Bando Tamasaburo – the most popular and celebrated “onnagata” currently on the Kabuki stage!

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Bandō Tamasaburō V (五代目 坂東 玉三郎 Godaime Bandō Tamasaburō?) (b. 1950) is a Kabuki actor, and the most popular and celebrated onnagata (an actor specializing in female roles) currently on stage. He has also acted in a handful of films.

Born in 1950, Shin’ichi Morita was adopted by Morita Kan’ya XIV, and made his first appearance on stage at the age of seven, under the name Bandō Kinoji. At a shūmei (naming ceremony) in 1964 he became the fifth to take the name Bandō Tamasaburō; his adopted father had been the fourth.

Like all kabuki actors, Tamasaburō has devoted his life to the theater from a very young age. By 1975, when Morita Kan’ya XIV died, Tamasaburō had already performed in countless plays, many of them alongside his adopted father and other noteworthy actors such as Ichikawa Danjūrō XII. Since then, he has continued to perform, not only in numerous plays at the Kabuki-za in Tokyo, but in many other venues. He took part in an American tour in 1985, performing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and in Los Angeles as well; he would perform in Paris the following year.

Tamasaburō has also appeared in a number of films and special dance performances such as BESETO in 2001, which celebrated the entertainment traditions of China, Korea, and Japan. In 1996, he collaborated with Yo-yo Ma and performed at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, dancing dramatically to Johann Sebastian Bach‘s “Suite No. 5 for Unaccompanied Cello.” He also performed alongside taiko drummers Kodo in 2006, as part of Kodo’s 25th anniversary celebration.





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