|Play title||Keisei ďsh˘kun|
Pulling an Elephant
|Authors||Tsuuchi Han'emon (1709)
Hiraki Hakusei (1913)
The bombastic play "Z˘hiki" was premiered in the 1st lunar month of 1701 at the Nakamuraza. It was included in the new year drama "Keisei ďsh˘kun". The hero and the villain are played by Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I and Yamanaka Heikur˘ I. Another "Z˘hiki" scene, written by the sakusha Tsuuchi Han'emon, was staged in the 7th lunar month of 1709 at the Yamamuraza and starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II in the leading role [more details]. It went to oblivion and the two original scripts were lost but it was nevertheless added to the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection of drama in 1840 by Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V. It was revived in October 1913, in T˘ky˘ at the Kabukiza [more details]. The new script was written by Hiraki Hakusei.
Act I: Hakone Sanchű
There is a rumour along the road through the Hakone Mountains that an elephant has been brought from Tenjiku as a present to the Imperial Court and there is much discussion among farmers and townsmen about its greasy skin, its two great ivory tusks and other extraordinary physical attributes. There is general panic when it is announced that the elephant has broken loose and is at liberty in these very mountains. The yakko Yorozumaru, at the service of ďtomo Kachimaru, appears with a mirror which he has stolen. This mirror is a precious heirloom of the Toshima Clan. Mita Ryű˘maru and his men arrive in hot pursuit. Their mission is to recover the mirror. As the two men confront each other the elephant snatches the mirror with its trunk.
Act II: Toshima Shoin
We are in the Library of the Toshima Household in Edo. Ladies-in-waiting are discussing the story of the elephant from Tenjiku which has escaped and is causing such havoc on its way to Edo. The Toshima Household was appointed has received the instruction from the Imperial Court to capture the monster as quickly as possible, but so far all their efforts have failed. Because of their failure, ďtomo Kachimaro, an Imperial Messenger has been dispatched from Ky˘to. Kachimaro and his attendants discuss with the k˘shitsu Atago-no-Mae, the first lady of the Toshima Household, and her son, Aoimaru. Kachimaro announces that the Toshima Household has been unsuccessful after three months of effort and he charges them with negligence. He then announces that he has been given the mission. Being the best warrior in Japan, he is confident in his success in capturing the beast. He orders them to give him total assistance. His real plan is to marry Princess Yayoi, the daughter of the Toshima Household. This causes considerable dismay to Atago-no-Mae. Princess Yayoi agrees to comply with his wishes as long as the beast is subdued. ďtomo Kachimaro is anxious to exchange vows immediately. At this moment a great voice is heard ordering him to stop. This voice belongs to the warrior Mita no Genji Takeru. He rebukes ďtomo Kachimaro for his insults against the Toshima Household. Moreover, it would be an offence to all the easterners if a westerner were to marry Princess Yayoi, the most beautiful girl in Edo. Mita Takeru announces that he will capture the animal on behalf of the Toshima Household. The tension rises rapidly and Princess Yayoi has to intervene in the argument, declaring that she will give herself to whoever subdues the beast. The elephant is reported to be in the vicinity and the two rivals hasten to depart to capture the animal.
Act III: Hanz˘mon-gai
ďtomo Kachimaro's men are waiting for the elephant. It appears and defeats them easily. ďtomo Kachimaro and Mita Takeru appear with the elephant, considerably reduced in size compared to the original one, and the two powerful warriors pose defiantly. Takeru claims he caused the change in the elephant's size by his superhuman strength. Kachimaro, however, claims the beast self-reduced its size because it has feared his powers. Neither of them will back down but as they struggle pulling the elephant, the precious mirror appears from inside. Takeru seizes it and hands it triumphantly to Ryű˘maru. Atago-no-Mae and Aoimaru rush up with their attendants.
Atago-no-Mae proclaims that the capture of the elephant is thanks to a miracle caused by the goddess Amaterasu and the prayers of Princess Yayoi. They offer prayers of gratitude. Meanwhile ďtomo Kachimaro and Mita Takeru are still arguing but they are separated by the young Aoimaru who is proclaimed as the sole captor of the beast. Takeru becomes his guardian and the struggle for the elephant is over. All pose with the captured elephant.