June Grand Kabuki at Hakataza 2018

START: Jun 2, 2018 END: Jun 26, 2018

This series features kabuki stars Matsumoto Hakuo II (who was formerly known as Matsumoto Koshiro IX) alongside his son Ichikawa Somegoro VII who has taken on his father’s former title and will now be known as Matsumoto Koshiro X. The matinee performance of Date no Juyaku (The Ten Roles of Meiboku Sendai Hagi) will see Matsumoto Koshiro X change costumes over 40 times as he assumes the role of 10 male and female characters. The evening session includes a drama set in the Edo period, a prologue piece that sees the stars of the show assume a new title, musical accompaniments from traditional instruments including the shamisen, and a dance that features the spirit of a long haired white lion.

• 6/2 (Sat.) ~ 6/26 (Tue.)
• Matinee: 11:00~, Evening: 16:20~
• Tickets: ¥5,000 ~ ¥18,000 (incl. tax)
• Hakataza Theater
2-1 Shimokawabata-machi, Hakata-ku
092-263-5555 (Hakataza Ticket Reservation Office, 10:00~18:00)
• Buy online here

What exactly is kabuki? Click here for an overview. To further understand kabuki behind the scenes, including the more technical parts such as stage setting mechanisms, character types, music, and more, click here.

We also have report by Fukuoka Now interns who experienced a recent matinee show. Click here.

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

Matinee 11:00~15:20

Date no Juyaku (The Ten Roles of Meiboku Sendai Hagi) / 伊達の十役

Played by Matsumoto Koshiro

• Nikki Danjo, chief retainer of the Ashikaga clan
• Kinugawa Yoemon, an expelled but loyal retainer of the Ashikaga clan
• Akamatsu Manyu, dead rebel against the realm
• Ashikaga Yorikane, lord of the Ashikaga clan
• Dote no Dotetsu, a villainous priest
• Takaodayu, a high ranking courtesan
• Kasane, a lady-in-waiting, Yoemon’s wife and Takaodayu’s younger sister
• Masaoka, nurse to Tsuruchiyo, the young son of Yorikane
• Arajishi Otokonosuke, a loyal retainer of the Ahikaga clan
• Hosokawa Katsumoto, one of the Kanrei regents administering the realm

• Kojo Stage Announcer
• Yashio, senior lady-in-waiting and Nikki Danjo’s younger sister played by Kataoka Nizaemon
• Oe Onitsura, uncle of the lord of the clan played by Nakamura Ganjiro
• Okinoi, wife of a high-ranking retainer of the Ashikaga clan played by Kataoka Takataro
• Matsushima, the wife of a high-ranking retainer of the Ashikaga clan played by Ichikawa Shoya
• Princess Miyagata, Yorikane’s fiancee from the shogun’s family played by Nakamura Ichitaro
• Yamanaka Shikanosuke, Yorikane’s retainer played by Otani Hirotaro
• Usugumo, probationary prostitute played by Sawamura Sonosuke
• Komurasaki, probationary prostitute played by Ichikawa Shozaburo
• Watanabe Gekizaemon, senior retainer of the Ashikaga clan played by Matsumoto Kingo
• Yamana Mochitoyo, one of the Kanrei regents administering the realm played by Ichikawa Enya
• Sakae Gozen, wife of Yamana Mochitoyo played by Nakamura Kaishun
• Watanabe Minbunosuke, Gekizaemon’s son played by Nakamura Baigyoku
• Miuraya, the master of brothel played by Matsumoto Hakuo

● Synopsis
Kojo Stage Announcement:

Ichikawa Somegoro welcomes the audience and introduces the play and the ten roles he will play.

