Play title Imoseyama Onna Teikin  In Japanese
Mt Imo and Mt Se: A Tale of Womanly Virtue
Authors Chikamatsu Hanji
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Matsuda Boku
Chikamatsu T˘nan

The play "Imoseyama Onna Teikin" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1771 in ďsaka at Takeda Shinmatsu's theater (ex-Takemotoza). It was quickly adapted for Kabuki and staged in Ky˘to in the 3rd lunar month of 1771 at the Kitagawa no Shibai [casting]. It was a long run, produced from the 25th day of the 3rd lunar month to the 10th of the 5th lunar month of 1771.

This play is based on the Taika coup d'etat in 645, in which Emperor Tenchi, with his loyal minister Fujiwara no Kamatari, succeeded in destroying the wicked Soga no Iruka.


The drama "Imoseyama Onna Teikin" is made up of 5 acts:

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 大内 ďuchi
In the Palace of the Emperor
  2 小松原 Komatsubara
The Komatsubara Plain
  3 蝦夷子館 Emiji Yakata
Emiji's Palace
  4 入鹿入定 Iruka Nyűj˘
Iruka Deep Meditation [1]
II 1 猿沢池 Sarusawa no Ike
The Sarusawa Pond
  2 鹿殺し Shika Koroshi
The Killing of a Deer
  3 芝六住家 Shibaroku Sumika
Shibaroku's Home
III 1 定高舘 Sadaka Yakata
At Sadaka's Palace
  2 花渡し Hana Watashi
Handing of Flowers
  3 吉野川 Yoshinogawa
The Yoshino River
IV 1 井戸替 Idogae
The Cleaning of the Well
  2 杉酒屋 Sugi Sakaya
The Sugi Sake Shop
  3 道行恋苧環 Michiyuki Koi no Odamaki
The Spool of Love Travel Dance
  4 三笠山御殿 Mikasayama Goten
At the Palace on Mount Mikasa
  5 入鹿誅伐 Iruka Chűbatsu
The Cutting of Iruka
V 1 志賀都 Shiga no Miyako
At the Shiga Imperial Palace [2]
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Asuka Jidai
Fujiwara Kamatari
Fujiwara Tankai
Furu Jinja
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Kasuga Taisha
Sarusawa no Ike
Shiga no Miyako
Soga Emiji
Soga Iruka
Taika no Kaishin
Tenchi Tenn˘

Act I, scene 1: ďuchi
In the Palace of the Emperor

Act I, scene 2: Komatsubara
The Komatsubara Plain
--> A dedicated summary: "Komatsubara"

On a beautiful spring day, Koganosuke, the young and handsome son of Daihanji no Kiyosumi, and Hinadori, the young and beautiful daughter of Dazai's k˘shitsu Sadaka, happen to meet and fall in love at first sight. They do not realize that their families are bitter enemies, with estates on either side of the Yoshino river. Koganosuke helps Uneme, the daughter of the loyal minister Fujiwara no Kamatari and the favourite lady-in-waiting of the Emperor Tenchi, to escape from the clutches of the evil minister Soga no Emiji.

Act I, scene 3: Emiji Yakata
Emiji's Palace
--> A dedicated summary: "Emiji Yakata"

Koganosuke is ordered to report on Uneme's whereabouts and lies, telling Soga no Emiji that Kamatari's daughter has committed suicide by jumping into the Sarusawa Pond. Emiji's son, Soga no Iruka, threatens his father to become a buddhist priest because of his father's evil plots to seize the power. Emiji is finally forced into suicide, but this reveals that Iruka is an even greater villain than his father. He plans to ruthlessly rule the land.

Act I, scene 4: Iruka Nyűj˘
Iruka Deep Meditation

Act II, scene 1: Sarusawa no Ike
The Sarusawa Pond
--> A dedicated summary: "Sarusawa no Ike"

The Emperor Tenchi, who is blind, mourns for his beloved Uneme at the site, where she is said to have committed suicide. He encounters a young warrior Fujiwara no Tankai, who offers him his service to assure Tenchi's safety. A messenger reports of both the death of Emiji and Iruka's coup d'etat. Tankai decides to take Tenchi in his carriage (mikuruma) away to a safe place instead of going back to the palace.

Act II, scene 2: Shika Goroshi
The Killing of a Deer
--> A dedicated summary: "Shika Koroshi"

The hunter Shibaroku was once a retainer of the Fujiwara clan named Genj˘ Tar˘ Toshitsuna. He decides to kill a sacred deer on Mount Tsuzura because its blood is needed to prepair the magic potion, which will help killing Soga no Iruka. Shibaroku hopes that this loyal service will allow him to be reinstated.

Act II, scene 3: Shibaroku Sumika
Shibaroku's Home
--> A dedicated summary: "Shibaroku Sumika"

Tankai has brought Emperor Tenchi at Shibaroku's home, taking advantage of the fact that he is blind to pretend that they are back at the Imperial Palace. But in fact, Shibaroku and his wife are very poor, without even the money to pay the rice bill. To entertain the emperor, Shibaroku and his son Sansaku perform a celebratory manzai dance. The emperor is entertained and convinced that he is really at the palace.

