Nakamura Utaemon I

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Nakamura Utaemon I, a caricature published in Osaka in 1780

Nakamura Utaemon I (中村歌右衛門 (初代)?, 1714–1791) was a Japanese kabuki performer. He was the progenitor of a family of kabuki actors from the Keihanshin region.[1] He was the son of a provincial doctor. As a youth, he decided to join a troupe of actors; and this was the beginning of a long career.[2]

Nakamura Utaemon was a stage name with significant cultural and historical connotations.[3]

In 1782, Utaemon presented the name Utaemon II to a favored apprentice; but the name was later retrieved (or abandoned) in 1790. Then the name was bestowed on his son, who kept it.[4] Utaemon III was the natural son of Nakamura Utaemon I.[2]

In the conservative Kabuki world, stage names are passed from father to son in formal system which converts the kabuki stage name into a mark of accomplishment.[5]

Lineage of Utaemon stage names

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). Japan Encyclopedia, p. 691., p. 691, at Google Books
  2. ^ a b c Leiter, Samuel L. (2006). Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre, pp. 263-264., p. 263, at Google Books
  3. ^ Kurkup, James. "Nakamura Utaemon VI," The Independent (London). April 6, 2001.
  4. ^ a b Leiter, Samuel L. (2002). A Kabuki Reader: History and Performance, p. 78, p. 78, at Google Books
  5. ^ Scott, Adolphe C. (1999). The Kabuki Theatre of Japan, p. 159., p. 159, at Google Books
  6. ^ Strom, Stephanie. Nakamura Utaemon VI, 84, International Star of Kabuki", New York Times. April 4, 2001.