HIKOSAN GONGEN CHIKAI NO SUKEDACHI
   
Play titles Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi  In Japanese
Taik˘ Shinkenki  In Japanese
Authors Umeno Shitakaze, Chikamatsu Yasuz˘ ("Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi")
Namiki Gohŕ ("Taik˘ Shinkenki")
History

The play "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 10th lunar month of 1786 in ďsaka at the Higashi no Shibai. It was not immediately adapted for Kabuki and Namiki Gohei I wrote a similar play, which was entitled "Taik˘ Shinkenki" and produced by Band˘ Iwagor˘ in the 3rd lunar month of 1787 at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. This drama was staged for the first time in Ky˘to the same year in August [casting]. "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi" was finally adapted for Kabuki for the first time the following year, in the 5th lunar month of 1788 in Ise at the Furuichi no Shibai [casting]. It was produced in a major theater for the first time in the 7th lunar month of 1790, in ďsaka at the Nakaza (casting unknown). It was staged for the first time in Edo in the 9th lunar month of 1796, simultaneously at the Kiriza [casting] and the Miyakoza [casting].

Structure

"Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi" was a 11-act drama. Its most famous act, the 9th act commonly called "Keya-mura", is regularly staged as an independent drama.

Key words Adauchi
Adauchimono
Buzen
Daimy˘
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Hakasho
Hikosan Gongen
Hikosan Jingű
Kar˘
Keng˘
Komus˘
Mashiba Hisayoshi
Ogurusu
Onna Bud˘
Settsu
Sewamono
Shakuhachi
Suma no Ura
Taik˘ki
Summary

Act I: Sumiyoshi Hamabe
At the Sumiyoshi Beach

Mayumi, wife of the daimy˘ K˘ri Otonari, pays homage as her husband's proxy at the Sumiyoshi Shrine on the seashore to pray for success of the forthcoming war expedition to Korea planned by the supreme ruler of Japan Mashiba Hisayoshi. In her retinue are Kinugawa Yasabur˘, a handsome warrior, and his lover Okiku.

Presently Mokusokan, a Korean general, arrives by boat and speaks ill of Hisayoshi, saying that the deity to whom the shrine is dedicated is angry at his maladministration. Yasabur˘ feels provoked and starts quarreling with him. Mayumi interferes and suggests that Mokusokan and Okiku each pull the reins of a sacred white horse of the shrine from opposite sides to divine the military fortune of Japan and Korea in the coming war. Strange to say, the horse does not budge an inch toward Mokusokan however hard he may pull, while Okiku finds it quite easy to move the horse at will. Mokusokan admits his defeat and asks to be accepted as a retainer of Mayumi's husband through her good offices.

Act II: Hikosan Gongen Shazen
In Front of the Hikosan Gongen Shrine

In front of the Hikosan Gongen Shrine in the province of Buzen, a woodcutter named Rokusuke seats himself on a rock. No sooner has he started to smoke than a turtledove with its wing pierced by an arrow falls to the ground in front of him. Taking pity on it, Rokusuke removes the arrow and the bird flies back to freedom.

Soon two bow-carrying warriors, Enami Ikkaku and Hayakawa Tom˘, appear and accuse Rokusuke of interfering with their hunting. The bird was intended as food for their master's falcon. Turning a deaf ear to Rokusuke's apology, the warriors try to take him by force to their master's house for questioning. When he resists their attempted arrest, they fall over backward almost or themselves. Terrified by his enormous strength, they take to flight, though still talking big as they pick up their bows and arrows.

As he begins to leave, Rokusuke is called by a dignified-looking warrior, who, after introducing himself as Todoroki Dengoemon, a retainer of the Lord of Kokura, asks him to go with him to meet his master who wishes to employ him as a fencing instructor. Dengoemon also says that Rokusuke's service is badly needed because the warriors under his master's command are going to take part in the planned expedition to Korea. Rokusuke declares that he does not want to be tied to anyone because he has to take care of his aged mother. Dengoemon goes away reluctantly after asking Rokusuke to seek employment with his master if his mother should die.

Presently a gray-haired old man appears from a nearby forest and, announcing himself as a divine messenger, gives Rokusuke a scroll describing the secret of the art of fencing. Glad of this unexpected gift, Rokusuke hurries back to his home.

The two warriors who had previously tried to arrest Rokusuke reappear and congratulate the old man on his success in handing the precious scroll to Rokusuke. The old man removes his hat and white garment to show that he is in fact Yoshioka Ichimisai, Okiku's father and a fencing master (keng˘) in the employ of Lord K˘ri Otonari.

Act III: K˘ri Otonari Yakata
At K˘ri Otonari's Mansion

Act IV: Yamaguchi Hachiman
At the Yamaguchi Hachiman Shrine [1]

Act V: Ichimisai Yashiki
At Ichimisai's Mansion

Act VI: Suma no Ura
At the Bay of Suma
--> A dedicated summary: "Suma no Ura"

Act VII: Ogurusu Hy˘tandana
The Gourd Trellis at Ogurusu Village
--> A dedicated summary: "Hy˘tandana"

Act VIII: Sugisaka Hakasho
At the Sugisaka Cemetery
--> A dedicated summary: "Sugisaka"

Act IX: Keya-mura Rokusuke Sumika
Rokusuke's House in the Village of Keya
--> A dedicated summary: "Keya-mura"

As he has promised, Rokusuke is deliberately defeated in a rigged fencing contest by the unemployed samurai, whom he met in the previous act in the Sugisaka Cemetery and who calls himself Mijin Danj˘. The victor proudly goes away to take service with the daimy˘ of Kokura.

