Play title Kakitsubata Iro mo Edozome  In Japanese
Even the Irises Are Dyed with Edo Purple [1]
Author Tsuruya Nanboku IV

Tsuruya Nanboku IV's drama "Kakitsubata Iro mo Edozome" was staged for the first time in the 5th lunar month of 1815 at the Kawarasakiza [casting]. It was the nibanme of the drama "Toki-ha Ima Gohiiki Yakko". The premiere was the 11th day of the 5th lunar month of 1815 [2].


The current version of "Dote no Oroku" is made up of 4 acts (7 scenes).

Key words Akuba
Muk˘ Ry˘goku


Sano Jir˘zaemon used to be a retainer (kerai) in the Teshima clan. He has been dismissed by his master because he has lost a precious heirloom, a beautiful sword made by a famous swordsmith. This sword was in fact stolen by another retainer of the Teshima clan, an evil man named Yanada Banz˘. Jir˘zaemon is now a r˘nin, desperately searching for the sword. He is also the lover of the Edo courtesan Manjiya Yatsuhashi. He has a rival in love named Tsurigane Yazaemon [3]. This mean merchant has purchased the precious sword from Yanada Banz˘. He has also enlisted the aid of two weird people in order to get rid of Jir˘zaemon:

  • a woman nicknamed Dote no Oroku, literally Oroku of the Embankment (dote), who work as a hebi-zukai in the entertainment quarter of Muk˘ Ry˘goku. She is the wife of an edokko named Omamori Denbŕ [4]. She is the akuba of this drama!
  • a man named Gantetsu who pretends to be a shűgy˘sha but is in reality an Edo crook.
  • Both Oroku and Gantetsu have promised to help Yazaemon to definitively break the relationship between Jir˘zaemon and Yatsuhashi. Gantetsu is unscrupulous and can do anything for money. Oroku has no sympathy for Yazaemon but she needs the money he has offered her to help her husband's brother Kanaya Kingor˘ to ransom his lover, a girl named Kosan who works as an apprentice karuwazashi in a misemono-goya in Muk˘ Ry˘goku.

    Act I, scene 1: in Muk˘ Ry˘goku

    The scene opens in the colorful entertainment district of Muk˘ Ry˘goku, full of sideshow stalls (misemono-goya). Tanji, the servant of Jir˘zaemon, tries to take possession of a letter about Jir˘zaemon being taken to Yazaemon by a man named Gonpei. Tanji fails but Gonpei loses his wooden sword without noticing it. At the same time, Yazaemon is seen leaving Oroku's stall to go for a drink somewhere else. Then, Kingor˘ appears on stage as well. A man tells him to bring the 30 ry˘, the ransom money for Kosan, as soon as possible otherwise the girl will be sold off elsewhere. Kingor˘ hopes his brother Omamori Denbŕ (the husband of Oroku) will help him. He finds Gonpei's lost wooden sword. He attaches a letter to Kosan to the sword and tosses it to Kosan, who is in a nearby stall. The sword falls short ů and is picked up by Gonpei, who tells loudly that he has most likely lost it when he fought against Jir˘zaemon's servant. Kingor˘, who is aware of the love triangle, decides to stealthily have a look and overhear everything.

    Tanji is back and another fight against Gonpei starts. The confusion is total on stage. Kingor˘ picks up Gonpei's letter and tosses it. It is picked up by Kosan who thinks it is a lover letter from her lover and reads it while performing her acrobatics. Once the fight is over and the fighters are dispersed, the bogus bonze Gantetsu appears on stage as well and picks up the wooden sword. He meets Oroku, who comes out of her stall. They notice Kingor˘'s letter attached to the sword and read it. Tanji, who is hiding near Oroku's stall, thinks it is Gonpei's letter. He tries to steal it but Oroku uses her snakes to scare him.

    Act II, scene 1: at the Manjuya Dormitory

    There is a party today to at the Manjuya dormitory to celebrate the purchase of Yatsuhashi's contract (miuke). Oroku, disguised as a lady-in-waiting, gains access to the dormitory. She is followed by Tsurigane Yazaemon and his companions, including Yanada Banz˘. The last to enter is Gantetsu, disguised as a samurai named Funabashi Jir˘zaemon. Also the people in league with Yazaemon are gathered in the same house!

