Onayo appeared in “The Iris Soga Story of the Bunroku Period (hana ayame omoino kanzashi)”, performed at the Miyako-za Theater in May 1794 (Kansei 6). We cannot help but recognize Sharaku’s style in Onayo’s appearance: her face is big like a fox, her nose and eyes are like a man’s, while at the same time she wears a colorful kimono and a shimada coiffure with hairpin. This is because Ichimatsu was an onnagata (a male actor of female roles in kabuki). This attire may seem rather awkward; however, there are few other portraits of onnagata depicted as realistically as Sharaku has done. We cannot help but admire the depiction of the actor’s face like a fox. Ultimately, Sharaku depicts the essence of onnagata, the countless men in the world who dress and act as women.
In 1784 (Tenmei 4), the actor took the name Ichimatsu III, and in 1798 (Kansei 10), he switched to playing male roles and changed his name to Aragoro Ichikawa. He died in November 1814 (Bunka 11) at the age of 55. At the time of this portrait he was a “jojokichi”, the second highest rank for onnagata of middle standing.