Bando Mitsugoro VII (坂東三津五郎 (7代目))

Mitsugoro BANDO VII (September 21, 1882 - November 4, 1961) was a Japanese kabuki actor. He was born Jusaku MORITA, his acting house name was Yamatoya (kabuki) and his alternate crest was the mitsudai. His stage name was Zeko.

His younger sister was Tamasaburo BANDO III, and his younger brother was Kanya MORITA XIII.

Brief Biography
Mitsugoro BANDO VII was born in Tokyo as the eldest son of Kanya MORITA XII, the proprietor of the Shintomi-za Theater. He made his debut under the name Yasosuke BANDO II in October 1889 as Tsuruchiyo in the Kiri-za Theater production of "Date Kurabe Okuni Kabuki." In April 1906, he appeared as Kengoro in "Mekuranagaya Umega Kagatobi" ("Kagatobi") at the Kabuki-za Theater under the name Mitsugoro BANDO VII. He went on to work prolifically alongside Kikugoro ONOE VI and Kichiemon NAKAMURA I.

In 1948, he was made a member of the Japan Art Academy. In September 1957, he collapsed on stage at the Kabuki-za Theater during a performance of "Kanzan Jittoku"; this would prove to be his last performance before his death four years later. In 1960, the year before his death, he was designated a Person of Cultural Merit and a Living National Treasure.

Personal profile
His small frame and high-pitched voice were weaknesses, but due to his great talent he is considered to have been a master of all that he undertook; in fact, he is referred to as 'Mataichiro HAYASHI II of the west and Mitsugoro BANDO of the east.'
During his youth, he studied the works of his predecessors and trained directly under the Meiji-period master Shikan NAKAMURA IV; in adulthood he possessed outstanding knowledge and buyo (Japanese traditional dance) skills, which he had cultivated through years of devotion and training. Today, these details can also be inferred from discussions that remain in the literature.

He was therefore cast in many relatively small roles, but despite this he gave excellent performances as Tokimune SOGA in "Ya no Ne," Sawaichi in "Tsubosaka Reigenki," Oshi Modoshi in "Musume Dojoji" and Matahei in "Keisei Hangonko" ("Domo Mata"). In addition to "Osozakura Teniha no Nanamoji" ("Echigo-Jishi"), which can be seen as a documentary film, buyo dances that perfectly demonstrated his specialty included "Yamato Gana Tamuke no Itsumoji" ("Komori"), the "Kisen" dance of "Rokkasen Sugata no Irodori," "Kagurauta Kumoi no Kyokumari" ("Dontsuku"), "Kairaishi" (buyo), "Mata Kuru Haru Suzuna no Tanemaki" ("Shitadashi Sanba"), "Miyama no Hana to Dokanu Edaburi" ("Yasuna") and "Mitsumen Komori," among many other productions. "Boshibari" and "Yayoi no Hana Asakusa Matsuri" ("Sanja Matsuri"), in which he performed with Kikugoro ONOE VI, were also very popular. In his last years, he pleased audience members by displaying the essence of elegant simplicity.

He also put great effort into the dissemination of the art of kabuki buyo as head of the Bando-ryu School. It is said that his designation as a Living National Treasure was given for the contributions he had made as a buyo performer, and even today Mitsugoro BANDO VII is known as 'Odori no Kami-sama' (literally, the god of dance).

[Original Japanese]