February Hanagata Kabuki at Hakataza 2018

START: Feb 2, 2018 END: Feb 25, 2018

Young, leading actors from the world of kabuki, such as of Kankuro Nakamura, Shichinosuke Nakamura, and Matsuya Onoe will appear at Hakataza Theater this February. A strong supporting cast featuring Senjaku Nakamura, Monnosuke Ichikawa, and Kamezo Kataoka complete a stunning line-up. The matinee shows include performances of Iso Ijinkan, which focuses on the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Kagoshima, and Tsuruya Namboku’s Osome no Nanayaku, a classic play that sees one actor playing the role of seven characters. The Tokaiya, Funayagura, and Daimotsu scenes from the epic play Yoshitsune Senbon Sakura, a story that explores the Genji and Heike clans’ struggle for power, will be performed in the evening. Yukio Mishima’s comic tale of a sardine seller’s romantic relationship with an upper-class courtesan, Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami, will also be staged during the evening session. With the arrival of spring just around the corner, now is a great time to enjoy fabulous kabuki productions at the Hakataza Theater!

• 2/2 (Fri.) ~ 2/25 (Sun.)
• Matinee: 11:00~, Evening: 16:00~
• Tickets: ¥5,000~¥15,000 (incl. tax)
• Hakataza Theater
2-1 Shimokawabata-machi, Hakata-ku
• 092-263-5555 (Hakataza Ticket Reservation Office, 10:00~18:00)
• Buy online

Enjoy kabuki with discounted tickets exclusively for foreigners!
• Yokoso Japan Ticket
• ¥7,000
• 2nd floor reserved seats
• Only sold at these locations: 1. Tourist Information Centers: Fukuoka Tourist Information (Tenjin), Kyushu Tourist Information Center Fukuoka (Tenjin JTB), Suito Fukuoka (Imaizumi), Canal Tourist Lounge (Canal City Hakata) / 2. Hakataza Theater Partnership Hotels: Hotel Okura Fukuoka, JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Hakata Chuo, Nishitetsu Grand Hotel, Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel, Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk (tour desk), WeBase Hakata, Japanese Ryokan Kashima Honkan, others


For the convenience of people who cannot read Japanese, we are posting information and synopses of the upcoming performances.


Matinee No. 1
Iso Ijinkan (磯異人館) – The Foreign Settlement in Satsuma

by Ibusuki Daijō (指宿大城)
Two Acts, Six Scenes

• Okano Seinosuke (岡野精之介) played by Nakamura Hashinosuke (中村橋之助)
• Godai Saisuke (五代才助) played by Onoe Matsuya (尾上松也)
• Ruri (瑠璃) played by Nakamura Kotaro (中村児太郎)
• Okano Shūzaburo (岡野周三郎) played by Nakamura Fukunosuke (中村福之助)
• Kayo (加代) played by Nakamura Tsurumatsu (中村鶴松)
• Harrison played by Kataoka Kamezo (片岡亀蔵)
• Matsuoka Judayu (松岡十太夫) played by Ichikawa Monnosuke (市川門之助)

Background and story

This play by Ibusuki Daijō (1920-2005) was written in 1968, a winning work for the playbook contest commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, and first performed in 1987. The author is from Kagoshima Prefecture and he was an elementary school teacher and a writer.

The daimyo’s procession of the Satsuma Province under Shimazu Hisamitsu was on its way from Edo (the old name for Tokyo) to Kyoto, when some British people rode across it at Namamugi in 1862. It was customary in the Edo Period in Japan for those who come across a daimyo’s procession to get off their horses beside the road and give their way to the procession. The British did not follow this custom, for they did not know it, and one of them was cut down by the warriors attending the procession. This incident developed to the war between Satsuma and Britain, and Satsuma was defeated. In history, the Satsuma Domain reported falsely to the shogunate that the foot soldier who killed the British has run away. In this work, this foot soldier Okano Shinsuke, the father of Seinosuke and Shūzaburō, is ordered to commit ritual suicide to bear the blame for the incident.

Shimazu Nariakira, the 11th lord of the Satsuma Domain, began the Shūseikan project: he built the first modern factories in Asia in Iso area of Kagoshima City to encourage new industry and make the country rich and strong. This project was promoted further after the war. Cotton was spun, ships were built, gunpowder, iron, farming tools, swords, glass, ceramic ware and so on were manufactured there. Ijinkan in the title is the office-cum-settlement of foreign engineers. Satsuma Kiriko-cut glass is one of the products of this project and the protagonist of this work, Okano Seinosuke, is a glazier.

