Actor: Iwai Tojaku (岩井杜若)

Alternate names:
Baiga (poetry name - 梅我)
Tojaku (poetry name - 杜若)
Iwai Hanshirō V (五代目岩井半四郎)
Iwai Kumesaburō I (初代岩井粂三郎)

Lifetime: 1776 - 1847

Related links: Kabuki21;


This actor held this name from 11/1832 to 1/1846.

Iwai Tojaku is one of the best onnagata in the Kabuki history, endowed with amazing looks, extraordinary beauty and beautiful voice, who reached the highest levels of fame during the Bunka, Bunsei and Tenpô eras.

"His good looks were rich in charm and sex appeal. Like his father, he specialized in townswomen in sewamono, and he firmly established the akuba type which his father had introduced, playing many of the famous akuba in the plays of Tsuruya Namboku IV." (Samuel Leiter, New Kabuki Encyclopedia)


Ruth Shaver wrote: "Iwai Hanshirō V, an extremely 'pretty' actor, was the representative onnagata of the Bunka-Bunsei era. The public called him by the pet name of me-senryō or thousand-ryō eyes, for his eyes were remarkably beautiful and expressive. (Kawarasaki Gonjurō I was also called me-senryō.) Hanshirō was a skillful actor, showing his amazing versatility in a wide range of roles, from musume-gata (young women) to tachi-yaku (leading male characters). He established the role of the akuba (bad woman), and his stylization remains the kata for roles of wicked women.... The black costume worn by Gompachi originated with Hanshirō..." Quoted from: Kabuki Costume, pp. 83-84.

"Hanshirō was prolific in contriving fresh ideas for patterns. His Hanshirō kanoko (small-spot shibori or tie-dyeing resembling the spots on a fawn's hide) in the asanoha (hemp-leaf) pattern in blue and red was first used for the costume of Yaoya Oshichi - Oshichi the greengrocer's daughter - in a play given in March 1809 at the Morita-za.

The Iwai-gushi, a crescent-shaped comb designed by Hanshirō for use in the role of Mikazuki Osen, was considered very chic and became the rage among style-conscious ladies. It was one of the numerous things described as having iki, the commoners' word for aplomb, dash, and spruceness." (Ibid., p. 84)