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  • Japanese: 山村座 (Yamamura-za)

The Yamamura-za was one of the three licensed Kabuki theaters in Edo from the time of its establishment in 1642 until its dissolution in 1714 as a result of the Ejima-Ikushima Affair.

The theatre was originally established in 1642 as the Chôdayû-za in Kobiki-chô 5-chôme. In 1670, the Tokugawa shogunate officially limited the licensed theatres in the city to four: the Yamamura-za, Ichimura-za, Nakamura-za, and Morita-za.

The Yamamura-za was the site of a number of significant events in kabuki history. Ichikawa Danjûrô II took that name in a ceremony at the Yamamura-za in 1704/7, establishing for the first time that name as a hereditary name held by the top actor in the community. Sukeroku Yukari no Edo zakura, one of the most popular and famous kabuki plays today, premiered at the Yamamura-za in 1713, the year before the theatre's dissolution.[1]

Though details are unclear, on a date in the first month of 1714, Ejima, a lady in the service of Shogun Tokugawa Ietsugu's mother by the name of Ejima, led a number of her fellow court ladies (members of the Ôoku, i.e. the shogun's harem) to the Yamamura-za to watch a play, drink tea, eat food, and otherwise hang out with a number of kabuki actors. These actors included Ikushima Shingorô, with whom, according to some versions of events, Ejima had already been having a secret relationship for quite some time. Discovered by shogunate authorities, many of the court ladies and actors were exiled or otherwise punished, and the Yamamura-za was forced to close. The shogunate seized its assets and had the building torn down.[2]


  1. Blumner, Holly and Naoko Maeshiba. "Sukeroku: A History." in 101 Years of Kabuki in Hawai'i. pp42-44.
  2. Donald Shively, "Bakufu Versus Kabuki," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 18, no. 3/4 (1955), 348-350.