Kawatake Mokuami

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A woodblock print depicting Benten Kozô
  • Born: 1816/3/1
  • Died: 1893/1/22
  • Other Names: 二世河竹新七 (nisei Kawatake Shinshichi), 其水 (Kisui), 古河黙阿弥 (Furukawa Mokuami)
  • Japanese: 河竹黙阿弥 (Kawatake Mokuami)

Kawatake Mokuami was a prominent kabuki playwright of the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods, and one of the most celebrated kabuki playwrights today. He is known chiefly for shiranamimono (stories of charming thieves) and other kizewamono (a type of play set in low-class contemporary settings, focusing on gamblers and thieves). Roughly 360 of his works survive today; many are still performed today, with Benten Kozô (1862) being the most famous.

For much of his life, he lived and worked in the Asakusa neighborhood, a few blocks from Sensô-ji. Today, statues of the chief characters of the play Benten Kozô can be seen on that street corner.

Other works by Mokuami include Keian Taiheiki (1870), and Gosannen Ôshû Gunki, written specially for the 1879 visit of Ulysses S. Grant to Tokyo.