Prologue: Inamura-ga-saki
There is a plot within the Ashikaga clan to take over power by discrediting Lord Ashikaga Yorikane by urging him to be dissolute and visit the pleasure quarters constantly and also by killing Tsuruchiyo, Yorikane’s young son by his late first wife. There are many hidden conspirators, but in particular the plots are led by Nikki Danjo, the senior retainer of the clan, and Oe Onitsura, Yorikane’s uncle. As the play begins, Nikki Danjo comes to Inamura-ga-saki, the westernmost part of Kamakura’s enclosed valley. There is a skull with a sickle in one eye and a sign saying “this is Akamatsu Manyu, traitor to the realm”. Manyu’s ghost appears and reveals that Danjo is actually his son. When he was escaping, he was killed when a man named Suke in Hanyu village stabbed him with a sickle. He asks Danjo to carry on his campaign of hatred against the realm, especially the Ashikaga clan, and gives him a scroll with the secret of the magic of rats, saying this magic can only be broken if Danjo is stabbed with the sickle that killed Manyu and it is covered with the mortal blood of a man born in the year, month, day and hour of the rat. All of this is overheard by Kinugawa Yoemon. Yoemon was a loyal retainer of the Ashikaga clan, but he had an affair with a lady-in-waiting named Kasane. Although ordinarily he would have been executed, with the intercession of senior clan official Watanabe Minbunosuke, Yoemon was only punished by being banished from Kamakura. He still wants to protect the clan and fights Danjo. Yoemon gets the sickle, but Danjo escapes by tossing a dagger at Yoemon.

Act I, Scene 1
In Kamakura, at the Hanamizu bridge, Kurosawa Kanzo, a villainous retainer of the Ashikaga clan is meeting with Oba Soeki, the clan doctor, to get poison to kill Yorikane’s young son Tsuruchiyo. When the doctor realizes what is happening, he runs away and is killed by a villainous priest named Dote no Dotetsu. Dotetsu wants to be a part of the plot and even though Kanzo tries to kill him, Dotetsu defends himself with his foot. Dotetsu impresses Kanzo and he tells Dotetsu to take care of the poison and he will introduce him to Oe Onitsura. Kanzo tells Dotetsu to meet him at the Oiso pleasure quarters.

It is about time for Yorikane to pass by here on his way to the pleasure quarters. On the orders of Oe Onitsura, Kanzo has arranged for some men to assassinate Yorikane. But the assassins are handily fought off by Yorikane’s retainer Yamanaka Shikanosuke and Yorikane continues on his way in secret to the pleasure quarters, frustrated that he cannot even sing because if word of this gets out, it may destroy his reputation.

Act I, Scene 2: The Miuraya brothel in the Oiso pleasure district
Yorikane and Shikanosuke arrive at the Miuraya and are welcomed by Matsuyo, the proprietress. She tells them that Nikki Danjo has arranged for the two thousand gold coins to buy out the contract of Yorikane’s beloved Takaodayu, the most fabulous courtesan there and everything has been settled. Takaodayu has not arrived yet so she urges Yorikane to wait in his favorite boat-shaped pavilion. Yorikane’s geta clogs are made of precious kyara wood and Matsuyo decides to keep them on a tray. Loyal retainer Watanabe Minbunosuke appears with lady-in-waiting Kasane. Minbunosuke is doing everything he can to keep Yorikane away from the pleasure quarters. Yorikane’s first wife, Tsuruchiyo’s mother, is dead and Yorikane is about to receive Princess Miyagata from the shogun’s family to be his wife. But if the shogunate hears anything about Yorikane’s dissolute behavior, the wedding might be called off and the future of the clan in danger. Kasane wants her husband Yoemon to be reinstated and she has come because she is also Takaodayu’s younger sister. Kasane goes to plead her case with Yorikane. Minbunosuke wants to remonstrate Yorikane but is alarmed when he learns that Nikki Danjo has already finalized the buy out of Takaodayu’s contract.

Matsuyo urges Minbunosuke to wait inside. Takaodayu appears with her magnificent procession, fit for the top courtesan of all the pleasure quarters. Her uchikake overrobe has a pattern of autumn leaves because she is named after Mt. Takao near Kyoto, which is famous for its autumn leaves. Oe Onitsura appears and demands to speak to Takaodayu. He claims he is protecting Yorikane from charges of immorality by asking Takaodayu to come be his mistress instead, but really also lusts after her himself.

