Nobutoki stepped down from his position as daimyô in 1773 and retired to a home in Somei, in the Komagome neighborhood of Edo, in part in order to devote himself more fully to engagement with the theater world, and with haikai poetry circles. His diary Enyû Nikki ("Diary of Banquets and Pleasures") is a valuable text for scholars, providing insights into the worlds of patronage and social circles of that time. It contains daily entries every day for a span of some thirteen years, and includes mention of as many as 119 visits to the Kabuki theater.
Yanagisawa not only visited the theater, but also wrote his own plays, which he had his servants and maids perform, granting them actor-sounding names like Bandô Shitsugorô and Ichikawa Benzô. Yanagisawa also commissioned an otherwise unknown ukiyo-e artist named Beisha to produce actor prints of these workers. He also engaged in close social relationships with a number of kabuki actors, including Nakamura Nakazô I; when the Nakamura-za was briefly replaced by the Kiri-za in 1784, Nobutoki and Nakazô sent numerous materials back and forth to one another, including advertising materials and other information about the upcoming theater season.
Yanagisawa's love of kabuki was widely known enough that it came to be parodied, in a kibyôshi by Kishida Hôsha and Kitao Masayoshi entitled Kyôgen-zuki yabo daimyô ("The Boorish Lord Mad with Theater").
His wife was named Oryû.
- Timothy Clark, "Edo Kabuki in the 1780s," The Actor's Image, Art Institute of Chicago (1994), 28-30, 32.