Actor: Nakamura Utaemon III (三代目中村歌右衛門)

Alternate names:
Baigyoku (梅玉 - poetry name)
Shikan (芝翫 - poetry name)
Nakamura Baigyoku I (初代中村梅玉)
Nakamura Fukunosuke (中村福之助)
Nakamura Shikan I (初代中村芝翫)
Nakamura Tamasuke (中村玉助)

Lifetime: 1778 - 1838

Related links: Kabuki21; [Kabuki theater terms};


As best we can tell this actor held/used the name Nakamura Utaemon III from 1790 to 12/1835. His father was Kagaya Kashichi I (1714-1791) aka Nakamura Utaemon I. His birth son was Kagaya Hashinosuke I (died in 1832). His great-grandsons were Nakamura Tamashichi I (1837-60) and Nakamura Tsurusuke V (1846-92). Among his adopted sons was Nakamura Utaemon IV who is represented in the Lyon Collection by about 18 prints. Another is Nakamura Shikan III who appears in 2 prints. Another adopted son was Nakamura Matsue IV who appears in 1 print.


Nakamura Tamasuke was an outstanding kaneru yakusha, who won fame for himself first in Kamigata, then in Edo. He was also famous for his acting rivalries with Arashi Kichisaburō II in Ōsaka, then with Bandō Mitsugorō III and Matsumoto Kōshirō V in Edo. One of his fields of excellence was the hengemono dances. He performed up to 9 roles/costumes changes during the same dance.

Nakamura Tamasuke's best roles: Matsuōmaru ("Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami"), Kumagai Jirô Naozane ("Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki"), Taira no Tomomori/Igami no Gonta/Tadanobu ("Yoshitsune Sembon Zakura") and Gotobei ("Yoshitsune Koshigoejō").

It is worth noting that Nakamura Utaemon III was also a playwright, writing around 25 plays under the pen name of Kanazawa Ryūgoku. "The third Utaemon wrote his own plays, but did not have good luck in the sakusha whom he engaged to help him,--Nagawa Seisuke. He did his best with Nagawa's poor compositions, but the latter possessed inferior ability. On one occasion the playwright became angry because his ideas had not been carried out properly, and he drew his sword to kill Utaemon, when he was stopped." (Zoë Kincaid in Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan)

If you have a bit of time during your stay in Tōkyō, there is a place where you can pay your respect to Nakamura Utaemon III. A stone was erected after his death in the precinct of Jōshinji temple, in memory of his generosity. This stone is called Baigyoku no Hi, literally "the monument of Baigyoku".