Murakami Kumakichi

There may have been two Kumakichis, sharing variants of the spelling of the name.

One, born 1857, was a contortionist, tumbler and wire walker. First leaving Japan in 1869 with Thomas King’s Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe, and touring Britain in 1870-71 and then ending up in Australia. He was consistently named Cooma Kitchie when in Australia.

The other, who became Murakami Kumataro, starting as Como Ketchey and Koomakitchee, also with the Royal Tycoon Troupe, then later Como Tycoon and Como Tarro, was born in 1863, first appeared in Britain in 1876 who performed bamboo walking and then later was a foot equilibrist, initially settling in Britain and then moving to the Netherlands.

1863 March 14th – Kumakichi born in Tokyo (according to Amsterdam census records, 1891 England census and marriage record of 1892). Murakami Kumataro, gymnast, was his father.

1869 October – Kumakichi, 12 year old son of Fujikichi and Fusa from Osaka, older brother of 11 year old Asajiro, in passport records for Thomas King’s Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe on a 3 year passport for Hong Kong.

1870 Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe tour India

1870 July – Royal Tycoon Troupe perform at Crystal Palace, London

1870 August – Royal Tycoon’s Private Troupe perform at the Alhambra, Crystal Palace. “Two fat yellow boys without a symptom of bone in them” “did prodigies of elasticity… the fat yellow boy climbed the high bamboo balanced on the despondent juggler’s chin and capered thereupon in mid-air in the most suicidal manner.”

1871 Jan-Feb – tour Rotherham, Ashton, Brighouse, Leeds. 11 names given in billings for troupe of 15. Foo Gee Kitchee Wonder of Yeddo balancer, 5 boy contortionists – Koo Ma Kitchee, Ca Na Kitchee, Kin Ta, Mo To To and Ha Sa, Oh Sa Wah (female, flight of the butterflies), Eso Kitchee (juggler and equilibrist), Oh Ra To, top spinner, Mo Ko So, juvenile rope walker aged 9 and Namenoski, foot balancer, ladder feats, rope walker.

1871 February 4th – Fujikichi dies aged 39 of a tropical abscess of the liver and pyaemia (blood poisoning from the abscess). Buried in Southwark.

1871 March – May – “King’s Royal Tycoon Troupe” tours Manchester, Barnsley, Bradford, Huddersfield, Macclesfield. Fifteen artistes – “Five wonderful Japanese boys” (Koo Ma Kitchee, Ca Na Kitchee, Kin Ta, Mo To To and Ha Sa) performing as contortionists. Oh Sa Wah the first legitimate female artiste from Japan performing butterfly illusions. Eso Kitchee the inimitable Japanese juggler and equilibrist, Oh Ra To the Tycoon’s Private Top Spinner, Namenoski sensational ladder acts. Foo Gee Kitchee continues to be billed as the great shoulder balancer.

Audiences “were highly gratified, with the feats of the boys Kitchee and others, who as contortionists, we never saw equalled by any native of this country, either for actual agility, or gracefulness and completeness in every action.” Leeds Times, 8 April 1871

1871 May-June – King’s Royal Tycoon Troupe finish tour of Britain, start tour of Europe and the USA

1871 August – Royal Yedo Japanese Troupe in San Francisco with Professor Gangero and six juvenile pupils

1872 February – Tycoon Troupe of Japanese Juveniles in India

1872 September – Thomas King hires another troupe of Japanese to tour Britain for 2 years, including Kondo Kikutaro, aged 14

1872 November – King’s troupe “Siamese Juvenile Troupe” arrive in Calcutta. With Mr C Pasquali, Mr and Mrs King, 13 Japanese and two children. Artistes include Torakitchi the invisible wire walker, Sacaranawa ladder balancer, Makichi, Bungaro tub balancer, Catshenoski’s juggling, Echowsi (Itchosai) legerdemain, Terakitchi top spinning

1873 July – Royal Tycoon Troupe arrive in Sydney

1873 August – Siamese JuvenileAcrobats – To Ra Kitchi, Rogozo and Coomakitchi in Sydney

1873 September – “the wonders of the world” “Coomokitchi and Rogozo” Maitland, Australia

1873 October – “five of the greatest wonders of the age as Bending Contortionists” were Coo ma Kitchi, Makichi, Co To, Itchi and Chotaro in Melbourne

1874 June – “greatest wonders of the world as bending contortionists” “Makichi, Coo Ma, Itchi, Eva, Co-Zo, Ce-Je and Chotaw”

1875 Cooma Kitchi and other members of King’s Royal Tycoon troupe sign up with John Borthwick’s Great Asiatic Circus in Australia. Cooma sometimes billed as Como or Coma, part of a group of young contortionist boys and also a wire walker.

