Play title Ningen Banji Kane no Yo no Naka  In Japanese
Money Takes Care of Everything [1]
In All Human Affairs it is a World where Money only Counts [2]
Men Live in a World Where Money is All [3]
Common title Kane no Yo no Naka  In Japanese
Author Kawatake Shinshichi II

Kawatake Shinshichi II's hon'anmono drama "Ningen Banji Kane no Yo no Naka" was premiered in February 1879 at the Shintomiza [casting]. This drama was based on Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1840 comic play "Money". The story was told by Fukuchi ďchi to Kawatake Shinshichi II.


The drama "Ningen Banji Kane no Yo no Naka" was in 2 acts (8 scenes).

Key words B˘eki-sh˘

Act I, scene 1: Yokohama Shinai Henmi Mise Saki
In Front of Henmi Establishment in Yokohama

Henmi Seizaemon is a trading merchant (b˘eki-sh˘) in Yokohama, employing many tedai and to all appearances quite prosperous. Seizaemon, his wife Oran and daughter Oshina are all known as people of much greediness (g˘yoku). There are two other members in the family, Seizaemon's nephew Efu Rinnosuke [4] and Oran's niece Okura. Rinnosuke and Okura were both orphaned in childhood and taken over by Seizaemon. However, they are both treated like servants in the Henmi household.

Rinnosuke returns from an errand and is abused by Seizaemon for the shortage of a few coins which Rinnosuke had failed to collect because the customer had not the small change on hand at the moment. Rinnosuke tells his uncle that on his way back he has met Keori Gor˘emon, a relative, who has informed him that Seizaemon's brother-in-law T˘emon who lives in Nagasaki is gravely ill. Rinnosuke wants to go to visit his sick uncle but does not have the money. Seizaemon and Garata Usuemon, another relative who happens to be visiting Seizaemon, wonder whether it would be worth making the long trip to Nagasaki to see the sick man. If the man should die, they stand in line to receive part of the legacy because T˘emon has no direct heir. But if he should recover, they would have gone to all that expense and trouble for nothing. Rinnosuke is quite disgusted with their attitude, and his feelings are shared by Okura. Rinnosuke has also heard that his former nurse, who has cared for him in his father's household, is in poor health and that her family is too poor to give her proper care. He wants very much to help them but Seizaemon and Oran refuse to loan Rinnosuke a small amount of money for that purpose.

Presently Gor˘emon comes to the house with word that T˘emon has finally died in Nagasaki. His will has been sent to Gor˘emon. Seizaemon has trouble concealing his hope of receiving a large share of the deceased man's amazing fortune. Gor˘emon does his best to conceal his own disgust at the Henmis' greediness. He asks that the major family members be assembled, including both Rinnosuke and Okura. Gor˘emon insists on having the two young people seated as equals within the family circle before he proceeds to reveal the contents of the will.

To everyone's astonishment the will makes clear that the deceased has made only minor grants to Seizaemon and his family (3 en as giri). A small lump sum (100 en) has been provided for Okura with instructions to Gor˘emon to see that she is happily wed to a suitable man. And the great bulk of the fortune (20000 en) is bequeathed to Rinnosuke, with the message that the deceased was grateful for Rinnosuke's unfailing considerateness and his regular letters of consolation, whereas Seizaemon and the others had never even written him once.

Act II, scene 1: Yokohama Honch˘ Efurin Mise Saki
In Front of Efurin Shop in Yokohama Honch˘

Rinnosuke's father has been the owner of a setomono wholesale store (ton'ya), so Rinnosuke, after having received T˘emon's money, has opened a small setomono shop. Garata Usuemon comes around to offer a bit of flattery, followed by the Seizaemon and his family. It goes without saying that they have their eyes on Rinnosuke's newly-found fortune. Seizaemon tells Rinnosuke that he has come to offer his daughter Oshina as Rinnosuke's bride. Rinnosuke answers Seizaemon that he has already been approached by Gor˘emon about a bride so he cannot accept or reject right away Seizaemon's offer.

