AMAKAWAYA GIHEI UCHI
   
Play title Kanadehon Chűshingura  In Japanese
Authors Takeda Izumo II
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Namiki Senryű I
History

The play "Kanadehon Chűshingura" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 8th lunar month of 1748 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki the same year and staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1748 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai [casting]. The "Amakawaya Gihei Uchi" act (the 10th act) was performed with the actors Arashi Sanjűr˘ II, Anegawa Shinshir˘ I and Yamashita Rokusabur˘ in the roles of Yuranosuke, Amakawaya Gihei and Gihei's wife Osono.

Structure

The "Amakawaya Gihei Uchi" act ("at Amakawaya Gihei's Home"), the 10th act of "Kanadehon Chűshingura", is made up of one scene. This is the less-performed act of "Kanadehon Chűshingura".

Key words Gidayű Ky˘gen
Adauchi
Jidaimono
Summary

Previous act: "Yamashina Kankyo"

Act X: Amakawaya Gihei Uchi
At Amakawaya Gihei's Home

Gihei has been in charge of ordering and shipping the league's equipment. The secrecy of this project has forced him to let go of all of his employees, and even send his wife home to her father, lest word Yuranosuke's planned revenge leak out into the world. Gihei's son, Yoshimatsu, and his guardian are all that is left of his once vibrant household.

Gihei has just finished sending the league's last shipment to Kamakura when Goemon and Rikiya arrive to inquire, among other things, about the steps Gihei took to ensure that no suspicion was aroused by his orders for weaponry and that his employees remained ignorant of the contents and destination of the packages. Gihei replies accordingly, informing them of his current situation as well as the respect he held for the Enya. Goemon and Rikiya are thoroughly impressed by Gihei's meticulous considerations.

As the two samurai leave, Ry˘chiku, who used to be in the service of Ono Kudayű, approaches and, fully aware that Gihei's separation from his wife has some purpose behind it, asks Gihei for a letter of divorce. Should Gihei refuse, Ry˘chiku would have no choice but to return her to the Amakawaya house immediately. Although Gihei realizes that Ry˘chiku has some ulterior motive for making this request, he has no choice but to scribble off a letter of divorce, for allowing Osono to return would place Yuranosuke's plans in jeopardy. Indeed, Gihei is correct: as soon as Ry˘chiku has his hands on the letter he reveals his plan to marry Osono off to a wealthy gentleman and receive a healthy dowry as compensation. Disgusted, Gihei throws Ry˘chiku out of his house and curses his wife, assuming she has agreed to this plot as well.

Late that night, a number of policemen surround Gihei and accuse him of purchasing weapons at the request of Yuranosuke. The policemen produce a number of the boxes Gihei had shipped earlier that evening and demand that he open them and reveal their contents. The situation escalates until Gihei is forced to offer his own life as well as the life of his son in order to prevent the policemen from seeing the league's equipment and thereby discerning the plan for revenge.

Gihei's display of loyalty towards the r˘nin does not go unnoticed, for the policemen are in fact Yuranosuke and some of his men in disguise. Yuranosuke, amazed at Gihei's determination and splendid character, apologizes for the harsh treatment, but explains that such a test was necessary to allay the fears of his men. Deeply gracious, Gihei invites the samurai in for food before they begin their long journey to Kamakura.

While Gihei is entertaining Yuranosuke and his men, Osono appears at the gate with the letter of divorce and summons Gihei to her. In the discussion that follows, Osono explains that she knew nothing of her father's plot to marry her and begs Gihei to take her back. Gihei, however, refuses and so Osono is forced to leave despite her pleas. She has gone no more than a few steps when an unknown man steals the letter of divorce and cuts her hair short.

Moments later, Yuranosuke approaches Gihei with two gifts, which, in his own words, express the gratitude he feels for the merchant's service: his wife's hair and the letter of divorce. With short hair of a nun it will be all but impossible for Ry˘chiku to remarry his daughter, and by the time it grows back, the league will have accomplished their task and Gihei will be free to live with his wife once more.

As one final gift, Yuranosuke tells Gihei that the league will use the components of his name, ama and kawa, as passwords during the attack on Moron˘'s estate.

Source: summary based on Donald Keene's translation "Chűshingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers"; Columbia University Press, New York; (C) 1971

Next act: "Jűichidanme"

The actors Onoe Baik˘ IV (bottom/left), Ichikawa Kuz˘ II (second actor from the left border) and Sawamura Ch˘jűr˘ V (bottom/right) playing the roles of Gihei's wife Osono, Amakawaya Gihei and Yuranosuke in the 10th act of the drama "Kanadehon Chűshingura", which was staged in the 7th lunar month of 1849 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

 
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