The last great writer for Japanese puppetry. His father, a Confucian trained literari, had collaborated in the activities of the Takemoto-za with Chikamatsu Monzaemon (see Takemoto Gidayū). As homage to this major figure, Hanji took as his pen name Chikamatsu Hanji.
Hanji made his debut in 1751 as part of a group of five librettists directed by Takeda Izumo I, and he collaborated on a number of plays (see Takeda (family)). In 1763, he became director of the writers’ group of the Takemoto-za during a difficult period when kabuki was supplanting puppetry. Taking up the challenge, he produced scripts full of ingenuity, with complex intrigue and spectacular moments that permitted full deployment of scenographic possibilities. This initiative proved fruitful and allowed ningyō jōruri (see Bunraku) to regain audiences.
Chikamatsu Hanji normally worked in a group and co-authored about fifty plays, mostly jidaimono (historical plays). Notable works include Imoseyama onna teikin (Girl Sacrificed at Imoseyama or An Example of Noble Womanhood), a story of exemplary female virtue, Ōmi Genji senjin yakata (The Castle of the Genji Advance Guard at Omi or The Battle of Sakamoto Castle), Keisei Awa no naruto (Howling Pass at Awa or The Infant Pilgrim or The Tragedy of Awa), Kamakura sandaiki (The Three Generations of Kamakura Shoguns), and Igagoe dōchū sugoroku (The Vendetta at Iga), which are among the most celebrated and frequently performed works in the repertoire.