Umewaka-ryu school (a school of Noh play) (梅若流)
Umewaka-ryu school refers to a school of Noh play which existed only for a period from 1921 to 1954. Manzaburo UMEWAKA (the first), Rokuro UMEWAKA (the 54th), and Kasetsu KANZE of Umewaka-ha group seceded from Kanze-ryu school to found Umewaka-ryu school. But it did not exist for very long time. Its members returned to Kanze-ryu school through a mediation of The Nohgaku Performers' Association in 1954.
Meiji Restoration and Umewaka group
Although the head of the Kanze family and the Tokugawa family had moved their base to Shizuoka for a certain period around the Meiji Restoration, they came back to Tokyo in 1875. The first Minoru UMEWAKA and the fifth Tetsunojo KANZE of Kanze-ryu school continued to observe sarugaku (form of theatre popular in Japan during the 11th to 14th centuries), which corresponds to Nohgaku Theater at present, in Edo or Tokyo for this period. The first Minoru UMEWAKA was originally born in the Kujirai family in Kumagaya in 1828. At that time, the Rokuro UMEWAKA family had no son to take over the family business. Also, the Rokuro UMEWAKA family owed a large debt to the Kujirai family. Both families came to an agreement to make the son of the Kujirai family take over the business of the Rokuro UMEWAKA family in order to write off the debt. Therefore, he was adopted into the Rokuro UMEWAKA family. These circumstances influenced his personal history.
Problem of the license
The first Minoru UMEWAKA had issued a license to play the Noh to his disciples in his own right since the beginning of the Meiji period. But it became a subject of discussion within Kanze-ryu school. While the first Minoru UMEWAKA was alive, Kanze-ryu school did not take distinctive action against it yet. However, the death of the first Minoru UMEWAKA revived the debate between the head of the Kanze family and the Umewaka group about the problem of the license. Consequently, the Umewaka group (the Rokuro UMEWAKA family, the Kichinojo UMEWAKA family and the Tetsunojo KANZE family) was expelled from Kanze-ryu school in 1921.
Foundation of Umewaka-ryu School
The Umewaka group held a meeting. The members reached a consensus that they would play an active part in Umewaka-ryu school after the meeting. But they disputed as to who should be selected as iemoto (the head of a school). They could not draw conclusions. There was a context in which the Umewaka group at that time was led by three masters, namely, the 54th Rokuro UMEWAKA, Manzaburo UMEWAKA, and the sixth Tetsunojo KANZE, who competed in Noh play with each other. There was also a background in which each disciple recommended his own master for iemoto. Tetsunojo KANZE was the head of a branch of the Kanze family. Manzaburo UMEWAKA was a biological older brother of the 54th Rokuro UMEWAKA. Therefore, they could not simply conclude that the 54th Rokuro UMEWAKA should be selected as iemoto. At the meetings, some proposed three masters take turns at serving as iemoto every few years. But they finally brought the discussion to the conclusion that Manzaburo UMEWAKA should be selected as iemoto.
Split in Umewaka-ryu School and merger in Kanze-ryu School
Thus Umewaka-ryu school started its activity. But the Great Kanto Earthquake, which occurred soon after the foundation of the school, destroyed the Noh stage of the Rokuro UMEWAKA family. In addition to the severe blow that Umewaka-ryu school suffered, the Tetsunojo KANZE family and the Manzaburo UMEWAKA family returned to Kanze-ryu school in sequence by 1932. Only the Rokuro UMEWAKA family was left in Umewaka-ryu school. Some offered their good offices in the matter of a comeback in Kanze-ryu school to the 54th Rokuro UMEWAKA, too. But he refused the offer because he could not justify returning to Kanze-ryu school, at least, before his retirement. Umewaka-ryu school could be finally merged into Kanze-ryu school through the mediation of The Nohgaku Performers' Association in 1954 when the 54th Rokuro UMEWAKA had retired to succeed to the second Minoru UMEWAKA, and accordingly the 55th Rokuro UMEWAK had become the head of Umewaka-ryu school.