KŌDAN YOMIYA NO AME
   
Play title Kōdan Yomiya no Ame  In Japanese
A Tale of Rain on the Festival Eve [1]
Common title Yomiya no Ame  In Japanese
Author Uno Nobuo
History

Uno Nobuo's drama "Kōdan Yomiya no Ame" was premiered in September 1935 at the Kabukiza [more details].

Structure

"Kōdan Yomiya no Ame" is made up of 3 acts (8 scenes):

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 深川黒江町寺門前虎鰒の太十宅 Fukagawa Kuroe-chō Tera Monzen Torafugu no Tajū Taku
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū in Front of the Temple Gate in Kuroe-chō, Fukagawa
  2 早桶屋徳兵衛宅 Hayaokeya Tokubź Taku
At the Home of the Coffin Maker Tokubź
  3 虎鰒の太十宅 Torafugu no Tajū Taku
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū
II 1 虎鰒の太十宅(夜) Torafugu no Tajū Taku (Yoru)
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū (in the Evening)
  2 虎鰒の太十宅(朝) Torafugu no Tajū Taku (Asa)
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū (in the Morning)
  3 早桶屋徳兵衛宅 Hayaokeya Tokubź Taku
At the Home of the Coffin Maker Tokubź
III 1 虎鰒の太十宅 Torafugu no Tajū Taku
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū
  2 深川丸太橋 Fukagawa Marutabashi
At the Maruta Bridge in Fukagawa
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Edokko
Fukagawa
Hayaokeya
Jūshoku
Kaidanmono
Kaya
Kizewamono
Mekake
Nezumitori-gusuri
Nezumitori-gusuri Uri
Sewamono
Shinkabuki
Tenugui
Torafugu
Yūrei
Summary

Act I, scene 1: Fukagawa Kuroe-chō Tera Monzen Torafugu no Tajū Taku
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū in Front of the Temple Gate in Kuroe-chō, Fukagawa

Ryūtatsu, who used to be the head priest (jūshoku) of the Myōrenji Temple for 35 years and a lustful lady killer, is now an old retired man. He had many love affairs with various women and he had a daughter named Otora with one of his lovers, who died when the girl was very young. Otora was secretly entrusted to the care of Ryūtatsu's nephew Torafugu no Tajū [2] and his wife Ochi. Tajū is a rascal who has used Otora to blackmail Ryūtatsu from time to time. When the girl became a woman, Tajū and Oichi have sold her off against her will as a mistress (mekake) to an old quack doctor in poor health named Kyūan. In the meantime Ryūtatsu's numerous love affairs have finally come to light and he has been banished from his temple. Tajū has taken him into his home in Fukagawa in the district of Kuroe-chō [3], not out of kindness but because he suspects Ryūtatsu must have a lot of money hidden away somewhere.

While Ryūtatsu is taking a nap, it is reported by neighbours that Otora has again run away from Kyūan's home. Tajū and Oichi have to find her and send her back to the old doctor. Meanwhile Tajū learns from a neighbour that Otora is most likely hiding in their neighbourhood and that she wants to meet him. As he does not want Oichi to learn that Otora is near their home, Tajū waits for his chance to slip away, while Oichi solicitously takes care of Ryūtatsu.

Act I, scene 2: Hayaokeya Tokubź Taku
At the Home of the Coffin Maker Tokubź

Otora is anxiously waiting to meet Tajū at the house of the coffin maker (hayaokeya) Tokubź, next door to Tajū's home. Tokubź's wife Otoma is trying to comfort the weeping girl, telling her that her life as Kyūan's mistress could not possibly be as bad as living with Oichi who regularly abuses her. Otora, however, answers that death would be better than the love of Kyūan. Tajū arrives at Tokubź's home and orders Otora to go back as soon as possible to Kyūan. Tajū is heavily in debt to Kyūan. Financially speaking, he can't afford to witness the end of the relationship between Otora and Kyūan. Realizing that there is no way to convert Tajū to her cause, Otora says in resignation that she will return to Kyūan. However, she has secretly determined to kill herself rather than go back to the clutches of the old doctor.

