Play title Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘  In Japanese
Eight Battle Arrays to Protect Honj˘ Castle [1]
Authors Nakamura Gyokan
Sagawa T˘ta

The play "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 9th lunar month of 1807 in ďsaka. It was quickly adapted for Kabuki by the sakusha Nagawa Kunisuke, Nagawa Tokusuke I and Ichioka Washichi I and staged for the first time the following year, in the 3rd lunar month of 1808 in Ky˘to at the Kitagawa no Shibai [casting]. In order to avoid the Shogunate censorship, the identity of all historical characters were disguised (more or less lightly):

Real name Role
Kat˘ Kiyomasa Kat˘ Asakiyo in the first version, Sat˘ Masakiyo or Kat˘ Masakiyo later
Toyotomi Hideyoshi Oda Harunaga
Toyotomi Hideyori Oda Haruwaka
Tokugawa Ieyasu Kitabatake Haruo in the first version, H˘j˘ Tokimasa later
Ikeda Sanzaemon Hori Sanzaemon in the first version, Mori Sanzaemon later
Got˘ Mototsugu Kojima Masatsugu in the first version, Got˘ Masatsugu later

The "Honj˘ Tenshukaku" scene (in English "In the Keep of the Inner Castle"), which is commonly called "Honj˘", is the 8th act of "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘", which was originally made up of 11 acts.

Key words Gidayű Ky˘gen
H˘j˘ Tokimasa
Ikeda Sanzaemon
Kat˘ Kiyomasa
Tokugawa Ieyasu


In a previous scene, "Dokushu" ("the poisoned sake" in English), of the play, the hero Kat˘ Masakiyo was forced into a position where he had to take a slow-acting but fatal poison in place of his lord in order to protect him. Others characters in "Honj˘" are Masakiyo's son Kazuenosuke, Mori Sanzaemon's daughter Hinaginu (who is in love with Kazuenosuke), ďuchi Kanja Yoshihiro (lord of the neighboring province of Chishima) and the warrior Got˘ Jinbei Masatsugu. Mori Sanzaemon is at the service of H˘j˘ Tokimasa, the enemy of Oda Harunaga, the master of Kat˘ Masakiyo (which means that the love story between Hinaginu and Kazuenosuke is condemned to fail from the beginning!). "Honj˘" is set in the Kumamoto castle, which belongs to Kat˘ Masakiyo. Due to the poisoning, Kat˘ Masakiyo's wig is the famous hyakunichi, which tells the audience that he is deeply sick (and therefore could not cut his hair!).

Honj˘ Tenshukaku
In the Keep of the Inner Castle

When Kazuenosuke meets Hinaginu outside Masakiyo's room Hinaginu says she is very glad to see her husband again, but Kazuenosuke says he is more interested in finding how his father's physical condition is. Hinaginu says Masakiyo is indisposed and eats very little.

Masakiyo's okugata Hazue arrives and tells Masakiyo from outside his room that Kazuenosuke has come to see him. At this moment several retainers of Genba's, who are disguised as rats, sneak into Masakiyo's room but are thrown out by Masakiyo. Genba, who is also disguised as a rat, then attacks Masakiyo but is repulsed by him.

Kazuenosuke, who has brought with him Tokimasa's letter to Masakiyo, places it in front of Masakiyo's room and asks him to read it. Masakiyo angrily tears it up, giving not even a glance at it, and declares that he has no intention of supporting Tokimasa's cause. He sternly tells Kazuenosuke to return to Ky˘to immediately and protect Haruwaka from Tokimasa's possible attempt to assassinate him. Kazuenosuke takes his leave after handing a personal letter to Hinaginu.

Hinaginu's mother, Shigarami, comes from Ky˘to and tells Hinaginu that she cannot remain Kazuenosuke's wife. Tormented by the apparent doom of her marriage, Hinaginu turns to Kazuenosuke's letter for consolation only to find that it is a letter of divorce. The letter says that he cannot have her as his wife because she is the daughter of Sanzaemon, who is loyal to his father's enemy, Tokimasa. Out of despair Hinaginu commits suicide by stabbing her throat with a dagger.

Masakiyo appears from his room in full armor and displays a flag on which the names of Kazuenosuke and Hinaginu are written side by side. He says that he knows that Kazuenosuke will die an honorable death in Ky˘to for the sake of Haruwaka and that the flag shows Masakiyo's wish to see Kazuenosuke and Hinaginu live happily as man and wife in the other world.

ďuchi Kanja Yoshihiro and the send˘ Nadaemon, who is in fact a warrior named Got˘ Jinbei Masatsugu, come to see Masakiyo. They say they are determined to raise an army to fight against Tokimasa in support of Haruwaka, the young heir to the late Oda Harunaga whom they used to serve as Masakiyo did. Got˘ Jinbei, Hazue and Shigarami leave for Ky˘to, seen off by Masakiyo, who turns pale, showing the effect of the poisoned sake he took in Ky˘to.


[1] The title "Eight Battle Arrays to Protect Honj˘ Castle" came from osakaprints.com.

The actor Ichikawa Ichiz˘ I playing the role of Kat˘ Masakiyo in the "Honj˘" scene of the drama "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1814 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Kuniyasu I)

The actor Nakamura Kichiemon I playing the role of Kat˘ Masakiyo in the "Honj˘" scene of the drama "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘", which was staged in February 1933 at the Meijiza

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