The story begins in the evening on an early summer day, a few years before the Meiji Restoration. Orita Kingo, the son of the commissioner of buildings in Satsuma Domain, enters Ijinkan with his friends without permission. Kayo, the daughter of Matsuoka Jūdayū who is the president of Shūseikan, and Ruri appear there. Ruri, the princess of Ryūkyū (Okinawa), was taken by Satsuma Domain as hostage and lives as a foster daughter of Matsuoka Jūdayū. Kingo and his friends tease Ruri, calling her foreigner’s concubine. Okano Shūzaburo, the guard of Shūseikan, blames them for entering without permission, but Kingo provokes Shūzaburo, sheltering himself under the influence of his father, and fight with swords ensues. Shūzaburo’s brother, Seinosuke, tries to stop the fight and a British engineer, Harrison, smooths over the quarrel.

Shūzaburō is angry at his brother, thinking he is a weakling, but Seinosuke admonishes him not to forget their father having committed ritual suicide by disembowelment, bearing blame for killing a British. Seinosuke dreams of making Satsuma Kiriko-cut glass, as red as the flame of erupting Mt. Sakurajima. Godai Saisuke comes to inform them that Satsuma Domain will participate in the World Exposition in Paris and exhibit Satsuma Kiriko-cut glass. Seinosuke hopes his dream may come true.

A few days later, Matsuoka Jūdayū summons Seinosuke and Saisuke and reprimands both Shūzaburō and Kingo. But Orita Yōzō is opposed to it, screening his son Kingo from them. Harrison fears hot-blooded Shūzaburō whose father killed a British, and demands to fire him. Jūdayū has no choice but to accept their demands, for spinning machines are being installed and he fears to anger them who have charge of that. Seinosuke is angry at this and Saisuke calms him down, telling him his plan to take him along to the Paris Expo and send him further to Venice or Bohemia to improve his skill as a glazier. Seinosuke is glad to hear this. Though Ruri and Seinosuke love each other, Harrison loves Ruri passionately and got permission to marry Ruri from the chief retainer of the Satsuma Domain. Shūzaburō fights again with Kingo who assumed the guard of Shūseikan after Shūzaburō and Kingo gets injured. Seinosuke is heartbroken as Ruri decided to marry Harrison, but manages to complete red Satsuma Kiriko-cut glass in his glass atelier. Ruri encourages him and he decides to go to Paris. Saisuke comes with Shūzaburō who is pursued and assures him of Shūzaburō’s safety in his absence. Orita Yōzō and Kingo appear then and they cut at Shūzaburō. Seinosuke slays Kingo as he tries to cover Shūzaburō. Shūzaburō kills Yōzō with his sword trying to save Seinosuke. Seinosuke asks Saisuke to take Shūzaburō to Paris instead of himself. Seinosuke declares that he has killed Orita Yōzō and Kingo, and commits ritual suicide by disembowelment as he hears the whistle of the ship, set sail for Paris.


Matinee No. 2
Osome no Nanayaku (お染の七役)

by Tsuruya Nanboku (四代目鶴屋南北)

In 1710, Some, the daughter of an oil merchant, and his apprentice, Hisamatsu (久松), committed a double suicide in Osaka that was a sensation and made into several plays. This play Osome Hisamatsu Ukuno no Yomiuri (於染久松色読販), alias Osome no Nanayaku (お染の七役), is one of them. It was written by a great playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV (四代目鶴屋南北)(1755-1829) and first performed in 1813. The scenes of the play were set in Edo (the old name for Tokyo) and this play is famous, for an actor plays seven roles including many quick changes.

(played by Nakamura Shichinosuke)

• Osome (お染), the daughter of a pawnbroker 
• Hisamatsu (久松), an apprentice of Osome’s pawnshop 
• Omitsu (お光), Hisamatsu’s fiancée 
• Teisho (後家貞昌), Osome’s mother-in-law  
• Takekawa (竹川), Hisamatsu’s sister and a lady-in-waiting 
• Koito (小糸), a geisha 
• Dote no Oroku (土手のお六), a snake charmer

• Kimon no Kihe played by Nakamura Kankuro 
• Chokichi, a boatman played by Onoe Matsuya
• Tasaburo, Osome’s brother played by Bando Shingo
• Osaku, a female monkey trainer
• Okatsu, a female servant played by Nakamura Tsurumatsu
• Iosaki Kyusaku played by Kataoka Kamezo
• Yamagaya Seibe played by Nakamura Senjaku