Takaodayu says she will discuss it with Yorikane and goes to meet him. Yorikane comes and meets Onitsura and says that Takaodayu is already his wife and shows the contract. He tells Onitsura to be happy with some other courtesan and goes into the back. Kanzo appears and they lament their failure to kill Yorikane and Onitsura is frustrated to lose Takaodayu. But at least bringing a courtesan into the clan as wife is sure to upset the shogunate and they go to plot further with Danjo. Minbunosuke has been watching. Yoemon comes and reports what he has learned about Danjo. He hopes to use his position as Takaodayu’s brother-in-law to persuade her to break up with Yorikane. Minbunosuke says that it may already be too late and Yoemon decides the only way to preserve the reputation of the Ashikaga clan may be to kill Takaodayu. Kasane has heard everything and reveals to Minbunosuke that the Suke who killed Manyu is actually their father.

She muses that this may be the working of karma and it may require sacrifices by the two sisters to stop the evil plots of Danjo.

Act I, Scene 3
Inside the boat-shaped pavilion at the Miuraya brothel, Dotetsu has come to see what mischief he can cause, but hears someone coming and hides. It is Yoemon, sheltering himself from the rain with a straw mat. He hides as well. Takaodayu appears with her attendants and she says she wants to spend some time alone since tonight will be her farewell to the pleasure quarters and she is both happy and a bit sad about it. Yoemon asks her to give up Yorikane for the sake of Yorikane’s official marriage, but when Takaodayu says she will never give him up, he is forced to kill her. As Yoemon fights, he drops the sickle that is the key to Danjo’s magic. Yoemon tries to leave, but is drawn back by Takaodayu’s angry ghost. He leaves, running into Dotetsu. (This is the fastest fast-change in kabuki. The two actors seem to run into each other and in only a few seconds, the star changes from Yoemon to Dotetsu.) Dotetsu takes the sickle and the bloodstained uchikake overrobe and hopes these things might be used to discredit Minbunosuke and his allies.

Act II: The Hozoji dike along the Namegawa river
Due to the plotting of the Kanrei regent Yamana Mochitoyo against the Ashikaga clan, things have gotten very dangerous for Princess Kyogata in Kyoto. She comes with her retainer Sasano Saizo to hide in the Kamakura mansion and hopefully to be united with Yorikane as soon as possible. But Yamana’s men have followed them and attack. Saizo chases the men away, but the princess is left alone. Luckily she encounters Minbunosuke and Kasane and they want to get her to safety as soon as possible. But they see someone coming and hide in a roadside shrine. Yoemon comes fleeing and hides in the bushes. Dotetsu comes with Takaodayu’s bloodstained overrobe and the sickle and leading some of the young men to capture Yoemon. The death of Takaodayu spoiled some of Nikki Danjo’s plans, but Dotetsu is sure he can turn things in at least his favor. Minbunosuke comes and asks for the sickle and overrobe, but Dotetsu refuses.

They fight and Dotetsu fights off Minbunosuke’s sword with the overrobe, but then he flees, dropping the sickle. Minbunosuke goes to pursue Dotetsu, but first asks Kasane to take the princess to safety. Kasane accidentally steps on the sickle, making her limp like the Kasane of legend.

Then the overrobe comes flying and the ghost of Takaodayu appears. She says the reason she was killed was Princess Kyogata and says her hatred will never end. As the ghost disappears, the princess goes to revive Kasane, but now she has been possessed by Takaodayu’s jealous spirit and her face is disfigured. Now she begins to attack the princess and says she must be trying to steal Yoemon. They fight and Yoemon emerges to rescue the princess just as Kasane stabs her. He has no choice but to stab Kasane with the sickle. He laments that he has had to kill both sisters and will die to atone, but he cannot die until he has an opportunity to use his mortal blood to defeat Danjo’s magic. He tries to save the princess, but they both are surprised to find she is totally unhurt. She has been saved by a precious mirror that she carries. He is about to take her to safety, but they hear people coming and hide in a nearby boat. Yorikane comes in a palanquin and although he is attacked, he is protected by Shikanosuke.

Now there is a kabuki danmari or “silent fight in the dark.” The characters mime groping in the dark, their movements expressing their different personalities and objects move from person to person creating plot complications that are resolved in the rest of the play. Minbunosuke, Nikki Danjo, and Okinoi, the wife of a high-ranking member of the Ashikaga clan appear. They fight over a secret letter that Danjo is carrying, but it falls into the water. When the fight is over, Yoemon and the princess emerge and he finds the letter. It is a letter signed and sealed by Danjo asking for magical ceremonies to curse Tsuruchiyo. This letter may be the proof they need to defeat the conspirators.

