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Ichimaru (Showa)

Information
Geisha ichimaru showa 01.jpg
Romaji Ichimaru
Kanji 市丸
Kana いちまる
City Tokyo
District Asakusa
Okiya Ichimatsu-ya
Year Born 1906 (Meiji 39)
Audio Coming Soon
Kamon {{{9}}}

Commonly called "the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru". She was an active geisha from approximately 1926-1933.

Real name: Goto Matsue 後藤 まつゑ(ごとう まつえ)
AKA: Asakusa Ichimaru (浅草市丸), Edo Kouta Ichimaru (江戸小歌市丸)
Born in: Nakatsugawa, Gifu Prefecture, on July 16, 1906, and died on February 17, 1997 at 91 years old.


History

Ichimaru began working as a geisha at 14 or 15 years old as an oshaku-waitress (waitress who serves sake) at an onsen in Nagano Prefecture. Onsen geisha were not known for their arts, which was what Ichimaru wanted to learn, so she left for Tokyo, where she was accepted by Ichimatsu-ya in Asakusa at 19 years old. It was there she was given the name Asakusa Ichimaru in 1926. She remained a geisha until 1933.

Ichimaru took lessons in shamisen and kiyomoto style singing, and she became very skilled at the music of the old Edo period. Due to her dedication, good looks, and skill, she was in high demand at various first-class restaurants around Tokyo, both in Asakusa and other geisha districts. She was so popular that in one night, she could be requested at 10 different establishments. When she became well known, she dropped the Asakusa part of her name.

Radio became more popular in the 1930s, and several recording companies scouted for new talent in the pleasure districts, looking for talented geisha. The Victor Recording Company (c.1927) recruited Ichimiaru and another geisha, Katsutarō. Ichimaru's first record was "Chakkiri Bushi" (tea-picking song), a song written by poet Hakushu Kitahara to promote an amusement park. Ichimaru's voice was low and coquettish, which was a contrast to the cheerful, high-pitched voices of other geisha, especially Katsutarō. The period around 1935 was dubbed the "Ichi-Katsu Era" by the media, for it was a time in which Ichimaru shared equal popularity with Katsutarō. The two had been called "Emotional Katsutarō and Intellectual Ichimaru" by songwriter Mikihiko Nagata.[1]

After having more hits and being elevated to superstar status, she was encouraged by composer Nakayama Shinpei to become a full-time recording artist. After making that decision and leaving the geisha life, she moved to Yanagibashi to separate herself from Asakusa. Despite this division, she continued to perform in geisha regalia, as well as maintaining an appreciation for kimono and related goods. Once she attained stardom, she become Victor Record's main artist, and sat for many photographs, ads, and bijinga prints. During the 1930s, Ichimaru was asked to perform for troops at home and abroad, and factory workers who were currently engaged in the war effort against Manchuria and China. The 1940's saw her record more new songs, but her recording career slowed down to a complete halt by 1944 due to WWII.

In 1948 as an effort to help boost the morale of post-war Japan, Ichimaru started recording again. In 1949, she started her own radio program called "Mitsukoshi Calendar of Songs" which would continue for the next ten years. Having also taken an interest in Jazz music, which was introduced during the occupation of US troops in Japan, Ichimaru asked the well known composer of boogies in Japan to write a song for her. The result was the famous "Shamisen Boogie Woogie".

In 1950, she was the first Japanese singer after WWII to be invited to Hawaii to perform, along with Koga Masao (古賀政男), Futaba Akiko (二葉あき子), and Kirishima Noboru (霧島昇). She was then invited to Brazil, by the Japanese community living there to perform also. In addition to her international performances, she was singing for kabuki, and composing her own ko-uta, which style would later come to be known as "Ichimaru Air".

The later half of her career saw Ichimaru working just as hard as ever. In addition to the introduction of national television in Japan, which saw Ichimaru become a popular and favourite guest right through to the 1980s, she continued to do recordings for The Victor Records. Between 1969 and 1973, she recorded up to 270 pieces of ha-uta, zokkyoku melodies and ko-uta.

In 1984, she founded the Edo Kouta Ichiju Society with the hopes of popularizing Edo kouta. Ichimaru had an active role in training students in this style, and continued to teach well into her senior years. She became known as Edo Kouta Ichimaru (江戸小歌市丸).

At the age of 91, Ichimaru passed away due to respiratory failure on February 17, 1997, leaving a legacy of traditional folk music for modern day Japanese. Despite the odds she faced in the beginning of her life, with sheer determination she rose above adversity and achieved her goals in becoming a skilled singer and was known as a great and unparalleled artist by music critics of Japan.


Relations

  • 11 siblings; ten sisters, one brother (died when young).
  • Her sister, Shizuko, was her shamisen accompanist.
  • Trained under famous female shamisen artist-teacher Kiyomoto Enchiga as well as Grand Head Master Kiyomoto Enjudaiyu V's son, Eijudaiyu.
  • Rivalry with Kouta Katsutarō, another geisha-singer signed by Victor Records.


