Onna-gidayu (female gidayu reciter) (女義太夫)

An onna-gidayu is a female reciter of Gidayu-bushi (musical narrative of the puppet theatre).

It is often abbreviated as 'Jogi' ("jo" means "a female").

In the past, the term 'Musume-gidayu (girl gidayu reciter)' was typically used, because Gidayu-bushi was recited by young females. These days, the term 'Joryu-gidayu' (also meaning "female gidayu reciter") is typically used. In the past, the term 'Tare gidayu' was also used, although it was rarely. The term 'Onna-gidayu' is listed in "Encyclopedia of Theatrical Arts (published by Heibon-sha)" or in "Kokushi Daijiten (Great Dictionary of National History)" (published by Yoshikawa Kobunkan), for example, but during the twenty-first century, the term 'Joryu-gidayu' is generally used.

Gidayu is generally performed by a tayu (a performer) and accompanied by a shamisen (three-string Japanese banjo) player. Depending on the program, more than one tayu and more than one shamisen player participate, and sometimes So (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings) is played as well.

The shamisen used in Gidayu is the largest of those called Futozao ("broad-neck" shamisen), and its range of sounds is lower.

The play is performed in a theatre or storytellers' hall, predominantly in the style of su-joruri (stand-alone joruri, meaning narration and shamisen accompaniment without puppets). The players wear white costumes in summer, and in winter both the tayu and shamisen player wear white Japanese attire with short, sleeveless garments made of hemp and pleated and divided skirts made in narrow strips.

The play is sometimes performed jointly with an organization of puppet performers.

Su-joruri' is a style of 'pure joruri' performance without the accompaniment of puppets or kabuki.

To put it simply, pure joruri is vocal music that emphasizes stories and can be called a kind of narrative in which, concerning a story, the characters' words, background explanations, depictions of scenes and psychological descriptions are all expressed vocally.

One could ask how Dan-ryu (gidayu performed by males) is called corresponding to Jo-ryu (gidayu performed by females), and the so-called 'Bunraku' which has recently been registered as a World Heritage will be the answer.

Females came to narrate Gidayu in the early nineteenth century, during the latter half of the Edo period, but such plays by females declined after the Tenpo reforms by Tadakuni MIZUNO prohibited females from working as entertainers. However, in and after the movements to change cultural policies in the Meiji Restoration, females became able to work as entertainers legally, based on the regulation for controlling yose (rakugo theatres) established in 1877. Thus the guidayu performed by females became more prosperous than in the Edo period.

During the latter half of the Meiji period, Rosho TOYOTAKE in Osaka and Ayanosuke TAKEMOTO in Tokyo gained unprecedented popularity, nearly equaling that of kabuki in the entertainment world.

At that time, when musume-gidayu's Japanese coiffure became disheveled due to her enthusiastic performance and the story entered the most interesting part, spectators such as students would call out loud, 'Dosuru (How do you do your hair?), Dosuru (How do you do your hair?).'
Therefore, these spectators were called 'Dosuru ren (a group of persons voicing 'Dosuru').'
Some spectators are said to have been so enthusiastic that they would clap their hands and make noise by rubbing the backs of bowls against each other.

Musume-gidayu took hold in everyday life as well. The socialists would sometimes enjoy performances of musume-gidayu as a form of entertainment at their meetings.
For example, in the article titled 'A Tea Party of the Japan Socialist Party' included in No. 11, Volume 1 of "Hikari" (Light) in April, 1906, it is reported '... when a talk ended, a musume-gidayu... as an entertainment...'

After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the popularity of musume-gidayu declined rapidly.

Nowadays, recitations by joryu-gidayu can be enjoyed in various venues in addition to the performances held regularly at National Engei Hall and in Hirokoji-tei, and the base of fans and supporters has gradually expanded. Additionally, joryu-gidayu perform such activities as participating in the Jishibai (local kabuki) where sufficient numbers of joruri performers aren't available, or as cooperating in the reconstruction of the Jishibai, whose performances had been stopped.

Ushi KITANO, the grandmother of Beat Takeshi, was a musume-gidayu called Yaeko TAKEMOTO.