Arama They Didn't

7:17 pm - 12/10/2012

Kabuki actor Kanzaburo Nakamura dies at age 57

On December 5, Kanzaburo Nakamura, a top kabuki actor and director who also helped boost the popularity of the ancient Japan theatre tradition in modern times, has died at the age of 57.

Kanzaburo, as he was known in Japan, died early Wednesday in Tokyo of acute respiratory distress syndrome. He revealed in June that he'd been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Tributes have pored in for the actor, who was skilled at both tachiyaku (male) and onnagata (female impersonator) roles, and founder of the Heisei Nakamuraza theatre troupe, which performed throughout Japan.

A member of a family dynasty of kabuki artists, he began performing at the age of three. Born Noriaki Namino in Tokyo, he adopted the name Kankuro Nakamura upon his stage debut.

In 2005, he inherited the stage name Kanzaburo in a name-succession ceremony, becoming the 18th member of the Nakamura family to bear it.

Kabuki actor Kanzaburo Nakamura is seen performing in Osaka in 2011. He revealed in June that he was battling esophageal cancer. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
"I love Kabuki and it's a good thing I love it. If I hadn't loved it, I would have just gone mad, given the family I was born to," he said in a 2008 interview with Reuters.

A colourful art form that dates back four centuries, kabuki features elaborately made-up and costumed actors performing stylized dramas. Though troupes were formerly made up solely of male actors, female performers have been incorporated in some contemporary troupes.

Kanzaburo, who also appeared in film and on TV, sought to modernize kabuki through bold initiatives, like staging plays in unlikely venues, presenting topical subject matter and setting productions to modern music.

His goal was to attract younger Japanese fans and spread the appreciation of kabuki worldwide, through performances in cities like New York, Washington, Paris and Berlin.

"I came over bracing myself for a possible storm of booing... but I was glad to hear cheers which eventually turned into whistles," he said following a performance in New York in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, Yoshie, and two sons, both of whom are also kabuki performers.


On December 5, 700 people visited and mourned at his house. Among them was Arashi's Jun Matsumoto (29), who is a former high school classmate of Shichinosuke Nakamura, younger son at his high school age. “He treated me as if I was his son without discrimination.” Although they have different careers as idol and Kabuki actor, “all are the same. Let’s do our best together” was Nakamura's supportive words.

“He scolded me sometimes, but he taught me many things such as about work and private life. All I can do now is supporting Shichinosuke as much as I can.” Matsumoto says with tear in his eyes.

Source: 1, 2

:'( RIP Nakamura...57 is so young. (also, Dec.5 was FNS.)
nikiz88 11th-Dec-2012 05:47 am (UTC)
Poor MatsuJun...he lost two important ppl in his life in just a month...a mother figure n a father figure~ :(
ugoku_shiro 11th-Dec-2012 05:58 am (UTC)

The Nakamura Family had a house in Arizona very close to some relatives of mine. I remember Jun going there on vacation with them and some other friends.

So sad. Rest in peace. Sending good vibes to the family.
umbrellaphone 11th-Dec-2012 07:59 am (UTC)
Thanks, fixed.
inachan89 11th-Dec-2012 09:19 am (UTC)
RIP Kanzaburo-san and condolences to the family =(
Poor Matsujun,looks like he's very close to the family...
jenni06 11th-Dec-2012 09:30 am (UTC)
May Kanzaburo-san Rest in Peace .

ps: I find really stupid when the focus is on the big idol who was at the funeral instead of talking about the lost person. And I'm a big fan of this big idol, but I cannot help finding this ridiculous.
I know that they were close, but every media talked about him present to the funeral, him being very close ... don't you find it awkward ?
It might just be me, I don't know .

Edited at 2012-12-11 09:35 am (UTC)
umbrellaphone 11th-Dec-2012 10:39 am (UTC)
It depends on the source. For example, another Sponichi article (along with other news sites) is dedicated to the diseased. But I put the Jun one as simply extra information since cbc did a good job covering Nakamura's background already.

Edited at 2012-12-11 10:41 am (UTC)
exdream1999 11th-Dec-2012 11:15 am (UTC)
I figure the media didn't talk much about Kanzaburo-san much today, since they did all that last week when he actually passed. I think it got at least two days worth of coverage. Sukkiri did a really indepth coverage the day after he passed that almost made me (even) late(er) for work.

Today's coverage was specifically just about his funeral and who was attending.
asweetsymphony 11th-Dec-2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
I find that awkward and quite rude too at first. Thank goodness for the clarifications above me.
rim1789 11th-Dec-2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
Hiii giiirl. Non t'es pas la seule. J en parlais y a trois secondes. De même les photos papapics durant les enterrements, ou les photos postées avec juste les idols.Je trouve ça hypra pervers

Thanks for the people clarifying ^^ on the above comments
jenni06 11th-Dec-2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
Tu l'as dit !
J'espere que ça se passe bien pour toi la-bas !
rim1789 12th-Dec-2012 12:44 am (UTC)
Tres bien merci :)) J'arrive pas à croire que je rentre bientôt cela dit ( mi février)
whited_79 11th-Dec-2012 10:06 am (UTC)
ms_pretense 11th-Dec-2012 11:42 am (UTC)
R.I.P and condolences to all the families and colleagues..

It really breaks my heart to see those mourning Jun's pictures, esp the one that you put under the article..:'(
rim1789 11th-Dec-2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
Rip :(
dramaticsurgeon 11th-Dec-2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
I live near New York, and I'm really sad I didn't get the chance to see Nakamura perform. :( I did have the privilege to see Bando Kotoji's kabuki performance earlier this year, and it was spectacular, but I kind of wish I'd known about Nakamura's performance back in 2004. It seems like he really understood the necessity of passing the love of a traditional art onto the younger generation.

Side note: feeling equally bad for Matsujun too. 57 is pretty young, and if Nakamura only told people of his cancer in June it's still too fast to process. No matter how much warning you're given, you never really feel like you have enough time to say goodbye. I've been there myself, too many times now, and his expression in that picture kind of says everything.
stole_away 14th-Dec-2012 02:11 am (UTC)
R.I.P :( he is so young..
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