Onoe Shoroku (尾上松緑 (2代目))

Shoroku ONOE (II) (March 28, 1913 - June 25, 1989) was a Kabuki actor in the Showa period. He assumed the name Kanemon Fujima (IV), which is given to the representative of the Fujima style of Japanese dance. He received training from Kikugoro ONOE (VI) and with his stout imposing build he was active in lead roles in both historical and dramatic theater as well as being known as a superb dancer. His acting house name was Otowaya. His real name was Yutaka FUJIMA. Awarded title of Living National Treasure, Order of Cultural Merit.

Background, persona
He was born in Tokyo as the third son of celebrated actor Koshiro MATSUMOTO (VII) on March 28, 1913. His eldest brother was Danjuro ICHIKAWA (XI) and his second eldest brother was Hakuo MATSUMOTO (I). His first stage performance was at the Imperial Theater in 1918 under the name Yutaka MATSUMOTO. In 1927, in accordance with the wishes of his father, he was sent to study under Kikugoro (VI).
Thereafter, he received thorough instruction in lead roles from his teacher, and in 1935 he took the name Shoroku ONOE (II) after Shoroku OTOWAYA (Kabukiza Theater "Meiboku Sendaihagi" starring Otokon Oosuke Arajishi and others)

In 1937 he took the name Kanemon FUJIMA (IV) from his father, Koshiro (VII). He became the head master of the Fujima style. During World War II, he was sent to the battlefront in China, and at the end of the war his eldest son was born (1946 Tatsunosuke Onoe (I)). It was an eventful year (1949) as his father Koshiro MATSUMOTO (VII) and Kikugoro ONOE (VI) died, however after the death of Kikugoro ONOE (VI), he formed the Kikugoro theater, and was very active in Kabuki.

His performances were outstanding, and he won many prizes.
1952, Mainichi Theater Prize, Theater Troupe Prize
Also, received an encouragement prize in the National Arts Festival of the Agency for Cultural Affairs for his role as Masahide HIRATE in "Wakaki hi no Nobunaga" (Nobunaga in his young days).
1955 First Theatron Prize
1964 Ninth Theatron Prize
1965 Japan Art Academy Prize
1967 NHK Broadcast Culture Prize
1972 Important Intangible Cultural Property Designation (Living National Treasure)
1973 Japan Art Academy Member
1984 Person of Cultural Merit
1987 Received Order of Cultural Merit and a number of other prizes

His style was that of Kikugoro (VI) who was not blessed with a successor to the lead roles, and along with Baiko ONOE (VII), Sadanji ICHIKAWA (III) and Uzaemon ICHIMURA (XVII) they formed the Kikugoro Theater and successfully transmitted the kabuki skills of Kikuyoshi's age. With his imposing stature and bright and open hearted benevolence, he won acclaim in roles in domestic dramas including Benkei in "Kanjincho," Gongoro KAMAKURA in "Shibaraku," aragoto style such as Kumedera Danjo in "Kenuki," Gonta in "Yoshitsune Senbon-zakura," "Kamiyuishinzo," "Mekuranagaya-umega-kagatobi," "Sakana Sogoro," and historical plays including Yuranosuke OBOSHI in "Kanadehon Chushingura," Heiemon TERAOKA and Naozane KUMAGAI in "Kumagai Jinya," Tomomori and Tadanobu KITSUNE in "Yoshitsune Senbon-zakura."

Moreover, in dancing he was a virtuoso unrivalled in his generation, and gave many outstanding performances including in "Tsuchigumo," "Ibaragi" and "Sekinoto." He also made many appearances on television and in movies and in NHK Taiga dramas where he starred as Naosuke II in "Hana-no-shogai," Kokichi KATSU in "Katsu Kaishu" (NHK Taiga drama) and Emperor Goshirakawa in "Kusa Moeru." After the National Kabuki Theater opened, he was active in restoring performances of Japanese classics which had fallen into obscurity, and drew attention for his performances of Kabuki "juhachi ban" repertoire including "Zohiki," "Nanatsumen," "Gedatsu," "Kan-u," "Fudo" and "Gohiiki Kanjincho" by Jisuke SAKURADA (I). He also attempted Kamigata style Kyogen including "Yadonashi Danshichi," and performed the first performance of the new dance "Dattan" at the Ceremony of Water and Fire at Nigatsudo Hall, Todaiji Temple, as well as performing with new theater actors in Western productions such as Othello and Cyrano De Bergerac, displaying the breadth of his talents.

In 1975, he passed on the name Kansai FUJIMA (II) to his eldest son Tatsunosuke, who became the fifth head of the style, however in 1987 Tatsunosuke, on whom his father had pinned his hopes, passed away, and in Shoroku's later years he cannot be said to have had an abundance of successors (although his students included Kikugoro ONOE (VII) and Matsusuke ONOE (VI), and in particular Kikugoro (VII) took on the lead roles after Tatsunosuke's death). In memory of Tatsunosuke, he closely followed the growth of his grandson Sakon ONOE (II) (now Shoroku ONOE IV), however he soon followed Tatsunosuke to the grave, dying of acute pneumonia on June 25, 1989. He was 76 years old. He was posthumously awarded the First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure.

[Original Japanese]