    Yatsuhashi has been called to come and meet Jir˘zaemon, who is said to be about to ransom her! She is very excited but quickly learns to her dismay that this is not HER Jir˘zaemon but a rich stranger named Funabashi Jir˘zaemon. Moreover, nobody knows where Sano Jir˘zaemon is. He was not around the Manjuya for days! All the release papers are in order but Yatsuhashi reminds everybody that she has the right to refuse any offer conflicting with her real lover's offer. Then she leaves the room.

    Sano Jir˘zaemon comes to the dormitory, looking for his lover. Yatsuhashi meets him. She tells him that she is aware of his dismissal from service at the Teshima clan. He tells her that he is desperately looking for the precious sword. Yatsuhashi promises to do her best to help him retrieving the Teshima heirloom. The other Jir˘zaemon, Funabashi Jir˘zaemon, appears and berates Jir˘zaemon for meeting a courtesan who has just been purchased by another man. They are about to start a fight but a courtesan appears and tells all that an important lady-in-waiting has arrived to meet Yatsuhashi. Jir˘zaemon leaves the house while Jir˘zaemon /Gantetsu hides behind a screen.

    The lady-in-waiting, in reality Oroku in disguise, enters the room and tells Yatsuhashi that she is her long-lost sister. She was adopted when she was a child. She has come to warn her sister that her lover is the arch enemy of their family. Oroku tells Yatsuhashi that Sano Jir˘zaemon is the murderer of their father. Not a suitable lover for Yatsuhashi! This is a shock for the Manjuya courtesan, who gives to Oroku the signed pledge of love binding her to Jir˘zaemon. Then, she suddenly tries to kill herself out of despair. She is quickly stopped by Oroku. Yatsuhashi has to accept Funabashi Jir˘zaemon's offer. Once Oroku knows that Yatsuhashi won't try to kill herself anymore, she leaves the room after having displayed the love note to Gantetsu.

    Yazaemon, who is in the adjoining room, has a sword in his hands. This is not the Teshima heirloom but a fake sword looking like the real one [5]. He plans to hand it over to Sano Jir˘zaemon. The scene is witnessed by both Yatsuhashi and Manjuya Taheiji, the owner of the Manjuya, but they don't understand it is a fake sword. They mistakenly think that Yazaemon has the real sword. Taheiji promises Yatsuhashi that he will help her in her attempt to retrieve this sword.

    Now Funabashi Jir˘zaemon enters the room and tells Taheiji of Yatsuhashi's decision to accept his offer. The other Jir˘zaemon, Sano Jir˘zaemon, overhears everything. He is furious. He appears on stage and grabs his ex-lover. Yatsuhashi, who has secretly taken the decision to sacrifice herself to find back the lost sword, feigns a quarrel with Jir˘zaemon. She spurns him with lots of disdain (enkiriba). Jir˘zaemon can't stand the humiliation and is about to take his sword but he is prevented to go any further by Taheiji. Funabashi Jir˘zaemon tells Sano Jir˘zaemon that he will give the sword to him once Yatsuhashi becomes his lover. Sano Jir˘zaemon has to withdraw for the moment.

    Yazaemon steps in and tells the truth to Yatsuhashi. He is the one to ransom Yatsuhashi, not Funabashi Jir˘zaemon. He will make Yatsuhashi his lover and gives back the sword to Jir˘zaemon (he is talking of course about the fake sword). All leave the room except Taheiji and Yatsuhashi. He tries to offer words of encouragement before leaving the room. Left alone, Yatsuhashi starts to write a farewell letter to be given to Jir˘zaemon after her death.

    Act II, scene 2: on the Roadside near the K˘shinzuka Shrine

    Two palanquins come down the road near the K˘shinzuka Shrine. One is carrying Gantetsu and the other Oroku. They get out, tell the kagokaki to leave and quickly get rid of their disguise. They congratulate themselves after their success at the Manjuya dormitory. While handling the clothes, Oroku finds a little charm bag (omamori). This kind of bag is given to a child at birth and it states the first name and the date of birth. As this is a charm bag for girl, Oroku asks Gantetsu about it. He tells her that it used to belong to Yatsuhashi. He abducted her and sold her to the pleasure quarter when she was six years old. He kept the identifying charm bag for himself. Then, hiding the clothes behind the altar of the shrine and girding the Teshima heirloom to his waist, he goes home.

    While handling her clothes, Oroku finds Yatsuhashi's charm bag on the road. It has been accidentally dropped on the ground by Gantetsu. Taking a closer look, she is flabbergasted to notice that it is made with the same material as her own charm bag! She reads the name and date of birth, immediately understanding that Yatsuhashi is indeed her real sister. Her lie was indeed the truth! Filled with remorse, Oroku knows that she has to retrieve the sword to help her real sister's lover.