Act III, Scene 1: The women’s quarters of the Ashikaga mansion
For his various failings, the shogunate has removed Yorikane as lord of the clan and nominally has designated his young son Tsuruchiyo the next head of the clan. Tsuruchiyo’s nurse Masaoka is desperately afraid that someone will kill Tsuruchiyo and so, she has claimed that he is ill and can’t stand to see men and keeps him in the women’s quarters of the mansion. She throws away all the dinner trays that are brought, cooking food for him herself and she keeps Tsuruchiyo with her own son Senmatsu, whom she has trained to always protect the young lord and to taste anything first for poison. However, some high-ranking members of the clan had just come with some food for Tsuruchiyo and Masaoka was only able to keep him from having to eat it.

As the scene begins, Masaoka is proud of how Tsuruchiyo did not eat from the dinner tray brought from outside. Tsuruchiyo says he is hungry, but he wanted to act like a proper samurai, in the way that Masaoka has taught. She praises him and her son Senmatsu. But the two boys are very hungry and she prepares to cook rice using her delicate tea ceremony utensils. This is the only way that she can be sure that the food is not poisoned. Masaoka sees a spy hidden in the ceiling and throws her hairpin at him like a dagger. She fights him off and he flees.

Suddenly Sakae Gozen, the wife of Yamana Mochitoyo has come on a sick visit. In the shogunate, most affairs were handled by two Kanrei regents and Sakae Gozen is the wife of one of the two regents who is plotting together with the villains. At this unexpected visit, Masaoka tells her son Senmatsu to watch everything and to do as she has always instructed him to do. The villainous Yashio, Danjo’s sister and Okinoi and Matsushima, the wives of high-ranking retainers, come to receive the honored guest. Sakae Gozen comes to see how Tsuruchiyo is. She has heard that he is not eating and has brought some magnificent sweets for him. Tsuruchiyo wants to eat, but Masaoka motions for him not to. Sakae Gozen asks why she is stopping him from eating the sweets. This is a terrible insult. She presses Masaoka to let him eat. Just at this point, Senmatsu runs out from the next room, says he wants a sweet, takes a bite and, sensing something wrong, kicks the box of sweets over. Afraid that their plan to poison Tsuruchiyo will be exposed, Yashio immediately takes her dagger and stabs Senmatsu. Masaoka is frightened for her son, but her greater duty is protecting the lord and she stands by Tsuruchiyo, controlling her feelings. Yashio torments the dying Senmatsu, Masaoka shows no emotion and Sakae Gozen watches her reaction.

Sakae Gozen praises Yashio for punishing the boy for this insult to the shogunate and says she has something to discuss alone with Masaoka and asks everyone else to withdraw. Sakae Gozen praises Masaoka on the success of her plans. She watched Masaoka carefully and decided that no true mother could show no emotion when her own son was killed before her eyes. Sakae Gozen has concluded that Masaoka must have exchanged her own son for the young lord and so the boy that died was the real Tsuruchiyo.

To show they are all working together, Sakae Gozen gives Masaoka a secret scroll with a list of the conspirators trying to take over the clan. She leaves, telling Masaoka to keep the scroll secret. Alone, Masaoka can finally mourn for Senmatsu. She weeps, but also praises him for sacrificing himself to protect the lord’s life. His sacrifice has also meant that she has gotten this scroll, precious evidence to protect the clan. But Yashio has been watching and attacks. Masaoka and the other ladies-in-waiting subdue and execute Yashio as an enemy of the clan and the killer of Senmatsu. But as they fight, a mysterious rat takes the scroll and scurries under the floor. Some ladies-in-waiting confront the spy that Masaoka discovered earlier.

Act III, Scene 2: Below the floor of the women’s quarters of the Ashikaga mansion
In this scene, the confrontation over the clan is shown with the most stylized form of kabuki acting. The brief role of Otokonosuke is a classic showpiece of the bombastic aragoto style of acting with exaggerated speech, movements and kumadori makeup. Loyal retainer Arajishi Otokonosuke has been banished from the palace by the work of the conspirators, but he has been keeping watch under the floor of the women’s quarters.