An old woman visits the house of Rokusuke and begs him to be allowed to rest for a while. Learning from Rokusuke that he has lost both his parents, she offers to become his new mother. She also offers him money but he gently bids her wait in an inner room while he thinks the proposal over. Yasomatsu, whom Rokusuke has been taking care of since he picked him up in the Sugisaka Cemetery, comes back at the house. Rokusuke kindly sees to it that the boy has a comfortable nap.

Walking the road past Rokusuke's house appears a komus˘. Actually this travelling priest is Osono who has adopted this disguise in order to pursue her search for Ky˘goku no Takumi more effectively. Suddenly Osono notices a kimono on display in front of the house and recognizes it as that of her nephew Yasomatsu. As she takes it in her hands, some neighbors, seeing her, think she is stealing it and rush to surround her. However, for Osono, skilled swordsman as she is, it is easy to rout them simply with her shakuhachi.

Rokusuke has seen all this from inside the house and realizes that such skill could never be shown by a true priest. He calls out to Osono roughly and she enters the garden and draws forth not a shakuhachi this time but a sword which has been hidden inside it. As she moves to strike again the man whom she assumes, on the evidence of the kimono, to be the murderer of little Yasomatsu's guardian, Rokusuke parries the stroke and shouts that he is innocent. He tells this strange komus˘, who talks like a woman and fights like a man, how he found Yasomatsu and took care of him. Osono demands his name and on his reply all her animosity changes suddenly to affection. Rokusuke is none other than the man her father Yoshioka Ichimisai had said, just before his death, that he wanted her to marry. Now Rokusuke learns for the first time of Ichimisai's murder by Takumi and reveals in turn that when Ichimisai gave him his certificate of swordsmanship he told him that he should marry Osono-then only a child-and take on the name of Ichimisai as a worthy successor to that master fencer.

Now the old woman who had sought rest in the house reappears and reveals herself to be Ok˘, Ichimisai's widow, Osono's mother and Yasomatsu's grandmother. To honor her dead husband's wishes she helps Osono and Rokusuke exchange their nuptial vows in cups of sake. Villagers appear carrying the corpse of an old woman slain by a bandit and beg Rokusuke to avenge the crime. They say that the victim is the mother of one of them, a villager named Soma Onoemon. Rokusuke recognizes the corpse as that of the so-called mother of Mijin Danj˘. He tells Osono and her mother of this strange puzzle and as they learn the details of his duel the two women realize that Danj˘ was in reality Ky˘goku no Takumi in disguise. Now that their sworn enemy has just been found, Osono, her mother, Rokusuke and Yasomatsu leave to accomplish their revenge.

Act X: Tatsunami Yakata Katakiuchi
The Revenge at the Tatsunami Mansion

Ky˘goku no Takumi, now employed in his assumed name of Mijin Danj˘ as the fencing teacher for Tatsunami, the daimy˘ of Kokura, is considerably drunk, having been treated to sake by his lord in celebration of his appointment. Rokusuke enters to demand that Danj˘ have a fencing match with him, for their previous contest was a rigged one. Danj˘ refuses but the kar˘ Todoroki Dengoemon, tells Danj˘ that the lord would be dishonored if his fencing teacher refused to accept a challenge. Danj˘ then attacks Rokusuke with a sword without warning. Rokusuke draws his sword to fight back, but his sword breaks mysteriously. Rokusuke understands immediately that Takumi's sword is none other than the famous Kawazumaru, which easily overwhelmed his own sword. The fact that Danj˘ possesses the Kawazumaru sword convinces Dengoemon of his true identity. The new keng˘ is indeed the evil Ky˘goku no Takumi. With Dengoemon officially permitting Ichimisai's bereaved family to revenge his death, Rokusuke fatally slashes Takumi. Then, Osono and Yasomatsu give him the coup de grace.

Comments

It is often said that the character of Rokusuke is based on Miyamoto Musashi. The role of Osono is considered a challenge for an onnagata female role specialist for its blend of fierce warrior skills and soft femininity.

Source: Earphone Guide website

Notes

[1] This act was staged only twice between the end of WWII and 2011: in February 2011 at the Sh˘chikuza and in October 1967 at the National Theatre.

Nakamura Daikichi I (top/left), Nakayama Shinkur˘ III (top/center), Nakayama Raisuke IV (top/right), Arashi Kichisabur˘ II (bottom/left) and Asao Kuzaemon I (bottom/right) playing the roles of Ichimisai's elder daughter Osono, Kinugawa Yasaemon (?), Ok˘, Rokusuke and Ky˘goku no Takumi in the drama "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1810 at the Naka no Shibai

 
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