Act I, scene 3: Torafugu no Tajū Taku
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū

Ryūtatsu hesitantly, almost reluctantly, starts to ask Tajū for a favor. The truth is that he has 100 ryō buried in the temple yard and he needs Tajū to retrieve it for him. The operation has to be done at night without taking any risk to reveal the existence of the treasure to the priests of the Myōrenji. Ryūtatsu is suspicious of Tajū's sincerity and hesitates to reveal the location to his nephew but he has no other choice. He finally reveals everything and then impatiently demands that Tajū go out immediately to dig it up.

Act II, scene 1: Torafugu no Tajū Taku (Yoru)
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū (in the Evening)

Tajū has gone off to bring back the 100 ryō. Meanwhile, Ryūtatsu is dozing under the mosquito netting (kaya). He can't sleep well as he has nightmares about Tajū making off with his money. Tajū comes home. He has succeeded in digging up the buried treasure without attracting the attention of anyone and brought it home with him. He awakens Ryūtatsu, who is overjoyed. The old man suspiciously counts it to be sure that all 100 coins are there before going to bed again clutching the gold. Tajū is understandably highly dissatisfied as he has been expecting at least 30 ryō as reward for the stealth retrieval operation. However, he decides to wait until next morning before bringing the matter up and settling the account with Ryūtatsu.

Act II, scene 2: Torafugu no Tajū Taku (Asa)
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū (in the Morning)

Ryūtatsu has gotten up for breakfast, but is about to slip under the mosquito netting (kaya) again to sleep after eating. Tajū stops him and brings up the matter of sharing money between the uncle and the nephew. Ryūtatsu pretends to have forgotten about the matter and apologizes. He brings out the packet of money and takes out three coins. After a moment of hesitation he greedily keeps one coin for himself and hands only two ryō to Tajū. Tajū loses his temper and throws the money back at Ryūtatsu saying he expects 30 ryō, not just a ridiculous and insulting tip of two ryō. Ryūtatsu in his turn quivers with anger at the thought that Tajū has the temerity to ask for so much money that he does not deserve at all. They start flinging insults at each other, then they come to blows over the money. Otoma, who is hearing the commotion from next door, quickly intervenes to stop the fight and she pulls Tajū away with her to her own house.

Act II, scene 3: Hayaokeya Tokubź Taku
At the Home of the Coffin Maker Tokubź

Otoma, after bringing Tajū home with her, tries to calm him down, but Tajū keeps muttering angrily to himself. In the meantime deaf Tokubź is napping at his work, so Otoma wakes him a couple of times. Tokubź loses his temper. Now Tokubź and Otoma start to quarrel with each other, and Otoma angrily says she is going to go away. Tokubź chases after her, and Tajū is left alone at the house.

As he is sitting there, he hears the voice of Katsuzō, a street peddler selling rat poison (nezumitori-gusuri). He tells Tajū that the poison he is selling is a particularly potent one, dangerous even to human beings. Tajū says he would like some of the poison because his house has been recently infested by rats. Then, when he is alone again, he sits darkly, thinking of murdering Ryūtatsu with the poison.

Act III, scene 1: Torafugu no Tajū Taku
At the Home of Torafugu no Tajū

Tajū has made up with Ryūtatsu after the quarrel. The old man is now in a good mood and his nephew is preparing food for him. Ryūtatsu is not aware that the food will be seasoned with …rat poison (nezumitori-gusuri). While eating the food made by Tajū, Ryūtatsu says that he wishes he could meet his daughter Otora. Deep within himself, he suspects that she has been sold to become a mekake or a courtesan in the pleasure quarter by Tajū and Oichi. Tajū and Oichi answer that he should not worry about her as she is well.

Ryūtatsu begins to feel the effects of the poison. He feels dizzy and his face is burning. He stumbles around and is helped to go to bed under the kaya by Oichi. Groaning in agony, he desperately asks for water. Oichi brings him some water and then comes running to Tajū in terror, saying that Ryūtatsu looks terrible. Tajū shows no surprise, quietly saying that the poison has started to work as planned.

