Play title Banshű Sarayashiki
Common title Sarayashiki  In Japanese
Authors Asada Icch˘, Tamenaga Tarobŕ I (ningy˘ j˘ruri version)
Nakawa Harusuke I, Fujimoto Kichibŕ (Kabuki versions)

The story of Okiku is one of Japan's most famous ghost stories. It was adapted to ningy˘ j˘ruri by Asada Icch˘ and Tamenaga Tarobŕ I, and staged for the first time under the title "Banshű Sarayashiki" in the 7th lunar month of 1741 at the Toyotakeza. The Kabuki version of "Banshű Sarayashiki" was revised by Nakawa Harusuke I in the 9th lunar month of 1824, staged at the Naka no Shibai and starring ďtani Tomoemon II and Arashi Koroku IV in the roles of Aoyama Daihachi and Okiku. The current version of "Sarayashiki" is one act coming from the revision of the puppet play by Fujimoto Kichibŕ; it was staged under the title "Minoriyoshi Kogane no Kikuzuki" in the 9th lunar month of 1850 at the Nakamuraza, starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VIII and Ichikawa Kodanji IV in the roles of Tetsuzan and Okiku [more details]. This drama went somehow into oblivion but was successfully revived in June 1971 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘, starring the goruden konbi Kataoka Takao and Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in the roles of Tetsuzan and Okiku.

Key words Banshű
Hosokawa Katsumoto

The inner Room of Asayama Tetsuzan's Residence

Asayama Tetsuzan is the chief retainer of Hosokawa Katsumoto, the lord of Himeji Castle in Banshű. Katsumoto, who has seriously fallen ill, is on his death bed. Most of his loyal retainers have committed suicide one after the other. Katsumoto's heir, Tomonosuke is about to become the new lord. Katsumoto's retainers intend to give the treasure set of 10 pieces of dish as a gift to the Tokugawa Shogunate government in order to get permission of Tomonosuke's inheriting. Asayama Tetsuzan has plotted to take over Himeji Castle for long years, and he thinks that this succession is a big chance to strike. Tomonosuke has a loyal retainer, Funase Sanpei Taketsune who has a fiancee, Okiku who is working in the castle as a lady-in-waiting. Tetsuzan intends to make Okiku help him to kill Tomonosuke.

Iwabuchi Chűta, who is a retainer of Tetsuzan, is surprised to see the big rock moving in the inner garden of Tetsuzan's residence. Tetsuzan appears on stage, and calls the name, 'Arisuke'. Arisuke, who is a spy of Tetsuzan, comes out from a hall under the big rock. Arisuke made a tunnel from Tetsuzan's garden to Himeji Castle, where he found many useful pieces of information. Arisuke hands a dish belonging to the 10-piece treasure set to his master. Tetsuzan says that Tomonosuke will be cornered with this lost dish. And he intends to make Okiku kill Tomonosuke. If Okiku refuses to kill Tomonosuke, Tetsuzan will kill her as a punishment for the false accusation of breaking that dish. After that, Tetsuzan throws a small knife to kill Arisuke because he doesn't need him anymore. Then, Tetsuzan hands the dish to Iwabuchi, who goes away.

Okiku brings the box containing the treasure set of 10 pieces of dish to Tetsuzan's inner room. Tetsuzan intends to check them by himself. However, he has the other desire to Okiku. Tetsuzan says that he has loved her since the first glance, and that she must have known it. Tetsuzan wants Okiku to be his lover. He tries to hold Okiku. Of course Okiku refuses Tetsuzan's wish, because she has a fiance, Funase Sanpei. Suddenly, Tetsuzan looks to lose his interest in her, and makes Okiku free. And Tetsuzan says to Okiku to count dishes right away.

Okiku opens the box, and starts counting the dishes. There are only 9 dishes. Okiku is very much surprised. Tetsuzan looks very delighted and asks Okiku where the missing dish is. Of course Okiku has no idea. Tetsuzan says if Okiku becomes his lover then he would allow her mistake. However, Okiku doesn't accept his suggestion. Tetsuzan calls Iwabuchi to torture her. He starts hitting her with a wooden sword. Okiku can't say anything because she doesn't know where the 10th dish is.

Tetsuzan orders Iwabuchi to hang Okiku over the well. The henchman continues hitting Okiku, and Tetsuzan is very delighted seeing Okiku's agony. Tetsuzan himself hits Okiku. Okiku realizes that she must be killed, and that it isn't only her problem. Okiku says that Tetsuzan plots to interfere of Tomonosuke's inheriting. Tetsuzan says that if Okiku helped to kill Tomonosuke, Tetsuzan wouldn't kill her. Okiku refuses again. Tetsuzan orders Iwabuchi to sink Okiku in the water of the well and to pull her up from the water again, because killing her too quickly isn't interesting. Okiku is soaked, and her hair is disheveled. Tetsuzan is very delighted seeing her eroticism. Finally, Tetsuzan slashes Okiku with his sword, and her "suppliciee" body falls down into the well.

After that, Tetsuzan makes Iwabuchi wipe his sword slowly. Someone's voice sounds at the time. It is counting dishes. Iwabuchi thinks that it is a ghost of Okiku. Suddenly, Okiku rises out of the well. Tetsuzan doesn't care of it, but stares her ghost hatefully, bringing the play to its end.

This summary has been written by Sekidobashi Sakura (August 2002) and edited by Sh˘riya Aragor˘

The actors Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VIII and Ichikawa Kodanji IV playing the roles of Tetsuzan and Okiku in the drama "Minoriyoshi Kogane no Kikuzuki", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1850 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

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