1876 May – Cooma Kitchi performs with Great Asiatic Circus and Royal Tycoon Troupe in Australia

1876 July – Como Ketchey, Gingero, Asakichi and Motokichi perform at the Crystal Palace at Myers’s Hippodrome. “The Japanese brothers Gingero and Como Ketchy”

1876 November – “Gin Goro and Komo Ketchey will perform the most astounding feat ever witnessed in the history of man. Komo, whose weight is over 10 stone, will climb to the top of a bamboo ladder 30 feet high, he will then be lifted by Gin Goro, placed on his shoulder and while balanced perform innumerable difficult feats to the delight of all beholders” Edinburgh Evening News 11 November 1876

1876 November – Cooma Kitchie “the greatest contortionist, tumbler of the day and wire ascensionist” in Brisbane.

1876 December – “The Royal Crystal Palace Tycoon Japanese Troupe” Gin Goro Jack, Fousah Ketchey, As Sa Ma Ki, Yama Moto, Moto Ketchie, Como Ketchey in Paisley

1877 January – Cooma Kitchie “the greatest contortionist and tumbler of the age” in Newcastle, Australia

1877 March – Sar Gengero, Fakir of Yeddo, with Coma Kitche on rope and bamboo in Goulburn, Australia

1877 May – Ridge’s Royal Tycoon Circus Japanese Troupe in Sydney with Decenoski, Bungaroo, Master Nar infant Japanese wonder, Mankitchi (wire), Shotaro, Schoson and Itchi, Cooma, Ritchi, Lauckyour, Cauzor star acrobats and funny clowns.

1877 June – September – Cooma K(R)itchi Bouckyorcoasor with Ridge’s Royal Tycoon Circus – Star of acrobats and funny clowns, nothing in the colonies to surpass them. NSW, Australia.

1879 May – June – Cooma Ritchie on the swinging bamboo, vaulter gymnast and acrobat in Queensland with Ridge’s Royal Tycoon Circus Troupe.

1880 March – Coma Kitchi the Japanese, wonderful double somersault thrower – Ridge’s Mammoth Circus NSW

1880 April – possibly on tour with the Tycoon Japanese Troupe in Europe as “Nama Meichey” with Walter Brown.

1880 May – August 1881 – possibly returned to Japan

1881 September – Cooma Kitchi with Ashton’s circus in Australia, with Bungaro and Itche

1882 Wirths leave Ashton’s circus to set up on their own and offer Cooma Kitchi an eighth share in their new venture

1883 January – Cooma Kitchi with Hay’s Circus in Australia

1883 March-June – Cooma Kitchi with the Royal Tycoon Troupe in Australia performing tumbling acts and slack wire walking as Coma

1883 August – Mr Cooma, the champion slack wire walker and Japanese tumbler with Bungaroo and Itchie in the Royal Tycoon Troupe in Brisbane

1883 September – Cooma Kitchi barrels and tubs in New Zealand at Woodyear’s Electric Circus

1884 February – April – Cooma Kitchi Woodyear’s Electric Circus, New Zealand. Tubs and bamboo pole acts

1884 April – Komakitchee in Britain as a member of the Great Tycoon Japanese company in Belfast billed as the original troupe that appeared at the Crystal Palace in 1865. Komakitchee the Japanese Monkey. Japanese Tumbling Act. No further mention of this after April – so it may have been a one off burlesque or parody, rather than the authentic personnel.

1884 May – Cooma Kitchie in Brisbane with the Woodyear Circus, performing tub and barrel acts.

1884 June 19th Cooma Kitche arrives in Sydney on the Leura from Brisbane

1884 June – 31 August – Cooma Kitchi with Madame Woodyear’s Electric Circus in Australia. “the extraordinary gymnastic performances of Cooma Kitch, a phenomenal Japanese…as a tumbler Cooma showed himself king of the ring.” Advertisements say he had been in Japan before coming to Australia.

1884 August – advertisement in The Era that The Original Comer Kitchey, just arrived from Japan, late of the Celebrated Tycoon Troupe was available in Britain from August 25th

1885 January – March – Cooma Kitchie with Woodyear’s Circus in New Zealand “clever little Japanese athlete” tumbling, balancing, somersaulting, swinging bamboo, pedal tubs

1885 March – Cooma Kitchie, Japanese Wonder “who has lost one of his legs” appears in Matthews’ World Circus in Goulburn, Australia

1885 March Komakitchee “in his great barrel performance” with the Tycoon Japanese Troupe in Cardiff, Wales

1885 July – Komakitchee advertised with Pongo, the Royal Tycoon Troupe and Fuzzer Gingero in Middlesbrough

1885 September 5th – Ketchie Cooma with the Grand Cirque, Sydney, tumbling and manipulating tubs

1885 September 26th – Cooma Kitchie/Kitchie Cooma the Japanese Wonder, Grand International Circus, New Zealand, tubs and barrels.

1885 October – Kumakichi and Hannah Storey’s first child, Louisa Motto Kitchee born in Lancashire (later added to register as Murakami)

1885 December – Cooma Kitchi with Woodyears’ Circus in Sydney, Australia, having returned from San Francisco via Honolulu, according to Sissons. No mention of Cooma Kitchi in the press.

