Play title Meiboku Kasane Monogatari  In Japanese
Date Kurabe Okuni Kabuki  In Japanese
Authors Sakurada Jisuke I
Kasanui Sensuke I

The drama "Date Kurabe Okuni Kabuki" was premiered in the 7th lunar month of 1778 at the Nakamuraza [casting]. It had an influence on the evolutions of "Meiboku Sendai Hagi". Many scenes from "Date Kurabe Okuni Kabuki" were integrated within "Meiboku Sendai Hagi".

"The play is based on a real event involving the Date clan of Sendai during the 1660's, but censorship prevented contemporary incidents being dramatized, so the drama was set during the Muromachi period (1336-1568), and names were changed to disguise the protagonists' identity." (text courtesy of Jean Wilson 1998)

The 3 scenes focusing on the story of Kasane were gathered and entitled "Meiboku Kasane Monogatari" and were staged for the first time in June 1904 at the Kabukiza [casting].

"Meiboku Kasane Monogatari" is rarely-staged on Kabuki stages nowadays; since the end of World War II, we've found only 5 records of performances in ˘shibai between 1949 and 1998:

Date Theater Casting
1949/07 Mitsukoshi Gekij˘ (T˘ky˘) Sawamura Tosshi VIII (Yoemon), Nakamura Tokiz˘ III (Kasane)
1951/09 Kabukiza (T˘ky˘) Kataoka Nizaemon XIII (Yoemon), Nakamura Tokiz˘ III (Kasane)
1954/03 Imperial Theater (T˘ky˘) Kataoka Nizaemon XIII (Yoemon), Nakamura Tokiz˘ III (Kasane)
1965/08 Nakaza (ďsaka) Kataoka Takao (Yoemon), ďtani Hitoe (Kasane)
1998/06 Kabukiza (T˘ky˘) Nakamura Baigyoku IV (Yoemon), Sawamura S˘jűr˘ IX (Kasane)

"Meiboku Kasane Monogatari" is made up of 3 scenes: "T˘fuya" ("At the T˘fu Shop"), "Hanyű-mura" ("At the Hanyű Village") and "Dobashi" ("The Earthen Bridge"). This drama is also commonly called "Miuri no Kasane" or more simply "Kasane".

Key words Date S˘d˘


Kinugawa Taniz˘, a sum˘tori patronized by Lord Ashikaga Yorikane, assassinated the courtesan Takao, Yorikane's lover, in order to save him from his scandalous love affair about to bring ruin to his household. Kinugawa Taniz˘ succeeded in escaping and hid himself in the village of Hanyű. Disguising himself as a farmer and calling himself Yoemon, he married Kasane, the younger sister of both Takao and the t˘fu maker Saburobŕ. Soon after their wedding, Kasane was cursed by Takao's evil spirit and her face was horribly disfigured. Kasane was not aware of the change, however, as Yoemon forbade her to use any mirror at home.

At the Hanyű Village

Kingor˘, a wicked villager, visits Yoemon and during Kasane's absence talks of his encounter the previous day with a pretty young woman looking for a sum˘tori named Kinugawa Taniz˘. He says he is confining her in his house, planning to sell her to a brothel for 100 ry˘. Yoemon realizes that the woman is Princess Utakata, Yorikane's wife. So, Yoemon proposes to buy her freedom for 100 ry˘, saying he wants to divorce his ugly wife and marry the pretty woman. He promises to pay the ransom to Kingor˘ in exchange for his captive at midnight at the foot of the earthen bridge.

When Kasane comes back after Kingor˘ has gone, Yoemon tells her that he is in urgent need of 100 ry˘ to pay a debt. Wishing to help him by sacrificing herself (miuri), she offers to sell herself when the zegen Saibŕ happens to visit her house. He is in fact looking for Kingor˘'s house, where he will purchase a young girl. Saibŕ is surprised to hear the proposal of so ugly a woman to sell herself and suggests to her to look at herself in a mirror. Horrified to realize her ugliness for the first time, Kasane runs out of the house to drown herself in the river.

The Earthen Bridge

When she arrives at the river bank near the earthen bridge, Kasane notices the approach of Kingor˘ and Princess Utakata. So she hides in a bush and overhears their conversation in which Kingor˘ persuades Princess Utakata to marry Yoemon. Yoemon arrives and asks Kingor˘ to hand over Princess Utakata. As he has not brought the 100 ry˘, however, Kingor˘ refuses to comply and, being convinced that Yoemon is in fact Kinugawa Taniz˘, threatens to betray him to the magistrate's office. As Kingor˘ runs off in the direction of the magistrate's office, Yoemon follows him in hot pursuit.

Kasane appears from the bush and, jealous of Princess Utakata who is going to marry her husband, attacks her with a sickle. Yoemon comes back and tries to stop Kasane and in so doing accidentally cuts her wife's throat with her sickle. When she dies her face miraculously recovers its original beauty.

The t˘fu maker Saburobŕ, Kasane's elder brother, who has been hiding in a bush, appears and goes near his sister's body. Yoemon attempts to kill himself with the sickle to atone for the horrible murder of Kasane but is dissuaded by Saburobŕ. He cuts off Kasane's head and takes it to the magistrate's office to pass it off as that of Princess Utakata, who is wanted by the magistrate.

The actors Iwai Hanshir˘ V and Band˘ Mitsugor˘ III playing the roles of Kasane and Yoemon in the drama "Date Kurabe Okuni Kabuki", which was staged in the 8th lunar month of 1818 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

Prints & Illustrations

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