Popular kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo said Monday he will assume his family’s prestigious, centuries-old stage name of Danjuro in May 2020.
The stage name was established in the latter half of the 17th century and used by kabuki actors of the Ichikawa family. It is considered the most prestigious of kabuki stage names.
“Since this is a big name in kabuki, I will devote myself to kabuki for as long as I live,” Ebizo, 41, who will be called Ichikawa Danjuro Hakuen, told a news conference at Kabukiza, Tokyo’s famed kabuki theater.
He will be the 13th holder of the distinguished name after his father, Ichikawa Danjuro XII, died in 2013.
Name-succession celebrations, including a series of performances at Kabukiza that will run for three months, are being planned. The celebration period will coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
His 5-year-old son, Kangen Horikoshi, will become Ichikawa Shinnosuke VIII on the same occasion.
Ebizo first took the stage at age 5 and became Ichikawa Shinnosuke VII in 1985. In 2004, he became Ichikawa Ebizo XI.
He is known for new stage programs he creates in an attempt to break with traditional performances as Japanese lifestyles have changed dramatically and entertainment has become more diversified.
But some of his programs have been criticized by fans and those who study classical performing arts.
In 2017, Ebizo lost his wife, Mao Kobayashi, a TV personality who drew widespread attention after she began blogging about her battle with breast cancer.
Kobayashi was selected for the 2016 edition of the BBC’s 100 Women list of inspirational and influential female figures after writing online about her struggle with the disease.