Kabuki Jōruri Banzuke 歌舞伎・浄瑠璃番付

Kabuki Jōruri banzuke were printed playbills or programs that advertised and described an upcoming or ongoing performance or event.These playbills were an important part of the commercial theatre world of kabuki and the puppet theatre, and they are important historical materials for research on these traditions.

Click on the images below to go to pages with annotated image maps showing how to read that type of banzuke. On the image maps one can place the mouse cursor on an area to see its meaning and Japanese translation, and click on an area to go to pages with more detailed information.

Kaomise banzuke Nov., 1824. (ARC database)

Kaomise banzuke

Works of this type are called Shin-yakusha-zuke (新役者附) or Tsura-zuke (面付). In the Edo period, they were published to announce a theatre's newly engaged company, shortly before the annual eleventh-month production called the Kaomise, which highlighted these actors, playwrights and musicians. In Edo, large, single sheet prints were used for the kaomise banzuke in the late Genroku period (1688-1704). The upper half of the print presents the crest of the management (yagura mon) in the center, and the engaged names of actors in the two column format on either side of it. The lower half depicts the acting company and the actors' faces or figures, drawn by Torii school artists. The actors' respective ranks are indicated by their position and size. Osaka used large, single sheet banzuke, and Kyoto used a long, horizontal sheet called the Kiwamari banzuke (極り番付) or Kompon Kiwamari (根本極). Neither of these usually had pictures.

Jul. 19, 1852. "Ashiya Dōman Oouchi Kagami" (ARC database)

Tsuji banzuke

Tsuji banzuke is also called Kubari banzuke (配番付) or Yagurashita banzuke (櫓下番付). Originally they were large, single sheet prints that appeared as versions of the pictorial billboards found at the front of a theatre. These banzuke were put up on the corners of streets in town and in areas bustling with people, and served as posters announcing productions. Some copies were also distributed to theatre patrons. Tsuji banzuke presented the programs and casts for each production. In Edo large, single sheet prints were used. On the upper right edge, the Oonadai (Kabuki kyōgen title) appeared, as on the billboards, while to the left were images of characters appearing with their respective actor crests, along with Jōruri announcements. At the bottom, casts and the name of the theatre were shown. Over time, the number of actors appearing increased and the banzuke was extended transversely. In Osaka large, vertical single sheet prints were usually used for tsuji banzuke, but few of these remain. These displayed the piece title at center, but no casts. When a production was changed or a play added, Oi banzuke (追番付) were published. These were mostly vertical and showed the additional play with its kōjō (prologue). They were also called Ko banzuke (小番付) since they were smaller in size than the regular banzuke.


Nov. 27, 1798. "Kanadehon Chūshingura" (ARC database)

Yakuwari banzuke

Yakuwari banzuke were sold at theatres and teahouses. In Edo, the Yakuwari banzuke was similar to a booklet, consisting of six page sheets of paper. The opening page displayed the crest and name of a theatre in the center, surrounded by the actors' crests (mon), which lend these works the alternate name Mon banzuke (紋番付). The second page presents the actors' names and crests, followed by the Oonadai (the Kabuki kyōgen title of the day), Konadai (titles for each maku), and Joruri nadai, (titles of chants), as well as the casts, playwrights and the name of the theatre. In Osaka, single sheets were usually used, while a set of two long, horizontal sheets were used in Kyoto. The names of the actors and cast lists were shown on these.

Aug. 27, 1803. "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" (ARC database)

Ehon banzuke

Ehon banzuke is also called E -banzuke (絵番付)or Shibai Ehon (芝居絵本). It is a twelve to twenty page booklet similar to a pamphlet. The cover has the crest of a theater and the title of the play. The contents depict the story of a play, with accompanying explanation of the plot. These works were sold at theatres and teahouses after a production had begun. In the Kamigata region, they are called E-zukushi (絵尽)


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