Play title Irezumi Chôhan  In Japanese
Author Hasegawa Shin

The play "Irezumi Chôhan" was published in March 1932 and premiered in June 1932 at the Kabukiza. The roles of Hantarô, Onaka and Masagorô were played by Onoe Kikugorô VI, Nakamura Fukusuke V and Ichimura Uzaemon XV.


The play "Irezumi Chôhan" is made up of 2 acts and 5 scenes.

Key words Sewamono

Onaka is a world-weary prostitute who views all men with the same jaundiced attitude. She is sick of life and throws herself into the river, but Hantarô rescues her. Not only is she not grateful, but she expects that like all the other men before him he will expect a 'reward' from her in the form of sex. He upbraids her for tarring all men with the same brush and walks off leaving her openmouthed in amazement. She is so astonished at his behavior that she follows him and finally arrives at the hovel where he lives just in time to see him packing his bags to make a hasty escape before the local law officers can catch up with him for an unfortunate murder he committed across the bay in his hometown, Edo. She begs him to take her along, and since he doesn't have time to argue, they flee together.

In the next act, Hantarô and Onaka are now man and wife and he has given up his life as a wandering gambler thanks to her influence, although he still succumbs to his urge to roll the dice from time to time. But Onaka is now sick and hasn't long to live. In a poignant scene, she asks Hantarô if he will grant her a final wish. He agrees and she asks to tattoo his arm. He thinks she wants to leave her name as a permanent reminder, but after she has finished he is shocked to see she has tattooed dice on his arm-her last plea for him to give up his gambling for good.

In the final scene we see Hantarô, beaten up and bloody by a roadside. He has been to the local town and deliberately used loaded dice in the hope of winning enough to make Onaka's final days comfortable. However, he has been caught and punished by the gamblers. The local boss Masagorô intervenes and sympathizes with Hantarô's plight. He offers Hantarô a wager-the entire contents of his purse if Hantarô wins; Hantarô's life if he loses. Hantarô cannot resist the challenge, shakes the dice in the bamboo cup and bangs the cup to the ground. We are held in suspense as complete silence falls over the audience. Slowly he lifts the cup at one side and gives a yell of triumph-he has won! The boss, true to his word, throws Hantarô his purse and leaves. Hantarô heaves himself unsteadily to his feet grasping the purse, staggers to the hanamichi, and then runs in the direction of home shouting Onaka's name.

Text courtesy of Jean Wilson (1999)

Irezumi Chôhan

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