Play title Gion Sairei Shink˘ki  In Japanese
Keisei Niwatoriyama  In Japanese
The Gion Festival Chronicle of Faith [1]
Authors Asada Icch˘
Nakamura Akei
Toyotake ďritsu

The 5 acts puppet theater drama "Gion Sairei Shink˘ki" was performed for the first time at the Toyotakeza in the 12th lunar month of 1757. It was adapted for Kabuki for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1758 in Ky˘to, produced simultaneously at the Minamigawa no Shibai [casting] and at the Kitagawa no Shibai [casting]. It used its real title at the former theater but it was entitled "Keisei Niwatoriyama" at the latter theater. Because of strict censorship, the authors had to change the names of the characters. As a result, the names below were assigned to the characters. However, because the sound of each character's name was close to that of the real name, the audiences of the time could easily identify the persons after whom the characters were modeled:

Real name Role
Oda Nobunaga Oda Harunaga
Kinoshita T˘kichir˘ (later known as Hashiba Hideyoshi and Toyotomi Hideyoshi) Konoshita T˘kichi
Kat˘ Kiyomasa Sat˘ Masakiyo

"Gion Sairei Shink˘ki" was staged for the first time in Edo in the 5th lunar month of 1758, at the Moritaza [casting].


"Gion Sairei Shink˘ki" was orignially a 5-act drama. The "Kinkakuji" act, the only one still performed nowadays, is the 4th act of the original puppet theater drama.

Key words Akahime
Ashikaga Yoshiteru
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Gion Matsuri
Konoshita T˘kichi
Matsunaga Hisahide
Sengoku Jidai

Ashikaga Yakata
At the Ashikaga Palace
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

In the garden of the Palace of the Sh˘gun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, Matsunaga Daizen, the Sh˘gun's chief retainer, makes advances to Princess Yuki, daughter of Sesson, a noted painter, but meets her flat refusal. As soon as Daizen goes away, having been called by the Sh˘gun, Princess Yuki is met by a young painter, Kan˘nosuke Naonobu, with whom she is in love. She tells him that her father Sesson was murdered and asks him to help her avenge her father.

After they have gone inside the Ashikaga palace, Hanatachibana, a courtesan with whom the Sh˘gun is in love, comes to the garden and is approached by Miyoshi Shumenosuke Masayasu, the Sh˘gun's retainer, who also loves her. Their meeting is detected by the Sh˘gun. Matsunaga Daizen demands that Masayasu commit suicide in expiation but the Sh˘gun's mother, Keijuin, interferes and accuses Daizen of his improper love for Princess Yuki. At Keijuin's suggestion Princess Yuki sets out on a trip with Naonobu.

After dark Daizen hands a rifle to Hanatachibana in the garden of the Ashikaga palace, asking her to shoot Masayasu if he crosses the garden to visit her. She fires at what she believes to be Masayasu but the victim proves to be the Sh˘gun himself. Realizing that she was tricked by Daizen into assassination, she takes her own life with the Sh˘gun's sword.

The menoto Jijű, in charge of the Sh˘gun's infant heir, Teruwaka, successfully smuggles the young boy out of the palace but Masayasu is killed by Daizen with a rifle. Daizen seizes Keijuin as a hostage in order to usurp power.

In Tobita
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

To help his master, the druggist Konishi Zesai, to pay his debt, his servant Shinsaku sells a fake carrot to a farmer at an exorbitant price on the street. Later the farmer, who had found that he was cheated by Shinsaku, comes back with a few other farmers and ties him to a pine tree to have him burned to death. After they have gone to get the local governor's permission for the execution, Teruwaka, son of late Sh˘gun Ashikaga Yoshiteru, comes with his nurse Jijű to take a rest on the grass. Three hoodlums, Dosu-no-Kiz˘, Tsubute-no-San and Kanta, come to capture them. Kiz˘, finding Shinsaku in a helpless condition, says to him that he is trying to make money by arresting the boy and his nurse. Shinsaku says that he will help him if he is freed. As soon as Kiz˘ unties him Shinsaku tells Kiz˘ that he has his money concealed among branches near the top of the pine tree. When Kiz˘ climbs the tree, Shinsaku hits him hard with a pole and causes him to fall to the ground. He then ties Kiz˘ to the pine tree and covers his face with a mask to have him burned to death in Shinsaku's place. Meanwhile, Jijű is killed in her fighting with the hoodlums.