Story and Highlights

Narita Daizen (成田大膳) is the eldest son of the last head of the Chiba clan (千葉家), the lord of the Kazusa Province (上総の国), but he is born from a concubine, so his younger brother Taneyasu (胤康) born from the lawful wife succeeded the head and he is a retainer. He resents that and plans to exclude Taneyasu’s loyal retainer, Ishizu Kyunoshin (石津久之進), and take over the clan. Taneyasu’s sister, Princess Senju (千寿姫), is to marry the shogun’s son and set out for Kamakura (鎌倉), so the Chiba clan (千葉家) decides to pray for the safety of her journey and her bridegroom’s long-lasting good luck in battle and to dedicate the heirloom sword Gooyoshimitsu (午王吉光) and its certificate to Kasama Temple (笠間寺). Kyunoshin (久之進) is in charge of that. Suzuki Yachuta (鈴木弥忠太) who sides with Daizen (大膳) orders his servant Kihe (喜兵衛) to replace the sword with a false one.

Princess Senju (千寿姫) visits the temple in full bloom to attend the prayer, accompanied by her lady-in-waiting Takekawa (奥女中の竹川) (5 by Nakamura Shichinosuke), Kyunoshin’s daughter. They exit to rest until the ceremony starts. Kihe (喜兵衛) manages to replace the sword with a false one and steal its certificate. Yachuta (弥忠太) orders him to be in hiding for a while, and he elopes with Takekawa’s (竹川) maid Oroku (お六) (7 by Shichinosuke).

Daizen slays Kyunoshin feigning that Kyunoshin committed ritual suicide by disembowelment atoning for the loss of the heirloom sword. Kyunoshin’s son Hisamatsu (久松) (2 by —) finds his father’s corpse. As he is about to leave there to report that to his elder sister Takekawa, Daizen, Yachuta, Kihe and Oroku appear and all grope in the dark.

Osome (1 by —) visits Myoken Shrine (妙見神社) with Hisamatsu (2 by —) but she goes astray. Takekawa (5 by —) appears and asks a maid servant Okatsu to deliver a letter to Oroku who lives in Koume. Hisamatsu’s fiancée, Omitsu (3 by —) , encounters a farmer Kyusaku at a teahouse. She feels uneasy having heard of the gossip about Osome and Hisamatsu whom she loves deeply. Kyusaku cheers her up and tells her to go home. A geisha Koito (6 by —) is in love with Osome’s brother, Tasaburo, but he fears Yachuta might buy out her contract. He passes the certificate of a sword Gooyoshimitsu to Zenroku (番頭善六), the head clerk of the pawnshop. Zenroku (善六) asked him to bring it out from his pawnshop to buy out Koito’s contract. Zenroku plans to blame Tasaburo (多三郎) for the loss of the sword’s certificate, drive him out of the pawnshop and take over the shop by marrying Osome. Zenroku hides the certificate in the straw wrapper of aster there. Kyusaku is going to leave there with it and Zenroku asks him to sell the aster. Kyusaku insists that he can’t sell it, because he has already bought it, and a fight between Kyusaku and Kyusuke (手代久助), a clerk of the pawnshop, ensues. Yamagaya Seibe (山家屋清兵衛) reconciles them by giving Kyusuke smart-money and a kimono, for he is injured in the forehead and his clothes are torn.

Oroku (7 by —) reads a letter from Takekawa in which she asks her to raise 100 gold coins to get the sword Hisamatsu is searching. Oroku owers Takekawa a great deal, so she would like to grant her wish, but does not have enough money. She runs a laundry and a tobacco shop with her husband Kihe. Kyusaku visits the laundry shop, asks Oroku to mend the torn clothes and talks about the quarrel he had.

Kihe disguises a dead body as Kyusaku in the torn clothes and they visit the pawnshop the next day to extort 100 gold coins, insisting that her brother died from the injury he had in the quarrel. Seibe insists that Kyusaku was not so seriously injured. In time Kyusaku himself visits Seibe to thank him for what he did the day before. The body turns out to be an apprentice of the pawnshop. He ate blowfish and steamed rice which disagreed with him and lay in suspended animation, but has become conscious. Oroku and Kihe fail thus in the extortion and leave the pawnshop. Kyusaku hands the certificate of the sword to Seibe.

