Japanese puppeteer, one of the greatest of the Genroku era, celebrated above all for female roles. Tatsumatsu Hachirobei was part of and contributed strongly to the success of the first company of the Takemoto-za which Takemoto Gidayū founded in 1684. He helped in the creation of sewamono (domestic tragedy) of Chikamatsu Monzaemon. He triumphed playing Ohatsu, the geisha heroine, in Sonezaki Shinjū (The Love Suicides at Sonezaki). This is a play in which the michiyuki (“road travel”) scene of visiting Kannon (Avalokitesvara), wherein the lovers journey toward their deaths, is performed behind a translucent screen permitting the spectators to watch the manipulators work. The strength of his personal popularity contributed to the successful advance of dezukai (visible manipulators).

He left the Takemoto-za for a time to join the rival Osaka company at the Toyotake-za, but returned to work with Gidayū to create Kokusen’ya kassen (The Battles of Coxinga), a historical drama (jidaimono) which set new records for popularity. In 1715, a year after Gidayū’s death, he left Osaka for Edo where he opened a rather successful theatre that carried his name, Tatsumatsu-za, working with the chanter-narrator Toyotake Kamadayū, a specialist in the rough aragoto style. History remembers Tatsumatsu Hachirobei as a great master of the practice of one-man manipulation in puppetry.

(See Japan.)