Zesai Sumika
At Zesai's House
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

To avoid children trying to bully him, Teruwaka takes shelter in the house of Zesai at Tengachaya near ďsaka. Zesai's wife Osaji kindly takes care of him though she does not know the boy's identity but Zesai's servant Shinsaku, who knows it reports to the local governor's office that Teruwaka is in Zesai's house. Soon Sog˘ Gumpei, in reality Sat˘ Masakiyo, comes from the local governor's office and takes the boy away. Zesai comes back with the village sh˘ya Mochibei and several villagers carrying the body of Jijű. Jijű miraculously revives when Zesai opens her mouth and puts medicine into it. She says that Teruwaka is in fact her son and that he was adopted by Sh˘gun Ashikaga Yoshiteru when his own son, who was born about the same time, died soon after his birth. Jijű dies again after saying that she is sorry not to be able to see her son. Osaji then commits suicide with a dagger, holding herself responsible for her failure to prevent the arrest of Teruwaka. Konoshita T˘kichi, a military leader, who used to be Zesai's servant when Zesai was a warrior, comes to see Zesai and tells him that he will recommend Zesai to Oda Harunaga as his military adviser. Instead of accepting T˘kichi's offer, Zesai commits seppuku, saying that he cannot serve Harunaga who is planning to kill his former master, Matsunaga Daizen. He also says that he was formerly a Chinese general and came to Japan after China was defeated in a Sino-Korean war. T˘kichi makes his men call back Teruwaka and tells him that he will adopt him as his son. He also appoints Shinsaku as Teruwaka's guardian-friend named Sorori Shinsaku.

The Golden Pavilion
--> A dedicated summary: "

Matsunaga Daizen, who has assassinated the Sh˘gun Ashikaga Yoshiteru, confines the Sh˘gun's mother Keijuin to the top floor of the three-storied Kinkakuji in Ky˘to. Daizen wants to have an ink picture drawn on a ceiling panel of her room either by Princess Yuki, the granddaughter of Sesshű, a famous artist, or her husband, Kan˘nosuke Naonobu. Konoshita T˘kichi visits Daizen at the pavilion, ostensibly wishing to serve him. Daizen challenges T˘kichi to a game of go and is defeated. Chagrined, he throws the wooden container of go stones into a well in the garden and tells T˘kichi to recover it without wetting his hands. T˘kichi fills the well with the water led from a waterfall with a bamboo pole and recovers the container with ease. Daizen takes Princess Yuki to the garden and demands that she draws the picture of a dragon. Princess Yuki refuses on the ground that she has no model to copy. As Daizen draws his sword in front of the waterfall, the reflection of a dragon appears on the face of the waterfall, a phenomenon peculiar to the sword named Kurikaramaru Princess Yuki's father Sesson used to have. No doubt it was Daizen who killed her father and took the sword from him. Princess Yuki attacks Daizen with the sword but he makes his men tie her to a cherry tree and take her husband to a place of execution. A sorrow-stricken Princess Yuki gathers petals of cherry blossoms with her feet and draws a picture of a rat with them. The picture takes life [2] and the "rat" bites through the rope tying her to set her free. Princess Yuki tries to run away to rescue her husband but is attacked by Kit˘ta, Daizen's brother, with the sword Kurikaramaru. He is, however, killed with a dagger thrown at him by T˘kichi. T˘kichi recovers Kurikaramaru for Princess Yuki. T˘kichi then climbs to the top floor of the pavilion to rescue Keijuin. Daizen, who has been observing T˘kichi's action in a place of safety, comes out to tell T˘kichi that he is ready to meet him in a crucial battle at his castle in Shigisan.

[1] The title "The Gion Festival Chronicle of Faith" comes from the 1st volume of "Kabuki Plays On Stage".

[2] Princess Yuki's father Sesson was gifted with a hereditary ability to draw an animal so realistically that it became alive.

The actors Kan˘ Minshi I (top/left), Arashi Kichisabur˘ II (bottom/left) and Asao Kuzaemon I (top/right) playing the roles of Kich˘-no-Mae, Konoshita T˘kichi and Yamaguchi Kurojir˘ in the drama "Gion Sairei Shink˘ki", which was staged in the 8th lunar month of 1812 at the Kado no Shibai

Prints & Illustrations

Search this site powered by FreeFind
  Site map | Disclaimer
Contact | Main | Top | Updates | Actors | Plays | Playwrights | Programs | Links | FAQ | Glossary | Chronology | Illustrations | Prints | Characters | Derivatives | Theaters | Coming soon | News