Ogawa Torakichi

1853 Born in Tokyo

1867 Torakichi – number 101 in the Kanagawa passport records for the Baldwin and Gilbert group from the Great Dragon Troupe – to tour the USA for 1 year. Younger son of Mankichi, a ladder balancer and younger brother to Kanematsu.

1867 June – San Francisco – two Tora-keet-chees appear in American press advertising the combined Great Dragon Troupe. Ogawa Torakichi is probably the “acrobatic and trapeze artist”. Mankichi is Ka-wad-zee Man-kilche, “the most wonderful double ladder and pole equilibrist”. The other Torakichi is probably Kondo Torakichi, “posturing and castle jongleur”.

1867 August – October – combined Great Dragon Troupe perform in Dublin, Glasgow, Newcastle.

1867 November – Baldwin & Gilbert group from the Great Dragon Troupe tours Hamburg and elsewhere in Europe, probably including Torakichi. Lenton & Smith group from the Great Dragon Troupe tour Australasia.

The Baldwin & Gilbert part of the Great Dragon Troupe – 1867-1870 – includes Ogawa Mankichi and Ogawa Torakichi (far left?). Pernille Rudlin collection

1869 May – combined Great Dragon Troupe (20 strong) in Portsmouth, Brighton, Crystal Palace.

1869 June – August – Great Dragon Troupe in Paris, Cirque Napoloeon

1869 December – Dublin – Tora-san on block pyramids.

1870 Great Dragon Troupe tour Ireland, Scotland, including Aberdeen in September.

Great Dragon Troupe November 1870, Perth, Scotland. Torakichi in the middle in women’s clothing? Dr Robert H Sayers collection

1870 December – Great Dragon Troupe perform in Newcastle and Sunderland.

1871 January – Great Dragon Troupe perform in Glasgow with Hengler’s Cirque. “The Japanese lady C Tarassan ascended a cord stretched from the ground on the one side of the circle to the roof of the other, the only means of balancing used being an expanded umbrella” then slid back down.

1871 February – Great Dragon Troupe merge with Tannaker‘s troupe

1871 March – Regent Hall, Yarmouth – “The feats of Blondin were certainly outdone by a Japanese lady bearing the name of O’Torasan, who, having ascended to wire something less than quarter of an inch in diameter, stretched obliquely across the hall at high elevation, walked backwards and forwards upon it, knelt and stretched herself at full length upon it and occasionally made it .away laterally to such extent that an accident seemed almost inevitable, and all this without the aid of a balancing-pole, having nothing to assist her in maintaining her equilibrium but a parasol in one hand and fan in the other. Her feet were encased in pliable leather, and she appeared to make constant use of her great toes in grasping the wire, but how she kept her balance was a marvel” Yarmouth Independent. 11 March 1871

1871 April 2 – census – Ongama Torrakitchie aged 18 in Luton lodging house with the rest of the Great Dragon Troupe

1872 March – Great Dragon Troupe of Japanese in Stockton, Middlesborough, Barnard Castle, Durham, and Newcastle. Miss Otrossan on the telegraph wire.

1872 April 5 – Ogawa Torakichi marries Isabella Watson Hunter in Newcastle. Isabella was the 23 year old daughter of Robert Wilkinson Hunter, a music shop owner and music teacher in Aberdeen

Newcastle Journal 24th April 1872

1872 June-July – Miss Otorrasan walking, swinging on a telegraph wire. Leeds, London.

1872 September – “Then came walking, turning, lying, and swinging on a telegraph wire by the brave, clever, and graceful young lady, whose name is Otorrasan.” The Era review of performance at The Forester’s Music Hall, London

1872 October 2 – Torakichi and Isabella’s daughter Isabella is born in Aberdeen

1872 October – Otorryanase in Tannaker’s Great Dragon Japanese Troupe, Bath. Also appears as Otorrasan, slack rope ascending

1872 November – Royal Tycoon Troupe – Torakitschi, invisible wire walker

Great Dragon Troupe 1873, Ipswich, Torakichi could be standing in the middle at the back? Robert H Sayers collection

1878 April – Miss O’Torra at the Japanorevelrie in Oxford. “Latest arrival from Japan”. “Goes through a very clever performance on the wire.” “It is whispered that the O’Torra is not the right name of the Japanese, and further that the O’Torra is not a female.”[1]

The Era 8 December 1878

1879-1882 In Britain as O’Torra the Japanese wonder, no longer pretending to be female.

1880 January – Jane Torra born in Islington

1881 April – census aged 28 with Isabella Torra, Jane Torra aged 13 months, at Isabella’s mother’s house in Aberdeenshire. Their older daughter 10 year old Isabella Torra is boarding with Charlotte Tilley in Hornsey.

1882 Reuben Harris Torra born in London, dies in infancy.

Ogawa Torakichi – Josephine Bahanda collection
Ogawa Torakichi – Josephine Bahanda collection

1884-5 moved to Germany

Torakichi and Isabella in Vienna. Jane Torra? Josephine Bahanda collection

1885 December – Edward Torra born in Nuremberg

Jane Torra? Josephine Bahanda collection

1891 Torakichi falls from wire, breaking spine. Dies in Nuremberg at the age of 38.

1894 Torakichi’s wife Isabella dies in Glasgow at the age of 45

1896 April – Torakichi and Isabella’s son Edward Torra emigrates on the State of Nebraska with other Quarrier’s orphanage children to Canada at the age of 11.

1896 July – Torakichi and Isabella’s younger daughter Jane dies at the Bethesda Orphan’s Home in Scotland at the age of 16

1906 July – Torakichi and Isabella’s older daughter Isabella marries Wilhelm Bastian, a hairdresser who was born in Rostock, Germany, in London. Isabella is 34 and Bastian is 25. They do not have any children

1912 – Edward Torra marries Beatrice Snider, great grand daughter of William Snider, who came to Canada from Prussia, in Canada. They have three children, two of whom survive into adulthood and marry.

Beatrice and Edward Torra

1935 Isabella Bastian dies at the age of 63 in London

1962 Edward Torra dies in Ontario, Canada, at the age of 76


[1] London and Provincial Entr’acte, 27 April 1878 p 5