AGEYA
   
Play title Go Taiheiki Shiraishi Banashi  In Japanese
Authors Utei Emba
Kij Tar
Y Ydai
History

The drama "Go Taiheiki Shiraishi Banashi" was written for the puppet theater and performed for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1780 in Edo at the Gekiza. It was adapted for Kabuki a few month later, in the 4th lunar month of 1780 at the Moritaza [casting].

Structure

"Go Taiheiki Shiraishi Banashi" was originally made up of 11 acts. Its jidaimono part (from act 1 to act 3, from act 9 to act 11) deals with events and warriors related to Kusunoki Masashige and his death during the Genk War. The sewamono part (from act 4 to act 8) is about the murder of a farmer in sh and the revenge taken by his two daughters. Act 7, commonly called "Ageya", is the only act which is quite regularly performed nowadays.

Key words Adauchi
Ageya
Sewamono
Shin-Yoshiwara
Summary

The story takes place in the private room at the Daikokuya brothel of the 20-year old Miyagino, the most sought-after and popular courtesan in the Shin-Yoshiwara pleasure district of Edo. One day a young country girl, Shinobu, is brought to the brothel and the other women are amused by her local dialect, so they lead her to Miyagino's room to entertain her. Shinobu is wonder-struck at the gorgeous kimono and thick futons she sees around her. She begins to tell her story, but the women dissolve into giggles at her quaint and sometimes incomprehensible language. Surprisingly, Miyagino speaks up for the first time and tells them to stop teasing the girl. Moreover, she 'translates' the girl's words into Edo dialect for them. When questioned how she knows the meaning, she brushes it off lightly saying that when an oiran has had as many customers from around the country as she has, it is natural to pick up a few things. However, once the two are alone, the truth emerges.

Miyagino questions Shinobu closely and within minutes they discover that they are sisters, a fact they can confirm when each produces an identical amulet from their local home shrine which was given to them by their mother. The joy of their reunion is short-lived, though, when Shinobu explains that in the spring of that year their father was killed by an evil samurai and their mother had died of illness shortly afterwards. Shinobu had been taken in by an uncle, but it had become clear all too soon that he just wanted an unpaid servant and so she had run away to a temple and there resolved to find her sister in Edo and then together avenge the death of her father. On hearing this, Miyagino decides the two will run away immediately from the Daikokuya and search for their father's murderer.

Their conversation has been overheard by the proprietor of the brothel, Sroku, and he intervenes. At first, Miyagino tries to kill him, thinking that he will stop them from escaping, but he resists her and persuades her to listen. Like the two famous Soga brothers, he says, they must learn to be patient and choose exactly the right time for revenge. In the meantime they should continue working and also hone their martial skills in readiness for when they need them. As the play ends, he gives each of them their release papers so that when they do leave it will be legitimately, but for now they will stay there on trust.

Courtesy of Jean Wilson (1998)

Comments

This was a well-balanced play, with the sad scenes woven between amusing cameo moments, such as when Shinobu tries to help Miyagino put on a new kimono but falls down under the weight of it. The rosy-cheeked, rough-mannered Shinobu contrasted well with the now socially polished Miyagino. Sadanji was perfect as the wise and kindly proprietor. The play was also visually appealing, with rooms decorated in salmon pink and turquoise blue, with lacquered accoutrements and richly embroidered kimono. Sjr didn't move much, but that is not surprising since his total ensemble, including a large comb-filled wig, must have weighed close to 20 kilos!

Courtesy of Jean Wilson (1998)
The comments are based on the December 1998 performance of "Go Taiheiki Shiraishi Banashi" at the Kabukiza, starring Sawaura Sjr, Ichikawa Sadanji and Nakamura Shibajaku in the roles of Miyagino, Sroku and Shinobu.

The actors Iwai Hanshir VIII and Ichikawa Danjr IX playing the roles of Miyagino and Sroku in the drama "Gozonji Shiraishi Banashi", which was staged in January 1897 at the Shintomiza (print made by Utagawa Kunimasa IV)

Prints & Illustrations

 
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