KORIKORI BANASHI
   
Play titles Korikori Banashi [1]  In Japanese
Edo Miyage  In Japanese
Author Hōjō Hideji
History

Hōjō Hideji's drama "Korikori Banashi" was premiered in February 1961 at the Tōkyō Takarazuka Theater of with Hisaya Morishige (Inosuke), Nakamura Kanzaburō XVII (the priest Jūzen), Yamada Isuzu (Okiwa) and Miki Norihei (Matahei). Because both Hisaya Morishige and Yamada Isuzu were from Ōsaka, they were portrayed as Ōsaka natives and the play was set in Ōsaka. It was premiered in Kabuki in November 1961 in Ōsaka at the Ōsaka Shinkabukiza [casting]. "Korikori Banashi" fell into oblivion for almost 35 years and was revived by Nakamura Kankurō V in August 1996 at the Kabukiza [more details]. The story was edited to set the play in Edo. This Edo version, which was also entitled "Edo Miyage" ("Souvenir from Edo"), became a trademark drama for the Nakamuraya guild.

Structure

The "Edo Miyage" version of "Korikori Banashi" is in 11 scenes.

Key words Asakusa
Asakusa Kannon
Bakuchiuchi
Dokushu
Dote
Engawa
Enmadō
Fugu
Furoshiki
Hanafuda
Koroshiba
Sake
Sewamono
Shamisen
Shinkabuki
Soba
Sobaya
Sumidagawa
Tenugui
Tenuguiya
Yoshiwara
Yūrei
Summary

Scene 1: Yoshiwara Tanbo Inosuke Sumai
Inosuke's Home within the Rice Paddies near Yoshiwara

It is late afternoon at the beginning of winter at Inosuke's home near the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara. Inosuke is a tenugui-maker. The neighborhood wives gather around Inosuke's home and loudly complain that Inosuke's wife Okiwa should help them fix the deteriorated torii in front of the local Inari Shrine. Then, they start to gossip about Okiwa's alleged infidelity with another man. Okiwa is taken aback.

Okiwa asks Mataichi, a man working for Inosuke, to ask the priest Jūzen of the Enmadō Temple, to her pay a visit. At that moment, Jūzen walks past Inosuke's home carrying a fighting cock. Okiwa invites Jūzen in for a cup of tea and he enters. Okiwa tells Mataichi to go on an errand. She and Jūzen are left alone. She begins to ask him about a rumored love affair and Jūzen pretends to know nothing about it. Okiwa presses him so persistently that at last he begins to talk about a certain woman, the daughter of a wealthy family, who has asked him to take her as his wife. She is the daughter of a rich family from Ōsaka that recently made its fortune in Edo. By marrying her, Jūzen would be adopted in this family. Okiwa then figures out that the woman must be an ugly but rich girl named Osome [2]. She tells Jūzen the rumor that one man after another has been asked to take over the family name by marrying Osome but all of them have declined the offer and escaped as far as possible. Okiwa then tells Jūzen that she wants to wash that woman's smell off of him with the pure water from her well. She orders him to take his clothes off. Jūzen balks at the idea, and, for a long time, talks about leaving. Finally he tells Okiwa that he is worried that her husband Inosuke will find out about them. She answers that he most likely already has heard she is unfaithful, so there's no need to get upset about it. Then Okiwa begs Jūzen to dump Osome and to take her away with him. Okiwa says she longs to go upstairs and drink some sake with him. He accepts and the two newly-acquainted lovers retire together upstairs.

Scene 2: Asakusa Kannon Ura Enmado
At the Enmadō temple behind the Asakusa Kannon Temple

At night, a group of gamblers (bakuchiuchi) start to loudly quarrel beside the Enmadō Temple. Fukuzō comes to the scene and tries to stop them, buying sake so that they may stop their quarrel through drinking. After the gamblers calm down and leave, Jūzen enters. He is drunk and is carrying a large bottle of sake. When Fukuzō asks Jūzen when the wedding day with Osome is, Jūzen tries to postpone the date. The temple worker Jinbei comes to get Jūzen, saying that a guest has now come, bringing sake. Then, Osome enters, carrying a small barrel of sake to celebrate their coming wedding. Osome asks Jūzen to come to her home to meet her family but the priest does not want to go. Osome sends Fukuzō home to tell her family about their arrival. When Osome and Jūzen are alone, she forces him to take a mouthful of sake directly from her mouth and others disgraceful things follows. Then she pushes him to tell her whether or not he was speaking with his heart when he told her last night that he loved her.