When Seizaemon proves persistent, a man unexpectedly shows up from the inner room of the shop. He introduces himself as Sunada Utsuz˘, an old friend of Rinnosuke's father. He says he has come by to congratulate Rinnosuke on the opening of his new shop. He has been resting inside after having some drinks offered by Rinnosuke. He also objects to Rinnosuke's taking a bride at this time because Rinnosuke's father has been indebted to him for a large sum of money before his death. He now demands that the debt (shakkin) be paid back in full plus interest. Sunada will therefore take over the new setomono shop and all its merchandise, leaving nothing to Rinnosuke. The visiting relatives are shocked at this turn of affairs and try to tell Rinnosuke that he is not obligated to pay off his father's debt in full on such sudden notice. But Rinnosuke tells them that he is grateful to Sunada for having let the loan run so long without requesting any payment when Rinnosuke was poor. Therefore, he will hand over the shop to Sunada as requested.

At this, Seizaemon and the others hurriedly get ready to leave, saying that from that day on they will have no more to do with Rinnosuke and will no longer even consider him a member of the family. As for Oshina, she says she will certainly not marry such a poor hopeless fool as Rinnosuke and joins the others in their hurried departure.

Act II, scene 2: Hatoba Waki Kaigan
Behind the Wharf on the Coast

Rinnosuke is walking alone along the wharf (hatoba) the following evening when Okura furtively slips out from the side and hands him some money. This is part of the money bequeathed to her by T˘emon. She insists that Rinnosuke take it and quickly goes off, accidentally dropping a slip of paper which is picked up by Rinnosuke. He realizes that it is a receipt signed by his old nurse's son, which means that Okura must have given some money to the old sick woman.

Sunada appears and he tells Rinnosuke that he has brought good news. He pulls the young man off with him. In the meantime Seizaemon, Oran and Oshina also come by. Seizaemon is quite elated, telling his wife and his daughter that Gor˘emon has visited him, telling him that he wants to adopt Okura. He has given Seizaemon a sum of money as reward for having taken good care for Okura for so many years. Seizaemon shows the money to his wife and daughter and is about to pocket it himself, but the other two want their share and a scuffle ensues.

Now Garata Usuemon comes by and excitedly tells the Henmis that something terrible has happened. Rinnosuke's shop, which should be Sunada's shop, is again in Rinnosuke's hands! Moreover he had heard neighborhood gossip that a bride is about to come to join Rinnosuke tonight. Seizaemon and his family are understandably agitated at this piece of news. If Rinnosuke is indeed the owner of his shop, they want Oshina to be made Rinnosuke's bride. They are quite angry that Rinnosuke has not consulted them about the bride matter.

At this point Sunada steps out together with Rinnosuke. Sunada says that as Seizaemon" and the others have disowned Rinnosuke as a relative, there is no reason to consult them on any of Rinnosuke's private affairs. He also informs them that the story of the loan was just a test to confirm the true nature of their greediness, which is indeed limitless. Seizaemon insists that Oshina should be Rinnosuke's bride. However Sunada informs them that Rinnosuke's bride has already been chosen and that she is none other than ů Okura. Keori Gor˘emon arrives, bringing with him Okura, who is dressed in bridal finery. He says that he has adopted Okura as his daughter and is now presenting her in marriage to Rinnosuke. The greedy Henmis have all been utterly defeated!


The names in "Ningen Banji Kane no Yo no Naka" were quite close, phonetically speaking, to the names in the original english drama. For example, Efu Rinnosuke was chosen to replace Alfred Evelyn. Rinnosuke's bride Okura and Seizaemon's daughter Oshina were close to Clara Douglas and Georgina Vesey.


[1] Sasaguchi Rei.

[2] G. Daniels and C. Tsuzuki in "The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations 1600ľ2000".

[3] Samuel Leiter's in "Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre".

[4] He is also called Efurin (Efu Rinnosuke).

The actors Ichikawa Sadanji I (left print; top), Iwai Hanshir˘ VIII (left print; bottom), Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX (central print), Onoe Kikugor˘ V (right print; bottom) and Band˘ Kakitsu I (right print; top) playing the roles of Sunada Utsuz˘, Okura, Keori Gor˘emon, Efu Rinnosuke and the Mondo tedai T˘tar˘ in the drama "Ningen Banji Kane no Yo no Naka", which was staged in February 1879 at the Shintomiza (print made by Utagawa Kuninobu)

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