|Play title||Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana|
|Author||Kawatake Shinshichi II|
The play "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana" was staged for the first time in March 1881 at the Shintomiza with an amazing casting: Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX (K˘chiyama), Onoe Kikugor˘ V (Kataoka Naojir˘), Ichikawa Sadanji I (Kaneko Ichinoj˘) and Iwai Hanshir˘ VIII (Michitose) [casting].
The play is divided into seven acts and includes 2 loosely related plots, one focusing on the bogus priest and notorious blackmailer K˘chiyama S˘shun's misdeeds and the second one narrating the love story between Kataoka Naojir˘, an accomplice of K˘chiyama, and the geisha Michitose.
K˘chiyama, disguised as a poor priest, is in fact the leader of a gang. One day when he calls on a pawnbroker, he finds out that the shopkeeper's daughter is being kept in the palace of Matsue  against her will. This is because Namiji, who serves Matsue as a maid-in-waiting, has refused the daimy˘'s demand that she become his concubine. Her parents and relatives wish her to return home and marry a suitable young man that they have chosen. This gives K˘chiyama an idea for a scheme that will exploit the situation.
Because Namiji will not yield to his demand, Matsue is angry and threatens to kill her. He is only prevented from doing so by the intervention of Kazuma. Taking advantage of his master's rage to poison his mind against Kazuma, an evil character named Daizen tells Matsue that Namiji and his rival, Kazuma, are secret lovers. Matsue summons Kozaemon, but before he can order an inquiry,the arrival of a messenger from the Archbishop of Kan'ei Temple is announced. The messenger introduces himself as Kitadani no D˘kai, a high ranking priest in the temple and asks for a private interview. In fact, this priest is K˘chiyama in disguise.
When he and Matsue are alone, he informs him that the archbishop has heard through private sources that Matsue is refusing to release a young girl in his service, whose family wishes her to return home. The archbishop is highly scandalized by such behavior and has commanded the messenger to inquire into the affair and personally escort the young girl home to her parents. In response to Matsue's refusal, K˘chiyama hints that, if his wishes are not obeyed, the archbishop may feel it his duty to make the scandal public. He succeeds in making Matsue so uneasy that eventually he agrees to let Namiji go. When the lord has withdrawn, his retainers offer K˘chiyama food and drink. He refuses, asking instead for "a cup of golden-colored tea" by which, he makes it clearly understood, he means a considerable present of money. It is brought to him by Kazuma, who thanks him for saving both Namiji and himself from their lord's displeasure. Left alone with the money, K˘chiyama drops his saintly mask for a moment and anxiously examines the money to find out the exact amount. Then a clock in the room, very rare in that era, rings. This scene is depicted comically.
K˘chiyama, with the money in his bosom, is about to make his departure when he is stopped by Daizen. Daizen once had dealings with K˘chiyama's gang and recognizes the priest by a mole on his left cheek. K˘chiyama tries to brush the matter off, but realizes that it is in vain. Shedding his saintly manner, he reveals his true colors to the assembled retainers, describing how he came to the place entirely out of pity for the poor girl kept here against her will. He points out how very much the Lord of Izumo's reputation will suffer if he, K˘chiyama, is arrested and the story becomes public. Furthermore, he adds, he could tell the police many interesting facts about the past of his accuser, Daizen. Kozaemon overhears the conversation and realizes that it is wise not to arrest K˘chiyama now. He apologizes politely to the once again saintly messenger for the grave error committed by Daizen and begs him to go on his way. K˘chiyama shows his contempt for Matsue  and then leaves the castle in triumph.
This summary has been written by Watanabe Hisao and edited by Jeff Blair [website]
K˘chiyama, a crafty priest of low rank, visits the mansion of a daimy˘, and passes himself off as a prince of royal blood at the head of a great temple. He makes a striking figure in his white inner garment and thin scarlet outer robe, and is treated with every mark of respect. Knowing of a scandal within the household, he seeks to profit. He tells the lord he will lose all his possessions should the affair be made known. The maids spread a fine feast in front of him, but he waves it aside, saying that he would prefer a drink of the tea brewed from the golden globe flower. Acting on the hint, the steward of the household brings him the required hush money. On his departure he coolly confesses the game he has played, and laughs insolently at the enraged servants of the daimy˘. On the hanamichi he meets with a confederate and counts the booty.
ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan"
This play has been adapted several times for the screen. The best one was directed by Yamanaka Sadao in 1936 and released under the title "K˘chiyama S˘shun". The roles of K˘chiyama and Matsue in this movie are played by the Kabuki actors Kawarasaki Ch˘jűr˘ IV and Segawa Kikunoj˘ VI. The great movie actor Band˘ Tsumasabur˘ played the role of K˘chiyama S˘shun in another, less famous, movie directed in 1933 by Okayama Shuntar˘.
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