Sakuragawa Jihinari

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An opening from Sakuragawa Jihinari jihitsu kôhon, handpainted and handwritten by Sakuragawa, with an image and poetry relating to Kawasaki-juku, one of the post-stations of the Tôkaidô
  • Born: 1762
  • Died: 1833
  • Other Names: 八尾大助 (Yao Daisuke), 錺屋大五郎 (Kazariya Daigorô), 芝楽亭 (Shibarakutei)
  • Japanese: 桜川慈悲成 (Sakuragawa Jihinari)

Sakuragawa Jihinari was an Edo period gesaku writer and rakugo performer.

Originally from Edo, he lived in Udagawa-chô in the Shiba neighborhood of Edo, where he worked as a scabbard maker, engraver, and pottery seller, under the name Kazariya Daigorô. His birth/family name was Yao Daisuke, but he went by a variety of pseudonyms, including Shibarakutei and Oya no Jihi Nari (meaning, "the compassion/benevolence of [my] parents"). Along with Utei Enba, he is credited with being one of the chief people responsible for the revival or rejuvenation of rakugo. He came to associate with wealthy and high-ranking families, and other elite circles, as he was frequently invited to perform comedic storytelling, theatre, or tea ceremony for such audiences. He had several students, and within certain arts, the Sakuragawa lineage and name continues today.

Sakuragawa studied under the gesaku author Kishida Tohô (aka Sakurada Tohô), and took on the name "Sakuragawa" after Kishida's death. Over the course of his career, he authored more than thirty kibyôshi, beginning with Tenhitsu ahôraku in 1788, and more than twenty hanashi bon, as well as many kyôka. A handwritten, handpainted volume entitled Sakuragawa Jihinari jihitsu kôhon (lit. "A Draft Book by the Brush of Sakuragawa Jihinari Himself") suggests he also had incredible skill at painting/drawing, poetry, and calligraphy. The book contains a painting and accompanying poem for each of the 53 stations of the Tôkaidô.