Arashi Tokusaburô III (Arashi Rikan III 嵐璃寛 from 8/1843) was an outstanding kaneru yakusha ("all-around actor": 兼ねる役者), born and trained in Kamigata, who succeeded on the stages in the three major cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Edo. He had a large physique and fine elocution supported by a powerful voice. He was excellent in all sorts of tachiyaku (leading man: 立役) or onnagata (female roles: 女方 or 女形) roles in jidaimono (history dramas: 時代物). He was also a talented samisen (三味線) player.
The plot of Nippon daiichi mekari no jinji is unknown to us. It was written by Shôzô Namiki I (1730-73), who scripted plays for both bunraku (puppet theater: 文楽) and kabuki. He was especially skilled at adapting techniques from bunraku for kabuki and is credited with introducing new stage devices and machinery, as well as perfecting the revolving stage.
An onnadate (女伊達 or 女作) was the female equivalent of the otokodate (男伊達) or (男作), lit., "standing man," or "one who stands up like a man." On the kabuki stage, the otokodate was idealized as an heroic figure, a chivalrous commoner who defended weak and oppressed lower-class citizens against abusive samurai.
The poem was composed by the actor Tokusaburô III, signing as "Kitchô" (橘蝶), a name he used on stage for short periods, on-and-off, in late 1834, most of 1835, late 1839, and a few months in 1841.
The tachibana (mandarin orange blossoms: 橘) decorating his black inner robe represent the crest of the Arashi acting lineage.
This design is one of Sadamasu's best-known and most admired ôban images. It comes up rarely for acquisition.
OK, p. 97, no, 80; OSP, p. 184, no. 186; Sadamasu website (van Doesburg)