E03 The Use of Crests of Actors

"Mon Banzuke"
Performance: 19 September 1835(Tenpo 6), Ichimura-za theatre in Edo
Ritsumeikan Art Research Center (arcBK02-0078-117)

Yakuwari banzuke which was distributed to the audiences in Edo was made of three connected rectangular Hanshi. Distributors brought a large numbers of them in one hand, and handed to spectators one by one. Lists of crests of all actors on the stage were shown on this Banzuke, so audiences could know who were on the show.
The positions of crests indicate which class the actor belongs to. For instance, in this picture, both two columns of the second low were assigned for Zagashira (top actor) Onoe Kikunosuke the third (in the right) and Ichikawa Ebizou the fifth (former Ichikawa Danjyuro the seventh) (in the left). This positioning showed Onoe Kikugoro the third and Ichikawa Ebizo the fifth as exceptional actors in the same rank to the spectators.
The crest in the center is Yaguramon (a symbol of a theatre) and the four crests and names on the both sides of it are the actors on stage. These four actors' names were accorded with the names on the four signboards displayed on the front of the theatre. They were the top stars of feminine roles experts and young actors. Among the four actors, the two actors on the right-hand and left-hand of Yaguramon was the leaders of actors. The leader of feminine roles experts was put on the right-hand, and the leader of male role actors was on the left hand. In this picture, Ichikawa Danjyuro the eighth appears on the latter's position, but he was sill thirteen years old at that time.
For Kabuki actors, their crests was symbol of their family, so they could not use the crests of the other family freely. The crests also worked as symbols for each actor with being printed on the costumes, belongings, curtains, and lanterns.
There is also an interesting story about Kabuki actors' crests, which is related to the most famous crest "Mimasumon". Ichikawa Danjyuro the first was so affectionate with Ichikawa Danzo the first that he allowed him to use his family crest "Mimasumon". But his successor Ichikawa Danjyuro the second didn't get along with Danzo, and, at last, they parted from each other in anger in November 1715(Shotoku 5) when Danzo acted Arajishi Onosuke in Hayazaki Onna Shimabara. At the quarrel, Ichikawa Danjyuro the second told Danzo that he must not use Ichikawa family's "Mimasumon" from now on. As a response to it, Danzo made a horizontal line on Mimasumon and started using it as his crest. After thirty years passed, thanks to an mediator, these two leading actors made peace with each other in 1731(Kyoho 13). From this time, Danzo restarted using "Mimasumon" but he changed the three squares shaped Mimasu (three squares) to rectangles.(,)