E02 The crest shaped Mimasu

"Ebishako no Jyu as Ichikawa Danjyuro, Mikazuki Osen as Iwai Hanshiro"
Artist: Toyokuni the First Oban, Color print
Performance: 1 November 1798(Kansei 10), at Nakamura-za theatre in Edo
Ritsumeiken Art Research Center (arcUP0509)

The actor stands on the right of this picture is Ichikawa Danjyuro the sixth acting Ebizako no Jyu. On his left, Iwai Hanshiro the forth playing a feminine role named Mikazuki Osen. This character appeared on the stage for the first time at Kawarazaki-za theatre in November 1792(Kansei 4). The performance title was "Ofunamori Ebi no Kaomise", and Ichikawa Danjyuro the fifth who was this Danjyuro's father acted as Ebizako no jyu and Iwai Hanshiro the forth played the heroin like this picture. The characters like Mikazuki Osen, a brave and beautiful wicked woman, which was representative part for Iwai Hanshiro family are called "Akuba" (vamp). And it was also outstanding character among the feminine roles in the late Edo period.
 On the other hand, there is also a story about the character's name "Ebizako no jyu". The actors entitled the great name "Danjyuro" were praised as "lobster decoration for Edo" and they used the name "Ebizo" with the Chinese characters meant lobster as their retirement name. However, Ichikawa Danjyuro the fifth used the same name with different characters meant "prawn". It was his politeness to his great predecessors. He used his own retirement name as the character name "Ebijyako no jyu" (lit. Jyu of Prawn).
In the picture displayed here, his son Ichikawa Danjyuro the sixth appears as Ebijyako no jyu. His Kimono with patterns of Mimasu (three squares) has the collar with the letters of his family name "Ichikawa". Thanks to Mimasu and the letters of Ichikawa, his costume intensely appeals he is an actor of Ichikawa family.
Mimasumon mentioned above is the crest of Ichikawa Danjyuro family. There are several stories about the origin of this crest. The most major one is that the crest is symbolized the overhead view of three square shaped Masu (a tool to measure rice) in different sizes were nested. The squares and black broad straight lines produced masculine mood, so Edo civilians favoured the image. And other story is that Mimasu was took from patterns of lightning decorated the costume of Ichikawa Danjyuro the first as Fuwa Hanzaemon, and that it was modeled on the gigantic Masu of Kai province where Danjyuro's ancestors came from. It is said that the Masu was three times as big as a ordinary Masu.(,)

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