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Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011

TV actor Kagawa set to debut in Kabuki play


Established actor Teruyuki Kagawa made headlines in late September when he announced he would make his debut as a Kabuki actor next year, because performers of the traditional dramatic form usually make their first stage appearance when they are toddlers.

News photo
Distinguished family: Actor Teruyuki Kagawa (left) stands with his son, Masaaki (second from left), father and Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke III (seated), cousin and Kabuki actor Ichikawa Kamejiro II (second from right), and uncle and Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danshiro IV at a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 27. KYODO PHOTO

The surprise move was spurred by the University of Tokyo-educated actor's reconciliation with his father, Ichikawa Ennosuke III, from whom he was separated soon after birth, and his desire for his son, Masaaki, to take the Kabuki actor's name dating from 1871 to continue the family tradition.

"The name Ennosuke has been carried down for 140 years. How could I choose not to get on this ship when I have my son, Masaaki," Kagawa, 45, said at a press conference in Tokyo on Sept. 27. "I would not have chosen this path if (my child) were a daughter."

He also then announced that his 7-year-old son, Masaaki, would debut as a Kabuki actor with his father at Tokyo's Shimbashi Embujo theater next June.

Kagawa has no experience performing Kabuki. After Ennosuke and his actress mother, Yuko Hama, divorced, he grew up with her and did not spend any time with his father.

According to sources at Kabuki production company Shochiku Co., Kagawa went to see Ennosuke's "Super Kabuki" performance around 1986.

Impressed by the performance, Kagawa sought to meet with Ennosuke, telling officials at the theater, "I'm his son. Please let me see him."

But Ennosuke flatly turned down the request, only returning a chilly message: "I have no children." Kagawa must have had a longing to meet his father over the years, one of the sources said.

At the news conference, also attended by Ennosuke, Masaaki Kagawa and other Kabuki actors, Kagawa revealed that Ennosuke had moved in with him and his family in spring this year.

Their reconciliation was mediated by the late Fujima Murasaki, a Japanese classical dance artist and Ennosuke's second wife, after the 71-year-old Kabuki actor showed symptoms of a stroke in 2003, according to the sources.

She apparently thought Ennosuke would need his son to ensure his name would continue. Murasaki died in 2009.

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