ÔSAKAZUKI
   
Play title Ôsakazuki Shusen no Tsuwamono  In Japanese
Author Kawatake Shinshichi II
History

The drama "Ôsakazuki Shusen no Tsuwamono" was premiered in May 1881 at the Saruwakaza [casting].

Structure

The drama "Ôsakazuki Shusen no Tsuwamono" is made up of two acts.

Key words Ashigaru
Jidaimono
Mitsugumi Sakazuki
Ôsaka-jô
Sakazuki
Sake
Taishuka
Latest Production

At the Kabukiza in December 1999 with Ichikawa Danjûrô, Ichikawa Ennosuke and Ichikawa Danshirô in the roles of Baba Saburobei, Ii Kamon-no-Kami Naotaka and Naitô Kii-no-Kami Nobumasa.

Summary

The foot soldiers room in Lord Naitô's Mansion

Hara Saisuke is a newcomer in the group of ashigaru at the service of Lord Naitô Kii-no-Kami Nobumasa. He bears an ugly scar on his forehead and he is a heavy drinker, always crippled in debt because of all the money he borrows to buy sake. His fellows try to reason with him but he prefers to stop listening to them and takes a nap, using his sake jug as a pillow.

Hiraoka Jiemon, a high-ranking retainer of Lord Naitô, walks in the soldiers' room, looking for Saisuke. Lord Naitô needs a man who can drink a huge quantity of sake in order to compete with an important guest, Lord Ii Kamon-no-Kami Naotaka, a famous heavy drinker. The only one able to take this job is Saisuke. Hiraoka asks him how much he can drink and Saisuke answers that his lack of money prevents him testing his real limit. A servant brings out a beautiful formal costume, which will be worn tonight by Saisuke. The foot soldier is also admonished to be careful in his speech when he will be in front of Lord Ii.

The arrival of Lord Ii is announced and Hiraoka withdraws, leaving Saisuke to get ready for the drinking party.

The guest room in Lord Naitô's Mansion

The party for Lord Ii has started at the opening of the stage curtain. The family heirloom of the Naitô clan, a beautiful mitsugumi sakazuki, has been brought in front of the guest. It is said that these three huge sake cups have not been fully used in a row by one single drinker. Tonight there is a chance that one of the two drinkers might successfully take up the challenge. Lord Ii starts with the smallest of the three cups. As part of the samurai etiquette, Lord Ii tries to hand the cup to someone to match him in the drink. Lord Naitô looks around for someone to accept the cup, but there is no volunteer. Lord Ii is extremely dissatisfied.

Hiraoka arrives at the right time, announcing to all that he has brought somebody, who can drink with Lord Ii. This somebody is of course Saisuke. This is a surprise for most of the party attendants who all know who Saisuke really is but they can't express their comments.

Saisuke swallows the sake of the small cup in one gulp. Then, Lord Ii moves on to the next cup. Saisuke easily matches him with this one as well. Now it is the turn of the third and largest cup. The etiquette demands that Lord Ii should be the first one to drink from this giant cup, but the guest of Lord Naitô prefers to order Saisuke to start. All the attendants are quite sure that the challenge is impossible, even for a heavy drinker like Saisuke. They are of course all surprised to witness how quickly Saisuke can down the sake from this cup. Lord Ii is the first one to orally express admiration for Saisuke's drinking performance.

It is now the turn of Lord Ii to drink with the largest cup. He orders Saisuke to entertain him with a song or a dance while he drinks. Saisuke will dance but Lord ii adds one extra request: the dance has to explain why there is such an ugly scar of Saisuke's forehead. The foot soldier lies by saying that he once fell down on the road and hurt himself with a stone when he was very drunk. Lord Ii accuses him of being a liar because it is obvious that only a sword or a spear can leave such a scar on somebody's head. Saisuke finally admits that he was wounded on a battlefield. As Lord Ii had suspected all along the party, Saisuke is in reality the famous warrior Baba Saburobei Nobuhisa, who fought against Lord Ii's soldiers during the battle of Ôsaka Castle. Baba was on the defenders side and lord Ii was part of the invading forces. On the battlefield the two had confronted each other in combat, Lord Ii fighting with a spear and Baba Saburobei with a sword. The former one succeeded in wounding the latter one but could not kill him as he managed an escape. He has entered under a false name the household of Lord Naitô as a mere ashigaru.

Lord Ii, who was impressed by both Saburobei's fighting and drinking performances, asks Lord Naitô to release the foot soldier from his service because he would like to hire him. It goes without saying that Lord Naitô is very reluctant to release Saisuke because he now knows the real strength of his retainer. Lord Ii finishes off the sake in the largest cup and tells Lord Naitô that, if he wants to keep Saisuke for him, he must fight against Lord Ii. Lord Naitô knows that he and all his retainers can't match Lord Ii in a duel. Saisuke is the only one to accept to challenge Lord Ii. This is their second duel and, this time, they will fight with a wooden spear and a wooden sword. Both men are strong warrior and none can win the fight, which ends in a draw.

Lord Ii congratulates Lord Naitô on having such a skilled warrior retainer and tells them all that he will give up his will of hiring Saburobei on one condition: the warrior joins the high-ranking retainers of Lord Naitô and receives a better salary. Lord Naitô happily approves the condition of Lord Ii and the party goes on in a great atmosphere.

The actors Ichikawa Sadanji I and Ichikawa Gonjûrô playing the roles of Baba Saburobei and Lord Ii Kamon-no-Kami Naotaka in the drama "Ôsakazuki Shusen no Tsuwamono", which was staged in August 1887 at the Chitoseza
(print made by Utagawa Kunimasa IV)

 
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