Ichikawa Ennosuke, a leading Japanese Kabuki actor, was discovered in a semi-conscious state in the family home in Tokyo’s Meguro district by his manager on the morning of Thursday last week (May 18).
First responders found his father, Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danshiro IV, and his mother lying together in a separate room. Both have since been pronounced dead.
A note, apparently written by Ichikawa Ennosuke, was found. Authorities have not confirmed a cause of death for the two parents.
Shochiku, a leading Japanese film studio and Kabuki theater management company that also serves as Ichikawa’s management agency, said in a statement Friday that, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Mr. Ichikawa Danshiro, who had supported the Kabuki world for many years, and his wife.”
Some details have since appeared in various Japanese media. These suggest a pact to die together. They also report that psychotropic drugs may have been taken by the parents prior to their death and that the younger Ichikawa also exhibited evidence of drug intake. While these remain uncorroborated, the increasingly lurid picture caused Shochiku to issue another statement on Monday.
“We are extremely distressed by what we have learned so far from news reports based on the police and hospital announcements, but we would like to refrain from commenting on the situation while it is still being clarified,” Shochiku said. The company is not responding to media queries.
On the same day that Ichikawa was taken to the hospital, the “Josei Sebun” (Women’s Seven) magazine published a story alleging that the actor had sexually harassed female cast members of stage productions. The women said they felt unable to complain due to Ichikawa’s power over casting decisions.
On Tuesday, Shochiku issued a third statement saying that it had investigated sexual harassment claims against Ichikawa. “We have interviewed several managers who have been involved with Ennosuke and no such acts [of harassment] have come to light at any of the venues under our management,” it said.
Local media reports have reported that Ichikawa was transferred from one Tokyo hospital to another. On Thursday (May 25) they said that the actor has now been interviewed by police. No charges have been made.
Born into a Kabuki family with a long and distinguished lineage, the 47-year-old Ichikawa made his stage debut in 1980 and assumed the name Ennosuke in 2012, the fourth in his family to do so.
Ichikawa has taken a central role in “Super Kabuki” productions that reimagine Kabuki for a contemporary audience, drawing on such pop culture phenomena as the hit “One Piece” manga. He has also often appeared in TV dramas, including the 2020 TBS network hit “Hanzawa Naoki,” and a scattering of film roles.
Ichikawa is also the cousin of veteran actor Kagawa Teruyuki, whose career went into a tailspin last year following allegations of sexual and power abuse. Kagawa made a public apology in September.