TSUBOSAKA
   
Play title Tsubosaka Reigenki  In Japanese
Authors Tsurusawa Dampei II (musical accompaniment)
Dampei's wife Chiga (lyrics)
Structure

The play "Tsubosaka Reigenki" is made up of 3 scenes:

Scene 1 Sawaichi Sumika (at Sawaichi's home)
Scene 2 Tsubosakadera Kannond˘ (the Kannon pavilion at Tsubosaka Temple)
Scene 3 Tsubosakadera Tanisoko (the bottom of the gorge at Tsubosaka Temple)
History The play "Tsubosaka Reigenki" was originally written for the puppets theater and first performed in ďsaka at the Hikorokuza in February 1887. It was adapted for Kabuki the following year and staged in Ky˘to at the Shij˘ D˘j˘ no Shibai in Spring 1888. The first performance of this play in Edo happened in July 1899 at the T˘ky˘za with the actors Nakamura Jakusabur˘ and Nakamura Narijaku in the roles of Sawaichi and Osato. This play is commonly called "Osato Sawaichi".
Key words Gidayű Ky˘gen
Kannon
Reigenkimono
Sewamono
Zat˘
Summary

This is the story of a married couple, the beautiful Osato and the blind masseur Sawaichi. The former is dedicated to help the latter to overcome his handicap. Every early morning Osato slips away from home and she's back a few hours later. Sawaichi starts to assume that she has found a lover and visits him every day.

One day, Sawaichi finds the strength to accuse directly Osato of cheating on him. It's a real blow for Osato, who claims that her only love in life is Sawaichi. She tells him that every morning she goes to the near-by Tsubosaka temple and pray for Sawaichi's blindness recovery. The masseur apologizes profusely and decides to go to the temple with her wife. In fact, his despondency is so high that he has taken the decision to commit suicide to stop being a heavy burden to his wife. They arrive at the temple, which is located on the top of a slope and overlooks a deep ravine. Sawaichi says that he will stay here and pray for 3 days. Osato has to go back home to fetch what they need for such a long stay. She recommends him not to move around because the paths are dangerous. Alone, Sawaichi puts down his cane and his wooden clogs and jumps into the ravine.

Osato is back at the temple at the beginning of dusk, looking frantically for her husband. When she finds the cane and the wooden clogs, she understands what happened, then takes the decision to follow Sawaichi on the road to the afterlife and jumps into the ravine.

The scene changes to the following morning, at sunset, in the bottom of the ravine. Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, who is worshipped at the Tsubosaka Temple, appears and gives life back to Sawaichi and Osato, explaining them that their mutual love was so strong and pure that she had pity on them. They wake up and Sawaichi is overjoyed to realize he is no more blind (another present of the Goddess). He has some trouble to recognize her wife, wondering what such a beautiful person is doing here. This humorous scene leads to the post-mortem reunion of the couple and they start to sing and dance to celebrate it and thank Kannon for this amazing miracle.

Comments

A very simple play about a blind masseur in despair and his faithful wife, their double suicide and the miracle that bring them back to life. It requires 2 extremely talented actors for the subtle exhibition of Sawaichi and Osato sufferings, love and joy. This play was popularized by 2 great duos of actors:

Sawaichi Osato Last performance
Kataoka Nizaemon XIII Nakamura Tomijűr˘ IV June 1957 (ďsaka Kabukiza)
Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVII Nakamura Utaemon VI January 1974 (Kabukiza)

It is worth noting that Tsubosaka Temple really exists and is located in the prefecture of Nara. You can check the temple website for more details.

The actors Onoe Kikugor˘ VI, Onoe Baik˘ VI and Kataoka Gat˘ III playing the roles of the Goddess Kannon, Osato and the blind masseur Sawaichi in the play "Tsubosaka Reigenki", which was performed at the Kabukiza in November 1903 (print made by K˘ch˘r˘ H˘sai)
 
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