The sliding door is suddenly thrown open and Okiwa rushes in, clutching a large knife. Osome is startled and, burning with fear, in a nick of time, she has only time to fall from the engawa and runs away as quick as possible. Jinbei runs after her.

Alone with her lover, Okiwa says that they should run off right away but Jūzen sends her back to break off her relationship with her husband. She resists, saying that although she wants to break up with her husband, he does not want to break up with her. Then Jūzen tells her that if she first kills her husband and then comes back, they can become husband and wife. Okiwa then resolves to murder her husband.

Scene 3: Inosuke Sumai
At Inosuke's Home

It is the next afternoon. Inosuke is at his home and Okiwa returns from the public bathhouse. Since it is a very cold day, Inosuke has prepared a meal of boiled fugu for dinner. Okiwa says that she would like to invite Jūzen, who is fond of fugu, to join them. But Inosuke refuses as he wants to eat alone with her. Then Mataichi returns with the dyestuffs he has bought for his master. Inosuke tells him that dyes are very dangerous substances, and orders Mataichi to put them high up on a shelf. Inosuke gives Mataichi some coins and tells him to go out for a meal. As Mataichi is also crazy about boiled fugu, he retires very disappointed to an inner room.

Inosuke and Okiwa begin drinking sake and eating fugu. Inosuke, made bold by the sake and the aphrodisiacal fugu, wants to have fun with her. Okiwa coldly answers that if she had known that the fugu was so powerful, she wouldn't have eaten any. He is so insistent that she winds up telling him that she wants to break up with him. Inosuke's eyes are suddenly full of tears. He cries that he will throw himself off in the river to die. Okiwa replies that she will call Jūzen in order to perform his funeral. Inosuke says that, if she's going to give herself to that priest, then it is out of question to die. With a smile on his face, he tells her that he knows about their love affair. Okiwa is infuriated. Then Inosuke begs her forgiveness, saying that he wants to stay beside her forever, and tries to take her in his arms, but Okiwa pushes him away and knocks him down.

Then Mataichi comes out, carrying some things in a furoshiki, and with a hungry glance at the fugu, exits again. Inosuke goes into the kitchen with a sake bottle. At the same time, Okiwa goes to the shelves and takes down the dyes with a trembling hand. Then she puts some of the dye in Inosuke's bowl. Just then, Mataichi comes back. He sees Okiwa washing her hands, but without thinking anything of it, he goes into the kitchen where Inosuke is, grabs his umbrella, and leaves once more. Okiwa takes the remaining sake and drinks it. Then Inosuke returns with more sake and a plate of salted pickles. Inosuke puts some fugu in his bowl and takes a mouthful. He says that it tastes different. Making a strange face, he takes another mouthful. He gets up to go to the kitchen, but suddenly collapses on the engawa in dire pain. Okiwa begins to shake, runs to a pillar and slowly sinks to the ground.

Scene 4: Inosuke Sumai
At Inosuke's Home

That evening, a funeral service is performed, and before Inosuke's body, Jūzen recites the Buddhist sutras. Mataichi and Jinbei are looking after the guests. Okiwa addresses the guests in tears. When the guests leave, and when the sutra recitation is finished, Mataichi brings Jūzen a cup of tea. Through her tears, Okiwa, who seems to be suffering greatly, tells Jūzen and the neighborhood women that Inosuke was killed by the poison of the fugu. Everybody go home, leaving Okiwa and Jūzen alone. When Jūzen asks her whether or not Inosuke has died from the poison naturally found in the fugu, Okiwa confesses that she has killed him with the poisonous dyestuffs they use in making their tenugui. Saying that she has murdered him because Jūzen told her to do so, she vows that they will never part as long as they live.

Just then, Mataichi comes out. He has just dried the tears from his eyes and says that it would be better to take the body to the crematorium that night. This is what is done to end this scene.

