Home > Publications > NDL Newsletter > No. 199, April 2015

National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 199, April 2015

Odori hitorigeiko:
Textbook of dance drawn by Hokusai

Tsutomu Kawamoto
Humanities, Maps, Rare Books and Old Materials Division
Reader Services and Collections Department

This article is a translation of the article in Japanese of the same title
in NDL Monthly Bulletin No. 646 (January 2015).

Odori hitorigeiko
Illustrations by: KATSUSHIKA Hokusai; Revised by: FUJIMA Shinzaburo;
Published by: SOKAKUDO Tsuruyakinsuke
[NDL call no.: 208-146]
Published in Edo, 1815
One volume; 18.5 cm×12.5 cm; 38 folios
*The image is of folio 15 verso and 16 recto, including the choreography of the "Akudama odori" dance, from the 17th to the 23rd phase. The caption and the black lines beside the 19th phase explain how a dancer should stretch his arm and hand in the air.
*Held in the Tokyo Main Library of the NDL

A style of dance called Henge buyo (変化舞踊) came into fashion during the Bunka era, which lasted from 1804 to 1817. Henge buyo, which could be translated as "transformational dance," was a dance form in which Kabuki actors would wear costumes of characters such as peddlers or performers and dance to the accompaniment of Kiyomoto (清元) and Tokiwazu (常盤津) music. It gained popularity in pleasure quarters for parlor performances, and textbooks for novice dancers were soon published. Examples of the earliest textbooks are: Ehon odorizukushi (繪本おどりつくし) by TAKEHARA Shunchosai and Shuensokkyo Maihitorigeiko (酒宴即興 舞ひとり稽古) by SANSHO Kyojin (See images below).

Ehon odorizukushi
Illustrations by: TAKEHARA Shunchosai;
Published by: TONAMI Kansuke;
[NDL call no.: 15-471]
First published in 1775, reprinted by Beisando in 1930
24 cm; 16 folios
*The image is of folio 2 verso and 3 recto. The illustrations show the "Yumihiki odori" (弓引き踊り, bow dance) in the first three frames from the right in the upper row; "Suzume odori" (雀踊り, sparrow dance) in the upper left frame; "Imose odori" (いもせ踊り, husband and wife dance) in the two frames in the lower row on the left page.

Author: SANSHO Kyojin;
[NDL call no.: 182-367]
Preface written by the author in 1813
One volume; 13 cm×19 cm
*The image is of folio 14 verso and 15 recto. The illustrations depict how to dance the "Niwa no matsu" (にわの松, pine trees in the garden) and "Sagari matsu" (さがり松, drooping pine) from a dance called "Matsu zukushi" (松づくし, different kinds of pine trees).

Odori hitorigeiko (踊獨稽古) was first published in 1815 and features even more detailed illustrations of the choreography than the preceding textbooks. Each of Hokusai's illustrations depicts the posture and movement of the hands and feet, the twist of the waist, and other positions in an instructive manner that resembles a series of time-lapse photographs. According to the table of contents on the folio 3 verso of the first volume, Odori hitorigeiko contains 4 songs: "Nobori yofune" (登り夜船), "Kiyabosudon" (氣やぼうすどん), "Akudama odori" (惡玉おどり), "Danjuro hiyamizu uri" (團十郎冷水賣). It is mentioned that a planned second volume would include the songs "Genda" (源太), "Handa inari" (半田稲荷), "Okame" (おかめ), "Dojoji michiyuki" (道成寺ミちゆき); however, the second volume was never published.

ICHIKAWA Danjuro VII, known as a masterful performer of Henge buyo, and BANDO Mitsugoro III, another expert dancer, provided the preface and commentary for this book. This may be Hokusai's expression of esteem to the two dancers, Danjuro, who danced the "Hiyamizu uri," and Mitsugoro, who danced the "Akudama odori."

Preface by ICHIKAWA Danjuro (Sansho)
Danjuro praises Hokusai's Odori hitorigeiko by describing it as a comical booklet that enables one's dancing technique to improve without the teachings of a master, with the instructive ink drawings indicating the stretch of the arms and legs, and the bend of the body.
Preface by BANDO Mitsugoro (Shuka)
Mitsugoro describes Odori hitorigeiko as an unusual booklet that enables one to learn choreography without taking formal lessons, and that drunkards who clink on their bowls and clank on their candle stands should make this booklet their treasure.

"Hiyamizu uri," which means "Cold-water seller" in English, is one of eight transformational dances included in a program entitled Mata kokoni sugata hakkei (閏茲姿八景), performed in 1813 by the Morita za (森田座, Morita troupe), and was staged again in 1846 in another program entitled Manete mimasu sugata hakkei (真似三升姿八景), performed by the Kawarasaki za (河原崎座, Kawarasaki troupe). In "Hiyamizu uri," a spirited and fashionable (a typical "Edokko") water seller appears in this dance, and is known as the Tokiwazu song "Mizu uri" today.

