Nagoya Sansaburo

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  • Died: 1603/4/10
  • Japanese: 名古屋山三郎 (Nagoya Sansaburou)

Nagoya Sansaburô[1] is a historical figure who often appeared in early kabuki dances, sketches, and skits, as the lover of Izumo no Okuni, the woman often described as the founder of kabuki.

A member of the samurai class, his father was Nagoya Takahisa, governor (kami) of Inaba province, and his mother Yôun'in, a niece of Oda Nobunaga.

When he was in his teens, he became the page to a member of the Kamô clan, and served in the vanguard in the invasion of Ôshû, an achievement about which songs were sung. When his Kamô lord died, he became ronin, and through connections through his sister, obtained a government position.

He was soon afterward killed in a brawl with a coworker, however. Though there is no evidence that he was romantically involved with Okuni, or even ever met her in person, he came to be portrayed as her departed lover in plays and sketches, and his ghost became a regular character in pieces performed by Okuni's troupe.


  • "Nagoya Sansaburô." Sekai daihyakka jiten 世界大百科事典. Hitachi Solutions, 2012.
  1. Sometimes also referred to as Nagoya Sanzaemon. Charles Dunn and Torigoe Bunzô, The Actors' Analects, New York: Columbia University Press (1969), 70.