Japanese kabuki actor found collapsed at home alongside parents
The world of Japanese kabuki, a classical form of Japanese theatre that combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, has been rocked after the popular actor Ennosuke Ichikawa was taken to hospital and his parents found dead.
Ennosuke was found by his manager collapsed at his home in Tokyo along with an apparent suicide note and taken to hospital.
His 75-year-old mother was found dead in a different room in the house alongside his 76-year-old father, Danshiro Ichikawa, also a kabuki actor, who died in hospital later the same day, media reports said.
Ennosuke, 47, was discharged from hospital the following day.
An autopsy found that the parents had died after taking an overdose of psychotropic drugs, according to police. Ennosuke told investigators the three had taken the drugs after the family had “held talks”, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said.
The deaths coincided with claims in a weekly magazine that Ennosuke, who also appeared in other theatre productions and in TV dramas, had been involved in incidents of sexual and power harassment targeting other actors and theatre employees.
Shochiku, a leading studio and kabuki theatre management company, said it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths of Danshiro and his wife, according to Variety magazine.
The company, which also acts as Ennosuke’s management agency, apologised for the concern the alleged scandal had caused kabuki fans, adding that it would not comment further while it looked into the magazine’s claims. Ennosuke has not commented publicly.
Ennosuke Ichikawa first appeared on the kabuki stage in 1980 and became the fourth-generation member of his family to adopt the prestigious stage name Ennosuke in 2012.
He was also the artistic driving force behind “super-kabuki”, which combines traditional theatre with new technology, and appeared in a critically acclaimed super-kabuki production based on the popular manga One Piece.
Kabuki stories, performed by all-male actors dressed in elaborate costumes and colourful makeup “masks”, deal with samurai rivalry, love, suicide and more pedestrian accounts of city life.