The Actor Kataoka Ichizo I as Nikki Danjo

Artist: Toshikuni (fl. ca. 1816-1832)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1824-1825
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 37.1 x 26.2 cm (14 5/8 x 10 5/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

actor, Anne van Biema collection, Edo period (1615 - 1868), haiku, Japan, kabuki, oban, portrait, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

Nikki Danjo is a villain in plays based on historical events concerning the Date family of Sendai and a dispute over its leadership in the late seventeenth century. Nikki Danjo was able to transform himself into a rat, the form he assumed to steal a document concerning the Date family succession. The first haiku (hokku) at the right was composed by the artist's teacher, Yoshikuni, who praises the actor by suggesting that his ability to project an acid wickedness is perfect for a villain role:

Just as a top-grade
persimmon should be-
slightly bitter!

The actor composed the second haiku. He modestly suggests that he is like an awase-gaki, a persimmon that has been stewed to drain it of acid, but is not genuinely sweet:

 . . . But a persimmon,
 even if drained of acid 
 isn't all that sweet!

Translation of poems by John T. Carpenter

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 53, pp. 158-159.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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