Play title Sumidagawa Gonichi no Omokage  In Japanese
Author Nagawa Shimesuke I

"Sumidagawa Gonichi no Omokage" was premiered in the 5th lunar month of 1784 at the Kado no Shibai [casting].


In the "Kabuki Jiten", it is written that "Sumidagawa Gonichi no Omokage" is made up of 4 acts (7 scenes). The revival at the National Theatre in april 1971 was slightly longer, with 5 acts divided into 8 scenes. A standard version of "Sumidagawa Gonichi no Omokage" is made up of 3 acts, divided into 5 scenes:

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 向島大七入口 At the entrance of the Daishichi Restaurant in Muk˘jima
  2 向島大七座敷 The zashiki of the Daishichi Restaurant in Muk˘jima
  3 向島牛の御前鳥居前 In front of the torii of the Ushi-no-Gozen shrine in Muk˘jima
II 1 向島三囲土手 The dote near Mimeguri Shrine in Muk˘jima
III 1 隅田川渡船 Near ferry landing beside Sumida river
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters

The last scene is a dance-drama commonly called "Futa Omote", which is sometimes staged independently of the rest of the play.

Key words Dote
Mimeguri Jinja
Sumidagawa (N˘)

Act I, Scenes 1 and 2: at the Daishichi Restaurant in Muk˘jima

Princess Nowake and her manservant Bunji are searching for her fiancÚe, Matsuwaka, the young lord of the Yoshida family, which was forced to give up its land because of the loss of a precious scroll, depicting a carp, that had been entrusted to the familyĺs keeping. Bunji suggests that they inquire at each of the many restaurants in the area, and they enter a restaurant in Edo.

Gonzaemon, proprietor of the Eirakuya pawnshop, arrives with his daughter Okumi and a clerk called Y˘suke. Y˘suke is actually Matsuwaka, who has disguised himself as a humble clerk in order to locate the carp scroll and restore the honor of his family. Gonzaemon is sympathetic, having been indebted to the Yoshida house in the past, and is anxious to help Matsuwaka. Moreover, his daughter Okumi is in love with Matsuwaka and hopes to marry him.

To help in the search for the carp scroll, Gonzaemon has requested the cooperation of Yamazakiya Kanjűr˘, a dealer in art objects. Having come across a scroll that fits the description exactly, Kanjűr˘ demands 100 gold pieces and Okumiĺs hand in marriage. Anxious to obtain the scroll by any means, Gonzaemon agrees, but Okumi, who has fallen in love with Y˘suke/Matsuwaka, is reluctant. Gonzaemon takes Okumi aside and explains that, once the scroll is in their possession, there are ways of refusing the marriage later, and he insists that she go through with an engagement party that day.

The ragged H˘kaib˘ enters with a motley group of companions. They are soliciting funds for a temple gong but soon angrily abandon H˘kaib˘ when it becomes apparent that he is trying to appropriate the funds for himself. Seeing Okumi sitting on a bench, H˘kaib˘ sits next to her and bit by bit inches closer. Okumi grows alarmed, and when H˘kaib˘ tries to grab her, Gonzaemon and Y˘suke hustle her inside the gate of the restaurant. H˘kaib˘ follows but is intercepted by Sawada Yakur˘, who exclaims that H˘kaib˘ is just the man he wanted to see. Yakur˘ wants H˘kaib˘ to find the carp scroll before it is restored to Matsuwaka. H˘kaib˘ tells him not to worry and whispers in his ear. Yakur˘ seems pleased but warns H˘kaib˘ to take care because Princess Nowake, Matsuwakaĺs fiancÚe, is rumored to have arrived in the neighborhood. After Yakur˘ leaves, H˘kaib˘ is accosted by Sh˘hachi, chief clerk at the Eirakuya pawnshop, who has been eavesdropping. Sh˘hachi says that he has some business to discuss with H˘kaib˘, and the two enter the restaurant to discuss the matter in private.

Y˘suke accidentally meets Princess Nowake and Bunji. He tells Princess Nowake that the scroll has been located but that he does not have the 100 gold pieces to pay for it. Before they can discuss the matter further, Y˘suke is called to another room, and Princess Nowake is forced to part from him.

Okumi takes possession of Y˘suke and confesses her love for him, but Y˘suke is angry because Okumi has agreed to be engaged to Kanjűr˘. The two begin to quarrel. H˘kaib˘, who has been watching, seizes the opportunity to remove the carp scroll from its box and replace it with his ragged subscription banner. As proof of her love for Y˘suke, Okumi shows him a love letter from him that she always carries. Y˘suke throws the letter over his shoulder, and it is picked up by H˘kaib˘, who then leaves. As the loversĺ quarrel continues, Kanjűr˘ sneaks in; thinking that the box still contains the real scroll, he takes out H˘kaib˘ĺs rolled banner and replaces it with a scroll hanging in the roomĺs tokonoma alcove.

