Play title Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki  In Japanese
Common title Chibusa no Enoki  In Japanese
Author San'yűtei Ench˘ (original story)

The play is based on a rakugo created by San'yűtei Ench˘, first published in a T˘ky˘ newspaper in 1888. It was adapted for Kabuki and staged by a female Kabuki troupe (onna shibai) in August 1897 at the Misakiza, with the actresses Ichikawa Rish˘, Matsumoto Kinshi and Ichikawa Minemasu playing the roles of Hishikawa Shigenobu, Sh˘suke and Isogai Namie. In 1914 the Kabuki actor Jitsukawa Enjir˘ I (Jitsukawa Enjaku II) added the villain Uwabami no Sanji, and along with the other lead characters, Hishikawa Shigenobu and Sh˘suke, performed the three leading roles in August 1914 at the Minamiza. It was staged for the first time in T˘ky˘ the following summer, in August 1915 at the Kabukiza [casting]. He passed this tradition onto his son Jitsukawa Enjaku III. It is worthy to note that this typical Edo/T˘ky˘ ghost story became a classic in the repertoire of an important clan of the Kamigata Kabuki. It was performed by Jitsukawa Enjaku III for the last time in August 1974, in ďsaka at the Nakaza. Afterwards, this ghost play fell into oblivion for 16 years. It was fortunately revived by Nakamura Kankur˘ V in August 1990, in T˘ky˘ at the Kabukiza [casting]. It was a huge success and became a trademark drama for the Nakamuraya guild.


The current Nakamuraya version of "Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki" is made up of 4 acts (8 scenes).

Key words Enoki

Act I, scene 1: Sumida Zutsumi
The Bank of the Sumida River

Oseki is the devoted wife of the famous artist Hishikawa Shigenobu. They have a newborn baby boy, Mayotar˘. Oseki encounters her cousin, Matsui Sabur˘. Sabur˘ is searching the country for the villain Sasashige and his henchman Uwabami no Sanji (meaning Sanji the Snake), who both vanished after stealing 2,000 gold coins and humiliating his father.

When drunken rogues harass Oseki, a mysterious masterless samurai (r˘nin), Isogai Namie, rescues her. Sh˘suke, the Shigenobu household servant, comes looking for his mistress and is informed of the incident. Namie tells Takeroku, the fan-maker, that he wants to become Shigenobuĺs apprentice, and pays him to make an introduction. Watching everything is Sanji, who recognizes Namie as the villain Sasashige.

Act II, scene 1: Yanagishima Hishikawa Shigenobu Taku
At Hishikawa Shigenobuĺs House in Yanagishima

Namie is now Shigenobuĺs apprentice. Shigenobu accepts an urgent commission to paint in the Nanz˘in Temple and puts Namie in charge while he is away. Namie takes advantage of the masterĺs absence and preys upon Oseki, but Sh˘suke appears just in the nick of time. Oseki tries to convince him to stay at home, but oblivious to her predicament, Sh˘suke sets out after Shigenobu, leaving Oseki alone in the house with Namie.

Act II, scene 2: Takada no Ry˘tei Hanaya no Nikai
At the Second Floor of the Hanaya Restaurant in Takada

One month has passed and Shigenobuĺs temple painting is nearly completed. At a restaurant (ry˘tei) near the temple, Sanji blackmails Namie with knowledge of his insidious past. When Sh˘suke arrives, Namie gets him drunk and manipulates him into agreeing to kill Shigenobu.

Act II, scene 3: Ochiai Tajimabashi
At the Tajima Bridge in Ochiai Village

At Sh˘sukeĺs suggestion, Shigenobu comes to view the fireflies at night. Namie ambushes and kills Shigenobu. Sanji passes by as Sh˘suke flees and bumps into Namie in the dark night. Unable to see each other, the two men struggle in the dark.

Act II, scene 4: Takada Nanz˘in Hond˘
In the Main Hall of the Nanz˘in Temple in Takada

Sh˘suke rushes in claiming his master has been murdered, but is told that Shigenobu is in the other room. Shigenobuĺs ghost enters and completes the painting by filling in the dragonĺs eyes.

Act III, scene 1: Hishikawa Shigenobu Taku
At Hishikawa Shigenobuĺs House

On the 100th-day memorial of Shigenobuĺs death, Namie manipulates Oseki into marrying him and orders Sh˘suke to take her baby, Mayotar˘, and kill him. He then instructs Sanji to follow Sh˘suke and kill both Sh˘suke and the baby.

Act IV, scene 1: Tsunowazu Jűnis˘ ďtaki
At the Great Waterfall of the Jűnis˘ Pond in Tsunowazu

A distraught Sh˘suke throws the baby into the waterfall of the Junis˘ Pond, but Shigenobuĺs spirit appears and saves the child. Shigenobuĺs ghost gives Sh˘suke a second chance, but Sanji attacks Sh˘suke. The two fight in the waterfall and the ghost kills Sanji.

Act IV, scene 2: Nerima Akatsuka-mura Chibusa no Enoki
The Wet Nurse Tree in the Village of Akatsuka in Nerima

Nine years have passed. Sh˘suke and Mayotar˘, now a young boy, are living by a tree (enoki) that produces curative milk. Namie comes to get some of the milk to save Oseki and their child who are both gravely ill. Finding Mayotar˘ and Sh˘suke alive, Namie tries to kill them. Sabur˘, discovering that Namie is actually the villain Sasashige, assists Mayotar˘ in killing Namie. Mayotar˘ finally avenges his fatherĺs death.

Courtesy of Ronald Cavaye

Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki

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