Taking a tenugui towel, Tajū goes under the kaya. A moment later Ryūtatsu comes staggering out from under the kaya, the tenugui wrapped around his neck. This is a swollen-bodied and mottled-faced Ryūtatsu. He is discoloured like a dead man. Tajū gets out of the kaya, pulls the tenugui out and strangles the old man. He finally grabs the long-desired 100 ryō and orders Oichi to take out a wooden box and empty it of its contents. Once it is done, Tajū puts the body in it and the box on a cart to dispose of it somewhere.

Oichi is terrified and does not want to stay at the house alone but Tajū tells her to wait for him at home. After the departure of her husband, she is frightened by the sound of a kimono falling from its hanger on the wall. Then, the lamp light flickers. Now the frightening ghost of Ryūtatsu appears on stage in the yard of the house. Oichi goes out to the well without noticing the ghost, to wash out the blood-tainted rag. Meanwhile, the ghost enters the house...

Oichi returns inside the house and locks the door behind her. Then she suddenly sees the ghost of Ryūtatsu sitting near the entrance. She shrieks in terror and the ghost orders her to give him back his 100 ryō. Oichi says that the money will be returned to him later by Tajū. Then, Ryūtatsu asks about his daughter and Oichi answers that she will bring the girl home the next day. The lamp goes out. Oichi goes to light it again while Ryūtatsu slips back under the kaya.

Tajū returns at his home. Too frightened to speak, Oichi points numbly at the kaya. Tajū tells her that he threw the corpse into the river, but Oichi informs him that Ryūtatsu has come back. Tajū does not believe her, so Oichi pulls him to the kaya. Tajū looks inside but there is absolutely nothing or nobody to see. He goes outside to put the cart away.

Oichi, still believing Ryūtatsu to be inside the kaya, apologizes from outside but there is no answer. She peers in and realizes that Ryūtatsu is not there. Startled, she moves away. But at that moment the end of her obi is caught from inside the kaya and she is violently pulled inside.

Tajū comes back into the house and hears Oichi moaning under the kaya. He slips in and her dead body. Otoma comes running from next door, reporting that a corpse has been found in the river near the Maruta Bridge [4]. This is the body of Otora who has committed suicide by jumping into the river.

Act III, scene 2: Fukagawa Marutabashi
At the Maruta Bridge in Fukagawa

Otora's corpse is lying by the river covered with a straw mat. The place is surrounded by a crowd of Fukagawa commoners. Otoma comes hurrying to the scene and falls weeping on the body of the girl. It starts to rain. After everyone has left to take shelter from the rain, the ghost of Ryūtatsu is seen kneeling beside the body of Otora. Now Tajū comes to the Maruta Bridge [4] and starts to cross it. Ryūtatsu calls to him with a ghostly voice. Seeing the ghost of Ryūtatsu, the over-frightened Tajū slips on the wet planks of the bridge and falls into the river. The rain beats down harder than ever as the ghost of Ryūtatsu stands silently on the bridge, staring at the water below and savouring his vengeance.

Notes

[1] The title "A Tale of Rain on the Festival Eve" comes from Samuel Leiter's "Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre".

[2] He is nicknamed Tajū the Tiger Blowfish (torafugu).

[3] This district does not exist anymore. What used to be Kuroe-chō was integrated within the 2nd district of Eitai and the 1st district of Monzen Nakachō at the beginning of the 1930s.

[4] Marutabashi, Maruta Bridge, literally the log bridge, was built during the Edo period on a small canal linking the Sendai-bori and the Abura-bori canals.

The actors Ōtani Tomoemon VI, Onoe Taganojō III and Onoe Kikugorō VI playing the roles of Torafugu no Tajū, Tajū's nyōbō Oichi and Ryūtatsu in the drama "Kōdan Yomiya no Ame", which was staged in September 1935 at the Kabukiza

 
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