|Play title||Katakiuchi Tengajaya-Mura|
|Author||Nagawa Kamesuke I|
The drama "Katakiuchi Tengajaya-Mura" was staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1781 at the Kado no Shibai [casting]. A similar play was staged a few days later under a different title, "Renga Chaya Homare no Bundai", written by Nagawa Shimesuke (a disciple of Nagawa Kamesuke), at the Naka no Shibai [casting], opening a competition between the two theaters for the best performance and the best line-up. The performance at the Kado no Shibai was a huge success and a long run. The performance at the Naka no Shibai was a commercial failure. This play changed a lot from the 7th lunar month of 1835, with ďtani Tomoemon IV performing for the first time the role of Adachi Motoemon at the Nakamuraza. He was so great that Motoemon, a minor role usually played by a low-ranking actor, became the first role of this drama.
The original drama was in 6 acts and 13 scenes. Nowadays, it is divided in 5 acts and 7 scenes:
A standard performance of "Tengajaya-Mura" is usually made up of act I, act II, act III and act V (a shorter version would not include act I and act V). Act IV is rarely revived.
The Hayase brothers, Iori and Genjir˘, are in deep trouble! They used to serve the Lord Ukita Chűj˘ Hideaki but their father was killed by T˘ma Sabur˘emon and they lost a precious painting, which was entrusted to them. They have to accomplish two missions in order to be reinstated: avenge their father and find back the painting.
Act I: at the Shitenn˘ji Temple
The scene opens in front of the Shitenn˘ji Temple in ďsaka. Iori's wife Somenoi and Genjir˘'s wife Hazue came to this temple to pray. They enter in the temple without waiting for their husbands. They are followed by Iori, Genjir˘ and their servant Adachi Yasuke. They notice the presence of a strange samurai, the face hidden within an enormous straw travelling-hat. Thinking he might be T˘ma Sabur˘emon, they surround him and attack him. The samurai is a strong one, who easily beats them off and reveals his true identity: Sakata Sh˘zabur˘, at the service of Kataoka Miki-no-Kami. The brothers deeply apologize for their identification mistake and enter in the temple. Then, another samurai, the face also hidden within an enormous straw travelling-hat, appears on stage with his henchman. He is T˘ma Sabur˘emon. He is followed by Adachi Motoemon, brother of Yasuke and servant of the Hayase brothers. T˘ma Sabur˘emon's henchman Udesuke drops a letter, which is picked up by Motoemon. A quick look on the letter is enough to understand who are the two men. Motoemon would like to question Udesude but he is knocked out by T˘ma. The two evil characters decide to make him drink a lot of sake. Somenoi and Hazue are back at the main gate of the Temple. They meet Sakata Sh˘zabur˘ and do the same mistake as their husbands. Impressed by the courage of the 2 ladies, he promises to help them in their vendetta. When Iori, Genjir˘ and Yasuke are back at the main gate, they have the displeasure to find a completely drunk Motoemon, who has just waken up. Hayase Gemba, the brothers' father, was treacherously killed by T˘ma when Motoemon was completely drunk and unable to protect his master. Motoemon repented and promised to stop his drinking habits. The brothers are shocked and decide to punish him on the spot: he is no more a member of the clan and his livery is stripped off. After the departure of the brothers, Udesuke appears and puts Motoemon in a palanquin to send him to his master's mansion. Then, the two T˘ma brothers appear, Sabur˘emon and Taiz˘, who remove their straw travelling-hat, expressing their total satisfaction in a triumphant pose, which brings this first scene to a close.
Act II: a rented residence near the T˘ji Temple
The act opens with the bald, blind Motoemon tapping his way down the hanamichi and knocking at the house occupied by Yasuke and the two Hayase brothers that Yasuke serves-Genjir˘, who is blind, and Iori. Motoemon hasn't seen sight of a coin all day, he says, and asks permission to give a massage. Although he doesn't need a massage, he does need good luck, Genjir˘ replies, and lets Motoemon in as an act of kindness. No sooner is he over the threshhold, though, than Genjir˘ realizes that Motoemon is none other than his own heavy-drinking, dissolute brother. His degenerate behavior caused him to be disowned by their lords. Yasuke concludes that Motoemon's present blindness and miserable state must be a punishment. Motoemon grovels in shame and swears he has come to his senses. He says he even tried to drown himself but in his blindness chose part of the river that wasn't deep enough and ended up being rescued. Finally persuaded of his change of heart, Yasuke promises to put in a good word for him so that he can be reinstated.
