Kabuki Actor Kataoka Hidetaro Dies at 79

Society Culture

Tokyo, May 27 (Jiji Press)--Japanese kabuki actor Kataoka Hidetaro II, a living national treasure, died on Sunday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in the city of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, western Japan. He was 79.

Kataoka, whose real name was Yoshihito Kataoka, was an iconic "onnagata" actor playing female roles in the all-male kabuki world. He was also a symbolic figure in "Kamigata" kabuki. Kamigata is an old name for the Kansai region of western Japan.

Born in Suita as the second son of kabuki actor Kataoka Nizaemon XIII in 1941, Kataoka made his stage debut in October 1946 at the Minamiza theater in the western city of Kyoto. He assumed the name of Kataoka Hidetaro II in March 1956 at the now-defunct Osaka Kabukiza theater in the city of Osaka, the capital of Osaka Prefecture.

On top of performing himself, Kataoka made contributions to promoting kabuki, including Kamigata kabuki, by lecturing at a Kamigata kabuki school launched in 1997 and a kabuki school for children set up in 2014.

He was designated by the Japanese government as a living national treasure in 2019. His final performance was playing the role of Fuji no Kata, mother of Taira no Atsumori, a 12th-century samurai, in "Kumagai Jinya" (Kumagai's Camp) in "Ichinotani Futaba Gunki" (A Chronicle of the Battle of Ichinotani) at Minamiza in December 2020.

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