He appears with a mysterious rat who holds the scroll of conspirators in its mouth. He fights with the rat, wounding it in the head, but the rat runs away. In fact, the rat is Nikki Danjo who has used magic to disguise himself as a rat and recover the scroll. Danjo appears making a magical sign, holding the scroll in his mouth and with a wound on his forehead. He throws a dagger at Otokonosuke, but Otokonosuke deftly catches it, lamenting that the villain has escaped. When this play is usually performed, Danjo’s exit is a virtuoso piece of movement, since he must look as though he is walking through the clouds while walking along the hanamichi runway. In this version, Danjo actually flies through the air with the traditional chu-nori technique.

Act IV, Scene 1: The inner study of the Yamana mansion
Watanabe Gekizaemon, Minbunosuke’s father, has decided that the only way to defeat the plots against the clan is to appeal directly to the Kanrei regent. He comes to Yamana Mochitoyo’s mansion with a petition listing the accusations against Nikki Danjo and Oe Onitsura. Gekizaemon is immediately turned away by Yamana’s retainers. Yamana comes to see what the disturbance is about, but says that Gekizaemon has no proof of his accusations and refuses to consider it. At this point, Onitsura himself appears, claiming that he just happened to be there paying his respects to Yamana. Onitsura denies all the charges and Yamana refuses to consider the matter and he tries to get the petition document away from Gekizaemon. But a voice calls to wait. It is the other Kanrei regent, Hosokawa Katsumoto. Ordinarily all decisions had to be made by the two of them. Katsumoto scolds Gekizaemon for not going through the proper channels and excuses him as being from the country. Yamana is not at all happy to see Katsumoto. Katsumoto pretends to support Yamana and makes a show of being angry with Gekizaemon, but is actually supporting him. He uses a series of parables to show that Onitsura is a fool and then asks if Onitsura knew anything about Yorikane’s misbehavior. Onitsura maintains that he didn’t. Katsumoto ask what Onitsura if he were entrusted with a treasure of the shogunate, like a fan. Onitsura says he would protect it with all his might. When he asks what Onitsura would do if the fan were stolen, Onitsura replies that he would atone by committing ritual suicide. Katsumoto says that Onitsura was entrusted with the honor of the Ashikaga clan and does not seem to have protected it from coming to shame because of Yorikane’s behavior in the pleasure quarters. Katsumoto asks why Onitsura has not killed himself to atone. Katsumoto concludes this matter should be properly considered in court with all the parties present.

Act IV, Scene 2: Before the gate of the trial court
It is the day of the trial and Minbunosuke anxious waits outside wondering what is happening because he is not allowed inside. He asks a retainer and learns that Yamana is the only judge and he has virtually decided that all the charges are baseless. Katsumoto is not there because at the last moment, he was sent on important business as emissary. Yoemon comes and says that he has found a letter written by Danjo that may be the crucial evidence they need. But there is no way for them to get in to the court. Just then, the arrival of Katsumoto is announced and Minbunosuke tells Yoemon to hide. Minbunosuke stops Katsumoto’s palanquin and asks him to look at the letter. Making direct appeals without going through the proper channels was punished very severely. Katsumoto loudly says this is impossible, accepting the letter. He goes into the court. Yoemon appears again and Minbunosuke wants to know what is going on. Yoemon says this will bring trouble to the clan, so he will sneak in instead since he has already been expelled from the clan. Minbunosuke is praying for his father’s safety when Dotetsu appears carrying the sickle and they recognize each other and fight. Dotetsu flees, but he is soon killed by Yoemon.

Yoemon takes the sickle and explains this is needed to destroy Danjo’s magic. Again Yoemon goes in to find the results and hears that due to the letter he has brought, Danjo and Onitsura have been found guilty.

Act IV, Scene 3: In the white-graveled trial court
It seems that Danjo is winning, but then all of a sudden, there is a total change. An attendant of the court tells Shikanosuke to go to the home province and report the news, and tells Gekizaemon that he can rest. Danjo comes to Gekizaemon and admits defeat. To prove this, he shows Gekizaemon the scroll of conspirators.

