Joko SEGAWA (the third) (瀬川如皐 (3代目))

Joko SEGAWA the third (1806 - June 28, 1881) was a Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors) playwright who was active from the end of Edo Period to the Meiji Period. His real name was Rokusaburo. His pen name as a haiku poet was Tobun (吐蚊), while his pseudonyms for calligraphic works and paintings were Nigosha (二五社) and Sojakuan (藪雀庵).

He was born in Edo (present-day Tokyo). At first he ran a kimono shop, but in 1839, he joined a Kabuki theater company called Kawarazaki-za with a pen name Kichihei SHIBORI (絞吉平), and started creative activities, writing Kabuki plays. Later, to write his pen name Kichihei SHIBORI, he came to use different Chinese characters with the same reading (絞吉兵衛). He became a disciple of Nanboku TSURUYA (the fifth) with a pseudonym Josuke UBA. Afterwards, backed by Utaemon NAKAMURA the fourth, he performed his creative work actively. In 1845, he started to call himself Kichihei FUJIMOTO, and for a while he also called himself Kichihei SAWAMURA. In 1848, he became the principal play writer attached to Nakamura-za Theater and in 1850, he assumed an ancestral name, Joko SEGAWA, the third. Since then, he wrote scripts for Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the eighth) and Kodanji ICHIKAWA (the fourth).

He was a well-organized person, and his scripts were rich in ideas and highly creative. However, he was extremely unpopular among the actors and theater audiences, because he rewrote frequently, letters he wrote in scripts were small, his instructions were too meticulous and his plays themselves were redundant. His masterpieces were: "Yowanasake Ukinano Yokogushi" (Kirare Yosa [Scarface Yosa]), "Higashiyama Sakura no soshi" (Sakura Gimin Den [the story of a man of righteousness, Sakura]), "Shindai Iroha Kakihajime" (later revivsed to "Matsuura no Taiko" [drum of Matsuura]). His achievements are noteworthy; especially in "Kirare Yosa," he established the bases of the sewa kyogen (a category of plays depicting the people's common life) in the end of Edo Period by introducing seven-and-five syllabic rhythmical dialogues prior to another Kabuki playwright Mokuami, and in the "Sakura Gimin Den" he created the first peasant play in Japan. He also wrote several pieces of song lyrics for classical Japanese dance such as "Noriaibune" (share-ride boat) "Kisoijishi" (vying performance of lions) in addition to writing gokan (bound-together volumes of illustrated books).

In his later years, he lost ground in front of the popularity of Mokuami and was not able to achieve great success as a Kabuki playwright, but he is now evaluated as a playwright who filled up the period between Nanboku TSURUYA the fourth and Mokuami.

His grave was in Gufuku-ji Temple in Mukojima. Joko SEGAWA (the fourth) was his relative.

[Original Japanese]