Kanzaburo NAKAMURA (the first) (中村勘三郎 (初代))

Kanzaburo NAKAMURA, the first (1598 - June 9, 1658) was a kabuki actor in early Edo period. The stage family name was Kashiwaya. His family crest was a crane and a ginkgo nut, and he was born in Kyoto.

He was the second son of Kanbe NAKAMURA, a samurai (warriors) in Yamashiro Province. He learned Okura school of "kyogen" (a farce played during a Noh cycle) with his older brother and a kyogen performer, Kanjiro NAKAMURA, and with this experience, he created the dance, "Saruwaka," his lifetime masterpiece. In 1622, he went to Edo. On February 15, 1624, he referred to himself as Kanzaburo SARUWAKA. In the same year he built a theater, "Saruwaka-za Theater," later "Nakamura-za Theater" in Nakabashinanchi in the city of Edo, and he became the manager. The performance started in March. This was the beginning of kabuki performance in Edo. After that, successive Kanzaburo runs Nakamura-za Theater as a manager, and Nakamura-za Theater became the most prestigious theater in Edo. Before long, "Saruwaka mai" (saruwaka dance) gained a popularity in the city of Edo, and in 1633, Kanzaburo sang "Kiyari ondo" (lumber carrier's chants) at the fore of the pleasure boat for the government, "Atake maru" while its cruise, and he was bestowed "Jinbaori" (sleeveless campaign jacket worn over armor) from the Shogun family. Later on, he was often invited to the residence of the Shogun family to dance "Saruwaka mai" and gained a reputation, while he was bothered by the loss of "Nakamura-za Theater" by fire and by the regulations by the magistrate's office. In 1657, he lost Nakamura-za Theater by the Great Fire of Meireki, and in May he left Edo and moved to his hometown, Kyoto for a while. In Kyoto he performed "Saruwaka mai" and "Shinpochidaiko" with his biological son, Kanjiro NAKAMURA (later Kanzaburo NAKAMURA, the second) in the presence of Emperor Gosai. As rewards he received a velvet "haori" (a Japanese half-coat) with a crest of three oak leaves, and Kanjiro received a name "Akashi NAKAMURA" respectively. In September, he was said to have returned to Edo and run the Nakamura-za Theater while acting. He was one of the most important kabuki actors after IZUMO no Okuni, a founder of Nakamura-za Theater, and also a progenitor of kabuki actors named NAKAMURA.

His posthumous Buddhist name was Dojun.

There's another theory about his birth, saying that he was the same person as Kanzaburo, a grandson of Ukon NAKAMURA who was the youngest brother of Kazuuji NAKAMURA, but it is uncertain.