SUGISAKA
   
Play titles Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi  In Japanese
Taik˘ Shinkenki  In Japanese
Sugisaka  In Japanese
Authors Umeno Shitakaze, Chikamatsu Yasuz˘ ("Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi")
Namiki Gohŕ ("Taik˘ Shinkenki")
History

The play "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 10th lunar month of 1786 in ďsaka at the Higashi no Shibai. It was not immediately adapted for Kabuki and Namiki Gohei I wrote a similar play, which was entitled "Taik˘ Shinkenki" and produced by Band˘ Iwagor˘ in the 3rd lunar month of 1787 at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. This drama was staged for the first time in Ky˘to the same year in August [casting]. "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi" was finally adapted for Kabuki for the first time the following year, in the 5th lunar month of 1788 in Ise at the Furuichi no Shibai [casting]. It was produced in a major theater for the first time in the 7th lunar month of 1790, in ďsaka at the Nakaza (casting unknown). It was staged for the first time in Edo in the 9th lunar month of 1796, simultaneously at the Kiriza [casting] and the Miyakoza [casting].

Structure

"Sugisaka", or "Sugisaka Hakasho" ("the Sugisaka cemetery"), is the 8th act of the 11-act drama "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi". It is occasionally staged as the first scene of "Keya-mura".

Key words Gidayű Ky˘gen
Sewamono
Adauchi
Hakasho
Summary

Rokusuke, who lives in Keya-mura village, is known as an excellent swordsman. Several years ago he was initiated in the secrets of swordsmanship by Ichimisai.

The curtain opens on the scene of the Sugisaka cemetery on a hilltop where Rokusuke's recently deceased mother is buried. In a hut specially built by him in the cemetery Rokusuke is praying for the repose of his mother's soul when three woodcutters, Matsubei, Makiz˘ and Kashiroku, visit him and are treated to tea and snack by Rokusuke. The day being the 49th day after his mother's death, Rokusuke tells them that he will soon return to his home to prepare for a memorial service to be held the following day.

Soon after the woodcutters' departure for home, a man carrying an old woman on his back arrives and takes rest near the hut. Impressed with his kindness to the old woman, Rokusuke addresses him and finds that he is traveling around the country with his old mother, seeking employment with a feudal lord. When Rokusuke also tells his name the r˘nin is pleasantly surprised, for he has seen a notice board saying anyone who defeats Rokusuke in a fencing contest will be employed as a fencing teacher by the Lord of Kokura.

The r˘nin says that her mother is deaf and seriously ill. As her days are numbered, he wishes to please her by getting a job before she dies. He asks Rokusuke to do him favor by being deliberately defeated by him in a fencing contest. Himself bereft of his mother only recently, Rokusuke so sympathizes with the r˘nin that he promises to do as he asks.

After the r˘nin and his mother have gone and Rokusuke has left to draw water in a brook at the foot of the hill, Ichimisai's retainer Sagohei arrives with the late Okiku's infant son Yasomatsu. Soon they are over taken by two bandits, one of whom is Gihei, who collaborated with Takumi in the assassination of Ichimisai. The bandits threaten to kill Sagohei if he does not give them money. After pushing Yasomatsu into the hut, Sagohei tries to fight them off but is fatally wounded by them. Rokusuke comes back and kills the bandits. Sagohei breathes his last after pointing at the hut without saying a word.

Rokusuke finds Yasomatsu in the hut and asks him where he lives and what his father's name is but the boy is too young to tell them. Thus without any knowledge of his identity Rokusuke decides to take care of him and goes back to his home, holding the boy in his arms.

Source: Hironaga Shűzabur˘

Comments

It is often said that the character of Rokusuke is based on Miyamoto Musashi. The role of Osono is considered a challenge for an onnagata female role specialist for its blend of fierce warrior skills and soft femininity.

Source: Earphone Guide website

The actors Arashi Kichisabur˘ II (left) and Asao Kuzaemon I (right, the actor with the old woman on the back) playing the roles of Rokusuke and Mijin Danj˘ (in reality Ky˘goku no Takumi) in the drama "Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1810 in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai

 
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