|ICHIMATSU KOZď NO ONNA|
|Play title||Ichimatsu Koz˘ no Onna|
Ikenami Sh˘tar˘'s drama "Ichimatsu Koz˘ no Onna" was premiered in February 1977 at the Kabukiza [more details]. This drama belonged to a series of dramas which was entitled Edo Onna S˘shi (Stories about Edo Women).
"Ichimatsu Koz˘ no Onna" is in 3 acts, divided into 5 scenes.
Edo Onna S˘shi
Minami Machi Bugy˘
Act I, scene 1: Nihombashi Sakamoto-ch˘ Gofuku Futomono Dana Shimaya no Okuniwa
At Shimaya Jűemon's residence, which is located at the back of his silk-and-cotton-shop in Nihonbashi Sakamoto-ch˘, some tedai are entering the warehouse to do some work there with the stored merchandise. They all notice that the master of the Shimaya store is coming down the garden path to the residential room bringing with him his young nephew Moritaya Hikotar˘. They whisper among themselves because they know that Jűemon is trying to get Hikotar˘ to wed Jűemon's elder daughter Ochiyo born to his first wife (sensai) and become his heir, thereby insuring that Ochiyo will become owner of the store in the future instead of Oyuki, his second daughter born to Okichi, his second wife (gosai). Everyone heartily dislikes Okichi who is a grasping woman, and they all sympathize with Ochiyo who is always treated very badly by her stepmother.
Ochiyo has found herself ostracized by her stepmother. She is now of an independent and solitary nature, and one of the disciples of a famous master swordsman (kenjutsu) in the neighborhood. She now comes home from a practice session, almost like a man in garb and manner. She sees the tedai Seikichi and the jochű Osono having a little date in the garden and reprimands them, slapping the girl lightly and calling her a fool. Her stepmother Okichi observes this scene and remarks to her own daughter Oyuki what a rude girl Ochiyo is.
Okichi is aware that Jűemon is talking with Hikotar˘ with the intention of having him agree to become Ochiyo's husband and, therefore, the heir to the Shimaya. Okichi is absolutely against this wedding project, as she wants the man who weds her own daughter Oyuki to become the heir of the Shimaya. In the meantime, Jűemon is urging Hikotar˘ to agree to marry Ochiyo, with the ˘bant˘ Ihŕ also adding a word to the same effect. Hikotar˘ is wavering. He is tempted by the idea of becoming owner of such a prosperous business, but he still hesitates to give a positive answer.
Presently Ochiyo herself is called by her father in spite of Okichi's angry remonstrance, but, just as she is about to enter the room, a commotion is heard and an angry-looking r˘nin named ďkubo Kanz˘ comes pushing his way in. He demands 100 ry˘ as compensation as a Shimaya servant has thrown water on him in the street by accident. An apology and a certain amount of compensation might be normal, but the r˘nin's demand is exorbitant and his attitude inexcusable. As the others cringe in fear, Ochiyo steps forth and handily knocks the man unconscious. The others, who have not had previous chance to witness her fighting skills, are quite amazed.
Ochiyo tells the tedai to tie up the r˘nin and then go to speak to a d˘shin named Nagai Yogor˘ who works for the minami machi bugy˘ and who will be on duty at the neighborhood guardhouse. Nagai Yogor˘ is a fellow disciple and Ochiyo's good friend, so he will easily cooperate in handling the case of the money-extorting r˘nin. Meanwhile, Moritaya Hikotar˘ is trembling with apprehension at the thought of such a woman for his wife. Ochiyo laughs at him, knowing he will not have her, nor does she wants him.
Act II, scene 1: Z˘shigaya Hyakush˘ Gonbŕ no Ie
Ochiyo has finally run away from her home in Nihonbashi, feeling it would be better if she leaves Oyuki in the position of taking over the Shimaya in spite of her father's obvious desire to hand the establishment over to Ochiyo and Moritaya Hikotar˘ instead. She has taken refuge at the home of the farmer Gonbŕ and his wife Okane, a sharp-tongued woman who has been Ochiyo's nurse and who has given her the love that motherless Ochiyo could not get from her stepmother Okichi.