The concept of "Akudama odori," or "The villain's dance," originated in the Kibyoshi (黄表紙, illustrated storybooks with yellow covers) entitled Shingaku hayasomekusa (心学早染艸; words by SANTO Kyoden, illustrations by KITAO Masayoshi; published in 1790). In this book, Akudama (vice) and Zendama (virtue) appear as the personification of each. According to the teachings of Shingaku, or moral philosophy, when the spirit of each character enters the human body, that person becomes a villain or a hero. When Mitsugoro performed a kabuki dance in Shichimai tsuzuki hana no sugata e (七枚続花の姿絵, 1811) of the Nakamura za (中村座, Nakamura troupe) and disguised himself as a gannin bozu (願人坊主), a priest who wanders about the city and begs for money by praying on behalf of others, he wore a round mask with a big 「惡」(vice) written on the face, which met with a favorable reception. The program is known today as the Kiyomoto song "Ukare bozu" (うかれ坊主, or "The merry priest"). The same performance was featured in Yayoi no Hanaasakusa matsuri (弥生の花浅草祭, 1832), and again was highly favored by the populace as a jaunty and comical dance. This dance is known as the Kiyomoto song "Sanja matsuri" (三社祭), and is commonly called the "Zendama akudama" (善玉悪玉).

Odori hitorigeiko
Illustrations by KATSUSHIKA Hokusai; Revised by: FUJIMA Shinzaburo;
Published by: SOKAKUDO Tsuruyakinsuke
[NDL call no.: 208-146]
Published in Edo, 1815
One volume; 18.5 cm×12.5cm; 38 folios
*The image is of folio 24 verso and 25 recto, including the choreography of the "Hiyamizu uri" dance, from the 16th to the 22nd phase. The caption and the black lines beside the 16th phase explain the movement of the dancer's foot.
* Held in the Tokyo Main Library of the NDL

Hokusai's illustrations of the dancers are drawn in the facing two pages, from right to left on the top row, and then right and left on the bottom row. This style resembles his most famous picture copybook Hokusai manga (北斎漫画). Compared to other textbooks, the movements of Hokusai's dancers are lively, dynamic, and filled with vitality. The black lines called suji (すじ) indicate the motion of the hands and legs. The captions, which include the mimicries of shamisen accompanyment and the interlude voices written in letters and indicate the length of the pause, behavior and posture, were written by choreographer FUJIMA Shinzaburo. Presumably because of Hokusai's popularity and reputation, a reprint in which the frontispiece was newly colored was published in 1835 (See image below).

Odori hitorigeiko
Illustrations by: KATSUSHIKA Hokusai; Revised by: FUJIMA Shinzaburo;
Published by: OSHIMAYA Denemon
[NDL call no.: VA201-271]
Published in Edo, 1835
One volume; 18 cm
*The image is of the colored frontispiece of the reprint. A haiku poem accompanies a picture of a man disguised as a bride: "Tsukikage ni wagahuri nawosu odori kana" (月影に我振直す踊かな) It means, "In the moon's pale light / Bending now this way, now that, / I try out my dance" (Translation by Doreen Simmons).
*Held in the Tokyo Main Library of the NDL as part of the ASHIHARA Eiryo Collection

Housa Library, in Nagoya City, holds two copies of the reprint in which the advertisements and the frontispiece differ from the copy held by the NDL. Another book of the same title, Odori hitorigeiko was also published in the Meiji era. However, the dancers lack the vigor in their movement, and the book itself is considered a rehash of Hokusai's Odori hitorigeiko.

Odori hitorigeiko
Author: YAYOIEN Shujin; Revised by: NISHIKAWA Chiyo;
Published by: Rangaido
[NDL call no.: Toku 64-801]
Published in Tokyo, 1891
12 cm; 67 folios
*Available in the National Diet Library Digital Collections

Hokusai's Odori hitorigeiko not only proves his excellence as an illustrator, but also serves as a valuable resource that conveys how parlor performances were played in the pleasure quarters, and the songs and forms of kabuki dances for those who study and appreciate dances today.

Reference (only in Japanese):

  • KATSUSHIKA Hokusai, FUJIMA Shinzaburo, Odori hitorigeiko, [NDL call no.: VA201-274]
    *A replica of the reprint published in 1835; commentary by HATTORI Yukio
  • Geinoshi kenkyukai Nihon shomin bunka shiryo shusei (9) Asobi, San ichi shobo, 1974. [NDL call no.: KD431-20]
  • KATSUSHIKA Hokusai, NAGATA Seiji, Hokusai no ehon sashie (in three volumes), Iwasaki bijutsu sha, 1987. [NDL call no.:KC16-E80]

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