Matsui Gensui Troupes 1867-1922

1824-5 Matsui Gensui 松井 原水 XIII born in Edo, became 13th generation of the Matsui Gensui yashi (hawker-performer troupe) performing at Sensōji in Asakusa.

1829 Matsui Shinjirō or Matsugorō born, pupil of Matsui Kikujirō

1834 Matsui Yoshigorō born in Edo, oldest son of Matsumoto Kanzaburō, a rich farmer. Adopted by Matsui Gensui XIV. Became Matsui Gensui XV.

1836 Matsui Kikujirō born – younger brother of Matsui Gensui XIII

1853 Saki, daughter of Matsui Gensui XIII born

1857 Matsui Tsune, daughter of Matsui Kikujirō born

1858 Muroya Suketarō, Matsui Gensui XVI born. Later adopted by Matsui Gensui XV.

1859-61 Matsui Kunitarō, son of Matsui Gensui XIII born. Later lays claim to being Matsui Gensui XVI

1864 Matsui Yoshigorō becomes Matsui Gensui XV after death of Matsui Gensui XIV

1866 William Grant obtained 14 two year passports for Matsui Gensui XIII, his wife Haru (27), his daughters Mitsu and Saki and son Kunitarō. Also Yanagawa Chōjurō/Asanosuke (Asakichi), his wife Kiku, his son Chōnosuke and daughter Nobu. Passports as servants for the Yokohama group of Kosakichi (Torigata), Kamekichi (aged 23), Inosuke, Kakichi (stage name Kotaki) and Torakichi (a child).

1866 December 2nd – Matsui Gensui XIII sails from Yokohama for Shanghai, then Hong Kong

1867 February 2nd – Matsui Gensui troupe lands in Southampton on the Tanjore with Matsui Gensui XIII’s wife Haru, daughter Saki aged 13 and son Kunitaro aged 6/7 and a troupe of 12 performers in total. William Grant was the manager, Andrew Nimmo was the agent. Also E. Prior, J Mitchell

Performed at St Martin’s Hall, just behind the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden. Top spinning (Matsui), bamboo climbing (Kotaki), butterfly trick (Yanagawa)

Yanagawa Chojuro/Asaskichi in the Matsui Gensui troupe performing butterfly trick at St Martin’s Hall London, Illustrated London News February 23 1867
Matsui Gensui spinning tops at St Martin’s Hall, London. Illustrated London News, February 23 1867

1867 April – Matsui Gensui troupe performed at Windsor Castle for birthday of Princess Beatrice, in front of Queen Victoria

1867 May – troupe is of 11 persons ranging in age from 8 to 50 (Birmingham)

1867 June – Liverpool – Gainsi Topspinner, Asakichi butterfly trick, (Torigata) Kosakichi rope walking, Kamaikichi (Kamekichi), Kotaki (Kakichi) and Korakichi (Torakichi) acrobatic gymnasts.

1867 July 7th – Matsui Gensui troupe leave Liverpool for Exposition Universelle in Paris.

1867 August – Matsui Gensui troupe moves on to Belgium

1867 November – Matsui Gensui troupe moves on to Germany

1867 December – Matsui Gensui moves on to Italy

1867 December – Professor Risley’s Imperial Troupe arrive in London with Matsui Kikujirō and his daughter Tsune and his pupil Matsui Shinjirō

1868 Matsui Gensui troupe in Hungary? An unnamed Japanese troupe drank too much strong alcohol before their performance and had to take two days off to recover

1868 March – September – France – Matsui Gensui XIII tries to claim second year of pay owed by William Grant. Grant could not pay and fled in the middle of the night.

1868 April Matsui Kikujirō of Risley’s Imperial Troupe dies in London.

1868 October – Matsui Gensui XIII signs a contract with a French impresario

1869 – Matsui Gensui XIII works for French impresario saving money for passage home

1869 October – Matsui Gensui XV/Matsui Yoshigorō departs Japan for a tour of Hong Kong, India, Germany, Britain and USA with Thomas King’s Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe

1870 – February – Matsui Gensui XIII returns to Japan with family

1870 July – King’s Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe appear in London.

1870 August – Oh Ra Jo, the Tycoon’s Private Top Spinner appears with the Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe at the Alhambra, London.

1870 November 4th – Matsui Gensui XIII dies at the age of 46 in Japan.

1871 May – King’s Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe leave Britain, to tour the USA and continental Europe

1872 May – Matsui Gensui XV asks Thomas King for return fare and payment in France, refused so travels to London to ask Consul Terashima Munenori for £150.

1872 August – Matsui Gensui XV departs Britain

1873 February Matsui Gensui XV returns to Japan.

1877 Matsui Gensui XV finishes 7 year tour of Europe and America according to Toshinbun January 29th 1890.

1884-1887 Matsui Gensui XVI (Kunitaro?) tours overseas, mainly performing sword unsheathing

1888 article written in Tokyo Eiri Shimbun implying Matsui Gensui XV died in 1886.

1890 Matsui Gensui XV is performing in Japan as Matsui Genyūsai 源遊斎 Yomiuri Shimbun 14th September 1890 article says that he had just returned in June 1890, after touring China/USA/Europe since 1883.

1890 Matsui Gensui XV suffering from palsy/paralysis

1896 Matsui Gensui XV retires at the age of 62, handing over to Matsui Gensui XVI (Suketarō)

1907 Matsui Gensui XV dies at the age of 74

1907? Matsui Gensui XVI (Kunitaro) dies at age of 46

1910 Matsui Gensui XVI (Suketarō) performs at the Japan-British Exhibition in White City

1911-12 Matsui Gensui XVI (Suketarō) tours Britain performing top spinning acts in Ipswich and Coventry.[1] [2]

1911 April – census – Matsui Gensui is staying at the house of a draper’s assistant in Chester Le Street, aged 43, single, born in Tokyo.

1919 Matsui Gensui XVI (Suketarō) dies at the age of 61

1922 Matsui Gensui, top spinner, appears in London with the Okayama troupe.[3]  

1922 October – Matsui Gensui dies in London, aged 54

1948 Matsui Gensui XVII dies

[1] Music Hall and Theatre Review, 23 March 1911 p 14

[2] Coventry Herald, 9 March 1912, p 12

[3] The Era, 3 May 1922 p 15

See also Street Performers and Society in Urban Japan 1600 – 1900 : The Beggar’s Gift – Gerald Groemer