Y˘suke repents his angry words, and the couple make up. As a token of their reconciliation, Y˘suke brings out a small figure of Kannon, a family treasure, and pledges his unchanging love before this deity. He then bemoans his lack of 100 gold pieces to pay for the scroll. Sh˘hachi enters and offers to loan him the money. Y˘suke, unaware that he is being duped, takes the money, writes a promissory note to Sh˘hachi, and leaves the room.

Sh˘hachi tries to make love to Okumi, and Okumi leaves the room to escape his advances. Sh˘hachi chases after her but bumps into H˘kaib˘, who tells him that Eirakuya Gonzaemon is calling for him. After Sh˘hachi leaves, Okumi returns and H˘kaib˘ professes to be in love with her, producing a love letter that he has written. Okumi throws down the letter and escapes, as H˘kaib˘ chases her.

Jinzabur˘, an antique dealer, appears. As a former servant of the Yoshida house, Jinzabur˘ had acted as Y˘sukeĺs guarantor in sending him to the Eirakuya pawnshop as a clerk. Jinzabur˘ picks up H˘kaib˘ĺs love letter to Okumi. Hearing voices, he pockets the letter and hides himself.

Meanwhile, Gonzaemon and Sh˘hachi enter with Kanjűr˘, who is complaining that Okumi is having an affair with Y˘suke. H˘kaib˘ arrives, dragging Okumi and Y˘suke with him. He says that he has caught the two flirting. Sh˘hachi calls Y˘suke an infamous fellow and demands the return of the money that he just loaned to him. He takes the packet of money from Y˘suke by force, but instead of gold pieces, there are only cheap coins in the packet. Sh˘hachi hints that Y˘suke must have substituted the coins for the gold and begins to beat Y˘suke, with the willing help of H˘kaib˘.

Jinzabur˘, who has been silently watching, reveals himself and tries to protect Y˘suke, while reprimanding Sh˘hachi. H˘kaib˘ takes out the letter written by Y˘suke that he had picked up earlier and tries to use it as proof of Y˘suke and Okumiĺs immoral relationship. But Jinzabur˘ surreptitiously substitutes the letter written by H˘kaib˘ that he just found. With H˘kaib˘ĺs hearty approval, Jinzabur˘ starts to read the letter aloud. As H˘kaib˘ gradually becomes aware that the letter is his own, he tries to stop Jinzabur˘ but without success. H˘kaib˘ is completely discredited and makes a humiliating exit.

Sh˘hachi, still not ready to concede defeat, confronts Jinzabur˘ and demands that, as Y˘sukeĺs guarantor, he pay back the loan of 100 gold coins. At a signal from Jinzabur˘, an apprentice uses a candle to burn the promissory note in Sh˘hachiĺs hand. Jinzabur˘ says that there is now no evidence of the loan, but Sh˘hachi says that his burned hand is the evidence. Gonzaemon asks Jinzabur˘ to take custody of Y˘suke until the matter of the 100 gold coins is settled and leaves the room with Kanjűr˘. As Jinzabur˘ and Y˘suke leave the restaurant, Jinzabur˘ vows to make the culprits pay for their wrongdoings. Sh˘hachi, who is hiding under a bench outside the restaurant, overhears him.

Act I, Scene 3: In front of the torii of the Ushi-no-Gozen shrine in Muk˘jima

H˘kaib˘ is hoping to meet Okumi who returns home by the same road. Sh˘hachi comes along accompanied by carriers with an empty palanquin. Sh˘hachi has a secret plan to kidnap Okumi and sends the carriers away to wait until he needs them. At the sound of someone approaching, H˘kaib˘ hides himself.

Okumi enters, and Sh˘hachi binds her and forces her into the palanquin. He then goes off to call the carriers. In the meantime, H˘kaib˘ comes out of hiding and tries to steal Okumi. As he gets Okumi out of the palanquin, however, Ichibŕ comes by carrying a huge covered basket on his back.

When Ichibŕ and H˘kaib˘ collide, Ichibŕ loses consciousness and falls to the ground. H˘kaib˘ puts Okumi into the basket that Ichibŕ had been carrying and puts the unconscious Ichibŕ into the palanquin. H˘kaib˘ tries to shoulder the basket, but when he hears voices approaching, he leaves the basket and hides. Sh˘hachi returns. He has been unable to locate the carriers and tries to carry the palanquin by himself.

