SENGOKU YASHIKI
   
Play titles Sengoku Yashiki  In Japanese
Genroku Chűshingura  In Japanese
The Judgement at the Mansion of Lord Sengoku
Author Mayama Seika
History

The first act of "Sengoku Yashiki", the 9th play of Mayama Seika's cycle "Genroku Chűshingura", was premiered in April 1938 at the Meijiza [casting]. The second act of "Sengoku Yashiki" was premiered in February 1939 at the T˘ky˘ Gekij˘ [casting].

Structure

"Sengoku Yashiki" is made up of two acts, four scenes.

Key words Adauchi
Ak˘
Ak˘ R˘shi
Ak˘-han
Asano Naganori
Asano Takumi-no-Kami
Banshű
Daimy˘
Edo-j˘
Genroku
Gishigeki
Hatamoto
Horibe Taketsune
Horibe Yasubŕ
Jinmon
Kar˘
Kira K˘zuke-no-Suke
Kira Yoshihisa
ďishi Chikara
ďishi Kuranosuke
ďishi Yoshikane
ďishi Yoshitaka
Omote Shoin
ďtaka Gengo
ďtaka Tadao
Rekishigeki
R˘nin
Sengakuji
Seppuku
Shinkabuki
Tominomori Masayori
Tominomori Sukeemon
Yashiki
Yoshida Chűzaemon
Yoshida Kanesuke
Summary

Act I, scene 1: Sengoku Yashiki Genkan Mae
At the Entrance to the Sengoku Mansion

We are in the morning of the 15th day of the 12th lunar month of the 15th year of the Genroku era [1], the morning after the Ak˘ retainers have successfully broken into the Kira mansion and achieved their aim of vengeance against the man who was responsible for the death of their former lord and the downfall of the Ak˘ Domain. Most of the members of the vendetta have proceeded on their way with the leader ďishi Kuranosuke to pay their respects at the grave of Asano Naganori [2] at the Sengakuji Temple in Edo. They progress through the neighborhood with some commotion as townsmen become aware of what has happened and come out one by one to form an admiring crowd around the courageous r˘nin.

At the mansion of the magistrate Lord Sengoku, all is still quiet as it is still early morning. The commotion outside is noted by some young samurai as they open the gate of the mansion. They immediately spot the armed group dressed for fighting, which is passing through the neighborhood. Two of the men from the vendetta group now come up to the entrance of the mansion. They are Yoshida Kanesuke [3] and Tominomori Masayori [4] who have been dispatched as the group's representatives to report their act to Lord Sengoku and place the group's disposal in the hands of the authorities.

The two r˘nin are met at the genkan by Lord Sengoku's kar˘ Kuwana Buemon. When Kuwana realizes that they are the retainers of Asano Naganori and that they have undoubtedly now achieved their vendetta, he shows his pleasure and invites them into the mansion to rest and relax. As the two are hesitating to enter, Lord Sengoku himself comes to the entrance to meet them. Sengoku, who has always been sympathetic to the Ak˘ retainers' cause, enthusiastically asks them for details on their successful vendetta. As there is much to hear, he insists that the two r˘nin enter the mansion, and in spite of their hesitation, he has them ushered into the mansion.

Act I, scene 2: Sengoku Yashiki Omote Shoin
In the Reception Hall of the Sengoku Mansion

In answer to Lord Sengoku's questioning in the omote shoin, Tominomori Masayori reveals that of the group of 47, the eldest of all is 77 years old, and the youngest, Kuranosuke's son, is only a 15 year old r˘nin. As for Yoshida Kanesuke, when he is asked by Lord Sengoku just what his emotions, he remarks ruefully and frankly that if the truth be told, all he wants at the moment is to just lie down and rest for a while. Lord Sengoku laughs, pleased at the somewhat impertinent but honest answer. Then, after seeing that they are provided with simple comforts, leaves them alone to relax for the moment.

Act II, scene 1: Sengoku Yashiki ďhiroma
At the Audience Room of the Sengoku Mansion

All the members of the vendetta are summoned to Lord Sengoku's official mansion that night for questioning (jinmon). Lord Sengoku questions ďishi Kuranosuke and the others about details concerning the attack on the Kira mansion, and expresses admiration for the concern shown by the group in avoiding causing trouble to others. For instance, although the attack was carried out at night, the group has refrained from using lighted torches, which might have caused a devastating fire.

Kuranosuke answers all questions in a logical and satisfactory manner that quite impresses Lord Sengoku. When Lord Sengoku, for instance, asks him why the group has attacked Kira Yoshihisa [5] and taken his life in defiance of the Shogunate ruling, Kuranosuke replies that the act has not been done in defiance of the Shogunate. The group, as loyal retainers of their late lord Asano Naganori, has merely carried out their lord's desire. The lord's sword has been just three inches too short to achieve his aim of taking Kira Yoshihisa's life in the Edo Castle. The r˘nin has stretched that sword little by little until that precious three inches has been added with a satisfying result. Lord Sengoku can find no fault with Kuranosuke's reasoning.

Act II, scene 2: Sengoku Yashiki Omote Genkan
At the Entrance to the Sengoku Mansion

Three hours pass from the previous scene. The questioning has been concluded, and it has been decided to put the 47 retainers under custody at various lords' mansions all over Edo. Most of the group have already been sent out to their respective places of custody, with Kuranosuke exchanging farewell greetings with each one as they leave.

Horibe Taketsune [6], ďtaka Tadao [7] and others, including Kuranosuke's young son ďishi Chikara, make their departure for Lord Matsudaira's mansion. Chikara looks back at his father as he leaves, as if there were still something he wanted to say, but his companions gently push him on. Kuranosuke has to fight back his tears as he asks Horibe to look after his son. Chikara assures his father that he will die in worthy manner so as not to sully the honor of the group.

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

Comments

"Sengoku Yashiki is a symmetrical drama, with a long and static central scene preceded and followed by short scenes which have proportionately much more movement and action. At the beginning of the play the r˘nin are about to arrive at the residence of the local magistrate to whom they are surrendering, and at the end they depart from the same spot. Mayama seems to have been concerned to make these two scenes as dramatic as possible and in performance they are very moving." (Brian Powell in "Kabuki In Modern Japan: Mayama Seika And His Plays")

Notes

[1] The 15th day of the 12th lunar month of the 15th year of the Genroku era was the 31st of January 1703 in the western calendar.

[2] Also called Asano Takumi-no-Kami. Asano Naganori's courtesy title was takumi-no-kami.

[3] He was commonly called Yoshida Chűzaemon.

[4] He was commonly called Tominomori Sukeemon.

[5] Also called Kira K˘zuke-no-Suke. Kira Yoshihisa's courtesy title was k˘zuke-no-suke.

[6] He was commonly called Horibe Yasubŕ.

[7] He was commonly called ďtaka Gengo.

The actors Ichikawa Ennosuke  II, Ichikawa Sadanji II and Jitsukawa Enjaku II playing the roles of Tominomori Sukeemon, Yoshida Chűzaemon and Lord Sengoku in the drama "Sengoku Yashiki", which was staged in April 1938 at the Meijiza

 
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