The world of kabuki has lost one of its leading veterans. Nakamura Tomijuro V, designated a Living National Treasure, died at a Tokyo hospital on Monday night of cancer. He was 81. His final performance was at the Shimbashi Enbujo theater in Tokyo last November, during which his failing health forced him to drop out and enter hospital.
Real name Watanabe Hajime, he made his first stage appearance as Bando Tsurunosuke IV in 1943, and became popular through his collaborations with Nakamura Senjaku II (79). He took the Tomijuro stage name in 1972 and enjoyed a career that spanned not just kabuki but also TV (such as the 1974 NHK taiga drama Katsu Kaishu”) and movies, including “Gakko II.” He was designated by the government as a Living National Treasure in 1994 and in 2008 was officially recognized for his contributions to the arts.
In 1996, he married Masae (48), a former actress who was 33 years his junior. They had two children, with Tomijuro becoming a father at the ages of 69 and 74. He had been scheduled to perform alongside his son Takanosuke (11, photo right) from January 2. The young actor took to the stage yesterday, the day after his father passed away.