Nakamura Utaemon IV (四代目中村歌右衛門: 1/1836-2/1852) (actor 1796 – 1852)

Kanjaku (poetry name - 翫雀)
Shijaku (poetry name - 紫雀?)
Shishō (poetry name - 芝賞)
Fujima Kamesaburō (dance name - 藤間亀三郎: 1807-11)
Hirano Kichitarō (original name - 平野吉太郎)
Nakamura Shikan II (二代目中村芝翫: 11/1825-1/1836)
Nakamura Tōtarō (中村藤太郎: 1811-3/1813)
Nakamura Tsurusuke I (初代中村鶴助: 3/1813-11/1825)


Kabuki theater terms


Born in Edo, the natural son of Hirano Kichitarō an owner of a tea house. In 1807 he was adopted by his mother's brother, the dance master Fujima Kanjūrō I.

In 3/1813 he took the name Tsurusuke while in Osaka. In 11/1825 he took the name Shikan II while visiting Kyoto. In the fall of 1833 he returned to Osaka. In the following years he performed in both Edo and Osaka, finally settling down in the latter in 12/1849 along with his adopted son Nakamura Fukusuke I.

Nakamura Utaemon IV held this name from 1/1836 to 2/1852. He was the adopted son of Utaemon III who is represented in the Lyon Collection with nearly 70 prints. About a third as many portray Utaemon IV (1778-1838). Nakamura Utaemon IV's father-in-law was Ichikawa Yaozō IV (1772-1845).

One of his adopted sons was Nakamura Shikan IV (四代目中村芝翫) who shows up in 11 prints in the Lyon Collection.


"The fourth Utayemon was large of stature, had fine eyes and good features, and excelled his master, the third, in many respects.

His rivals were the fourth Bando Mitsugoro and the fifth Sawamura Sojuro, but he won for himself a higher place on the stage than either of these Yedo actors."

Quoted from: Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan by Zoë Kincaid, p. 130.


Nakamura Utaemon IV's best roles: Kumagai Jirō Naozane ("Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki"), Matsuōmaru ("Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami") and Ishikawa Goemon ("Sanmon Gosan no Kiri"). He was not at ease in sewamono but he excelled in jidaimono.

Nakamura Utaemon IV was just like his adoptive father Nakamura Utaemon III a kaneru yakusha, able to perform a broad range of male or female roles. He was also an outstanding dancer. He was the first actor to use the yagō Narikomaya instead of the usual Kagaya. This new yagō was related to a present made by Ichikawa Danjūrō IV to Nakamura Utaemon I when he was on tour in Edo: the Edo star gave to the Kamigata actor a beautiful costume decorated with a Chinese chess piece pattern (koma in Japanese). The yagō of Ichikawa Danjūrō IV was Naritaya. Narikomaya was therefore created using the ideograms koma and nari, the first ideogram of Naritaya. This new yagō was a way for Nakamura Utaemon IV to express the fact that he felt more like an Edo actor than a Kamigata actor."

This information is taken directly from


In 'Ryusai Shigeharu: 'Quick change' dances in the Utaemon tradition' by John Fiorillo and Peter Ujlaki in Andon 72 & 73, October, 2002, p. 118 the authors wrote:

Nakamura Utaemon lV (1796-1.852) was the son of an Edo teahouse owner. He studied with a master choreographer, his uncle Fujima Kanjūro I, and worked as one himself in1,807, which prepared him well for his mature dance performances of hengemono.In 1811, while working as Nakamura Fujitarō, he took lodgings in the home of Utaemon III, and then, in 1813, he changed his name to Nakamura Tsurusuke and performed in the smaller theaters in Osaka. While 'troupe head' (zagashira) at the Nakamura Theater, Edo, in 1.827 , his lavish lifestyle resulted in his being punished for violating sumptuary edicts. Then in 1836 he was formally adopted by Utaemon III, becoming Utaemon IV. Like his adoptive father, he excelled as a kaneru yakusha, and although he did not quite attain the exalted status of Utaemon III, he still possessed the skills required to play the many types of characters in nanabake with convincing realism and stylized grace.