|Play title||Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku
Igagoe Norikake Gappa
Keisei Tonoi Zakura
|Authors||Chikamatsu Hanji, Chikamatsu Kasaku ("Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku")
Nagawa Kamesuke I ("Igagoe Norikake Gappa")
During Japan's feudal period, from time to time there were people that could not be punished due to clan loyalties and highly fragmented authority. Under certain conditions, retainers and family members were empowered to take the law into their own hands and conduct an official vendetta. "Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku" was written by Chikamatsu Hanji and first presented in the Bunraku puppet theater in the 4th lunar month of 1783 and adapted to Kabuki in the 9th lunar month of 1783 in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. The authors drew their inspiration from Nagawa Kamesuke I's successful drama "Igagoe Norikake Gappa", which was directly written for Kabuki and was staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1776 in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. A similar drama was staged in Ky˘to in the 1st lunar month of 1777 under the title "Keisei Tonoi Zakura" [casting].
"Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku" is an epic based on a true incident in 1634 in which Watanabe Shizuma killed the murderer of his younger brother, a man named Kawai Matagor˘ at Iga Ueno, with the aid of Araki Mataemon. In the final fight, Mataemon killed several people, which has made him legendary as a master swordman celebrated in theatre, k˘dan storytelling and popular novels. Shizuma's desperate search for Matagor˘ takes him throughout Japan and the success of the vendetta is due to the help he gets from others. The play focuses on the often tragic consequences of divided loyalties as people confront members of this vendetta.
When it was dramatized, the names and details, and even the era were changed because of censorship by the ruling Tokugawa shogunate:
The play focuses on the often tragic consequences of divided loyalties as people confront members of this vendetta, and is set like a journey along the T˘kaid˘ highway.
"Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku" is made up of 10 acts:
Act II (commonly called "Yukie Goroshi", "the Murder of Yukie"), Act V (commonly called "Manjű Musume" (scene 1) and "H˘sho Shiai" (scene 2), in English "the Sweet Cake Girl" and "Paper Duel"), Act VI (commonly called "Numazu") and Act VII/Act VIII (commonly called "Okazaki") are still part of the current Kabuki repertoire. "Numazu" is the most popular and most frequently performed-act.
|Key words||Gidayű Ky˘gen
From Act I to Act V
Wada Yukie is a senior retainer of the Uesugi clan and has two children, a daughter Otani and a son, Shizuma. Sawai Matagor˘ lust after Otani, the daughter of Wada Yukie, and a precious sword belonging to the family, for which he has tempted Yukie's son Shizuma into disgracing the family name. Sawai Matagor˘ assassinates Wada Yukie, and then flees, helped by the merchant Jűbei. In the encounter, Yukieĺs son Shizuma is wounded. Shizuma would like to avenge his fatherĺs death, but in his weakened state is unable to and his only hope is brother-in-law Karaki Masaemon who is married to his sister Otani. But legally, they cannot participate in the vendetta since Otani was disowned by her father. Moreover, Masaemon is on the verge of accepting an important post as fighting master to a samurai lord. In these scenes Masaemon decides to help Shizuma and must do it by renouncing all that is dear to him.
Act VI: Numazu
"Numazu" is one act that tells of the sacrifices of those not directly involved in the vendetta itself but members of the same family who are indebted to the two opposing sides. The kimono merchant Jűbei meets a porter Heisaku as he travels west on business. They find that not only are they long-separated father and son, but that they also lie on opposite sides of the vendetta. Their loyalties prevent them from openly acknowledging their relationship. Heisaku sacrifices his life to get information from his son essential to his side's cause.
Acts VII and VIII: Okazaki
The plot involves the efforts of Wada Shizuma and his brother-in-law Karaki Masaemon, to pursue the villainous Matagor˘, who has murdered Shizuma's father Yukie. Their pursuit takes them along the T˘kaid˘ Highway. In this act, Shizuma reaches the Fuji River barrier and with the help of Osode the tea-shop girl, heads towards Okazaki, with Masaemon close behind. Although Osode is betrothed to Matagor˘ (whom she has never seen), she falls in love with Shizuma, who passes himself off as Matagor˘. They reach the house of her father, Yamada K˘bei, whom Masaemon recognizes as his old fighting teacher. Not knowing that these men are his enemies, K˘bei asks Masaemon to aid Matagor˘ (his daughter's betrothed). Masaemon pretends to agree. His distraught wife Otani, whom he has divorced in order to gain his master's permission to let him help Shizuma, arrives outside the house, and collapses in the snow. Not wanting distractions, Masaemon grabs the infant that she is carrying and dispatches Otani to a nearby shrine. Back at the house, the men find a note inside the child's amulet identifying him as Masaemon's son. To show his loyalty, Masaemon kills the child and asks K˘bei where Matagor˘'s is hiding. But K˘bei has already divined the men's identities. Realising that they are in his debt he knows that honour demands that he must break his bond with Matagor˘ so that their vendetta can be played out.
Act X: Iga Ueno Adauchi
Shizuma and Masaemon overtake Matagor˘ at Iga Ueno, halfway between Nara and Nagoya. They kill Matagor˘ and Rinzaemon to avenge the death of Shizuma's father.
The word sugoroku in the title means a traditional Japanese game similar to "snakes and ladders". Many of these games were related to the stages of the famous T˘kaid˘ road. This drama is a long chase along the T˘kaid˘, which includes scenes in famous stages like Numazu, Fujikawa or Okazaki
The poster of the production of "Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku", which was staged in September 1970 at the National Theatre
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