Their conversation is interrupted by a visitor and so Yasuke temporarily hides Motoemon in the closet. The visitor is Okichi, the proprietess of a local brothel who has found in a pawn shop a poem card that the Hayase brothers are desperately seeking in order to restore the fortunes of their clan. That is the good news, but the bad news is that it will cost 200 ry˘ to retrieve it. Searching for T˘ma Sabur˘emon, their father's murderer, has impoverished the brothers. Overhearing the conversation, Somenoi, the wife of the absent Iori, appears. She offers to sell herself to Okichi's brothel for the needed amount. Sadly, Yasuke and Genjir˘ agree, and Somenoi leaves with Okichi, who gives a down payment of 100 ry˘ to Yasuke. As Genjir˘ retires for the night, Yasuke puts the money under Genjir˘'s pillow for safe-keeping.
Yasuke quickly goes to the closet and leads out Motoemon, who has heard everything. He laments the misfortunes that have come on the Hayase clan. Yasuke sends Motoemon off with one of his own kimonos and all of the little money he has saved. Motoemon thanks his brother profusely and starts to tap his way back down the hanamichi, but suddenly stops.
This is one of the key moments in the play as Motoemon suddenly opens his eyes, tosses away the kimono and money in disgust, pulls the corners of his kimono up under his belt and poses with a look of unrestrained greed and evil on his face. We realize that everything so far has been an act and that Motoemon has wicked plans. Creeping back to the house, Motoemon realizes the moon is shining on his bald pate, and pulls off a sleeve to make a head-covering. He then climbs bare-footed on to a barrel, up a pole and onto the roof of the house verandah. The verandah is made only of bamboo poles from which many plants are growing. The actor playing the role of Motoemon really climbs foot over foot along these poles, and pretending to partly fall. He also adds a wonderful touch as he slaps his thigh and scratches, as if bitten by mosquitoes. He waits on the roof and mews like a cat to cover up the noise he makes.
Meanwhile, Yasuke decides to try rice wine for the first time in his life (watched enviously through the skylight by Motoemon) and becomes immediately drunk, sinking into a deep sleep. Motoemon climbs down into the house, and after gulping down the remaining sake, steals the money from under Genjir˘'s pillow and takes aim to cut his head off. But his sword hits the door loudly and Motoemon bolts out of the room until he sees no one has woken and then returns. This time he chooses the easier target of his brother, sleeping in the middle of the room, and straddling him, plunges his sword into his brother's throat. Just as he is about to kill Genjir˘, Iori returns. Motoemon slashes at the light and extinguishes it, puts a hefty slice through Iori's thigh and flees into the night.
In the next scene we see Iori, who is now unable to walk, living in a hut in the woods with Genjir˘. His sight has returned and he leaves Iori to investigate a rumor he has heard that T˘ma, their father's murderer, is nearby. But shortly later, Motoemon comes along and takes great delight in recounting all the evil caused to Iori for which he is responsible. Motoemon has secretly been working all along for T˘ma, who then appears from within the hut and kills Iori. T˘ma leaves, followed by Motoemon, who delays just long enough to spit on the corpse.
Genjir˘ returns to find his dead brother, but is soon attacked by some of T˘ma's men and thrown in the river. Although he survives, he loses all hope and is about to commit suicide when he is stopped by a passing merchant, K˘emon, who turns out to have once served Genjir˘'s lord. K˘emon vows to help Genjir˘ take revenge against T˘ma.
Act V: the revenge at Tengajaya
The scene opens in the village of Tengajaya, where Hayase Genjir˘, Genjir˘'s wife Hazue and Iori's wife Somenoi have gathered. Dressed in white costums, they recall late Hayase Iori. Suddenly, K˘emon and an unknown man walk down the hanamichi and join them. The man, who is none other than Sakata Sh˘zabur˘ (cf Act I), tells them that T˘ma, who prayed at the Sumiyoshi shrine, will soon come and stop here. They also receive from the local authorities the permission to carry out their vendetta. They hide in the groves while T˘ma's impressive procession, led by Motoemon, appears on the hanamichi. Once on the stage, the troupe is attacked by the Hayase family. T˘ma is easily killed and Motoemon surrenders. He begs for mercy, denying any responsability for the murder of Iori. He is ordered to commit ritual suicide but, doing his last act of treachery, instead of opening his own belly he tries to kill Genjir˘. He failed and it is his turn to be killed. Kataoka Miki-no-Kami, the lord of Sakata Sh˘zabur˘, appears, congratulates the Hayase heroes for the success of their vendetta and promises to help reinstating their clan, bringing the play to a close.
Summaries for act II and III are courtesy of Jean Wilson (1998)
The actors ďtani Tomoemon IV, Arashi Rikan III and Ichikawa Kodanji IV playing the roles of Adachi Motoemon, Hayase Iori and T˘ma Sabur˘emon in the third act of the drama "Kaikei Tengajaya-Mura", which was staged in the 5th lunar month of 1854 at the Kawarazakiza (print made by Utagawa Kuniyoshi)
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