Rather than be executed, Danjo wants to commit ritual suicide and asks Gekizaemon to make the request for him. He shows a rolled up piece of paper, saying it is his petition to commit ritual suicide, but there is a blade inside and he stabs Gekizaemon.

Danjo then uses his magic to escape and reappears as a rat. Yoemon appears and tells everyone that when this sickle is covered with the mortal blood of a man born in the year, month, day and hour of the rat, Danjo’s magic will be broken. Yoemon says that he is that man, plunges the blade into his belly and then gives it to Minbunosuke who attacks the rat with it. Danjo appears in his true form and laments his defeat before he dies.

Shikanosuke brings the dying Gekizaemon and Minbunosuke explains that they have defeated Danjo and Tsuruchiyo has been confirmed as lord of the clan. Katsumoto comes and congratulates him and forces Gekizaemon to join him in a celebratory song to keep his strength up for these last few moments. The play ends as Gekizaemon dies and Katsumoto opens his fan in praise of all those who sacrificed themselves to protect the Ashikaga clan.

(Due to last minute production changes, there may be some differences between this synopsis and the actual events on stage.) (Text by Mark Oshima)

Evening Show 16:20~21:05

Evening Show No. 1: Shunkan / 俊寛

● Synopsis
After winning the battle during the Heiji rebellion, Taira no Kiyomori gains monopoly over the nation. Along with this, those within the Taira family are promoted to high ranking officials. The Taira family becomes strongly influential, leading to the popular saying of “if you are not a member of Taira, you are not human”. On the other hand, the Goshirakawa cloister government and its vassals are unhappy about the success of the Taira family. They hold secret meetings to discuss ways in order to overthrow the Taira family, but their plans are discovered by Taira no Kiyomori. As a result, Shunkan the monk, admiral of Tanba region Naritsune, and judge Taira no Yasunori, who are regarded as the masterminds, are exiled from the city. The three criminals are sent to a deserted island called Kikaiga-shima (Devil’s Island). Three years have passed since the exile. The three criminals lead their lives idly on the quiet island in the southern coast, mining for sulfur in the mountains, exchanging the sulfur for fish from the hunter and picking up seaweed along the shore. Amongst them, admiral of Tanba region Naritsune and judge Taira no Yasunori long to return to the city. Hence, they set up Kumano shrine on the island, where they would go to pray every day, always stopping by Shunkan’s abode on their way back. Ever since they came to this island, the three individuals have been helping one another, never going a few days without meeting up. However, Naritsune recently fell in love with a young lady living on the island, named Chidori. Thus, they bring Chidori along to be introduced to Shunkan. Shunkan is elated by the news, as Chidori’s presence in the group makes him feel as if he has a new daughter. He promises to treat Chidori just like his real daughter, and holds a modest celebration for the newlywed couple.

Using abalone shells as cups and ocean water as alcohol, the four individuals exchange their cups. At this moment, they spot a ship on the horizon, which appears to be coming towards the island. The three criminals, believing that the envoy is here to inform them about the end of the punishment, quickly run after the ship. Finally, the ship reaches the island, and Seno Taro Kaneyasu appears. Just as Shunkan predicted, this is a ship sent by the city to deliver amnesty. It appears that the daughter of Kiyomori, Tokiko, married the emperor and has been impregnated. In the hope of having a safe delivery, the emperor appoints Seno as the messenger to relay the amnesty. Seno reads out the letter of pardon, but only the names of Naritsune and Yasunori are called out. In a state of disbelief, Shunkan reads the letter of pardon over and over again, yet could not find his name. Due to Kiyomori’s deep hatred towards Shunkan, he did not receive a pardon and has to remain on the island. Upon hearing this, Shunkan bemoans the absurdity of the situation.

