Play title Jitsugetsusei Ky˘wa Seidan  In Japanese
Common title Enmeiin Nitt˘  In Japanese
Author Kawatake Shinshichi II

Kawatake Shinshichi II's drama "Jitsugetsusei Ky˘wa Seidan" was premiered in October 1878 at the Shintomiza [casting]. The plot of this drama was based on a real event, called the Enmeiin Affair (Enmeiin Jiken). the head priest of the Enmeiin Temple was arrested and condemmed for illicit love affairs with many women, including some ladies-in-waiting at the Sh˘gun court. The name of the priest was changed, becoming Nitt˘ instead of Nichid˘. This affair occured during the Ky˘wa era, which explained why the word Ky˘wa was used in the title. The Jitsugetsusei part of the title was in fact related to one ideogram in the names of 3 characters:

  • Jitsu, which means sun, can also be read nichi, which is the first ideogram of Nitt˘, a role played by Onoe Kikugor˘ V.

  • Getsu, which means moon, can also be read tsuki, which is the first ideogram of Tsukimi no Bunji, a role played by Ichikawa Sadanji I.

  • Sei, which means star, can also be read hoshi, which is the first ideogram of the first name of Akatsuki Hoshiemon, a role played by Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX.

  • Most likely due to the moral climate of the Meiji era, this drama depicting depraved buddhist priests, was not revived in ˘shibai before the Taish˘ era. There were only 3 ˘shibai performances in T˘ky˘ between 1916 and 1937. After WWII, it was revived only twice, in July 1951 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ [casting] and, almost 30 years later, in March 1981 at the National Theatre [casting].


    The original 1878 drama was made up of 7 acts. The latest revival, in March 1981 at the National Theatre, was made up of 5 acts (10 scenes).

    Key words Akatsuki Hoshiemon
    Enmeiin Jiken
    Jisha Bugy˘
    Tabi Shibai

    Act I

    Miyagawa Ushinosuke, a travelling player (tabi shibai) in ďsaka, once has rescued Rokubŕ, a peddler selling flintstones, and his daughter Okoro. Ushinosuke has since fallen in love with Okoro, but he has decided to leave ďsaka to go to Edo to perfect his art and achieve fame for himself in the east. He is about to take a boat from the Kojima Shinden ferry on the Nakatsu River. He ignores the laments and pleas of Okoro who begs to go to Edo with him. He gets into the boat. Just at the same moment, a thief (t˘zoku) named Akatsuki Hoshiemon, hiding himself with a raincoat, rushes up and climbs aboard. The previous night he stole 1000 ry˘ from the house of a rich merchant. Several torite also appear and jump into the boat. In the confusion, both Ushinosuke and Okoro fall into the river. Hoshiemon is about to be captured but he quickly gets rid of his pursuers, jumps into the river and easily escapes. Ushinosuke barely reaches the shore. He is spotted by Rokubŕ, who is on his way to meet his daughter. Ushinosuke tells the old man that Okoro has met her fate by drowning. In despair, the old man also throws himself into the waters of the Nakatsu River.

    Act II

    A gang of outcasts and beggars (hinin) gather in Iriyamazu at the house of their leader, Oguri no Umakichi. Their main topic of discussion is the theft of 1000 ry˘ that took place the previous evening. At that moment Hoshiemon, himself, arrives soaking wet. He asks to be allowed to dry himself and offers to pay any amount of money as a gesture of goodwill. Seeing Hoshiemon's bedraggled appearance, Umakichi whispers to one of his men to bring a clean kimono. Hoshiemon offers to buy it. Umakichi glances at a picture, the poster of a wanted man, who is none other than Akatsuki Hoshiemon. Taking advantage of the situation, Umakichi asks for fifty ry˘, an exorbitant sum for such a simple kimono. Hoshiemon pays up without hesitation. He asks Umakichi and his men to keep quiet about what has happened tonight. When he has left, Umakichi distributes the money amongst his men.

