Actor may have Felt Isolated behind Glitz and Glamour of Kabuki World

What happened to the family of the popular kabuki actor? What kind of anguish led to the actor and his parents trying to commit suicide together? The impact of this incident on the kabuki world is significant.

The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke on suspicion of assisting his mother to take her own life. Last month, Ennosuke and his parents were found collapsed at his home in Tokyo, and the deaths of his parents have been confirmed.

The cause of death in both cases is believed to be psychotropic drug poisoning, and the same substances as those of a sleeping pill that was prescribed to Ennosuke by a hospital were found in his mother’s body. The MPD believes that the suspect gave his mother a large amount of his sleeping pills and urged her to take them.

The suspect explained under voluntary questioning prior to his arrest that “my family had a discussion and attempted suicide,” according to investigative sources. Several suicide notes written by the suspect were found at his home.

In addition to the circumstances of the mother’s death, clarifying how Ennosuke was involved in the father’s death is important for the future investigation. Since both parents have already died, it will also be essential to accumulate circumstantial evidence as well as statements by the suspect himself and others concerned around him.

Ennosuke lived with his parents. His father, kabuki actor Ichikawa Danshiro, had been absent from the stage in recent years due to poor health. A weekly magazine had reported the suspect’s alleged harassment of actors and theater personnel.

No matter what the reason, assisting in suicide is unacceptable. On the other hand, questions remain as to whether the weekly magazine reports and his father’s poor health had any effect on Ennosuke and whether there was anyone around with whom he could consult.

Despite being in the glamorous world of entertainment, he may have been lonely and distressed in his private life.

Omodakaya, the guild name of his family, originated in the Meiji era (1868-1912), and it was considered a newly emerging branch in the kabuki world. However, the “Super Kabuki” started by Ichikawa En-o, who is Ennosuke’s uncle, has taken the world by storm and turned Omodakaya into a major force.

Ennosuke, who succeeds the family line, was one of the most prominent actors in the kabuki world. He wrote and directed his own plays, and was also active in TV dramas and movies.

In recent years, popularity among young people for kabuki plays has been stagnating and the coronavirus pandemic has kept theatergoers away. Fans must have been enormously shocked, as the suspect was expected to be a driving force in the struggling industry.

The suspect has also been actively involved in new plays aimed at younger people. The kabuki world is left with the task of invigorating its performances.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2023)