1887 November – Kumakichi and Hannah’s second child Mura Kamy born in Liverpool – where Tannaker’s Village is showing.

1888 February – Como Tycoon who manipulated a barrel by means of his feet – Huddersfield

1888 February – Cooma the Japanese wonder, late of the Victoria Hall in Melbourne appeares at Taylor and Co’s American Circus in Melbourne, on single trapeze

1888 March – Como Tycoon a Japanese equilibrist of appreciable skill, his pedal balancing feats being very clever – Edinburgh

1888 April – Como Tycoon with Pongo at Cooke’s Royal Circus, Dundee – the Yokohama marvel who exhibited a series of clever and dextrous dancing, balancing and other feats on a heavy barrel

1888 May – Como Tycoon with Pongo and other Japanese entertainers “troupe of real Japanese, from the original Japanese village, London, the rage of society in 1887”

1888 October – Kumakichi and Hannah’s third child Maud Omoyo Kitchee born in London

1889 January – Mura Kamy C Kitchee, Kumakichi and Hannah’s second child dies in London

1889 June – Cooma Kitchie performs a swinging bamboo act at the Haymarket in Sydney

1889 June – Kumakichi becomes Como Tarro, feet equilibristic and acrobatic act at Royal Albert Music Hall, Canning Town with AK Tarro, Canadian Blondin on the thin telegraph wire.

1889 August – the real Japanese and marvellous feet equilibrist, dances a monster wooden barrel weighing 36lbs on his toes in the air. Direct from Japan. Amersham Fete.

1889 September – October – Como Tarro – the original Pongo from Japan – outstanding acrobatic and balancing feats – The Era. Agent F Higham and Co

1889 December – Cooma Kitchi the champion tumbler of Australasia – Queensland

1890 July – Mr Coomakitchia on the Barco arrives in Sydney from Brisbane

1890 July – Como Tarro a feet equilibrist and Pongo the man monkey

1890 – summer – Como Tarro in France

1890 December – Kumakichi and Hannah’s fourth child Frederick Commer Kitchee is born in London (later addition to register as Murakami)

1891 April – census: Como Tarro, actor, 28, Hannah Tarro 28, Motto Tarro 5, Maud Tarro 3, Frederick Tarro 4 months in Burnham Street, Canning Town, London.

1891 May – The Great Como Tarro, the only Pongo Performing the World. Feet equilibrist and marvellous pyramid balancer, in Berlin. Returned from Japan.

1891 December – Como Tarro in Scotland and Birkenhead and with the Tycoon troupe and Pongo the man monkey (James Dubois) at the Jollity Theatre in Bradford

1892 January – Como Tarro barrel balancing at New Star Music Hall Bristol, with Pongo

1892 February – Kumakichi marries Therese Laubach at St John’s Waterloo Road, under the name of Kumataro Murakami, aged 29. Therese is 34. Living at 124 Stamford Street, Lambeth.

1892 December – Kumataro Murakani, Therese Laubach, Louise Murakani, Maud Murakani registered as living in Amsterdam. Kumataro is a shopkeeper

1895 February – Kumakichi’s children’s surnames changed to Murakami on their registrations of birth

1896 January – last registration of Kumataro and his family as living in Amsterdam.

May have joined Takajiro Mitsuta’s troupe

1901 March 31 Mitsuta Comatro aged 38 taken into University College Hospital from an internal haemorrhage from overstraining.

1901 April – census – Therese Mitsuta, 39 year old music hall artist, married, born in Germany living at 32 Coin Street with Louisa Mitsuta, daughter, 16 year old music hall artist born in Japan, Maud, 13 year old music hall artist born in Japan and son Kuma, 11 year old music hall artist, born in Japan. Actually these were Louisa, Maud and Kuma Murakami who were all born in the UK.

1904 – Frederick Kuma Murakami admitted to school in Pimlico

1906 Frederick Kuma discharged from school.

1906 October – Kiyoko Uenishi, daughter of Kumakichi and Hannah’s oldest daughter Laura Moto (aged 21) and Jujitsu exponent Sadakazu Uenishi is born in London.

Professor Uyenishi and a lady pupil (perhaps Laura?) The Graphic, 8 April 1905

1907 December – Kumakichi and Hannah’s second daughter Omoyo Maude marries Francis William Long. They had been demonstrating Jujitsu together. Kuma Tarro Murakami is described as a music hall artiste, still living.

1911 April – census – Therese Murakami widow, 48, living with Kumataro Frederick Murakami, 20 and Omoto Sarah Gingero, John Gingero‘s daughter, recorded as Therese’s niece, also 20. No sign of Louisa.

1922 – Therese in the Lambeth workhouse, aged 59

1936 – Therese dies aged 78

1938 – Mr Cooma Kitchie, general manager of Perry Bros Circus in Australia