|SODE NIKKI BANSH█ MEGURI|
|Play titles||Sode Nikki Banshű Meguri
Kane-ni Urami Kasane Furisode
Himeji-j˘ Oto-ni Kiku Sono Ishizue
Namiki Jűsuke I
Namiki Gohŕ's drama "Sode Nikki Banshű Meguri" was premiered in the 3rd lunar month of 1779 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai [more details]. The opening day was the 16th day of the 3rd lunar month of the 8th year of the An'ei era, which was the 2nd of May 1779 in the western calendar. It ended with a d˘j˘jimono dance-drama entitled "Kane-ni Urami Kasane Furisode" starring Nakamura Tomijűr˘ I, with Toyotake Sadayű as j˘jűri singer and ďnishi Tsumajir˘ as shamisen player. The production was very successful and it was stgaed up to the 7th day of the 6th lunar month of the 8th year of the An'ei era, which was the 20th of July 1779 in the western calendar. It fell into oblivion and was revived only in March 1991, in T˘ky˘ at the National Theatre [more details]. It was revived and revised a second time, in January 2019 at the National Theatre. This second revival used the title "Himeji-j˘ Oto-ni Kiku Sono Ishizue" [casting | more details].
The original drama was in 6 acts (11 scenes):
Maiko no Hama
Onoe no Kane
Act I, scene 2: Momonoi Yakata
This drama was set in the Muromachi period, during the reign of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the 8th Ashikaga Sh˘gun. The Momonoi Clan rules the Himeji Domain  in the province of Harima (also called Banshű). Two emissaries come from the Muromachi Shogunate, Ikuta Hy˘gonosuke, the younger brother of the lord of the Himeji Domain and the evil Shikama Daigaku. Momonoi Shuridayű, daimy˘ of the Himeji Domain, receives them. They tell him that the Sh˘gun has ordered to requisition two great tea ceremony treasures (kah˘) that the lord possesses. The first one is a precious vase; the second one is an incense burner (k˘ro). In addition, they report that Shuridayű's son Momonoi Mutsujir˘  has not yet come for an audience with the Sh˘gun, claiming illness. Shuridayű answers that he will present the two treasures to the Sh˘gun immediately and, as soon as the wakadono Mutsujir˘ recovers, he will send him to Ky˘to for an audience with Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Shikama Daigaku answers that Mutsujir˘ is not sick, but has been busy amusing himself with the courtesans in the pleasure quarter (kuruwa) of the port city of Murotsu . Only confiscating the domain is likely to cure this illness. Just at this point, Momonoi Mutsujir˘ himself arrives, accompanied by a large crowd of courtesans including the keisei Onoe, who is his lover. Daigaku confronts Mutsujir˘ with a poem card that he has dedicated to a shrine and maliciously twists its meaning to suggest that he is plotting against the Ashikaga Yoshimasa.The situation is at an impasse when Innami Naizen, one of the two senior retainers (kar˘) of the domain, appears. He reveals that tempting Mutsujir˘ to go to the pleasure quarter of Murotsu was part of a plot evilly crafted by his younger brother, Innami Daiz˘, to take over the Himeji Domain. He shows a secret letter as proof and orders his own brother Daiz˘ to be expelled from the clan and from the domain. Everyone is impressed by Naizen's honesty and impartiality.
Momonoi Mutsujir˘ brings out the wooden boxes with the two precious treasures, but, when he opens them, he finds that there is nothing in it. Instead of the two heirlooms, there is a document certifying that Mutsujir˘ has bought Onoe's contract out (miuke). Desperately, Mutsujir˘ tries to explain himself, but is unable due to a congenital stutter. This Mutsujir˘ was the reason that he has not been allowed to meet the Sh˘gun. As he cannot speak clearly, he has to write his explanation but Naizen calmly burns it sheet by sheet. Seeing what has happened, Mutsujir˘ faints with a burning and powerless rage.
