Onoe Kikugoro III

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Onoe Kikugorô III was a kabuki actor, the first and among the most famous kaneru yakusha, a type of actor who performs a wide variety of roles. This is in contrast to the vast majority of kabuki actors, who specialize in only playing women, heroes, villains, or other particular types of roles. Kikugorô was close friends with the playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV, who wrote the role of Oiwa, in the play Tôkaidô Yotsuya Kaidan, specifically for him.

Names and Lineage

Like most kabuki actors, Kikugorô went by a number of different stage names over the course of his career. He debuted as Onoe Eizaburô I, and spent time as Ôgawa Hashizô I, Onoe Baikô III, and Onoe Matsusuke II, before taking the name Onoe Kikugorô in 1815. He also used the poetry names (haimyô) Baiju, Gachô, Sanchô, and Baikô.

Kikugorô was adopted into the kabuki world by Onoe Shôroku I. He had three sons, Onoe Matsusuke III, Onoe Eizaburô IV, and Onoe Kikunosuke, and a grandson, Onoe Kikugorô V. Onoe Kikugorô IV and Ichimura Uzaemon XII were his sons-in-law.


Kikugorô made his debut on stage at the age of four in 1789, as Onoe Eizaburô I.

By 1810, he had already become acquainted with Tsuruya Nanboku IV, and had seen his first son's stage debut. Over the course of his career, he would develop a strong relationship with the playwright, performing in many of his productions, often alongside his own sons. Taking part in a number of shûmei naming ceremonies alongside his sons, the actor went through several different names, often passing them on to his sons, and finally taking the name Kikugorô III in 1815.

Kikugorô played the lead role of Oiwa, wife of Iemon, in the 1825 premiere of the now-famous ghost play Tôkaidô Yotsuya Kaidan; the role was written specifically for him by his playwright friend. Among his many roles over his career were those of Ôboshi Yuranosuke, Kô no Moronao and Tonase in Kanadeon Chûshingura, Sugawara no Michizane in Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami, and Shizuka Gozen and Itami Gonta in Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura. His rivalry with fellow actor Ichikawa Danjûrô VII added to the excitement and appeal of their many performances together.

He entered retirement in September 1847, after a final performance at the Ichimura-za, in a program called "Onoe Baiju Ichidai Banashi" after him. In his retirement, he took on the name Kikuya Manbei, and ran a mochi shop called the Kiku-ya. Kikugorô returned to the stage, however, the following year, performing under the stage name Ôgawa Hashizô I, in Edo and on a short tour in Nagoya.

Settling in Osaka towards the end of 1848, he fell ill the following year and died at the Kakegawa station on the Tôkaidô post road.


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.