Ganjiro NAKAMURA (the Second) (中村鴈治郎 (2代目))
Ganjiro NAKAMURA, the second (February 17, 1902 - April 13, 1983) was a kabuki actor who is representative of the Showa period. He succeeded the heritage of Kansai Kabuki and was capable of covering a wide range of performances as an actor from tachiyaku (a leading male-role actor) to oyama (actor of female roles). In particular, he showed his real ability in roles as a lover, something inherited from his father, Ganjiro NAKAMURA (the first). His real name was Yoshio HAYASHI.
Brief Personal History
He was born in Osaka. He was the second son of Ganjiro NAKAMURA (the first). In 1906, he made his debut in Kyoto Minamiza theater. In 1909, he changed his name to Senjaku NAKAMURA I. In the infant stage, he performed in a children's play and later actively performed as zagashira (the leader of a troupe) of the troupe of Senjaku NAKAMURA for youth plays. In 1924, he came back to okabuki (kabuki performance by A-listers) and learned under Ganjiro I, Enjaku JITSUKAWA (the second), Nizaemon KATAOKA (the twelfth), etc. He mainly performed as a male actor of female roles.
In 1935, his father, Ganjiro I died. Since around this time, he was deemed as a promising young actor and, in 1941, he succeeded Kanjaku NAKAMURA, the fourth, and, in 1947, Ganjiro NAKAMURA, the second. In 1952, he performed revival "Sonezaki shinju" (Lovers' suicide in Sonezaki) by Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU with the script by Nobuo UNO and it became his star role throughout his life. However, the decline of Kansai Kabuki became significant and because of sluggish growth in his own performances, due to the pressure of expectation of those around him and friction with Shochiku with respect to the performance policy to mainly use Jukai ICHAWA, the third, he left Shochiku in 1955. After that, together with the eldest son, Tojuro SAKATA, the fourth, he was actively engaged in movies and TV and, in particular in cinemas, Ganjiro played an important role centering on Daiei Co., Ltd. for approximately ten years. As main works in which he appeared in that period, there are "Enjo" (burning), "Kagi" (key) (directed by Kon ICHIKAWA), "Ukikusa" (Floating Weeds), "Kohayagawa-ke no Aki" (The End of Summer) (directed by Yasujiro OZU), "Donzoko" (rock bottom) (directed by Akira KUROSAWA) and "Kari no tera" (Temple of the Wild Geese) (directed by Yuzo KAWASHIMA).
While acting for movies, he took part in the independent performance of the kabuki 'Shichinin no kai' (party of seven persons) from 1958 together with Nizaemon KATAOKA, the thirteenth, and others. However, as he could not perform sufficiently under the situation in which performance of kabuki in Kansai was drastically decreased, he often left Kansai and performed with Tokyo Kabuki. In the meantime, he could improve his art by appearing in cinemas and came out of doldrums, and he displayed the art which we can call the spirit of Kamigata wagoto (the production style of a love scene in Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka area)) and he was highly appreciated.
Main Prizes He Won
In 1967, recognition as the holder of the Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure). In 1968, Shiju hosho (medal of honor with purple ribbon). In 1969, Cultural Award by Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK). In 1970, Award of the Japan Art Academy. In 1972, a member of the Japan Art Academy. In 1974, the Third Order of Merit with the Order of the Sacred Treasure. In 1980, Bunkakorosha (Person of Cultural Merits).
He died on April 13, 1983 and he was conferred posthumously Shoshii (Senior Forth Rank) and the Second Order of Merit with the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
He had an elder brother, Mataichiro HAYASHI and younger sisters, Tami who married Kazuo HASEGAWA and Yoshiko NAKAMURA who was an actress and married Tomijuro NAKAMURA (the fourth). His first son is Tojuro SAKATA (the fourth) and the first daughter is Tamao NAKAMURA, who is an actress.
