Matsumoto Hakuo I (松本白鸚 (初代))

Hakuo MATSUMOTO (July 7, 1910 - January 11, 1982) was a Japanese theater, film and kabuki actor. His acting house name was Koraiya, an alias was Kinsho, his family crest was the yotsuhana bishi (four flowers arranged in a diamond shape) and his alternate crest was the fusencho (raised stripe butterfly). His was born Junjiro FUJIMA. The name 'Hakuo' is a name that he adopted in retirement and was rarely used on stage with the exception of his son and grandson's name in a succession ceremony, while during his lifetime he was also known as Koshiro MATSUMOTO VIII.

Hakuo MATSUMOTO was born in Tokyo as the second son of Koshiro MATSUMOTO (VII). He attended Gyosei Senior High School under his father's influence and began appearing on stage during those years, so he had no experience as a child actor. He himself said that if he had not become a kabuki actor, he would have liked to have been a painter.

In 1926, he made his debut under the name Sumizo MATSUMOTO II. In 1928, he began studying under Kichiemon NAKAMURA I. He later went on to marry Kichiemon NAKAMURA's daughter, Seiko NAMINO.

In March of 1930, he played the role Umeomaru in the Kurumabiki (Act III, first scene) scene of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" at the Meiji-za Theater under the name Somegoro ICHIKAWA V. After the World War II, he made a name for himself as the successor of the great performers Kikugoro ONOE VI and Kichiemon NAKAMURA I. In 1948, he was awarded the Arts Festival Prize from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In August of the following year, he played the role of Musashibo Benkei in "Kanjincho" at Tokyo-gekijo Theatre as well as the role Kanemitsu HIGUCHI in the Sakaro scene of "Hirakana Seisuiki," and inherited the name Koshiro MATSUMOTO VIII.

Full of enterprising spirit, he actively engaged in activities not done by traditional kabuki actors. In 1957, he performed in "Akechi Mitsuhide" at the Bungaku-za Theater. He also appeared alongside Tsunatayu TAKEMOTO VIII and Yashichi TAKEZAWA in "Musume Kagekiyo Yashima Nikki" in 1959 in a performance combining the previously incompatible media of kabuki and bunraku puppet theater, for which he was awarded the Theatron Prize and the Mainichi Arts Prize. In addition, he gained attention when he performed in Shakespeare's "Othello" in 1960.

He later left Shochiku for Toho under the invitation of the playwright Kazuo KIKUTA in a move that had a major impact on the kabuki community. This was one of triggers that led kabuki actors to branch out into other areas of theater. With Toho, he went on to appear on stage alongside actresses such as Fujiko YAMAMOTO, and Isuzu YAMADA, but dissatisfaction with Toho policies as well as continued disparities between his own artistic outlook and Kikuta's scripts meant that this move cannot be considered to have been a complete success.

After his transfer, he returned to kabuki in the Kawatake Mokuami play entitled "Tsutamomiji Utsunoya Toge" ("Bunya-goroshi") in June of 1969 at the National Theatre of Japan, and in November of the same year he gave a spirited performance in the premiere of the new Yukio MISHIMA kabuki play, "Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki." He returned to Shochiku ten years later and went back to performing at the Kabuki-za Theater.

In 1972, he was awarded the shiju hosho (medal of honor with a purple ribbon). He received numerous honors including the Japan Art Academy Award in 1974, designation as an Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in 1975, being made a member of the Japan Art Academy in 1976, designation as a Person of Cultural Merit in 1978, and the NHK Broadcasting Culture Award in 1980.

In October of 1981, he passed name 'Koshiro MATSUMOTO' to his eldest son who became 'Koshiro MATSUMOTO IX' and changed his own name to 'Hakuo MATSUMOTO.'
The pseudonym 'Hakuo' was taken from a stage name used by his father, Koshiro MATSUMOTO VII. During this name succession ceremony, his grandson, Kintaro MATSUMOTO III (kabuki actor), also succeeded the stage-name Somegoro ICHIKAWA VII and became Koraiya III.

This name succession ceremony was to be his only appearance under the name 'Hakuo' and the last time that he would appear on stage. The Behcet's disease that he developed in his last years progressed and systemic pain left him unable to move freely, meaning that he had to endure great pain while performing prostration at the name succession ceremony. At the beginning of the following month, he was awarded the Order of Culture and made an effort to attend the award ceremony at the imperial palace. Two months later on January 11, 1982, his Behçet's disease worsened and he died of heart failure. He was 71 years old.

Acting style
Hakuo MATSUMOTO had masculine style of acting that perfectly combined the bold presence of his father, Koshiro MATSUMOTO VII, and the maruhonmono (kabuki dramas adapted from the Japanese puppet theater) training of his father-in-law, Kichiemon NAKAMURA I.

Maruhonmono roles included Kuranosuke OISHI and Heiemon TERAOKA in "Kanadehon Chushingura," Mitsuhide AKECHI in "Ehon Taikoki," Matsuomaru in the Terakoya scene of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami," Jiro HIGUCHI in "Hirakana Seisuiki," and Kagetoki KAJIWARA in "Kajiwara Heizo Homare no Ishikiri" ("Ishikiri Kajiwara"). Sewamono (domestic dramas dealing with the lives of commoners) roles included Iemon TAMIYA in "Yotsuya Kaidan," Onihei in "Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri" ("Osome no Nanayaku"), Tojuro FUJIOKA in "Shisenryo Koban no Umenoha" ("Shisenryo"), Yatagoro Genshichi in "Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachijo" ("Kamiyui Shinza"), Banzuiin Chobei in "Kiwametsuki Banzuichobei," and Sogo KIUCHI in "Higashiyama Sakura Soshi" ("Sakura Giminden"). Buyo (Japanese traditional dance) roles include Sekimori Sekibei in "Tsumoru Koi Yuki no seki no To" ("Seki no To").

New kabuki roles include Kuranosuke OISHI in "Genroku Chushingura" and Naosuke II in "Ii Tairo." He also played the part of Kuranosuke OISHI in the film adaptations of "Chushingura" by Shochiku (1954) and Toho (1962).

Heizo HASEGAWA who appeared in Shotaro IKENAMI's television period drama "Onihei Hankacho" only assumed the role as it was said that Ikenami took inspiration from Koshiro MATSUMOTO VIII while writing (the role of Onihei was succeeded by Hakuo MATSUMOTO I's eldest son, Kichiemon NAKAMURA II).

Personal profile
Michio CHIYA's "Koshiro Sangokushi: Kikuta Kazuo to no Yonsen Nichi" (Bunshun Bunko) is a critical biography of Hakuo MATSUMOTO I.

Danjuro ICHIKAWA XI was his elder brother and Shoroku ONOE II was his younger brother.

[Original Japanese]