Tsukkorobashi (つっころばし)

Tsukkorobashi is an acting role in a Kabuki play. It is a male role of a weak-willed but somewhat comical character in Kamigata wagoto (a soft style of acting in Kamigata [the Kyoto-Osaka area] Kabuki). Examples are Isonojo TAMASHIMA in "Natsumatsuri Naniwa kagami" (The Summer Festival: A Mirror of Osaka), Yogoro in "Futatsu chocho kuruwa nikki" (A Diary of Two Butterflies in the Pleasure Quarters), Jihei KAMIYA in "Kawasho" (Rewritten version of "Shinju ten no amijima" [The Love Suicide at Amijima]), and Izaemon in "Kuruwa nikki" (Love Letters from the Licensed Quarter).

As the origin of its name meaning, "only a little push on the shoulder makes him stumble" suggests, it originally indicates the role of a weak-minded young man. A common example is a young master of a wealthy merchant family, who is not dependable, having no guts at all; he goes so mad with love in a play that he shows himself to be more and more incompetent. This attitude, which is typified by such characters as Jihei KAMIYA and Izaemon, is even comical rather than pathetic. In a way, its amorous and lyrical way of acting has a comical touch, giving unusual attractiveness.

The crucial difference between this role of Tsukkorobashi in wagoto style acting of Kamigata Kabuki and other Nimaime (the roles of a lover) including the one in wagoto style acting of Edo Kabuki, lies in this funny and comical aspect of the character, or even, in the different traditions of molding characters that produce such difference. Tsukkorobashi is a kind of person who is timid, and too attentive to women; he is inept at earning a living, gutless, and somewhat unreliable since he is from a well-to-do family. In contrast, Nimaime in Edo Kabuki is similar to Tsukkorobashi on the surface; however, at the core, he is fiery-tempered and filled with an awareness of his duty, which gives an inkling of toughness.
(Therefore, even though he goes mad with love, he cannot be comical.)

Tsukkorobashi is an acting role peculiar to the Kyoto-Osaka area; it is more influenced by an actor's personality or the stage atmosphere rather than degrees of the actor's skill. It is often said that Kamigata Kabuki places more stress on originality, feelings, and atmosphere than formality; the role of Tsukkorobashi is an extremely typical example.

[Original Japanese]