Scene 5: Sumidagawa no Dote
On the Embankment along the Sumida River

In the middle of the night, Okiwa and Jūzen are walking along the banks (dote) of the Sumida River, returning from the crematorium. It is very dark and they are carrying no lantern. Slightly behind them, there is the figure of a man wearily following them. It is the figure of the dead Inosuke (yūrei).

Scene 6: Enmadō
At the Enmadō Temple

This is the dawn of the next day. Jūzen and Okiwa, who have fallen into a drunken stupor, are together within the Enmadō Temple. Jinbei returns and finds them lying together. Okiwa is ashamed and quickly moves away from Jūzen. Jinbei tells her that Mataichi has gone home with the ashes of her husband. Then, Mataichi himself appears with a strange expression on his face. He tells Okiwa that her husband has sent him to summon her. Okiwa and Jinbei laugh, thinking that Mataichi, who was up and busy all night, is tired and confused. But Mataichi tells Jinbei that, after they parted, Inosuke was waiting for him when he got home. Jinbei answers that he must have indeed seen a ghost. As a consequence of this strange story, Okiwa is afraid to go home.

Then they hear the voice of Inosuke calling his wife from outside. Everyone freezes in fear. Inosuke comes into the garden with a radiant smile on his face. Everyone is so frightened that they can't even speak. Jūzen hides his head under a cushion and Okiwa is finally able to weakly answer her late husband's call but she is still unable to move. Inosuke persistently calls her, and although she is about to faint, she is pulled away by his voice. Mataichi, too, moving like a sleep-walker, is strongly pulled after Inosuke. Jūzen, taking the cushion off his head, kneels near his wooden gong. Then, he begins frantically beating it while chanting the sutras. The frightened Jinbei holds on to Jūzen from behind.

Scene 7: Inosuke Sumai
At Inosuke's Home

This is the afternoon of the same day. Inosuke is outside his home, busying himself as usual. The neighborhood wives all come to look. They're afraid to get too close, so they peek through the fence. When Inosuke calls out to them, they fearfully run away. Inosuke returns to the engawa and asks Okiwa to bring him some tea. She quietly comes in with some tea, not sure whether Inosuke is a ghost or not. She is determined to quickly find out. Then Inosuke frightens her a little when he says that he did, in fact, die yesterday. He wanted to hug her once more so he came back from the world of the dead. She faints. However, Inosuke leaves her lying there, takes a few things which are wrapped in a furoshiki, and goes out. When he passes the neighborhood women, they greet him out of habit, but when he greets them in reply they are badly shaken and run away.

Mataichi and Jinbei, who have been watching everything, enter the house, followed by Jūzen and Fukuzō. They all speak to Okiwa, trying to rouse her. She finally regains consciousness. Despite all that has happened, they can't believe that Inosuke is still alive. They discuss the case, and even though they think that if he's already dead he can't be killed a second time, they take the decision to murder him once more anyway.

Scene 8: Furunuma no Hotori
At the Edge of the Old Swamp

This is the same day at night. The scene is set on the edge of a swamp. Jūzen, Fukuzō and Jinbei lie in ambush, waiting for Inosuke to come along. Then Mataichi appears, and says that he thinks the lantern coming this way belongs to Inosuke. Desperately wishing to avenge years of ill-treatment as a servant, he says that he will be the one to strike and kill Inosuke. The others all watch from their hiding spot. Inosuke comes near. Mataichi puts out the lantern and strikes Inosuke a blow on the top of the head. His late master collapses. Then, under Mataichi's repeated blows, Inosuke stops breathing. The three silent witnesses gather around the body of Inosuke. They tie a stone to him and prepare to sink his body in the swamp. Mataichi says that he will take care of the drowning. He tells them to go to the sobaya, where he will join them later. They all leave while Mataichi drags Inosuke's body away.

Scene 9: Tera no Horisoto
Outside the Temple Walls

This is a short time later, the day of the second killing of Inosuke. The scene is set in front of a sobaya stand outside the Enmadō Temple. Jūzen, Okiwa, Fukuzō, and Jinbei are eating bowls of soba while talking of what has just taken place. Then Mataichi arrives, telling them not to worry, since the body has disappeared forever into the middle of the swamp. He too would like to enjoy a bowl of soba.