    Act III

    The action moves from ďsaka to distant Edo in the east. This third act is set at the Enmeiin Temple in the temple town of Yanaka. The number of women worshipping at this temple has been on the increase recently. The reason is quite simple: the good looks of the young jűshoku, Nitt˘. In fact, he is the actor, Ushinosuke. After the death of Okoro, he decided to take the tonsure and pray for the soul of his lover. Oguri no Umakichi and his henchmen were also forced to make their way to Edo as they have been accused of complicity in the theft of 1000 ry˘. They have settled in nearby Asakusa. One of Umakichi's men, ďmu no Ryűz˘ (literally Ryűz˘ the Parrot), has also decided to take up the religious life. He has become a priestling at the Enmeiin Temple, changing his name from Ryűz˘ to Ryűzen. He works at the office (nassho) of the temple. He brings letters to Nitt˘, which have been written by many young women who piously worship at the Enmeiin Temple and passionately admire Nitt˘. He suggests that Nitt˘ should carnally take advantage of these young and beautiful admirers but Nitt˘ is unmoved. As a pious servant of Buddha, he cannot indulge himself with immoral acts. A group of okujochű at a nobleman's house come with a letter requesting Nitt˘ to offer prayers for them. A young servant (meshitsukai) in the group calls out to Nitt˘. It is Okoro. Not her ghost but the real Okoro. It was assumed that she has drowned herself accidentally in the Nakatsu River, although there was no evidence, but she has managed to survive and escape the river. She urges the flabbergasted Nitt˘ to carry out his former promise and marry her. He refuses, unwilling to break his religious vows. She pretends to faint, and, as Nitt˘ tries to revive her, he is overcome by his old passion. Sasagawa K˘jűr˘, a spy at the service of the jisha bugy˘ Wakisaka Awaji-no-Kami, observes the scene through the sliding doors.

    Act IV

    When Umakichi hears that a former member of his gang is passing himself off as a priest, he decides to blackmail him (yusuriba). He goes to the Enmeiin Temple with Arakuma no Kuroz˘, one of his henchmen. Ryűzen does not want it to become known that he was an outcast so he quickly hands over 30 ry˘ to his blackmailers.

    Meanwhile, Okoro's father, Rokubŕ arrives in Edo, his attempted suicide having been as unsuccessful as the drowning of his daughter. Hearing news of Miyagawa Ushinosuke, who has become the priest Nitt˘, and rumours about what is going on at the temple, Rokubŕ goes to meet him. He tells Nitt˘ the story of his life. He explains that his first wife had had an affair with a wandering samurai and become pregnant. Out of compassion, Rokubŕ had decided to wait until the child was born before killing her. As it turned out she gave birth to twin boys. In desperation, Rokubŕ abandoned them at the foot of a statue of Jiz˘, the guardian of children, together with a good luck amulet (omamori) with the pattern of an oshidori. Nitt˘ is startled as he was abandoned when he was a child in identical circumstances. He quickly realizes that Rokubŕ must be his father. He controls himself and says nothing, covering his confusion by humbly agreeing to mend his ways in the future to come.

    When Rokubŕ leaves, Takekawa, a lady-in-waiting, complains to Nitt˘ that there are rumours flying around the whole city about his scandalous behaviour. She says she will have nothing more to do with him. Actually, she is Otsuta, the sister of Sasagawa K˘jűr˘. She is helping her brother by spying on Nitt˘. Meanwhile, Ryűzen has overheard everything. He is particularly intrigued by the story of the twin brothers and by the omamori. He clearly remembers that his former master Umakichi has a piece of cloth with the pattern of an oshidori. It occurs to him that Nitt˘ and Umakichi must be the twin brothers, sons of Rokubŕ's adulterous wife. He panics and decides to run away from the Enmeiin Temple.

    At the back of the temple, Umakichi and Kuroz˘ are awaiting the opportunity of getting their hands on Ryűzen. Suddenly, a man leaps over the wall. It is the thief Akatsuki Hoshiemon who has been incidentally stealing money from the temple. They fight, but a group of torite appears and the three men are arrested. Thanks to Takekawa's report, the temple has been surrounded. Nitt˘ and Ryűzen are also captured and bound. They will all be brought to the office of the jisha bugy˘.

    Act V

    Nitt˘'s inquiry (sengi) begins at the office of the jisha bugy˘. It is led by Sasagawa K˘jűr˘. In spite of K˘jűr˘'s energetic condemnation, Nitt˘ refuses to admit that he has committed crimes. Since some of the okujochű involved were from the Sh˘gun's household, Nitt˘ is aware that if the affair is pursued any further, there will be high-level political repercussions. Confident that he will be let off for this reason, he answers insolently. The wise jisha bugy˘ Wakisaka Awaji-no-Kami, appears on stage. He declares that Nitt˘'s offence is neither a political one nor a purely private one. It is in reality a threat to public decency and also an affront to religion. This vigorous and honest denunciation is too much for Nitt˘. The young jűshoku publically repents and admits all his crimes.

    The actors Nakamura Nakaz˘ III (left), Iwai Hanshir˘ VIII (center) and Onoe Kikugor˘ V (right) playing the roles of the priest Ryűzen, Okoro and the priest Nitt˘ in the drama "Jitsugetsusei Ky˘wa Seidan", which was staged in October 1878 at the Shintomiza (print made by Adachi Gink˘)

    Courtesy of The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints

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