The ˘bant˘ Ihŕ comes on orders of his master to look for Ochiyo. Okane greets him curtly but she is quite uncooperative, being all sympathy for the mistreated Ochiyo. Nevertheless, Ihŕ manages to meet Ochiyo in spite of Okane's efforts, but Ochiyo refuses to go home with him.
Outside, some men come hot on the run after a local pickpocket (suri) named Sentar˘ who jumps into the garden of Gonbŕ's house and takes refuge in a shed. The men find him and demand that he return the money he has stolen from them. Sentar˘'s partner in crime, a boy named Ichimatsu Koz˘ no Matakichi, comes by and deftly takes over the loot from Sentar˘ and makes off with it, so that when the victims strip Sentar˘ to search him, there is no evidence on him and they are forced to apologize and let him go.
The commotion is observed with interest by Ochiyo and with bewilderment by Ihŕ. Then, the Shimaya ˘bant˘ leaves Gonbŕ's home after a cup of tea without being able to get approval from Ochiyo to accompany him. Okane goes off to help a neighbor who is shorthanded that day, leaving Ochiyo alone. When Sentar˘ and Matakichi show up again and start to check the contents of their loot, Ochiyo watches unnoticed. Sentar˘ goes off, and Ochiyo asks the unsuspecting Matakichi how much their stealing was worth. Matakichi is startled and starts to attack her with his dagger but he is no match for Ochiyo who easily knocks him unconscious and then on a sudden impulse ties him up. Matakichi regains consciousness and, finding himself trussed up as a chicken, starts to fulminate. Ochiyo, who seems to be overcome with a kind of light sadistic impulse, pinches and beats the helpless Matakichi.
Act II, scene 2: (D˘) Gonbŕ no Ie
Matakichi has taken up housekeeping with Ochiyo at Gonbŕ and Okane's house. Sentar˘ has heard about this situation and does not like it, as Matakichi intends to go straight and that will mean Sentar˘'s loss of his talented accomplice. He comes to the house to try to coerce Matakichi back into the thief trade again. Ochiyo returns home and slips to the side to listen in for a while, but when Sentar˘ tries forcibly to pull Matakichi off, she steps out to intervene and tosses Sentar˘ off. Sentar˘ attacks with his dagger but Ochiyo gets hold of the dagger and throws it so that it just barely misses him and lodges in the truck of a tree in the yard. Sentar˘ runs off in terror.
Matakichi watches Ochiyo with adoration in his eyes. He cannot understand how such a woman as Ochiyo could find anything worthwhile in the weakling that he is, but Ochiyo says that he is the first man to show an interest in her as a woman. Matakichi says that she reminds him of his mother. He does not know who fathered him. With such a background, it is inconceivable that the daughter of the owner of the prestigious Shimaya would accept him as her future husband but Ochiyo answers that she has left the Shimaya for good and that she intends to start a new life with Matakichi as husband. She tells him that the road will be long and tough, and Matakichi says that he can endure any hardship for the sake of a new life with her.
Now Gonbŕ comes back home bringing back with him Nagai Yogor˘, the d˘shin who used to be Ochiyo's fellow-disciple in kenjutsu. She has sent a message to him explaining the circumstances and asking him to go see her father to get his consent to her marriage with Matakichi. Yogor˘ is not quite sure that this is not entirely a folly on Ochiyo's part, so he has come in person to have a look at the former pickpocket who has captured her heart. He speaks to Ochiyo and sees that she is very serious about it. Then, he demands to meet Matakichi himself. Matakichi is frightened because after all Yogor˘ is an enemy of thieves but he manages to control himself and look straight back at Yogor˘. Yogor˘, who is a good judge of character, decides that Matakichi will do. He tells Ochiyo to bring a razor blade. Both Ochiyo and Matakichi are perturbed as to what Yogor˘ is going to do with the blade. It turns out that he is going to use it to shave off Matakichi's forelock in the symbolic gesture of attainment of adulthood (genpuku), with Yogor˘ acting as the youth's guardian by taking the ritual into his hands.
