Dance title Noriaibune  In Japanese
Noriaibune Eh˘ Manzai
Authors Sakurada Jisuke III (lyrics)
Kishizawa Shikisa V (music)
Nishikawa Shichiroji/Nishikawa Minosuke/Nishikawa Yoshijir˘/Nishikawa Ch˘jűr˘ (choreography)

This dance was premiered under the title "Kashiragaki Ise Monogatari" in the 1st lunar month of 1843 at the Ichimuraza. It was staged within the new year drama "Kioi Uta Soga no Hanadashi" and used different musical ensembles: Tomimoto, Tokiwazu, Nagauta and Gidayű. The seven dancers were Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XII, Band˘ Shűka I, Seki Sanjűr˘ III, Onoe Kikujir˘ II, Nakamura Fukusuke I and Ichikawa Danzabur˘ V.

It was revived under the title "Noriaibune Eh˘ Manzai" in January 1896 at the Harukiza, with Ichikawa Ennosuke I and Nakamura Kangor˘ XII performing the two comic dancers. It used only a Tokiwazu musical accompaniment.

Key words Shosagoto
Shichi Fukujin

Imagine that the Sumida River flows across the stage from left to right. Upstage is the Muk˘jima side, while down stage lies Asakusa. During the New Year's holiday it used to be very common for people to make a first-of-the-year visit to Muk˘jima where there are temples and shrines dedicated to each of the Seven Gods of Good Luck. Benten (the Goddess of Fortune), for example, is enshrined at Ch˘mei Temple, and Jur˘jin (the God of Longevity) at Shirahige Shrine.

Today, too, the ferryboat shuttling between Asakusa and Muk˘jima is prospering. Among the passengers are a carpenter, a geisha girl, and a white sake seller. There are seven in all, if we include the boatwoman. This scene is reminiscent of the Seven Gods (shichi fukujin) sailing into port on New Year's Eve with a boat full of treasures.

A couple of comic dancers arrive in a flurry and are just barely in time for the boat's departure to Muk˘jima. This play highlights the cheerful and comical dances performed in turn by each character.

This summary has been written by Watanabe Hisao and edited by Jeff Blair [website]

A pre-War postcard of the dance "Noriaibune" (unknown casting)

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