Play title Tachi Nusubito  In Japanese
A sword thief
Authors Okamura Shikô
Kineya Mitarô V (music)

The dance-drama "Tachi Nusubito" was premiered in July 1917 at the Ichimuraza. It was a kyôgen (comical farce in the theater) adapted for Kabuki by Okamura Shikô with a musical accompaniment written by Kineya Mitarô V. Onoe Kikugorô VI, Bandô Hikosaburô VI and Bandô Mitsugorô VII play the 3 roles of the dance.

Key words Matsubamemono

One day Kurobę's eye catches sight of Manbę's sword, which is made of gold. Although Manbę is very cautious, Kurobę eventually manages to quietly remove the sword from Manbę in a crowd. When Manbę finds his sword missing and notices Kurobę wearing it, a loud dispute ensues. At the sound of their clamor, a magistrate named Saemon and his assistant, Tônai, appear. Both Kurobę and Manbę insist that they are the rightful owners of the sword. After taking possession of the sword, Saemon declares that he will settle the matter by asking a few questions in order to decide who the true owner is. The real owner of the sword should be able to answer correctly.

Saemon adds another condition, they should also perform a dance which has a deep relation with the sword in question. The examination begins. Saemon tests Manbę first and then asks Kurobę the same questions. Thus Kurobę, having overheard Manbę's answers, can easily respond. He also follows Manbę's example when it comes to the dancing. In this way, Kurobę gives a convincing performance until Manbę realizes that he is aping him. After realizing the thief's strategy, he begins speaking in a low voice and dancing so as not to be seen by the other man. Kurobę finds himself unable to continue the deception and thereby reveals his identity.

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

Bandô Mitsugorô VII portraying the farmer Manbę in the dance-drama "Tachi Nusubito" in a print made by Natori Shunsen (1927)

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