This picture illustrates Kikunojo Segawa III playing the wife of Bunzo Tanabe in the 1794 (Kansei 6) production of “The Iris Soga Story of the Bunroku Period (hana ayame omoino kanzashi)”. Bunzo helped the Ishii Brothers seek revenge and overcome poverty. Oshizu also put up with these difficult circumstances. Because she was sick, she put a hachimaki headband around her head. The picture illustrates her loneliness. In addition to the illustration, Sharaku fully proves his quality as the artist of famous onnagata (a male actor of female roles in kabuki) Kikunojo III – this is praised as his best or second-best masterpiece. Sharaku’s character depiction, such the rounded face and sense of complete self-composure coming from the figure, is deeply impressive. This work in particular shows incredible beauty of color toning, it is said that Sharaku preferred this tone. For instance, the two-toned underwear in crimson and green pulls the entire color tone together and shows his technique, as well as emphasizing his skill in depicting Kikunojo as an onnagata.
Kikunojo Segawa III was a famous onnagata between 1781-1801 (Tenmei and Kansei) and became a master of the Theater. He was born the second son of Shichijuro Ichikawa, a choreographer in Osaka, and was adopted by Kikunojo II. His original name was Tomisaburo Ichiyama, but later, after his adoption, he changed his name to Tomisaburo Segawa. He took over the clan in November of 1774 (Anei 3). Year by year, he began to build his reputation, and eventually became the most famous onnagata in Edo. People started to call him “Hamamuraya daimyo kamisama”. He changed his name again, this time to “Rokou”, his haiku pen name, in 1801 (Kyowa 1), and later again to “Senjo” in 1807 (Bunka 4). He died in December of 1810 (Bunka 4) at the age of 60.