KIYOMASA SEICH█ROKU
   
Play titles Kiyomasa Seichűroku  In Japanese
Minori no Aki Seish˘ Denki  In Japanese
Common titles Dokumanjű no Kiyomasa  In Japanese
Kiyomasa Wakare no Hitofushi  In Japanese
Authors Takeshiba Kinsaku I (1875)
Kawatake Shinshichi III, Takeshiba Kisui (1890)
History

Takeshiba Kinsaku I's drama "Minori no Aki Seish˘ Denki" was premiered in October 1875 at the Nakamuraza and the Shinboriza [more details]. In order to avoid the censorship, the identity of all historical characters were disguised (more or less lightly): for example the name Sat˘ Masakiyo was used instead of Kat˘ Kiyomasa and Uji-no-Kata was used instead of Yodogimi. A revised version of "Minori no Aki Seish˘ Denki" by Kawatake Shinshichi III and Takeshiba Kisui, which was entitled "Kiyomasa Seichűroku", was premiered in July 1890 at the Shintomiza as part of a special 2-day gala program starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX [more details]. In this revision, the real names of the historical characters were used.

Structure

"Minori no Aki Seish˘ Denki" was in 6 acts. "Kiyomasa Seichűroku" in the 1890 revision was in 3 acts.

Key words Amida-ga-Mine
Asano Yoshinaga
Dokumanjű
Gion Matsuri
H˘kokuby˘
Ikeda Terumasa
Katagiri Katsumoto
Kat˘ Kiyomasa
Kat˘-kiyomasamono
Manjű
Nawate
Nij˘-j˘
Ogi
ďno D˘ken
ďno Harutane
ďsaka-j˘
Sakakibara Yasumasa
Sakura
Seppuku
Shinkabuki
Shűzan Jisshu
Takeda Kaid˘
Tokugawa Ieyasu
Toyotomi Hideyori
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Ume
Yakko
Yodogimi
Summary

Introduction

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who rose from a humble background to become the most powerful ruler of united Japan, established his regime but died while his only remaining heir, Toyotomi Hideyori, was still very young. Anxious as to the future of the Toyotomi clan, he named Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of his generals, to act as Hideyori's guardian and trustee of the regime until the youth becomes of age. After Hideyoshi's death, his followers split into rival factions and Ieyasu played them off one against the other until eventually in the decisive Battle of Seki-ga-Hara, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his allies got the upper hand and the winner decided to build his castle in Edo, while the Toyotomi clan stayed in the ďsaka Castle. Under the circumstances, the loyalties of the retainers of both groups tend to be ambiguous, and as the situation was still not completely stabilized, both sides remained wary of hidden undercurrents that may change the balance of power.

Amida-ga-Mine Goby˘ Mae
In Front of the Amida-ga-Mine Mausoleum

Tokugawa Ieyasu came to pay a courtesy visit to ďsaka to meet the young heir Toyotomi Hideyori, actually with the purpose of sounding out the situation. The meeting has taken place at the Nij˘ Castle. Hideyori has been accompanied by one of the leading Toyotomi retainers, Kat˘ Kiyomasa. It was at this meeting that while Hideyori was in a different room, Kat˘ Kiyomasa and his retainers were served poisoned manjű (dokumanjű). The poison is a slow-working one, but the victims recognize clearly that death is imminent. Kiyomasa's retainers Ikeda Terumasa and Asano Yoshinaga have each made a request to Hideyori to return to their own province, without knowledge of the other's request. They both have the intention of committing suicide before the poison overtakes them. They separately come at H˘kokuby˘ to make their farewell to their former lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi at his mausoleum on top of Amida-ga-Mine. Coming face to face with each other, they realize that their thoughts are the same: they both wish to die here.

As they are about to commit suicide (seppuku), Kat˘ Kiyomasa steps out of the shadows and tells them that they are not to die by their own hand here. The two accuse him of cowardice in not wanting to face up to Tokugawa Ieyasu whose ambition is to usurp Hideyori's position and become ruler of Japan. Kiyomasa, however, explains that his prime interest is in maintaining peace. If they were to challenge Ieyasu now as Hideyori's mother Yodogimi desires in her hastiness, it will not only bring havoc to all provinces but it may hasten the Toyotomi clan's fall as well. They must swallow their chagrin and be cautious, in order not to aggravate the situation any further. Ieyasu will be challenged when he will be old and their young master will come of age.

Ikeda and Asano understand the depths of Kiyomasa's concern, and they both promise to return to their home provinces where the manner of their deaths may be quietly hidden, preventing the more aggressive factions of the Toyotomi clan from rising up in arms and starting a war against Ieyasu. The sound of drums can be heard nearby. It is the local people who are preparing to parade into Ky˘to for the Gion Festival. They are singing a popular street song of the time which says that if the plum tree (ume) succumbs, the reeds (ogi) will flourish, but always the cherry blossom (sakura) will bloom, meaning that even if the Toyotomi clan in ďsaka (symbolized by the plum tree) falls and the Tokugawa clan in Edo (symbolized by the reeds) flourishes, it really makes no difference so long as the court in Ky˘to (symbolized by the cherry blossoms) and the people of Japan remain in peace. The three men listen to the song and interpret it as a broad view of history that rises above samurai factionalism.

