Play title Honch˘ Nijűshik˘  In Japanese
Authors Chikamatsu Hanji
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Takeda Inaba
Takeda Heishichi
Takemoto Saburobŕ II

The play "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1766 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki a few months later and was produced by both Nakamura Utaemon I and Mimasu Daigor˘ I in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting].

"Ashikaga Yakata" was revived only once so far, within a t˘shi ky˘gen production of "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘" at the National Theatre in June 1977. Here is the casting for this rare revival:

Roles Actors
The Sh˘gun Ashikaga Yoshiharu Sawamura S˘jűr˘ IX
Takeda Harunobu Ichikawa Somegor˘ VI
Nagao Kagekatsu Nakamura Kichiemon II
Naoe Yamashironosuke Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVII
Taoyame Gozen Nakamura Jakuemon IV
Inoue Shinzaemon, in reality the villain nyűd˘ Sait˘ D˘san Ichikawa Ennosuke III
Shizunokata Nakamura Shibajaku VII
H˘j˘ Ujitoki Kataoka Roen VI
Nagao Kenshin Ichimura Yoshigor˘ II
Murakami Yoshikiyo Nakamura Kangor˘ XIII

"Ashikaga Yakata" ("The Ashikaga Mansion" in English) is the common nickname for the two scenes of the 1st act of "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘".

Key words Gidayű Ky˘gen
Takeda Shingen
Uesugi Kenshin
Uesugi Kagekatsu

Ashikaga Yakata ďhiroma
The Grand Hall of the Ashikaga Mansion

To offer congratulations to the 12th Ashikaga Sh˘gun Yoshiharu on the conception of his child by his mistress Shizunokata, H˘j˘ Ujitoki, Nagao Kagekatsu and other feudal lords come to the Ashikaga mansion with their presents to the Sh˘gun. Ujitoki tells the Sh˘gun that two prominent feudal lords, Nagao Kenshin and Takeda Harunobu, who are fighting with each other, are both intent on overthrowing the Sh˘gunate government, taking advantage of the confusion caused by their fighting. Kagekatsu, who is Kenshin's son, explains to the Sh˘gun that the fighting has resulted from a quarrel over the possession of the sacred helmet of Suwa H˘ssh˘, which his father has borrowed from Harunobu.

At this moment Harunobu arrives. Ujitoki and his retainer Murakami Yoshikiyo again accuse Harunobu and Kenshin of their alleged plot to rebel against the Sh˘gun. Kagekatsu refutes them, saying that their allegation is utterly groundless. Taoyame, the Sh˘gun's wife, suggests that Harunobu's son Katsuyori and Kenshin's daughter Yaegaki marry to pave the way for their fathers' reconciliation. The Sh˘gun agrees to her proposal.

Ashikaga Yakata Okugoten
The Inner Pavilion of the Ashikaga Mansion

In the innermost room of the Ashikaga mansion Naoe Yamashironosuke, Kenshin's retainer, has a secret meeting with what he believes to be his sweetheart Yatsuhashi, a maid servant to the Sh˘gun, and finds to his surprise that his partner is in fact Shizunokata, the Sh˘gun's mistress. She says she loves him in spite of his refusal to have anything to do with her.

The Sh˘gun appears with a sword in his hand and tries to kill Shizunokata, accusing her of her immoral love. Taoyame pleads with him to pardon her, for she knows that Shizunokata is merely pretending to be in love with Yamashironosuke. Shizunokata then confesses that she wished to be punished with death for her pretended love because she felt guilty of forestalling Taoyame in conceiving the Sh˘gun's child. The Sh˘gun says he will sever his relations with her and advises her to enter the Buddhist priesthood before giving birth to his child.

A samurai calling himself Inoue Shinzaemon* visits the Sh˘gun and presents him with a rifle. When the Sh˘gun asks him to show how to operate it, he suddenly turns the weapon toward the Sh˘gun and shoots him to death. He then flees, leaving the rifle behind. Taking advantage of the confusion, a masked giant carries Shizunokata away. Kagekatsu chases after him.

Harunobu and Kenshin hurriedly arrive and make an open pledge to Taoyame to apprehend the assassin within three years and if they fail to do so, to kill their respective sons, Katsuyori and Kagekatsu, in token of apology. Harunobu cuts off his hair and changes his name to Shingen, indicating that he will enter the Buddhist priesthood. Yamashironosuke says he will commit suicide to take responsibility for his failure to prevent the abduction of Shizunokata but Kenshin says he need not do so and allows him to go away with his sweetheart Yatsuhashi. Murakami Yoshikiyo, who covets Yatsuhashi, tries to prevent her from going, but Yamashironosuke drives him out and kills Yoshikiyo's retainer Yokota Heinai, who has come to attack him.

Source: Hironaga Shűzabur˘

(*) Inoue Shinzaemon is none other than the villain nyűd˘ Sait˘ D˘san.

Top part of the picture: the actors ??? (1st from the left), Band˘ Matatar˘ IV (2nd from the left), Ichikawa Omez˘ I (3rd from the left/top), Matsumoto Kojir˘ II (2nd from the right) and Matsumoto Kunigor˘ (1st from the right) performing in the "Ashikaga Yakata" scene of the drama "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘", which was staged in the 5th lunar month of 1799 at the Ichimuraza

Bottom part of the picture: the actors Onoe Matsusuke I (first from the left), Band˘ Mitsugor˘ II (2nd from the left/bottom), Band˘ Matatar˘ IV (3rd from the left), Ichikawa Omez˘ I (3rd from the right), Segawa Yűjir˘ II (2nd from the right) and Segawa Kikusabur˘ II (1st from the right/bottom) playing the roles of Inoue Shinzaemon, Naoe Yamashironosuke, H˘j˘ Ujitoki, Nagao Kagekatsu, Taoyame Gozen and Shizunokata in the same drama

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