    Act II, scene 3: in the Guest Room at the Manjuya Dormitory

    Preparations have been made for Yatsuhashi and Yazaemon wedding. Yazaemon tells his companions that he will give the sword to Yatsuhashi after the wedding night. He puts the sword under the bedclothes.

    Jir˘zaemon sneaks in and steals the sword, thinking it is the real one. Outside the house, he takes a closer look to the blade and immediately realizes that it is a fake sword. Meanwhile, Yatsuhashi enters the sleeping room. She asks Yazaemon about the sword. He tries to pick it up and can't find it. Jir˘zaemon suddenly appears in the room and asks loudly for the real sword. He kills his rival in love in one strike. He is about to strike his ex-lover as well. She holds the farewell letters and tries desperately to hold him back but he swiftly cut her down too.

    Act II, scene 4: on the Road behind the Manjuya Dormitory

    The scene is set at a beggar's hut, which has been built near the dormitory. Lightings strike in the air.

    Oroku and Gantetsu appear on stage. Oroku is chasing Gantetsu. The latter is caught by the former near the hut. She asks Gantetsu to give her the sword as she needs to pawn it. He refuses and offers instead his own valueless sword. She tries to take the sword by force. At the same time, roaring thunder frightens Gantetsu who flees into the hut. Oroku picks up Gantetsu's sword and strikes through the mat covering the hut. She thinks Gantetsu has been wounded ů but the victim is the beggar living in this hut.

    An empty kago comes by. The first kagokaki runs away.The second one is none other than Oroku's husband Omamori Denbŕ. It is pitch dark. Nobody can see anything and the thunder roars in the dark skies. Wavering in fear, he loses his kiseru. He hides in order to secretly observe the situation near the hut. A danmari starts with Oroku, the beggar and Gantetsu. They grope around in the dark for each other. Oroku drops Gantetsu valueless sword in the nearby stream. The beggar grabs Oroku's arm and bites off her finger. She picks up Denbŕ's kiseru and uses it to hit the beggar. She succeeds in pierced his throat in one vicious hit in the dark. Meanwhile, Denbŕ finds two important items: the charm bag dropped by Oroku and the signed pledge of love binding Yatsuhashi to Jir˘zaemon.

    Sano Jir˘zaemon appears on stage. He sneaks out of the Manjuya dormitory over the wall. He has a sword in one hand and the severed head of Yatsuhashi in the other. The farewell letter is clenched between the dead courtesan's teeth. Gantetsu picks up Denbŕ's kiseru from the beggar's throat and runs away with it. Looking for the Teshima heirloom, Oroku touches the farewell letter. She tears off a piece of the letter. Meanwhile, looking for his kiseru, Denbŕ picks up Oroku's finger! Jir˘zaemon jumps from the wall to the road. He is about to kill himself. Both Oroku and Gantetsu run off, in opposite directions. Suddenly, the moon comes out. The lunar light saves Jir˘zaemon who is prevented to commit suicide by Denbŕ.

    Act IV, scene 1: at Oroku's Home

    Denbŕ has secretly brought Jir˘zaemon in Oroku's home and has hidden him in a big chest. Oroku lives here with her mother. Kanaya Kingor˘ and Kosan appear and beg for shelter as they have just eloped. Oroku comes out and tell them that she will take care of them. She gives some money to Denbŕ and asks him to go buy some fish. She can't avoid showing pain when she handles the coins with her wounded hands. She asks her husband to buy some medicine as well. Then, Kosan is hidden under the floor and Kingor˘ is conducted to another part of the house. In order to protect Kosan from mosquitoes, a burning repellent is given to her.

    Left alone, Oroku can read the part of the farewell letter. She feels more remorse and guilt coming into her mind as she fully understands the terrible role she has played in this tragedy. Believing she has also killed Gantetsu, she has no other option than giving herself to the authorities. She plans to blame herself for both murders, not only Gantetsu but also Yatsuhashi, in order to exonerate Sano Jir˘zaemon.