Act III, scene 1: Fukagawa Kuroe-ch˘ Komamono Dana Ichimatsuya no Uchi
Nagai Yogor˘, true to his word, has gone to Ochiyo's father Shimaya Jűemon and gained his permission, if not his earnest approval, of Ochiyo's marriage to Matakichi. He has also acquired a considerable amount of money from Jűemon for Ochiyo, proffered by the angry father more as a severance payment than as a dowry. Ochiyo has used for the money to open the Ichimatsuya, a komamonoya shop built in the district of Fukagawa Kuroe-ch˘. The Ichimatsuya is doing well, as can be judged by the favorable comments of customers as they pass by.
Shimaya Jűemon in spite of his anger and disappointment at Ochiyo's strange choice of husband still harbors a secret hope for reconciliation. He knows of the shop through reports from Ihŕ and others. One day, he passes by the neighborhood in the company of Ihŕ, who tries to urge Jűemon to come to the shop with him but Jűemon demurs and hides off the side while Ihŕ drops in the Ichimatsuya for a few words of greeting. Ochiyo, who has now blossomed into attractive womanhood, greets him happily but Ihŕ, aware that Jűemon is waiting nearby, does not stay long. He quite disregards Jűemon who has been observing the shop from the side and hurries homeward. Jűemon quickly hides himself so that Ochiyo will not see him, but he himself has had a chance to notice that Ochiyo has changed considerably from the boyish girl he used to know.
In the meantime, Ochiyo is busy with the customers, and a sakanaya named Shinkichi comes to leave some fish as well as a sharp-cutting kitchen knife that she has requeqsted him to get for her. Then another unexpected visitor shows up. It is Nagai Yogor˘. Something in his attitude troubles her. Yogor˘ says that he has caught Matakichi in the act of pickpocketing in spite of his vow two years ago to go straight. Once on a previous occasion he has let him go because he has heavily wept and begged to be forgiven, but Yogor˘ has caught him at it again today. Yogor˘ says that this time he cannot let Matakichi go unpunished. Matakichi looks intensively at Yogor˘ and starts to tremble. Yogor˘ tells him that he has witnessed the pickpocketing act with his own eyes. Then, he orders him to come along. Matakichi weeps and says that he did not do it because of the money. He even has thrown away the purse and its money immediately afterwards. It is only that he has pickpocket's fingers, which he seems unable to control.
At this point Ochiyo, who has loosened an obi, ties suddenly with the obi a tourniquet around one of his husband's arm. Then before anyone has a chance to become aware of what she is up to, she takes Shinkichi's kitchen knife and quickly chops off four fingers from Matakichi's hand. She hands them over to Yogor˘. Matakichi faints and collapses. Ochiyo desperately says that if the four fingers are not enough, then she is ready to chop four more from his other hand. Yogor˘ leaves wordlessly, and Ochiyo chases after him.
Act III, scene 2: Mise no Soto no Michi
When Ochiyo catches up with Nagai Yogor˘, he says with respect that she is indeed worthy as a disciple of their kenjutsu school in the way that she had enough presence of mind, even in that desperate moment, to apply a protective tourniquet before cutting off Matakichi's fingers. He agrees that Matakichi will be doubtlessly unable to steal anything in the future, but, if by any chance he should do so, then Ochiyo can chop off his head the next time. He goes off laughing, saying he will stop by the doctor's house to send him to Matakichi's aid.
In the meantime, Matakichi, having regained consciousness, comes crawling out of the house calling out Ochiyo's name and imploring her not to leave him. Ochiyo helps him back into the house. Husband and wife are both in tears.
Ichimatsu Koz˘ Matakichi (left) and Ochiyo (right)
Ochiyo (left) and Ichimatsu Koz˘ Matakichi (right)
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