Style of Performance and Star Roles
He could perform all types of roles, including tachiyaku, oyama, katakiyaku (a hate figure) and fukeyaku (a role of an aged person), but he showed his real ability in roles as a lover, inherited from his father Ganjiro, the first, and Kamigata wagoto influenced by Enjaku, the second, such as tsukkorobashi (a weak and feeble but somehow comical nimaime in Kamigata wagoto). Based on traditions of Kamigata Kabuki, his characteristics were realistic art without sticking to the patterns and he was an actor who had unique charm in his carriage and taste (elegance). His important works are Tokubei in 'Sonezaki shinju,' Jihei in 'Shinju ten no amishima' (Lovers' suicide in Amijima), Chubei in 'Fuinkiri (breaking the seal), Koibikyaku Yamato orai' (The Amorous Courier on the Yamato Highway), Jubei in "Iga-goe dochu sugoroku (Japanese backgammon); Numazu" (Through Iga Pass with the Tokaido Board Game, Numazu post), Jujibei MINAMIGATA in "Futatsu chocho kuruwa nikki; Hikimado"(Skylight of "A Diary of Two Butterflies in the Pleasure Quarters"), Igami no Gonta of "Yoshitsune senbon zakura; sushiya" (Sushi restaurant of "Yoshitsune and the 1000 cherry trees") and Lord Tsuchiya in "Tsuchiya Chikara" (Chikara TSUCHIYA, hatamoto (a direct vassal of the shogun)). As oyama, his important works are Chiyo in "Sugawara denju tenarai kagami; terakoya" (Terakoya (temple elementary school during the Edo period) of Sugawara's secrets of calligraphy), Ohatsu in "Kagamiyama kokyo no nishikie" (old brocade pictures of Mt. Kagami) and Yashio in "Meiboku sendai hagi" (The trouble in the Date Clan). He was also good at playing as fukeoyama (oyama as aged woman) at Kakuju in "Domyoji" (Domyo-ji temple), as katakiyaku, Moronao in "Kanadehon Chushingura" and Lord Tokihira in "Sugawara denju tenarai kagami; kurumabiki" (Pulling the Cow Carriage of Sugawara's secrets of calligraphy), as heroic roles, Fukashichi in "Imoseyama onna teikin" (An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue) and Tsumahei in "Shin usuyuki monogatari" (The Tale of Usuyuki), and among comics as Zenroku in "Mitsugumi Makie (or Choinose)." Also, roles which he played with a seasoned style of performance were masterpieces, such as the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa in "Kenreimonin" and Funaosa (shipmaster) in "Sumida-gawa" (the Sumida-gawa River) which he performed with Utaemon NAKAMURA, the sixth, and Shozo NAMIKI in "Yadonashi Danshichi" (Homeless Danshichi) which he performed with his first son Senjaku the second in his later years. Not staying within the world of kabuki, he was active in a wide range including "Watera no nenrin" (literally, our growth rings) in which he performed with Shotaro HANAYAGI.
Personal Profile and Episodes
He displayed youthful performances until his last and, when his eldest son, Tojuro the fourth (Senjaku the second at that time) with whom he performed together in 'Sonezaki shinju,' found favor with public, he showed his competitive spirit saying 'No need to say, I feel jealous.'
He also had a common-man and sociable personality and liked pachinko (Japanese pinball) and horse races.
When he became designated a Living National Treasure, he really felt uneasy telling 'If I become a national treasure, may I not enjoy the horse race?'
He also had a chivalrous spirit as seen in the fact that he treated kindly Ennosuke ICHIKAWA the third, who had been fighting singlehanded at that time, and often took part in his troupe.
Although he was not good at remembering his lines, he had a bold challenging spirit to cope with new programs or new roles aggressively. He had a special talent that, even if he had only a faint memory of his lines, he could perform without having the audience notice it. In practicing for a new program, when he was asked by the writer of the original work, 'Ganjiro-san, please memorize your lines!,' he showed an angry expression and he continued to resent this.
When he performed Kamashichi in 'Imoseyama; Kinden,' people around him were worried if Ganjiro, who was good at wagoto, could perform Kamashichi, which was aragoto (Kabuki play featuring exaggerated posture, makeup, and costume) in its nature or it might be a miscasting. However, Ganjiro learned from Shoroku ONOE (II) concerning the nature of the role and played his own Kamashichi excellently and received praise.
This was because Utaemon NAKAMURA (VI), who performed together as Omiwa, had acknowledged his performing capability and had strongly recommended telling 'Kamashichi by Narikoma-ya (Ganjiro) must be fantastic.'