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Actors Bando Mitsugoro and Bando Minosuke portraying samurai, c. 1777-1835

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Two samurai warriors, portrayed by actors Bando Mitsugoro and Bando Minosuke (c. 1777-1835)

Actors Bando Mitsugoro and Bando Minosuke portraying samurai warriors, woodcut print by Toyokuni Utagawa, c. 1777-1835.

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These kabuki theater actors, probably Bando Minosuke III and Bando Mitsugoro IV, were members of one of the great acting dynasties of Japanese theater. Bando Mitsugoro IV (originally called Bando Minosuke II) adopted Bando Minosuke III, and they toured together in the 1830s and 1840s.

Both played strong male roles, such as these samurai. Such roles were called tachiyaku. Bando Mitsugoro IV was also a zamoto, or licensed kabuki promoter.

This era marked the end of the "golden age" of kabuki, and the beginning of the Saruwaka era, when fire-prone (and disreputable) kabuki theaters were moved from central Edo (Tokyo) to the outskirts of town, a region called Saruwaka.

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