EJIMA IKUSHIMA
   
Play title Ejima Ikushima  In Japanese
Author Funahashi Seiichi (story, script)
Kubota Mantar˘ (1954/1955 direction)
History

"Ejima Ikushima" was initially a serialized novel, written by Funahashi Seiichi and published in the T˘ky˘ Shinbun. The story was based on the Ejima-Ikushima Affair [more details | The Ejima-Ikushima affair (1714)]. It was scripted by Funahashi Seiichi to become a stage drama in 3 parts. The first part of "Ejima Ikushima" was premiered and directed by Kubota Mantar˘ at the Kabukiza in March 1954 [more details]. The second part was premiered in the same theater in October 1954 [more details]. The 3rd and last part was premiered in the same theate in March 1955 [more details].

It was revived in a 5-act version revised by the author Funahashi Seiichi and staged at the Kabukiza in February 1976, a few weeks after the passing away of Funahashi Seiichi, with the sons of the performers of the 1954/1955 productions [more details].

Structure

The 1976 revision of "Ejima Ikushima" was in 5 acts (13 scenes).

Key words Chűr˘
Daimy˘
Echizen
Edo-j˘
Ejima Ikushima Jiken
Ejima-ikushimamono
Gekk˘in
Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II
Ikushima Shingor˘
Kami
Manabe Akifusa
Nimaime
Oj˘guchi
Okuishi
ďoku
R˘jo
Seiro
Seishitsu
Shibai Jaya
Shinkabuki
Shirozake
Sokushitsu
Sukeroku
Ten'eiin
Tokugawa Ienobu
Tokugawa Ietsugu
Yamamuraza
Yasuna
Zamoto
Summary

Act I

Within the Edo Castle, corruption, jealousies and violent clashes for power are quite common, outwardly checked only by the rigid rules governing the conduct of all people serving within the walls. The conflict for power extends to the ˘oku, the women quarters too, because a favored tsubone might eventually become the mother of the next Sh˘gun. Such a case has just recently taken place. After the passing away of the sixth Sh˘gun Tokugawa Ienobu, a son born to the sokushitsu Gekk˘in has been installed as the child Sh˘gun Tokugawa Ietsugu, so Gekk˘in's influence now supersedes that of the former Sh˘gun's seishitsu Ten'eiin.

Under the circumstances, friction is intense not only between the two ladies but among all the others ladies at their service. Gekk˘in is a pleasure-loving woman who is involved in an affair with the influential daimy˘ Manabe Chikuzen-no-Kami [1] Akifusa. Due to their combined power, they feel they have nothing to fear and conduct themselves accordingly. But Ten'eiin and her ladies are in the meantime trying to find means of exposing the affair and definitively destroying the power of Gekk˘in.

On this day the ladies of the rival factions are engaged usual in a spiteful exchange of words when a newcomer arrives. It is Ohatsu, a girl of humble birth who through acquiring proper connections, has been brought here as an applicant for service as one of the ladies-in-waiting. Ohatsu, having noted at her arrival the many restraints and complex rules within the castle, is not so sure she wants to stay, but the okuishi K˘chikuin comes to check her and give his approval. At this point Gekk˘in chances to pass by and is intrigued by the spirited newcomer. She decides to take Ohatsu into her personal service. Moreover, Ohatsu receives the new name of Ejima.

Act II

Pleasure-loving Gekk˘in and her lover Manabe Akifusa have agreed that it would be fun to bring popular Kabuki actors into the castle for an evening of entertainment [2]. Undaunted, Gekk˘in has sent her favorite lady-in-waiting, Ejima, to go to the theater [3] to contact the actors and make arrangements for an evening performance at the castle.

A performance of "Sukeroku" is going on [4], performed by the top actor of the time, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ in the role of Sukeroku, along with handsome Ikushima Shingor˘ in the role of the shirozake seller. In the meantime, Ejima and her company can be seen in a box in the upper floor of the theater. A couple of men come in to distribute cakes around the company, and one of them, Seishichi, informs Ejima that Yamamura Ch˘dayű, the zamoto of the Yamamuraza, is waiting to meet her as requested. He then conducts her to the Matsubishi, a neighboring shibai jaya, one of those habitually used by Kabuki patrons for relaxing between plays. Ch˘dayű greets Ejima and then retires, telling her to make arrangements with Danjűr˘ and Shingor˘ whom he will send in right away.

However, only Ikushima Shingor˘ comes, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ being busy getting ready for his next role. The nimaime actor, who is aware of the fact that Kabuki actors are forbidden to enter the castle, is reluctant to consider Ejima's request, but Ejima explains that Gekk˘in and Manabe Akifusa are now extremely powerful in the castle, so that with their support, there is nothing to fear. Ikushima has by now fallen victim to Ejima's charm and he cannot refuse to perform at the castle. Miyaji, one of Ejima's colleagues, comes to peek into the room and sees the two together. She teases Ejima, saying she should be happy to be in the company of the handsomest man in Edo. But there is a bit of hidden jealousy in her words.

Act III

Gekk˘in and Manabe are seen relaxing together in the lady's suite. Manabe who is the official in charge of the Sh˘gun's personal attendants, is through with his hours of duty and is talking of going home, but Gekk˘in insists that he spend the night there with her. This is just the kind of opportunity that the ladies of the rival Ten'eiin are waiting for. Ten'eiin's favorite pet cat is let loose to run around and the ladies come chasing around to find the cat and incidentally to spy around.