Shibaroku's service is recognized by Tankai, who reinstates him as a samurai, but the blame for the killing of the sacred deer falls on Sansaku, who is executed. In the end, however, Tankai's father Kamatari shows that Shibaroku's son is safe along with Uneme. With a sacred mirror, he cures the emperor's illness and restores his sight.

Act III, scene 1: Sadaka Yakata
At Sadaka's Palace [3]

Act III, scene 2: Hana Watashi
Handing of Flowers
--> A dedicated summary: "Hana Watashi"

Iruka blames Koganosuke for the loss of Uneme and has heard of his love for Hinadori. He fears that these two rival clans may be plotting against him. He summons Daihanji to Sadaka's late husband's palace and confront the two rival parents. He orders Koganosuke to become his retainer and Hinadori to serve in his bed chamber. He gives them branches of cherry blossoms to be thrown into the Yoshino river as a signal of the answers of the two young people.

Act III, scene 3: Yoshinogawa
The Yoshino River
--> A dedicated summary: "Yoshinogawa"

Daihanji and Sadaka, Koganosuke's father and Hinadori's mother, arrive with the ultimatums from Lord Iruka. Rather than submit, Koganosuke and Hinadori choose to die on the spot. Seeing their children's sacrifice, Daihanji and Sadaka reconcile their former feud, and Sadaka sends the severed head of Hinadori across the water to the expiring Koganosuke so the two young people may be united in death.

Act IV, scene 1: Idogae
The Cleaning of the Well

Act IV, scene 2: Sugi Sakaya
The Sugi Sake Shop
--> A dedicated summary: "Sugi Sakaya"

Tankai lives next to a sake shop disguised as a craftsman named Motome. But all around are seeking a reward offered by Iruka for Tankai. The handsome Motome is loved by two women: Princess Tachibana, who secretly visits him at night, and Omiwa, the daughter of the proprietress of the sake shop. The two women argue over him and the princess leaves with Motome in pursuit and Omiwa following desperately after.

Act IV, scene 3: Michiyuki Koi no Odamaki
The Spool of Love Travel Dance
--> A dedicated summary: "Koi no Odamaki"

Omiwa, Princess Tachibana and Motome all dance of their love until the princess, whom Motome suspects is Iruka's daughter, returns to the palace. He attaches a thread to her kimono to follow her with his spool. In turn, Omiwa follows as well.

Act IV, scene 4: Mikasayama Goten
At the Palace on Mount Mikasa
--> A dedicated summary: "Mikasayama Goten"

Iruka has a new palace and receives a strange visitor, a man claiming to be a fisherman named Fukashichi, who is a messenger from Kamatari announcing his surrender and bringing a gift of sake. Iruka does not let down his guard and has Fukashichi closely guarded.

Princess Tachibana is back at the palace, followed by Motome, who sees that she is the daughter of Iruka, but she has long realized that he is Tankai. He is about to kill her to keep her quiet, but finally agrees to becomes her husband if she will bring the previous and sacred sword stolen by Iruka, which is part of the imperial regalia.

Omiwa arrives at the palace. She is tormented by a group of mean ladies-in-waiting (kanjo). As she is in the height of a fit of jealousy, she is suddenly stabbed by Fukashichi, actually a valiant hero named Kanawa Gor˘ in disguise. He tells her that the blood of a jealous woman is needed to prepare the potion, mixing it with the blood of the sacred deer, which will help vanquish Iruka. For her loyal service, she will be the wife of Motome, to be united with him in a future life!

Act IV, scene 5: Iruka Chűbatsu
The Cutting of Iruka
--> A dedicated summary: "Iruka Chűbatsu"

Soga no Iruka, whose supernatural power has been diminished by the mystical power of a magic flute, is finally killed, and to everyone's delight, the emperor will come back to the throne and restore the peace.

Act V, scene 1: Shiga no Miyako
At the Shiga Imperial Palace [2]

Following the defeat of the evil Soga no Iruka, Emperor Tenchi has been reinstated and peace has come. In the imperial palace of Shiga, loyal retainers are awarded a prize and a memorial service for both Koganosuke and Hinadori is held.


[1] Nyűj˘ is a Buddhist word which can be used for some ultimate ascetic practices in esoteric Buddhism. It can also be used to describe a state of deep meditation. It can also be used for the death of a holy Buddhist priest.

[2] Also called daidan'en. This scene has fallen into oblivion.

[3] Also called "Dazai Yakata" ('at Dazai's Palace').

Two different covers of illustated banzuke of "Imoseyama Onna Teikin"

The actors Nakayama Raisuke I (left/standing), Sawamura Kunitar˘ I (left/seated), Yamashina Jinkichi II (top/right) and Nakayama Bunshichi I (bottom/right) playing the roles of Sadaka, Hinadori, Koganosuke and Daihanji in the "Yoshinogawa" act, which was staged in the 5th lunar month of 1775 at the Kado no Shibai

The actors Arashi Koroku IV (bottom/left), Nakamura Utaemon III (middle) and Band˘ Mitsugor˘ III (top/right) playing the roles of Omiwa, Fukashichi and Soga no Iruka in the "Mikasayama Goten" act, which was staged in the 3rd lunar month of 1821 at the Kado no Shibai

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