The character Umeōmaru at Umenoki Village, between Minakuchi and Ishibe

The hugely popular kabuki play ‘Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy’ is based on the life of a ninth-century courtier and calligrapher, who was falsely accused of treason and banished from the court. The character of Umeōmaru is one of a set of triplets, each a loyal retainer to one of the main characters. Ume means ‘plum blossom’ and the pattern on Umeōmaru’s kimono identifies him.

The actor wears the bright red face make-up known as ‘kumadori’. This type of make-up emphasizes a character’s intense emotions and was worn by kabuki actors when performing the roles of superheroes or villains.


Glossary of terms



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