In the meantime Gekk˘in wins Manabe's approval to promote Ejima to the coveted rank of chűr˘, although Miyaji has been in service longer and deserves the title first. When Ejima comes, Gekk˘in informs her of the decision. Then, as the okuishi K˘chikuin joins them, they discuss plans for the Kabuki performance which has been delayed due to various difficulties. K˘chikuin has bribed the guards at the oj˘guchi, and has also made plans to have the actors conducted into the castle inside a big steaming basket (seiro) ostensibly holding sweets from the Toraya shop. In the meantime Miyaji has overheard the plan to promote Ejima to chűr˘ and her jealousy increases. Half in spite she warns Ejima that her intimacy with handsome Ikushima may get her into trouble.

Act IV

The Scene is set in the backstage at the Yamamuraza. The actor Ichikawa Danjűr˘ is perturbed when a magnificent makeup mirror set is brought to him as a gift from an anonymous fan. This is not the first of such gifts, and the crest mark shows that the sender must be Gekk˘in. Gekk˘in has become enamored of the actor and is eager for his coming to the castle not only to perform but to become her lover.

Ikushima Shingor˘ comes to ask him to agree to go to the castle with him, but Danjűr˘ refuses. He moreover tries to dissuade Shingor˘ from going too, as only trouble can result. However, Shingor˘ says that if Kabuki can be given equal treatment with N˘ in the castle, then it will be good for the future of the art of Kabuki and insists on going. Danjűr˘, in spite Of his anxiety, can do nothing except warn him to be careful.

Act V

Ikushima is finally conducted to the castle, not openly as he had thought, but hidden in a big basket (seiro) which is smuggled in under the noses of bribed guards with the okuishi K˘chikuin to watch it pass through safely. As usual, Ten'eiin's suspicious ladies are lurking around on the pretext of searching for the missing cat again, but in reality to spy their rivals. Jealous Miyaji has now shifted her loyalty to Ten'eiin's. She notices the big basket for sweets outside the door to Ejima's suite and peeks into it. She is amazed to find it empty and immediately suspects that someone was smuggled into the castle in the basket. She and Tamatsubaki, the r˘jo who heads Ten'eiin's ladies-in-waiting, make plans to hide the basket away so that nobody will be able to use it anymore to get away from the castle.

In the meantime Ikushima Shingor˘, who has nearly fainted in the cramped basket, has recovered and is making preparations for his performance with Ejima's aid. Presently, he performs the dance "Yasuna" before the small, eager audience.

After the performance, Ikushima Shingor˘, now out of costume, is engaged in conversation with the group when Miyaji runs in to say that the big basket is missing. Then as consternation fills the room, Ten'eiin's women come into the room saying they have come to investigate. Gekk˘in hurries off to her own room while Ejima hides Ikushima in a big clothes chest in her room. In the meantime Ejima's group tries to hold off the intruders, causing quite a commotion until Ejima comes out to tell her maids to let them enter as there is nothing suspicious to hide from them. Fortunately the ruse works and in the cursory search, the chest remains unnoticed.

Manabe Akifusa comes to reprimand Tamatsubaki and the other women of the rival faction, telling them that no such search has been ordered or approved by himself who is in charge of such matters. Tamatsubaki can only apologize and retreat for the moment. However, she has not given up. She meets Miyaji in the garden. Miyaji has procured two valuable pieces of evidence, the costume and the fan that had been used by Ikushima Shingor˘ in his performance of "Yasuna".

In the meantime Ejima and Shingor˘ are talking with each other. It turns out that they have known each other in childhood. Shingor˘ has been the up-and-coming actor idolized by fans. Ejima has been Ohatsu, the little daughter of a theater's doorman. She has secretly loved Shingor˘ but has not expected the actor to notice her at all. However, Shingor˘ for his part has been attracted to the little girl and has missed her when she went away after her father's passing away. Ejima then begs Shingor˘ to make her his wife and take her away from the restrictions of the castle. She also tells him of the missing costume and fan, and the danger of exposure. She herself will ask Gekk˘in to release her from service so that she can join him in his life outside the castle. Then this time for the first kiss of love.

Gekk˘in comes unexpectedly to the room. She says that the rival faction is threatening to use Shingor˘'s costume and fan as evidence against them. When she learns that Ejima and Shingor˘ have known each other in childhood and that the actor loves Ejima and wants to make her his wife, she is relieved, but says that Ejima cannot leave right away until the necessary procedures have been taken.

Manabe Akifusa comes to the room bringing a disguise for Shingor˘ so that he can pass himself off as one of the attendants of Manabe Akifusa's palanquin when he leaves the castle. It should ensure Shingor˘'s safe-conduct out of the castle. Reluctantly the lovers part, promising to meet each other again outside the castle walls.

Trivia

There were several performances of "Ejima Ikushima", based on Funahashi Seiichi's work with revised scripts, staged with a mixed casting (Kabuki and non-Kabuki male/female actors):

Date Theater Ejima Ikushima
1983/10 Nakaza (ďsaka) Tsukasa Y˘ko Ichikawa Ebiz˘ X
1979/11 Misonoza (Nagoya) Kusabue Mitsuko Ichikawa Ebiz˘ X
1973/02 Shinkabukiza (ďsaka) Arima Ineko Kataoka Takao
1967/05 Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘) Awashima Chikage Ichikawa Ennosuke III
Notes

[1] The kami of the province of Echizen.

[2] In those days of the strict observation of caste rules enforced by the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Kabuki actors were considered of the lowliest untouchable class and of course were strictly prohibited from entering the castle under any circumstances.

[3] Attending a Kabuki performance was forbidden to any servant of the castle household.

[4] "Sukeroku" was premiered at the Yamamuzaza in the in the 3rd lunar month of 1713 in Edo at the Yamamuraza. The roles of Sukeroku, Agemaki, the shirozake seller Shinbŕ and Ikyű were played by Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II, Tamazawa Rin'ya, Ikushima Shingor˘ and Yamanaka Heikur˘ I.

"Ejima Ikushima" (Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1886)

 
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