ISHIKAWA GOEMON
   
Play title Z˘ho Futatsu Domoe  In Japanese
Author Segawa Jok˘ III
History

The play "Z˘ho Futatsu Domoe" was premiered in the 10th lunar month of 1861 at the Moritaza [casting]. It was a revised compilation of several scenes coming from different plays like Namiki S˘suke's "Kama-ga-Fuchi Futatsu Domoe" or Wakatake Fuemi's "Konoshita Kage Hazama Kassen".

Key words Chűnori
Ishikawa Goemon
Ishikawa-goemonmono
Jidaimono
Keren
Konoshita T˘kichi
Tsuzura
Summary

Introduction

The Imperial court in Ky˘to has dispatched an envoy named Kureha, who will demand the return of the seal of the Sh˘gun Yoshiteru, who has been accused of neglecting his duties and spending a life of leisure in his palace. Kureha was attacked on his road to Yoshiteru's palace by Ishikawa Goemon, the king of thieves.

Scene 1: in the inner pavilion of the Ashikaga Palace

Goemon, who is in Kureha's disguise, arrives at Yoshiteru's palace and is welcomed by Yoshiteru's senior retainers Miyoshi Shűridayű Nagayoshi and his brother Miyoshi Shir˘ Kuninaga. Goemon demands the return of the seal but Nagayoshi answers that it has been stolen. Goemon threatens to report it to the Imperial Court and Nagayoshi pleads for time, saying that the seal will be soon brought here. Etiquette demands that such an important emissary has to be treated like a king. Servants bring some trays full of great delicacies for the party. On one of the trays lies a packet made up of 3,000 ry˘.

A man named Konoshita T˘kichi, who has preceded Goemon to the Palace, enters to play the role of the host and take care of this important visitor. He calls Goemon by his childhood name. Goemon now recognizes him as his former friend and they talk together of the good old days and about what has happened to them since their teens. Goemon tells about the way to robbery and T˘kichi narrates all the hardships he had to go through to climb the social ladder from the lowest depth of poverty to become a daimy˘. T˘kichi suggests that Goemon should take the money on the tray and leave the palace without giving any trouble to Yoshiteru. Unfortunately for T˘kichi, Goemon has great ambitions. He is not really interested in stealing money for he plans to seize power in this country. He offers to share the power with T˘kichi in return of his help in this plot. T˘kichi pretends to agree and then says he has something to sell for 3,000 ry˘. A big wicker basket is brought at Goemon's feet. The king of thieves looks inside the basket and is extremely surprised to find inside Jizaemon, his old stepfather. He quickly shuts the lid of the basket and accepts the deal.

The basket (and Jizaemon inside) on his back, Goemon is about to leave the palace when T˘kichi calls him back, blowing a whistle, which used to belong to Jizaemon. This whistle is magic and has an effect on Goemon and T˘kichi swords, which start to echo a whistling sound. This is the cry of the dragon emitted by the twin dragon swords, the most important treasures of the Ashikaga clan. T˘kichi and Goemon both demand that the other one give his sword in order to reunite them. As nobody is ready to give it up, Goemon and T˘kichi draw simultaneously their swords, creating another magic effect: all the blowing flowers of Yoshiteru's garden start to fade. Goemon, who is not only a thief but also a powerful wizard, uses his magic powers to suddenly disappear with the basket and his stepfather.

T˘kichi gives soldiers the order to hunt down the emissary of the Imperial Court, who is not Kureha but the king of thieves Ishikawa Goemon, the one who has stolen one of the dragon swords.

Scene 2: in the inner garden of the Ashikaga Palace

All the retainers have gathered in Yoshiteru's garden to eagerly discuss the strange visit of the emissary. In spite of their repeated admonitions, Ashikaga Yoshiteru has not made any effort to stop indulging himself in lust or debauchery. They are all worried about the future of their lord.

Kuninaga comes running over, bringing an important piece of news: the emissary is none other than the king of thieves Ishikawa Goemon. The wicker basket now comes into sight, magically floating through the air. All the retainers, including the Miyoshi brothers, are watching the basket dumbfounded. The basket suddenly stops above the garden and Goemon emerges from inside. He places the basket on his shoulders and flies off in the sky, scornfully making fun of the astonished retainers and boasting that the precious seal is now in his possession.

The actor Onoe Tamiz˘ II playing the role of the thief Ishikawa Goemon in the drama "Konoshita Kage Hazama Kassen" in a mitate-e print made in 1861 by Utagawa Kunikazu

 
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