Innami Naizen explains that he has done this on purpose. Mutsujir˘'s anger was necessary for a secret cure for stuttering to work and Naizen asks for permission to administer the medicine. The drug works miraculously and now Mutsujir˘ can talk normally. He should therefore be allowed to meet the Sh˘gun. Only the two heirlooms are now needed for the emissaries' mission to be completed. Naizen promises to find the two treasures.
Ikuta Hy˘gonosuke and Innami Naizen are left on stage alone. Naizen attempts to commit seppuku to atone for the loss of the two treasures, asking the other senior retainer Kosakabe Mondo  to continue the search, but Hy˘gonosuke, moved by the depths of Naizen's loyalty to the Momonoi clan, urges him to delay his seppuku and search for the treasures himself. Naizen agrees and they go into the back of the mansion. Mutsujir˘ appears suffering from sudden agonizing pains. As Onoe tries to comfort him, the kar˘ Kosakabe Mondo comes running. He checks the medicine that Naizen has given to Mutsujir˘ and discovers that it is actually a lethal poison. Naizen is in reality not the protector of the Momonoi Clan but an evil plotter working at the destruction of the Momonoi Clan in order to seize power for himself. Mutsujir˘ has just the time to entrust his son Kunimatsu, whose mother is Onoe, to Mondo's care. This was the last gasp of the dying wakadono Mutsujir˘.
Act I, scene 3: Momonoi Yakata J˘gai
Innami Naizen tells Momonoi Shuridayű that assassins are searching after him so, for Shuridayű's own safety, he exchanges palanquins with him. Kosakabe Mondo comes rushing in search of Naizen, sees his palanquin and plunges in his spear (yari), only to find that he has killed his master instead of his enemy. Naizen suddenly shoots with a tepp˘ the shocked Mondo. Onoe and her father Kond˘ Heijibŕ come running and they find Mondo's body. They lament that the only man who could avenge the murder of their daimy˘ and his son is unfortunately dead. Suddenly and mysteriously, Mondo revives. He laughs and says that he cannot die now, just when his most important mission is about to start.
Act II, scene 1: Hime-ga-J˘ Monzen
A year has passed since the Momonoi Clan was abolished after losing two generations of masters at once. We are now at Hime-ga-J˘ Castle . First, a samurai named Kakogawa Sanpei, who is a former retainer of the Momonoi Clan, sneaks into the castle. Then a crowd of farmers (hyakush˘) represented by the sh˘ya Nibŕ  come to petition the neighboring daimy˘ Shikama Daigaku and Ushimado Jűnai to investigate and exorcise the castle of its ghostly apparitions (y˘kai), which have been troubling them. At this point a samurai named Yumiya Tar˘  appears. He claims to be a coward, who always clings to his bow and arrow and has been disowned by his family, but he would like to have the chance to prove his bravery by cleansing the castle of its ghosts in order to be reinstated. He is allowed by Shikama Daigaku and Ushimado Jűnai to go into the castle.
Act II, scene 2: Hime-ga-J˘ J˘nai
Yumiya Tar˘ and the yakko Okihei, a henchman of Shikama Daigaku, are wearing a mask in order to scare away the ghosts. They are joined by Kakogawa Sanpei. Sanpei feels particularly strong ties to the Momonois since his mother was Mutsujir˘'s nurse. Sanpei encounters the ghost of the castle, a beautiful woman in a many-layered court robe (jűnihitoe). She sends Sanpei to the banquet hall of the castle. Then, she suddenly and magically disappears.
Yumiya Tar˘ appears with somebody who seems to be a young woman. Tar˘ tries to seduce her but learns that the girl is actually a boy. Meanwhile, Shikama Daigaku and the yakko Okihei  come to try to climb to the castle main tower. Through a massive thunder roar, the power of the spirits makes them faint.