Accomplishments

  • 1926-1933 - geisha in high demand in both Asakusa and other geisha districts due to her skill with shamisen & singing
  • 1930s - became a recording artist with superstar status
  • 1949 - established her own radio program called Mitsukoshi Calendar of Songs, which lasted 10 years
  • 1950 - first Japanese singer invited to perform in Hawaii after the war
  • 1960 - granted the title of Head Master of Nakamura School of Edo Ko-uta
  • 1970 - Geijutsusai Shorei Sho (Art Festival Award)
  • 1972 - Shiju Hoso (Imperial Order of the Purple Ribbon)
  • 1975 - NHK Hoso Bunkaso (NHK Radio/TV Cultural Award)
  • 1981 - Kun Yonto Zui-ho Sho (4th Imperial Order of Precious Treasures)
  • 1990 - Pola Culture Promotion Society's 10th Anniversary Special Grand Prize
  • created over 1700 pieces of music



Legacy

Ichimaru's collection, consisting of kimono, obi, jewelry, records, tapes and more, was donated by a friend of hers, Mrs. Suzuki Fumi of Tokyo, to two museums after her death. The museums were the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Iida Museum in Nagano. The collection received by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has been on tour in North America, visiting cities across the continent.

Arts & Media

Discography[2]

  • 1931:『花嫁東京』,『ちゃっきり節』,『京城小唄』
  • 1933:『濡れつばめ~お小夜恋慕の唄~』,『峠三里』,『二つ灯篭』,『天龍下れば』,『伊那節』,『千鳥格子』
  • 1934:『いつも朗らか』共演:藤山一郎
  • 1937:『軍国ざくら』,『神風音頭』共演:小唄勝太郎、徳山璉,『建国一致』,『祝捷音頭』共演:鈴木正夫、小唄勝太郎,『あなたの便り』,『日の丸列車』,『坊や抱いて』
  • 1939:『兵隊甚句』共演:鈴木正夫
  • 1941:『翼賛親子』共演:徳山璉
  • 1943:『天龍二十五里』,『増産音頭』,『黒龍江ぶし』
  • 1947:『黒髪ロマンス』
  • 1948:『さくら浮きうき』,『瑞穂踊り(再)』共演:波岡惣一郎、鈴木正夫、喜久丸
  • 1949:『三味線ブギウギ』,『雪のブルース』,『恋の長崎』
  • 1951:『東京よさこい』,『花よりタンゴ』
  • 1952:『恋は銀座の柳から』共演:灰田勝彦,『浮かれ三味線』,『三味線かっぽれ』,『やなぎブギ』
  • 1953:『戸出音頭』共演:西村正美
  • 1954:『三味線マンボ』
  • 1955:『どどいつブギ』共演:野沢一馬
  • 1956:『三味線ブルース』
  • 1962:『東京オリンピック音頭』共演:神楽坂浮子、橋幸夫、松島アキラ
  • 1963:『お七吹雪』,『相模原音頭』共演:村崎貞二
  • 1968:『雪の浜町河岸』
  • 1972:『隅田川ぞめき』
  • 1980:『春風』,『おんな隅田川』
  • 1985:『銀の雨』,『昭和さのさ節』

Film Appearances[3]

  • 1934: 百万人の合唱, さくら音頭
  • 1936: 小唄礫
  • 1940: 隣組のおばさん, 安来ばやし
  • 1941: 男の花道
  • 1943: 伊那の勘太郎
  • 1945: 勝利の日まで
  • 1950: ヒットパレード
  • 1951:東京ファイル212, 月が出た出た, 伊豆物語
  • 1952: 清水の次郎長伝
  • 1953: 珍説忠臣蔵
  • 1954: 落語長屋お化け騒動
  • 1958: 紫頭巾
  • 1963: 東京オリンピック音頭 恋愛特ダネ合戦

TV Dramas[4]

  • 日真名氏飛び出す(ラジオ東京テレビ)
  • 殺陣田村(1961年、フジテレビ)

References in Media

In Print

Kobayawaka's woodblock print of Ichimaru.
  • The Kimono of the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru, by Barry Till, Michiko Warkentyne, and Judith Pratt. ISBN:0764935135.
  • Arts of Asia, May-June 2003, Vol 33, No 3. p56. Article written by Barry Till, Michiko Warkentyne, and Judith Pratt.
  • Shin-Hanga artist, Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, produced a painting and woodblock print of Ichimaru.



Select Images

Article Notes

Relevant Threads / Discussions

  • None Currently


References

  • The Kimono of the Geisha-Diva Ichimaru, by Barry Till, Michiko Warkentyne, and Judith Pratt. ISBN:0764935135.
  • Arts of Asia, May-June 2003, Vol 33, No 3. p56. Article written by Barry Till, Michiko Warkentyne, and Judith Pratt.
  1. Tokyo-Edo Radio Project, Prof. Sepp Linhart
  2. Wikipedia (jp)
  3. Wikipedia (jp)
  4. Wikipedia (jp)


Image Credits

  • Both photos of Chikano from AFP.


Authors & Contributors

Author/s: Erica Pai (Iyolin (IG Username)) & Naomi Graham Hormozi (Immortal Geisha (IG Username))

Contributors: n/a