The Actor Nakamura Utaemon VI as the Courtesan Chitose Dayu Artist: Tsuruya Kōkei (Japanese, born 1946)

March 1989

Asian Art

The “sanbasō” pleasure-quarters dance is a Kabuki parody of a classical Noh dance of the same name in which three actors, one of them an old man, dance in order to pray for auspicious harvests. In the Kabuki version, the part of the old man is played by the courtesan Chitose Dayū, who begins the dance by faithfully mimicking an old man, but transforms during her performance and finishes the dance as a courtesan. In this print, the actor Nakamura Utaemon VI plays the role of the courtesan Chitose Dayū. His clothing and headdress are those of a high-class courtesan but his posture, expression, and hand gestures all evoke a curmudgeonly old man. Kōkei often includes family crests of the actors in his prints—here, the crest with intersecting scrolls is of the actor Nakamura Utaemon VI.


Modern ukiyo-e: polychrome woodblock print on Ganpi Tori-no-ko paper from Fukui prefecture; brown mica ground


sheet: 14 13/16 × 9 13/16 in. (37.7 × 24.9 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Libertson

Accession Number



Heisei era (1989–2019)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Herbert Libertson and Roni Neuer (Ronin Gallery), New York; gift in 2010 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • "Tsuruya Koukei Official Website," (accessed September 18, 2012),
Object copyright
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Object/Work type

color woodcuts

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