ďsaka-j˘nai Okuden
In an Inner Pavilion within the ďsaka Castle

Kat˘ Kiyomasa has come to ďsaka Castle to tender his resignation. He would like to request permission to return to his home province. The matter has been referred to Yodogimi, and now she and her son Hideyori are waiting in the audience room for the old faithful warrior to formally present his request. The meeting is also attended by Katagiri Katsumoto, an important retainer of the Toyotomi clan. Just like Kiyomasa, Katagiri is trying to maintain peace with Tokugawa Ieyasu in order to avoid the destruction of the Toyotomi regime. Yodogimi recalls Kiyomasa's battle triumphs and asks him why he should be leaving now at this difficult time when Tokugawa Ieyasu is threatening Hideyori's future. Katagiri speaks up for Kiyomasa, saying that they all know from his past exploits that he is not a coward to run away from a fight, and that his loyalty is beyond question. Kiyomasa tells them that, although he may retire to his province, he will hasten back to their side if his presence is required in an emergency.

The boy Hideyori makes a sincere show of his affection for the retiring warrior, and is openly grieved at the thought of the imminent parting. Kiyomasa, for his part, knowing that he will never see his young lord again, is deeply touched at Hideyori's sign of affection. Katagiri, fully understanding the situation, tactfully adds the right words and Hideyori presents Kiyomasa with his own fan to keep as a memento. The Toyotomi retainer ďno D˘ken, who has brought in sake for a farewell toast, is quite jealous of this show of affection toward Kiyomasa. He is a favorite of Yodogimi and is an advocate of immediate action against Ieyasu, hence an opponent of the cautious policy of both Katagiri Katsumoto and Kat˘ Kiyomasa. He makes his animosity evident when Kiyomasa refuses a drink in a farewell gesture. Can it be because he is secretly aligned with the enemy Ieyasu while pretending to be in the Toyotomi camp? Katagiri smooths the situation over, and when Hideyori insists on a return gift as a memento, Kiyomasa says that he would like to offer a song as a parting gift. On Hideyori's demand, Kiyomasa sings the song about the plum tree of ďsaka, the reeds of Edo and the cherry blossoms of Ky˘to, hoping thereby to implant in the minds of the listeners the hidden meaning behind the words. Katagiri perfectly understands the implied meaning of the song and Kiyomasa's real reason for retiring to his country estate. When Kiyomasa stands to leave the room for the last time and looks to Katagiri to carry on maintaining peace and ensuring the future of the young lord, Katagiri firmly nods acquiescence in understanding.

Kiyomasa Yashiki
At Kiyomasa's Mansion

Kiyomasa, after his resignation at ďsaka Castle, has ostensibly set off for his home province but is actually still at his official residence near Ky˘to, secretly watching to ward off any rash move that ďno D˘ken and his associates may start under Yodogimi's instigation. Many weeks have elapsed as he keeps his secret vigil while waiting for his slow death.

Kiyomasa awakens from a doze in which he has been dreaming of his farewell with the young lord Toyotomi Hideyori. He is sitting in his room brooding when his loyal retainer and relative Kat˘ Denz˘ comes hastening in to report that Sakakibara Yasumasa, an emissary from Ieyasu, has been ordered to secretly investigate how Kiyomasa's health is since the poisoning and whether or not he is still alive. Sakakibara has been told that Kiyomasa has retired to his province country and has completely withdrawn from the world of politics. But now it also seems that one local informer has sent the piece of information to the ďno faction in ďsaka Castle that Sakakibara Yasumasa is in the vicinity of Kiyomasa's residence. As a result, ďno D˘ken has taken it as an opportunity to attack Sakakibara. This could be a perfect casus belli to be at war with Ieyasu. Denz˘ tells Kiyomasa that ďno D˘ken has headed with a force of warriors to intercept Yasumasa on the Takeda Highway. Kiyomasa is immediately aware of what this may lead to and whispers instructions to Denz˘.

Takeda Kaid˘ Nawate
A Path between Paddies near the Takeda Highway

Kat˘ Denz˘ on Kiyomasa's instructions is waiting to waylay the ďno warriors who are on their way to attack Ieyasu's emissary Sakakibara Yasumasa. Some of ďno D˘ken's warriors come by and, recognizing Denz˘, encircle him and accuse him of being a traitor to Hideyori. As Denz˘ faces them, Hirano Nagayasu, an ally of Kiyomasa, comes to help Denz˘ breaking out the encirclement in order to go after another group of the ďno faction.

In the meantime the envoy Sakakibara Yasumasa arrives. Mamesuke, a self-appointed spy dressed in the manner of a yakko, comes running to meet Yasumasa, saying he has kept a close watch over Kiyomasa's mansion and knows that Kiyomasa is still there in spite of word that has gone out that he has retired to his province. He asks for a reward for his information, but Yasumasa cuts him down instead. Then, as Sakakibara is about to leave the scene, he is accosted by Kiyomasa himself. Kiyomasa is aware that Sakakibara has been sent to check on whether or not he is still alive, 75 days since the poison was administered. Sakakibara prepares to fight to the death with his adversary, but Kiyomasa shows no intention of fighting. Instead, he explains that the reason he did not return to his province as he has previously intended, was that he felt he had to stay at hand to restrain the faction, led by ďno D˘ken and Yodogimi, in their desire to start open war with Tokugawa Ieyasu. His only fear has been that Ieyasu himself could be driven by personal ambition instead of desire for a global peace. Fortunately, Sakakibara's attitude toward the spy and toward himself has convinced him that Ieyasu's true desire is for peace. Sakakibara on his part, too, realizes that Kiyomasa has not acted as a plotter against Ieyasu, but rather to the opposite, to hold in check the war-mongers at Yodogimi's side. With this understanding between them, the two warriors who once fought side by side during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea, make their farewell and go their respective ways, knowing that although they may seem to be on opposing sides, their ultimate aim is the same: maintaining peace.

The actor Nakamura Kichiemon I playing the role of Kat˘ Kiyomasa in the drama "Kiyomasa Seichűroku", which was staged in April 1932 at the T˘ky˘ Gekij˘

Prints & Illustrations

 
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