This portrait depicts a character that appeared in a pantomime short play “The Iris Soga Story of the Bunroku Period (hana ayame omoino kanzashi)” in the “Medley of Tales of Revenge (katakiuchi noriaibanashi)” of the Kiriza Theater. This picture depicts a well-known part of the actor’s dance. Because of the pantomime aspect, the costume is gaily colored and the lines are very smooth. The majority of the screen is occupied by the costume, which adds important impact to a pantomime. Also, the biotite used in the background provides a good balance throughout the screen. The kimono is deep blue with a shell pattern, the sleeveless kimono is gray with long, thin stripes in white, and the hood is yellow. This combination of colors is unusually complicated for Sharaku. The red of the collar and the underwear’s cuff is balanced well with the other clothes. The way he creates the color tone means that there is no waste. In other words, there is nothing more or less than this combination and balance. Overall, this makes the entire work excellent. Furthermore, the curved lines of Kanya’s face, eyes and mouth are very impressive and attract us to the image – all because of Sharaku’s technique.
Kanya Morita was from the Morita-za Theater, which is one of the three traditional Edo Theaters. He was one of the eighth generation born to the master’s family in 1759 (Hireki 9) as the son of Kanya V. His first appearance onstage was in 1762 (Horeki 12), when it was discovered that he was good at short plays. He succeeded Matasaburo Bando in 1783 (Tenmei 3) and became Kanya VIII. He was both theater proprietor and actor. He gave the position of theater proprietor of the Morita-za Theather to his son Matakichi in 1791 (Kanei 3), and renamed himself Yasosuke Bando. He died in November 1814 (Bunka 11).