Kanjűr˘ enters the scene with Y˘suke. In a show of petty revenge, he tears to shreds the scroll in his possession, which both he and Y˘suke still believe to be the precious carp scroll. Y˘suke unexpectedly draws his short sword. H˘kaib˘ gets involved and, in the ensuing fight in the dark, mistakenly cuts down Kanjűr˘, thinking he is Y˘suke. Y˘suke tries to kill himself but is stopped by Jinzabur˘, who is passing by. Jinzabur˘ inspects the torn scroll and discovers that it is a substitute. He consoles Y˘suke and advises him to bide his time, pointing out that, once the scroll is recovered, Y˘suke will be Lord Yoshida.

Thinking to dispose of Kanjűr˘ĺs body, Jinzabur˘ opens the basket lying nearby. To his surprise, he finds Okumi imprisoned inside. They release her and place the body in the basket. Jinzabur˘, Y˘suke, and Okumi hurriedly leave together.

Act II, Scene 1: the dote near Mimeguri Shrine in Muk˘jima

It is a late night with roaring thunder and a strange sky. Gonzaemon, Y˘suke, Okumi, and Princess Nowake enter. With no clue as to the whereabouts of the scroll, Y˘suke is prepared to die and tells Princess Nowake that he wants her to go back to her home. Princess Nowake, however, says that she will go to the ends of the earth with Y˘suke. When Okumi says that Y˘suke ôhas me by his side,ö the two women battle for Y˘sukeĺs love.

An extremely large bolt of lightning strikes suddenly. With a big yawn, H˘kaib˘ appears from a haystack, as if he has been awakened by the lightning. Seeing the four passers-by, H˘kaib˘ starts to forcefully coax and threaten them into handing Okumi to him. Of course neither Gonzaemon nor Okumi agree, but nobody can move from fear of the violent thunder.

H˘kaib˘ grabs Y˘sukeĺs short sword and cuts Gonzaemon. He then hits and stuns Okumi and Princess Nowake and ties Y˘suke to a haystack. H˘kaib˘ suddenly turns to Gonzaemon and finishes him off. Next, he approaches Princess Nowake and tells her that she had better forget Y˘suke and marry him, since Y˘suke is in love with Okumi. Princess Nowake pushes him away in disgust, and he cuts her down, saying that he had been hired by Y˘suke to kill her because she stood in the way of his marriage to Okumi. Princess Nowake believes him and dies cursing Y˘suke. H˘kaib˘ hides her body in the bushes.

He now turns his attention to Okumi. First, to prevent any interference, he digs a hole to serve as a trap. Jinzabur˘ comes running. After untying Y˘suke, Jinzabur˘ is on the point of killing H˘kaib˘ when H˘kaib˘ reveals the carp scroll and threatens to tear it up unless Jinzabur˘ leaves him alone. Jinzabur˘ promises not to interfere with him anymore and pleads with H˘kaib˘ to give him the scroll. H˘kaib˘ taunts him, retreating step by step until he unwittingly falls into his own trap.

As H˘kaib˘ is trying to scramble out of the hole, Jinzabur˘ takes the scroll from his hand. Jinzabur˘ advises Y˘suke and Okumi to leave for Sumida River now that the scroll has been retrieved. As they depart, the ghost of Princess Nowake appears. Jinzabur˘ unrolls the carp scroll, and the phantom vanishes. When H˘kaib˘ finally crawls out of the hole, Jinzabur˘ kills him. As he tries to hurry after Okumi and Y˘suke, the ghost of H˘kaib˘ appears and pulls him back.

Act III, Scene 1: Near ferry landing beside Sumida River

--> "Futa Omote"

Source: Lincoln Center

The actors Ogawa Kichitar˘ III (left print/standing), Nakamura Utaemon III (left print/seated), Seki Sanjűr˘ II (central print/left), Asao Kunigor˘ III (central print/right), Nakamura Sank˘ I (right print/seated) and Nakamura Tamanosuke I (right print/standing) playing the roles of H˘kaib˘, Y˘suke, D˘guya Jinza, the bant˘ Sh˘hachi, Okumi and the decchi Santar˘ in the drama "Sumidagawa Gonichi no Omokage", which was staged in the 4th lunar month of 1827 in ďsaka at the Kita-Horie Ichi-no-Gawa Shibai (print made by Shunshosai Hokuch˘)

Courtesy of Rolf Degener Gallery

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