drew. Chikamatsu: Five Late Plays. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. pp10-18.