Then, the lieutenant of Tan Saemon, Motoyasu, appears. Motoyasu received orders from the Kiyomori’s eldest son, Shigemori, and his council, to bring Shunkan to Okayama, an island near to the city. Delighted by the news, every one begins to board the ship, until Chidori is stopped by Seno. The three exiles try to explain the situation to Seno, hoping that he would allow Chidori to board the ship with them. However, Seno refuses to listen to them. Thus, Naritsune and Chidori offer to remain at the island. The remaining exiles insist that they would remain on the island as well, unless all four of them board the ship together. Tan Saemon tries to calm the situation down to no avail. Naritsune declares that he has killed Shunkan’s wife by the order of Kiyomori, and proceeds to take the three exiles by force, leaving Chidori behind. Tan Saemon, who sees the tearful look of Chidori, promises her that a ship will be sent to pick her up once they have returned to the city. “Despite its name, there are no devils on this island. It’s the city that is filled with them,” says Chidori, as she laments Seno’s cruelty, and tries to end her life by hitting her head against a boulder.

Then, Shunkan appears from the boat and tries to appease Chidori. Since realizing the deep hatred that Kiyomori harbors towards him, and hearing about his wife’s death, Shunkan has lost all hopes of returning to the city. He begs Seno to let Chidori take his place while he remains at the island, but his request is declined, Overcome with rage, Shunkan grabs Seno’s sword and stabs him in the shoulder. Seno is deeply injured and begs for help, but Tan Saemon, who witnessed his cruelty earlier, ignores his pleas. In his worn down state, Seno battles Shunkan. Just as Shunkan is about to end Seno’s life, Tan Saemon interjects, and reminds him that killing Seno would be tantamount to wasting the efforts of Shigemori, and with one less person, it would be difficult for them to get past the guarding station without being questioned. In response to this, Shunkan asks for Chidori to be allowed on the ship, and kills Seno. Tan Saemon understands Shunkan’s feelings, and agrees to the request. Shunkan forces Chidori on the ship. Finally, the hawser is untied, and the ship departs from the island. Tan Saemon, Naritsune, Yasunori and Chidori bid farewell from the ship. Shunkan continuously waves his arms and shouts from the shore, while watching the ship sail away.

Even though Shunkan is the one who decided to remain on the island, the sight of the ship prompts him to chase after it, only to be pushed back to shore by the waves. Nevertheless, he climbs onto a boulder by the side, heart filled with a thousand emotions as he watches the ship grow small in the distance.

Evening Show No. 2: Kojyo (Formal introduction) / 襲名披露 口上

This is a stage celebration of Matsumoto Hakuo succeeding the name Matsumoto Koshiro (the stage name is passed down through generations). The main actors will gather at the stage, dressed in kamishimo (old ceremonial dress), and give a formal speech individually.

Evening Show No. 3: Sakanaya Sogoro (Fishmonger Sogoro) / 魚屋宗五郎

● Synopsis
Prologue: Shibakatamon-mae, Inside the fish shop

The town is bustling because of the festival at Shiba shrine. However, inside Sogoro’s fish shop located in that same town, Sogoro’s wife Ohama, and his shopkeeper Sankichi, are wallowing in sadness. They received news that Sogoro’s younger sister, Otsuta, who serves at the mansion of samurai Isobe Kazuenosuke, has been sentenced to death due to her love affair with a servant (at that time, loyalty to the master had to be prioritized, and love relationships between coworkers were punishable by death). Upon hearing the tragic news, Otsuta’s friend Oshige, and landlady of Kiku tea room Omitsu visit Sogoro’s shop to offer their condolences. Everyone is shocked by Otsuta’s sudden death, and believes that she has been wrongly accused.

At this point, Sogoro, who went to the temple to make preparations for Otsuta’s funeral, returns to the shop. Omitsu and Oshige turn to the despaired Sogoro and offer their condolences, before leaving the shop. Just then, Sogoro’s father, Tahei, appears from the back. He is enraged that his only precious daughter has been killed, and talks about raising a complaint to Lord Isobe. Hearing this, Ohama and Sankichi unanimously agree that they should raise a complaint. However, Sogoro dissuades them from doing so, as he thinks that it is due to Isobe’s generosity that they are able to live carefreely until now. While Otsuta was serving the Isobe family, they received a huge sum of two hundred ryo, on top of her monthly salary. Thus, Sogoro believes that Otsuta was not executed for no reason, and chooses to quietly endure the pain caused by his sister’s death. Ohama sees the pain on Sogoro and his father’s faces, and suggests alcohol to lift their spirits. However, Sogoro declines her offer. Even though he loves drinking, Sogoro made a promise to the gods to remain abstinent, since he tends to become violent when he is drunk. At this moment, a waiter from the liquor store arrives to deliver a barrel of alcohol, as requested by a beautiful maid, Onagi, who worked with Otsuta for the Isobe household. According to Onagi, on the day before yesterday, Otsuta had gone out to look for her pet cat, and ended up at the praying room in the main building. She met Iwagami Tenzo, a retainer, who was secretly in love with Otsuta. Tenzo tried to make advances with Otsuta, but she refused him and was frantically seeking for help. Just then, Urato Monzaburo rushed in and saved Otsuta. Tenzo then made a false claim that Otsuta and Monzaburo were being disloyal to Isobe (by having a love relationship), because he was upset that he was rejected, and also because Otsuta knew about his plans to overthrow the samurai. Hearing this, Isobe believed Tenzo, and publicly executed Otsuta.

