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Determination to succeed a Japanese traditional performance art
Taking advantage of what he has learned at WASEDA in kabuki

Mr. Asahi Ichimura

Kabuki is a traditional entertainment, representative of Japan. Mr. Ichimura was born in a family succeeding the tradition, as his father is Manjiro Ichimura II and his grandfather is Uzaemon Ichimura XVII. Is it natural to succeed the family business if one is born in a kabuki family? "In the world of kabuki, it is common to succeed the family business even now," he explains. "But in my case, as my father once wanted to be a scientist, my parents told me, "Do what you want to do.'" Rare in this world, Mr. Ichimura attended an international school from kindergarten till high school. "I have put more priority on my studies than the stage and have lived just like a normal student."

His debut was at the age of four. In junior and senior high school, he put first priority on his studies, so the number of stage appearances and practice was less compared to other kabuki actors of the same generation, but he sometimes went on stage or practiced right after school.

"Have you ever thought about quitting kabuki?" "Many times," he laughs. "It is tough to kneel formally without moving for 40 minutes, and then stand up and dance. But when I see the happy faces in the audience, I feel it is fulfilling."

His father earnestly promotes activities to make kabuki popular overseas. "When I'm asked whether I like kabuki or not, I don't really know the answer, but I still remember the words of my grandfather, 'I want people to know kabuki in my own words,' when he was alive." What he thinks is good about entering WASEDA is that the university has many unique people. There are many interesting peers and professors, and he says he has been impressed as he has been able to choose classes that interest him out of many different themes. "I am really thankful for WASEDA because, as I went to an international school, there were not so many universities that qualified me to take entrance exams. At the same time, as I had kabuki, I couldn't go and study abroad. Without the School of International Liberal Studies, I might not have been to continue studying. At present, I'm interested in intellectual property and business. I hope I can make use of them in kabuki art management in the future."

Though his parents told him to 'choose a career you like," why has he decided to follow the path of kabuki? "Though I'm really grateful to my parents who gave me alternatives, I have always appreciated the importance of the family business since I was young. I cannot simply give it up. I didn't choose it because of pressure. I started to hope to succeed my grandfather and father's commitment to Kabuki and have naturally aspired to be a kabuki actor," says Mr. Ichimura, showing a calm but strong determination. "My future target is to perform overseas like my grandfather and father have done, and let the world know kabuki as a Japanese traditional culture. This may sound absurd, but I want to be a bridge between Japan and abroad. I believe what I'm learning now at WASEDA will contribute to kabuki and I plan to take advantage of it for the development of kabuki."

Mr. Ichimura when he was small. With Manjiro Ichimura II (father) and Uzaemon Ichimura XVII (grandfather)

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Asahi Ichimura

Born in Tokyo in 1990. Graduated from St. Mary's International School. Sophomore at the School of International Liberal Studies. Takematsu Ichimura VI. The eldest son of Manjiro Ichimura. His grandfather is Uzaemon Ichimura XVII. Made his debut playing Kosaburo in "Moritsunajinya" at Kabukiza Theater. Interested in marshal arts, especially kendo. Belongs to an art and card games club at WASEDA. The day of the interview fell on his birthday (January 12)!