Hisamatsu (2 by —) is confined to the storehouse suspected of his relationship with Osome. Her mother-in-law, Teisho (4 by —) , asks her to marry Seibe. Osome (1 by —) and Hisamatsu (2 by —) promise to meet on the Sumida riverside to commit love suicides as they cannot marry in this life. Osome (1 by —) leaves the pawnshop in a palanquin. Hisamatsu (2 by —) slays Kihe and takes back the heirloom sword Gooyoshimitsu.

He pursues the palanquin, but the palanquin bearers push him down and go further as Zenroku asked them to do so. He goes further after them. Omitsu (3 by —) comes distraught, having heard of the relationship between Osome and Hisamatsu. A boatman and female monkey trainer try to calm her down, but Omitsu goes after Hisamatsu. He overtakes Osome and…


Evening Show No. 1
Yoshitsuna Senbon Sakura (義経千本桜)

Tokaiya (渡海屋) / Daimotsu no Ura (大物浦)
One Act

• Ginpei, a boatman – in reality, Taira no Tomomori played by Onoe Matsuya
• Minamoto no Yoshitsune played by Nakamura Shichinosuke
• Oryu, his wife, in reality the Lady Suke no Tsubone played by Nakamura Senjaku
• Sagami Goro played by Nakamura Kankuro
• Irie Tanzo played by Nakamura Hashinosuke
• Musashibo Benkei played by Kataoka Kamezo

Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees (Yoshitsune Senbon Sakura) is one of the three most famous and popular plays in the kabuki repertoire. The others are Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami and Kanadehon Chūshingura.

These scenes, ’The Tokaiya Boathouse’ and ‘Daimotsu Bay’, come from Act Ⅱ of the long history play ‘Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees’, (Yoshitsune Senbon Sakura).

Written for the puppet theatre (Ningyo Joruri) by Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shoraku and Namiki Senryu, the play was first performed in 1747,and was adapted as Kabuki the following year. The play as a whole is considered one of the three great masterpieces of both the Bunraku and Kabuki repertoires.

The role of the main protagonist, Tomomori, is a very demanding one: he first appears as a humble boat captain who runs a ferry service across the bay, but later reveals himself to be a great Heike commander dressed in splendid white military garb. Meanwhile, the role of his wife also requires the portrayal of two contrasting role type, the first a typical sewa nyoubo (‘domestic wife’) whose fast-paced chatter called shaberi is a particular highlight, and the second a dignified and high-ranking court lady. The heroic climax at the end of Daimotsu no Ura when Tomomori ties a great anchor rope around his waist and throws himself into the sea is one of Kabuki’s most powerful and famous moments.

It is the late 12th century, and Japan is racked by a civil war between the Genji clan and the Heike clan. The supreme commander of the Genji is Minamoto no Yoritomo who has established himself as the shogun in Kamakura. Yoritomo’s younger half-brother is Yoshitsune. After Yoshitsune’s many military successes, and in particular, the Battle of Yashima where he won a great victory against the Heike clan, he has been honored by the influential retired emperor. Because of this, Yoritomo has become jealous and has turned against his own flesh and blood. In the play, Yoshitsune is a fugitive escaping from his brother’s forces.

Story and Highlights

Tokaiya – The Tokaiya Boathouse
As this first scene begins, Yoshitsune is attempting to flee south to Kyushu. He and his men arrive at Daimotsu Bay and hire a boat from Tokaiya Ginpei, but bad weather delays them. As they wait, Sagami Goro comes to investigate Yoshitsune’s whereabouts on behalf of the shogun in Kamakura. Ginpei sends Goro away, and Yoshitsune is grateful. Finally, the weather improves and the boat departs with Yoshitsune and his group. It now turns out that Ginpei is, in reality, the Heike general Tomomori in disguise, his wife is actually Suke no Tsubone, a high-ranking court lady and wet nurse to the boy emperor, and their so-called ‘daughter’ is none other than the boy emperor Antoku himself. Tomomori is revealed in ghostly white and silver armour and announces that he and his men have been waiting for this chance to avenge the Heike clan’s defeat. He intends to attack Yoshitsune at sea.

