Nakamura Kankur˘'s two sons Nakamura Kantar˘ III and Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘ II make their debut on stage (hatsubutai)!
These two programs also celebrate the 390th anniversary of Edo Kabuki (Okuni and her troupe performed at the Sh˘gun palace in Edo in 1607).
Saruwaka Edo no Hatsuyagura: Kabuki began with sensuous dances by a woman named
Okuni and comic routines with a man named Saruwaka,
who eventually led to the founding of the Nakamuraza, the oldest and most important of the
three licensed theatres of Edo. This play evokes those figures and the earliest days of Kabuki.
Starring Nakamura Kankur˘ in the role of Saruwaka.
Featuring Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Ganjir˘ and Band˘ Yajűr˘.
ďakinai Hiru-ga-Kojima: this is a jidaimono history
play set at the end of the Heian period (12th century).
It is a time when the powerful Heike clan lives in splendor,
eclipsing their rivals, the Genji clan. The leader of the latter,
Minamoto no Yoritomo is now in exile. Masaki K˘zaemon (Onoe Sh˘roku),
a writing-master in Shimoda, Izu Province, lives with his wife Ofuji (Nakamura Tokiz˘).
K˘zaemon and Ofuji are always having matrimonial quarrels because he is so shameless with other women.
But however often they argue she always pardons him when he flirts with her. Due to Ofuji's habitual jealousy,
one day when the beautiful Omasu (Nakamura Shichinosuke) appears at the door asking to become a pupil, Ofuji drives her away.
Omasu is just on her way home when she encounters K˘zaemon, and he brings her back with him.
K˘zaemon is, in reality, Minamoto no Yoritomo who is concealing his
ambition to destroy the Heike clan. Ofuji,
on the other hand, is really Princess Tatsu, the daughter of It˘ Sukechika who is allied with
the Heike. Furthermore, Omasu is none other than the daughter
of H˘j˘ no Tokimasa, Yoritomo's ally.
Princess Tatsu has Yoritomo's interests at heart and yields
the position of wife to Masako. However, overhearing their intimate talk, Princess Tatsu is seized with jealousy.
Just then, a mendicant priest named Seizaemon (Nakamura Kankur˘) who is staying at K˘zaemon's house, strikes her with
his Buddhist rosary and suddenly her sinful thoughts disappear and she comes to her senses.
Seizaemon is, in reality, Saint Mongaku. He has brought an Imperial
decree from the cloistered emperor Goshirakawa which orders
Yoritomo to destroy the Heike clan.
Yoritomo and Mongaku reveal their
identities to each other. Yoritomo accepts the Imperial order and
prepares to raise his standard to destroy the Heike.
(Four Thousand Gold Coins)
In this play loosely based on a true incident, two men, Fujioka T˘jűr˘ (Nakamura Baigyoku) and Tomiz˘ (Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘),
the former a masterless samurai, the latter a seasoned thief,
break into the treasury of the Shogunate and steal the immense sum of four thousand gold coins.
Though the samurai tries to use the money to support a normal life by starting a loan business, the other wastes
his money gambling and resorts to extorting money from his former partner. The enormity of their crime makes it
impossible to keep it secret and they are soon caught. Written by Kawatake Mokuami,
this play caused a sensation in its day for its realistic depiction of a Meiji period jail.
Featuring also Nakamura Tokiz˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Nakamura Karoku, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ and Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘.
(The Lion-head Fans)
This dance portrays the brilliant atmosphere of Edo (the old name for T˘ky˘).
A fireman chief (Nakamura Baigyoku) and a geisha (Nakamura Jakuemon) dance with an ˘gi jishi,
a fan beautifully decorated with flowers and with a cloth trailing from the end.
This decorated fan represents the head of a shishi lion, and
the trailing cloth is its mane of hair.
Kadonde Futari Momotar˘: this is a play based on the famous Japanese folktale Momotar˘
(The Peach Boy). On this occasion, it is performed to commemorate the debut of Nakamura Kankur˘'s two sons, Nakamura Kantar˘ and Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘.
Once upon a time, an old man (Nakamura Shikan) carrying firewood comes to pick up his wife (Nakamura Tokiz˘) who is washing clothes in a river.
Just then, a big peach comes floating towards them which they lift out of the water and take home.
Out of the peach appears two energetic boys. These brothers, both called Momotar˘, declare that they will
head for Ogre's Island to vanquish the wicked ogres. The god of Kibitsu sends Inuhiko (Ichikawa Somegor˘), Saruhiko (Onoe Sh˘roku) and Kijihiko (Onoe Kikunosuke)
to accompany them. Following this, the Shint˘ priest (Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘) and the
shrine maiden (Nakamura Kaishun) of Kibitsu Shrine, as well as the village headman (Nakamura Baigyoku) and his wife (Nakamura Jakuemon) all turn up to celebrate
the boys' birth. The brothers put on armor and leave their house with the three others sent by the god.
After a tough battle against the ogres at the Ogre's Castle, the Momotar˘ brothers capture the ogres,
receive much treasure from them and return home triumphantly. Starring Nakamura Kankur˘ as Kansaku (the son of the grandparents) and the commanding general of the ogres,
and Nakamura Shichinosuke as Kansaku's wife Otsuru.
Amagasaki Kankyo: Akechi Mitsuhide (known in this play as Takechi Mitsuhide) is known as the "three day ruler of Japan", having only control
for a brief time after attacking and killing Oda Nobunaga (known in this play as Harunaga) and before being
defeated in turn by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (known in this play as Mashiba Hisayoshi).
In the most famous act of this play, after assassinating Harunaga, Mitsuhide comes to see his mother,
but she refuses to forgive him for betraying his lord. Mitsuhide sees his son and mother both die before
his eyes as he tries to defeat his rival Hisayoshi, but instead is confronted with the drama of his own
immediate family. Starring Nakamura Shikan and Nakamura Kinnosuke as Mitsuhide and Hisayoshi.
Featuring also Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Kataoka Takatar˘ and Kataoka Hidetar˘
as Mitsuhide's wife Misao, Mitsuhide's son Jűjir˘, Jűjir˘'s fiancee Hatsugiku and Mitsuhide's mother Satsuki.
Ume Goyomi: this work is a Kabuki adaptation of a famous love story from the Edo period
called "Shunshoku Ume Goyomi". Tanjir˘ (Ichikawa Somegor˘), the foster child of a rich merchant in the Yoshiwara
pleasure quarters lives with Yonehachi (Nakamura Kankur˘), a geisha of the Fukagawa
district, even though he has a fiancÚe named Och˘. Adakichi (Onoe Kikunosuke), another geisha in Fukagawa,
falls in love with him at first sight as they pass each other on boats, and she and Yonehachi become rivals for
Tanjir˘'s love. Tanjir˘ĺs master Chiba Hanjir˘ (Nakamura Karoku) was disowned for losing a precious tea caddy named Zangetsu,
the heirloom of the Hatakeyama clan, and he now lives at Tanjir˘'s house. Adakichi persuades Furutori Sabunta
to sell the tea caddy in his possession as she wants to get it for Tanjir˘ who is searching for the lost
one with Hanjir˘. But this tea caddy turns out to be a complete fake. Tanjir˘ recovers the genuine one
after great difficulty and hands it to Hanjir˘. As a result, Hanjir˘ is permitted to return to his house and
the ill feeling between Adakichi and Yonehachi dispels and they make up.
Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website