The figure of Inosuke appears out of the darkness and unsteadily totters toward the stand. Prompted by hunger, he makes himself a bowl of soba. Jūzen drops his chopsticks and Inosuke reaches over to give him a new pair. Jūzen is still not aware that it is Inosuke. He thanks him and nobody seems aware that Inosuke has appeared. They continue their conversation while eating their soba. Mataichi gets up for some condiments, looks up and finds Inosuke looking at him. He is frozen on the spot with horror. The others then look up and see Inosuke too. They all let out shrieks of fear, dropping their bowls and frantically try to escape. Only Mataichi remains behind.

Inosuke stops acting like a ghost and watches the others as they run away. When Inosuke and Mataichi are alone, Mataichi says that maybe they should stop making them suffer. Inosuke gleefully laugh and answers that they have not yet suffered enough.

Scene 10: Enmadō
At the Enmadō Temple

Two nights later, Okiwa, who is at Enmadō Temple, seems half-crazed and follows Jūzen around the temple. Okiwa and Jūzen have planned to leave Edo. Jūzen says that the two of them should not leave together but separately. However, Okiwa answers that she won't go unless they go together. They finally decide to escape together. Okiwa pretends to go out to get ready to leave, but she in reality hides herself behind a door. Fukuzō arrives at the temple, bringing Osome with him. Osome tells Jūzen that if he stays in Edo he is in danger of being killed. She tells him to go to her villa in Ayase to hide for a few days. They will go together to Ōsaka afterwards. Jūzen agrees to the suggested plan. Osome and Fukuzō leave the temple. Jūzen hurries into an inner room while Okiwa comes out from where she has overheard everything. She is shaking uncontrollably with rage. Then, she puts poison in the sake bottle. When Jūzen comes back, Okiwa says that he should have one drink to fortify him for the journey and gives him the bottle of poisoned sake. Jūzen drinks heavily. Then Okiwa accuses Jūzen of betraying her at the last moment. She angrily tells him that she has put poison in the sake (dokushu). Jūzen is shocked. She says that she wants to die together with him. She grabs the bottle and quickly drinks. Jūzen hastily sticks his fingers in his mouth and desperately tries to vomit. After a little while, both Jūzen and Okiwa realize that the poison is not working. Then, Jūzen thrusts Okiwa aside, picks up his baggage and leaves the temple. Okiwa runs after her lover. All of a sudden, a ghostly ball of fire appears right before her eyes. Okiwa is astonished and falls to the ground. Inosuke stealthily comes close to her, and, screaming for his forgiveness, she is shocked with terror and faints.

Scene 11: Inosuke Sumai
At Inosuke's Home

Four months later, Okiwa is playing the shamisen, seated in front of Inosuke's home. She is singing the same song over and over again. The men and women of the neighborhood ridicule her misfortune as they pass by. Inosuke faithfully prepares a meal for his poor Okiwa, who comes in to eat it.

Mataichi comes in. He reports to Inosuke about what has become of Jūzen, but Inosuke seems indifferent to the pieces of news. He thanks Mataichi for the success of their plot. They look up, only to see that Okiwa is now playing a card game called hanafuda. The two of them, struck with sorrow that their revenge has gone too far, beg poor Okiwa's forgiveness. Then, saying that they need to undergo a religious purification ceremony, they leave Inosuke's home.

Then Jinbei comes in, as though he has planned to see Okiwa when she is alone in Inosuke's home. He tells her that Jūzen wishes to see her. She tells him that since Inosuke will be off buying materials far from Edo all day tomorrow, she wants Jūzen to come here. Then, she tells Jinbei to give the priest the message that if he doesn't come as soon as possible, she really will go mad.

This summary would have not been possible without the help of Sekidobashi Sakura!

Notes

[1] The ideograms for the expression korikori are the ones for kitsune (ko), tanuki (ri), kitsune (ko) and tanuki (ri). These two animals are said, in the Japanese folklore, to have magical powers. Korikori tells us that there are unexpected and unbelievable supernatural phenomenons happening in this drama ... but there is no magic indeed.

[2] Osome is nicknamed the "Bull Girl" (ushi musume in Japanese). This nickname gives you a good idea of her beauty and femininity.

Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII playing the role of Tenuguiya Inosuke in the drama "Korikori Banashi" (playbill of the Akasaka Grand Kabuki in September 2008)

 
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