Daimotsu no Ura – The Beach at Daimotsu Bay
By the seashore Suke no Tsubone and the other ladies-in-waiting, dressed in their court robes, await the outcome of the battle between Tomomori and Yoshitsune. In fact, Yoshitune had already seen through Tomomori’s disguise at the boathouse, and so Tomomori’s surprise ambush has failed. Now the sea battle is lost, and some of the Heike ladies leap to their deaths in the ocean. Suke no Tsubone and the child emperor are prevented from following them by the arrival of Yoshitsune’s men. She is captured. Wounded, Tomomori arrives back on shore to confront Yoshitsune. Antoku, the child emperor, says that today Yoshitsune has saved him and that Tomomori should not bear him any ill will. In the climax to this act, Tomomori decides to take his own life by tying a great anchor around his waist and casting it into the sea.


Evening Show No. 2
Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami (鰯売戀曳網)

by Mishima Yukio
One act, two scenes

• The Sardine Seller, Sarugenji played by Nakamura Kankuro
• The Courtesan, Hotarubi played by Nakamura Shichinosuke
• Rokurozaemon played by Onoe Matsuya 
• The Courtesan, Usugumo played by Bando Shingo
• The Courtesan, Harusame played by Nakamura Kotaro
• The Courtesan, Nishikigi played by Nakamura Tsurumatsu
• The Gardener played by Nakamura Hashinosuke
• The master of the house of pleasure played by Ichikawa Monnosuke
• Ebina Naamidabutsu (father of Sarugenji) played by Kataoka Kamezo

Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami, ‘The Sardine Seller and the Net of Love’, is the most popular Kabuki play by the famous novelist and playwright Mishima Yukio. Though first staged in 1954, it is a comedy that pays homage to much older Kabuki Styles, and in its subject, it borrows much from the popular story Sarugenji Soshi, ‘The Tale of Genji the Monkey’, written in 1474. As in the older narrative, our unlikely hero is a humble fishmonger, a seller of sardines, who takes on the guise of a feudal lord in order to gain access to a beautiful high-ranking courtesan. Through his quick wit and mastery of classical poetry he is able to transcend his lowly status and win the hand of the one he loves.

Story and Highlights

The first scene is set by the foot of Gojo Bridge in Kyoto. A retired man by the name of Ebina Naamidabutsu comes across a young horse trader and both recognize each other as the father and friend of a sardine seller called Sarugenji. It seems that the latter is not doing well in business because he is in love with a beautiful woman and has no energy to think of anything but her, Sarugenji appears in person and when his father questions him as to the woman’s identity, it turns out that she is a famous courtesan named Hotarubi. Though she would normally be far beyond the reach of a humble fishmonger, Ebina thinks up a plan to help out his son. He will disguise him as a feudal lord while both Ebina and the horse trader will act as Sarugenji’s retainers.

The next scene takes place inside the house of pleasure where Hotarubi works with other less sophisticated courtesans. She introduces them to a game of shell matching in which sea shells that have one part of a classical poem written on them must be matched up with others showing the concluding parts. Hotarubi’s knowledge of classical poetry hints at her superior background. The other courtesans soon tire of this refined pursuit. Just then the master of the house enters to announce the imminent arrival of an important new customer, Lord Utsunomiya, who is Sarugenji in disguise. The ladies all retire to prepare themselves.

At last, Lord Utsunomiya enters and is entertained by several of the women. He desires to meet only one, however, and after some time Hotarubi herself enters regally. After he is plied with sake, the ladies insist that he tell them some tale of warfare. Though any real feudal lord would naturally know such tales, this fishmonger in disguise proves very reluctant to comply. But with no choice, he begins a made-up story of battle, substituting the names of fish for those of human warriors. Performed to Takemoto accompaniment, this is one of the play’s great highlights as the actor performs to great comic effect.

Exhausted by his strenuous efforts, Utsunomiya falls fast asleep resting his head on Hotarubi’s lap. The two are left alone. Then Utsunomiya begins talking in his sleep: he calls out “Sarugenji from Akogi Bay in the province of Ise… Come buy my sardines!” Shocked at this apparent revelation of his identity, Hotarubi wakes him up and questions him closely on each part of his speech. Sarugenji answers convincingly because, since youth, this fishmonger has always had a passion for classical verse.

At last, Hotarubi believes he really is a feudal lord, but then breaks down in tears. She has an admission to make: she is herself the high-born daughter of a lord who long ago fell in love with a passing sardine seller. She could only see his form from a distance, but she could never forget his voice as he called out his produce. Finally, Sarugenji realizes that it was indeed he who passed her castle and confesses his disguise. The two are happily united. (Due to last minute production changes, there may be some differences between events described in the program and the action on stage.)

Published: Jan 26, 2018 / Last Updated: Jan 26, 2018