Sogoro and his family are enraged by the truth, and shed tears knowing that Otsuta was violently killed. Sogoro could not bear the thought that his sister died for no reason, and ends up breaking his abstinence, drinking the alcohol sent by Onagi. Sogoro drinks uncontrollably, finishing the entire barrel of alcohol until he becomes so drunk that he starts spewing vulgarities.

Act 2 Scene 1: At the entrance of Isobe’s mansion
Sogoro breaks into Isobe’s mansion, just as the servants are gossiping about Otsuta’s death. Hearing the commotion, Tenzo appears and restrains Sogoro.

Then, Ohama rushes in and begs for forgiveness for her husband’s rude behavior. However, Sogoro, who is unaware of his surroundings, throws a kick at Tenzo. This angers Tenzo, and he draws his sword, getting ready to kill Sogoro. Fortunately, chief retainer Urato Jyuzaemon appears and tries to appease Tenzo, then orders for Sogoro to be untied. Despite his drunken state, Sogoro explains that he just wants to see Isobe and seek justice for his innocent sister, before falling asleep. Seeing this, Jyuzaemon orders the foot soldiers to bring Sogoro to the back yard.

Act 2 Scene 2: At the back yard of Isobe’s mansion
Sogoro finally wakes up, with no recollection of what had happened, until Ohama tells him. Sogoro finds out what he had done, and feels deep remorse for his behavior just as Isobe appears.

Sogoro fears that he will be executed due to his behavior. Instead, Isobe deeply apologizes to Sogoro for his actions, claiming that after consultation with Jyuzaemon, he realizes that he acted too rashly and regrets his actions. Isobe also offers condolence money for Otsuta’s death, and allowance to Sogoro’s father, Tahei, for the rest of his life. On top of that, he will personally punish Tenzo for making false claims about Otsuta’s disloyalty. Sogoro and Ohama accept the apology and thank him.

Evening Show No. 4: Shungyo Kagamijishi (The Kagami Lion Dance) / 春興鏡獅子

● Synopsis
The story takes place at the Honmaru castle in Edo, on New Year. Each year, okagamihiki is held as part of the New Year tradition. The shogun selects his servant, Yayoi, to perform a dance that brings good fortune. As the treasured lion head is placed on the altar, chief retainer Shibui Gozaemon and steward Sekiguchi Judayu nervously await for Yayoi’s dance.

As Gozaemon and his company are waiting in the next room, Yayoi appears with her hands held by senior lady-in-waiting Asukai and junior lady-in-waiting Yoshino. However, Yayoi runs away in embarrassment. Once again, Asukai and Yoshino brings Yayoi out, and sits her at the centre of the stage. Yayoi sets her mind and begins to dance.

Yayoi performs a graceful dance as she moves in harmony with the Kawasaki song while waving a piece of wrapping cloth. Finally, Yayoi picks up a fan, dances, picks up a second fan, dances vibrantly, before picking up the lion head. Then, out of nowhere, butterflies come flying towards Yayoi. The lion head chases after the butterflies, dragging Yayoi along. Yayoi disappears while a lion spirit appears in her place and starts playing with the butterfly spirit. Then, the courageous lion spirit performs a wild dance before returning to the altar.

Published: May 17, 2018 / Last Updated: Jun 14, 2018

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.