    Denbŕ returns and he has no time to relax as a messenger asks him to go to the nearby police station. Oroku answers the messenger that, as she is the head of the house, she will replace Denbŕ and go to the station. Left alone, Denbŕ opens the lid of the chest to let Jir˘zaemon but he has to quickly put back the lid as Gantetsu, in his priest guise and ringing a gong, enters the house. He is looking for Oroku. He will wait for her return. He settles himself down and starts to smoke with the kiseru which is indeed Denbŕ's one! Denbŕ notices it and falls in the trap set up by the bogus priest by telling him that it is indeed his kiseru. Oroku is back on stage. She has told everything to the authorities. It was decided to bind her with a solid rope but to release her on parole. Under her kimono, her arms can't move, but neither Denbŕ nor Gantetsu can see it. Oroku is astonished to see Gantetsu alive as she was pretty sure to have killed him the previous night. Gantetsu tells them that he is sure that Yatsuhashi's murderer is Sano Jir˘zaemon and that the murderer has been hidden here, at Oroku's home. His evidence is Denbŕ's kiseru. He has also the letter from Kingor˘ to Kosan and he is sure that Oroku's home is also the hiding place for the eloped lovers. It is time to blackmail Denbŕ and Oroku (yusuriba).

    Jir˘zaemon slightly peaks out from the chest to take a look. Gantetsu can see his face reflected on the water in a tub at his feet. Denbŕ sees it as well and he quickly overturns the tub and spills the water under the floor where Kosan is hidden. The water falls on the burning repellent, causing smoke to suspiciously rise up. Gantetsu wants to check under the floor but he is prevented by Denbŕ, who steals Kingor˘'s letter and quickly burns it! In the scuffle, Oroku can notice the precious sword, which is hidden in Gantetsu's umbrella. She tries to negotiate with Gantetsu. While starting to use her kiseru to smoke, she can't hide her pain when she uses her wounded hand. Denbŕ points out her missing finger and asks Oroku about it. She abruptly answers that she has cut if off as a pledge of love with another man. She asks Denbŕ to divorce her. In fact, she wants to save both her mother and Denbŕ. In order to do it, she has to sever all her family bonds [6].

    Denbŕ says that it is time to leave with his chest full of clothes. Oroku refuses to let him take the chest. Denbŕ finally realizes Oroku's true intention. He gives her Yatsuhashi's omamori and the medicine packet. Oroku opens the packet and notices it contains her severed finger! Denbŕ clutches at her, asking why she did not confide in him from the beginning. The strong clutching loosens Oroku's kimono and reveals the rope underneath! Oroku tells Denbŕ that she has informed the authorities, blaming herself for the two murders. She has confessed them that her missing finger was the pledge of her love for Jir˘zaemon. Jealousy has driven her to kill her rival in this love triangle! Because of all these discussions, they have not noticed that Gantetsu is not more in the house! Kingor˘ comes running to tell them that the bogus priest has run off. Kosan is also missing. It is crystal clear that Gantetsu has abducted the girl before running away! Meanwhile, torite close in on the house. Denbŕ, Kingor˘ and Oroku's mother hold them off while Oroku quickly leave to chase after Gantetsu.

    Act IV, scene 2: at the Embankment near Yoshiwara

    The scene is set at the embankment near Yoshiwara. The kago containing Kosan is hurrying with Gantetsu running alongside. Oroku catches up with them. She asks for the Teshima heirloom but Gantetsu refuses to give it back. Then the final tachimawari starts. The two kagokaki run away while Gantetsu and Oroku fight it out. Oroku uses her snakes to frighten her ex-partner in crime. This vicious hit helps her to cut down Gantetsu. She can finally take possession of the precious sword. Sano Jir˘zaemon appears and she gives him the sword. They are surrounded by torite. Jir˘zaemon will escape as Oroku is determined to be the only one to be caught. What a chivalrous spirit in this true Edo woman!

    This summary would have not been possible without the help of Noiri-san!


    [1] The title "Even the Irises Are Dyed with Edo Purple" comes from the 3rd volume of "Kabuki Plays On Stage".

    [2] The 11th day of the 5th lunar month of the 12th year of the Bunka era was the 18th of June 1815 in the western calendar.

    [3] Yazaemon being a merchant, he has no family name. Tsurigane means "Temple Bell for Striking" in Japanese.

    [4] Omamori is a nickname coming from the word omamori. He is called "Charm Bag Denbŕ".

    [5] Yazaemon has entrusted the real sword to Gantetsu.

    [6] During the Edo period, not only the culprit was punished but also the whole family as well!

    The actors Matsumoto K˘shir˘ V and Iwai Hanshir˘ V playing the roles of Gantetsu and Oroku in the drama "Kakitsubata Iro mo Edozome", which was staged in the 5th lunar month of 1815 at the Kawarasakiza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

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