Renowned kabuki actor and living national treasure Nakamura Utaemon VI died of chronic respiratory failure at his home in Tokyo on Saturday evening, his family said. He was 84.
Nakamura was known after World War II as the best “onnagata,” an actor specializing in female roles. He won the Order of Culture in 1979 and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1996.
He made his debut in 1922 with the stage name Nakamura Kotaro III. He changed his name to Fukusuke and Shikan before inheriting his father’s name of Utaemon in 1951. His father, Nakamura Utaemon V, was a kabuki mogul in the late Meiji and early Showa periods.
Nakamura performed more than 570 roles in his career. His role as a mother expressing love during a search for her child in the play “Sumidagawa” was particularly famous.
His first overseas performance was in the United States in 1960. He also took part in numerous kabuki tours of the former Soviet Union, Europe, Canada and Australia.
A private funeral service for Nakamura will be held Tuesday morning at his home in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, his family said.
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