Uemura Kichiya I

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  • Other Names: Ôkichiya (yagô), Uemura Kichizaemon, Yamamura Kichiya, Kamimura Kichiya I, Uemonjiya Kichizaemon[1]
  • Japanese: 初代上村吉弥 (Shodai Uemura Kichiya)

Uemura Kichiya I was an onnagata kabuki actor active in Kamigata (specifically, Kyoto) in the 1670s. He was particularly celebrated for his dances, and but is known chiefly for his influence on women's fashions, including the popularization of a certain kind of basket hat, a type of face powder, and certain ways of tying one's obi (kimono belt).

The Kichiya-musubi, or "Kichiya knot," was in fact particularly famous and popular, mentioned specifically in a number of poems. The knot is a relatively simple one, but with small lead weights attached to the obi somehow (and hidden), weighing down the ends of the bow, so they drooped "like the ears of a ... Chinese lion-dog."[2] This style can clearly be seen in numerous bijinga (pictures of beauties) from the time, particularly in works by Hishikawa Moronobu, including one of his most famous paintings[3]. A variation on this way of tying the obi has survived into the modern day, and is still called Kichiya-musubi.

Kichiya claimed Saitô Yogorô, an Osaka-based comic actor, as his master.[4] Though his dates of birth and death are unknown, it is known that he went on tour in Edo in 1677, and performed at the Nakamura-za. He retired several years later, in 1680, and opened a cosmetics shop on Shijô in Kyoto, operating it under the name Uemonjiya Kichizaemon.[4]

Ryûtei Tanehiko, a 19th century samurai writer, discusses Kichiya to some extent in his Ryûtei ikô, a sort of compilation of miscellaneous writings by Ryûtei, compiled and published in 1909, long after his death.

Ryûtei also discusses Kichiya's adopted son and successor, Uemura Kichiya II, though information pertaining to one or the other is often confused both by Ryûtei and by his sources.


  • "Uemura Kichiya I." Kabuki21.com. Accessed 11 May 2010.
  • Waterhouse, David. "The Hishikawa Mode." Impressions 31 (2010). pp42-49.
  1. Kabuki21.com. The latter two names were not stagenames, but other names Kichiya used at various times in his life, outside of the theatre.
  2. Waterhouse. p45.
  3. "Beauty Looking Back." c. 1694. Tokyo National Museum.Click for Image
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kabuki21.com.