The Scene of Kaomise Performance by Great Actors (Ichiyō no akebono kogane no shimadai)
Around 1863 (Bunkyū 3) Tokyo Shiryō 5713-C29

The theater ceremony of Kaomise ('face-showing') which traditionally takes place every eleventh month of the lunar calenday and names of the new troupe are printed and this work mimics this list of entertainers. You can see the listings of the actors popular in the day who performed in the three theaters of Edo (Nakamura-za, Ichimura-za and Morita-za).


The first day of the eleven month was a special day for the people of Edo. For the theaters it meant the start of the year and an important event whereby they would 'show the faces' of the actors who would perform on the stage and so this has also been called 'Kabuki's New Year'.
There were a variety of ceremonies that took place before Kaomise. There are also many rules for the work performed. The audience were also looking forward to this and would wait outside throughout the night before the premier. However, towards the end of the Bakufu period, contracts for actors became more indefinite and Kaomise was not carried out so much.
The listings of actors made for the Kaomise event was known as Kaomise Banzuke or Kimari Banzuke. Although the form of the Banzuke was the same as the Tsuji Banzuke which was shown on a picture signboard with a large print in front of the theater , as shown in this illustration, in the upper row was a Yaguramaku (banners put up around a scaffoding), surrounding which the names of the proprietor, actors and script writers were arranged and placed side by side and in the lower rows, the name of the leading actor locted in the middle and all other actors were placed to according to their ranks and their portraits were painted. It is the script writer and the proprietor of the performance who decided the location of these actors and they are said to have had a hard time.

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