Yumiya Tar˘ vows to call the spirits by plucking his bow. The beautiful woman in many-layered court robe reappears and addresses him as Tajimi Juntar˘, which is Tar˘'s real identity. Far from being a coward, he is the brave son of a faithful retainer of the Momonoi Clan. She recognized him by his secret household art of plucking a bow to summon spirits. She reveals that she is not a ghost but Kinuta-no-Mae, the second wife of Momonoi Shuridayű. The boy that Tar˘ has encountered earlier is her own son Momonoi Yaegikumaru. She has spread the rumor that the castle is haunted in order to protect her son, the last of the Momonois, the only remaining and eligible heir. She is also gathering enough forces for the restoration of the clan.
Shikama Daigaku and the yakko Okihei have regained their senses and have heard everything. They rush to report this to the Sh˘gun, but Sanpei quickly takes care of Okihei. Daigaku has one of the Momonoi heirlooms with him, the precious incense burner, and a secret scroll containing all the names of the conspirators against the Momonoi Clan. The list begins with the name of the evil Innami Naizen. Juntar˘ grabs these two precious items and easily kills Shikama Daigaku. Impressed by Juntar˘'s strength and courage, Kinuta-no-Mae asks him to protect Yaegikumaru and to work hard to restore the Momonoi Clan.
Act III, scene 1: Maiko no Hama
Kosakabe Mondo has returned to his native village in Harima and, using the name of Heisaku, lives as a simple farmer (hyakush˘). He is married to Kond˘ Heijibŕ's older daughter Otatsu, who is de facto Onoe's sister. They take care of Momonoi Kunimatsu, the son of Mutsujir˘ and Onoe, and Heijibŕ's grandson. They have disguised his identity by calling him Heikichi. As the scene begins, Otatsu has come together with Heikichi and Heijibŕ for a visit at a temple near Maiko Beach. They take elaborate care of the young boy, putting him in a palanquin, and the palanquin bearers come to suspect the real identity of this boy.
A mother, the spitting image of Otatsu, and her child appear in search of the boy's father. They encounter Innami Daiz˘, an expellee from the Momonoi Clan who has wandered from shady business to crooked trade and is now a street h˘in calling himself D˘rakub˘ . He grabs the woman as he plans to sell her to a house of assignation but he is stopped by Kond˘ Heijibŕ who rescues the woman, as he believes she is his own daughter Otatsu. The palanquin bearers have tipped off followers of Innami Naizen led by a henchman named Hayakawa Banz˘ and they come in pursuit at Maiko Beach. Heijibŕ goes to fight them. After the commotion and chaos of the fight, Heijibŕ is grieved and shocked to come upon the body of the woman whom he has just rescued from D˘rakub˘'s clutches. He recognizes her as Otatsu but, Heijibŕ not knowing it, she is in reality a female fox named Kojor˘.
Act IV, scene 1: Heisaku Sumai
Otatsu and Heikichi return home at Heisaku's home in the village of ďkuradani in the province of Harima. Then, a mysterious lost child appears. Otatsu takes care of him and sends him to play with Heikichi in the back of the house. Heisaku and Onoe appear and he admonishes her for appearing at his home since that may endanger herself and the others. A former retainer of the Momonoi house, Kuzumi Shinpei, arrives and accuses Heisaku to be Kosakabe Mondo, the murderer of Momonoi Shuridayű. He produces the spearhead as a proof of the murder. Shinpei is about to arrest Mondo on suspicion of plotting to take over the Himeji Domain when Onoe tries to commit suicide to atone for being part of a family that has killed it's lord. Mondo promises to settle the matter by this evening and asks Shinpei to wait. Shinpei agrees to wait until the evening.
Heijibŕ returns carrying a funeral tablet for his dead daughter Otatsu and is surprised to hear that she has safely returned home with Heikichi. Hayakawa Banz˘ appears with his men and demands the head of the boy, calling him Momonoi Kunimatsu, not Heikichi. Heijibŕ promises that he will behead himself the young boy after dark and Banz˘, too, agrees to wait until the evening. Otatsu suggests that the only way that they can save the life of their lord's only heir is to kill a substitute (migawari) and suggests they use the lost child who is now playing with Heikichi. Heisaku agrees, until he sees who the child is. Suddenly, a ghostly fox spirit appears and tells Heisaku that he must go take up guard over an Inari Shrine in the vicinity. Finally, Heisaku must reveal everything. In fact, Heisaku is no more the human being named Kosakabe Mondo but, in reality, a fox named Yokur˘. In Japanese tradition, foxes are said to have magical powers and are, in general, treacherous creatures. Yokur˘ is not a perfidious fox but a loyal one, loyal to the Momonoi Clan. He explains that Yokur˘'s child was about to be killed by Mutsujir˘'s hunters but Momonoi Mutsujir˘ decided to spare the life of the young fox. Yokur˘ has always wanted to repay his huge debt of gratitude and, when Innami Naizen killed Kosakabe Mondo, he magically replaced Mondo, in order to protect the Momonoi Clan. The woman who was killed at the Maiko Beach was not the real Otatsu but Yokur˘'s fox wife Kojor˘. The boy they were going to sacrifice as a substitute of Kunimatsu is his own fox son Fukuju. It goes without saying that they now, knowing the truth, cannot sacrifice Fukuju. Now that he has revealed his identity, Yokur˘ must leave the human world forever and go to be the guardian of a local Inari Shrine. Suddenly Innami Daiz˘ appears. He plans to kill Kunimatsu and use this killing to ensure his rise in the world. A terrible fight is about to start...
Act IV, scene 2: Onoe Sh˘r˘
The fight extends to the Onoe Temple , a temple famous for its bell named Onoe no Kane, where the fox Yokur˘ now is. With his magical fox powers, he helps to defeat the enemies, led by Innami Daiz˘ and Hayakawa Banz˘. After the victory, the fox Yokur˘ tells the surviving members of the Momonoi Clan where the last missing Momonoi heirloom is. Otatsu was betrothed to Kosakabe Mondo, a.k.a. Heisaku, a.k.a. the fox Yokur˘, but she has never consummated the marriage as the human Mondo was killed before the wedding ceremony. She has shared the fox Mondo's bed but now she has lost both husbands, the human one and the fox one. She commits suicide near the Bell Tower (sh˘r˘) to join Mondo in the afterlife.
Act V, scene 2: Innami Naizen Yashiki Okuniwa
The loyal retainers of the Momonoi Clan led by Ikuta Hy˘gonosuke finally punish Innami Naizen for his evil deeds in a final and spectacular tachimawari in the garden of the mansion of the arch-villain of this play. Innami Naizen is defeated and the Momonoi Clan is finally restored. As it is often the case in Kabuki or Bunraku, the arch-villain is not killed on stage but all agree to meet later on a battlefield. Momonoi Kunimatsu is made its new head, with Momonoi Yaegikumaru acting as his second-in-command. This brings a peaceful and auspicious ending for this turbulent series of events that have shaken the province of Harima.
 The Himeji Domain was established in 1600 but it was never managed by a Momonoi Clan. The ruling clans were Ikeda, Honda, Matsudaira, Sakakibara or Sakai. Not the Momonoi Clan.
 This was in reality the Himeji Castle.
 He was replaced by Mokubŕ, the son of the sh˘ya, in the 2019 revival of "Sode Nikki Banshű Meguri".
 Onoe Temple? Onoe Shrine? To be clarified! The scene is set near the famous Onoe Bell Tower (Onoe no Kane). This bell was built in the Yamato Hasedera Temple in the province of Yamato, not in the province of Harima, but the scene was set in the latter province.
The cover of the ezukushi banzuke for the staging of the drama "Sode Nikki Banshű Meguri" in the 3rd lunar month of 1779 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai with Arashi Hinasuke I (bottom/left) and Nakamura Tomijűr˘ I (top/right) in the roles of Kosakabe Mondo (alias the fox Yokur˘) and Kinuta-no-Mae
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