Play title Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki  In Japanese
Authors Namiki S˘suke
Asada Icch˘
Namioka Geiji
Namiki Sh˘z˘ I
Naniwa Sanz˘
Toyotake Jinroku

The play "Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki" (five acts) was originally written for the puppet theater and staged for the first time in ďsaka at the Toyotakeza in the 12th lunar month of 1751. It was adapted for Kabuki the following year and staged for the first time in Edo at the Moritaza in the 4th lunar month of 1752 [casting]. It was also performed for the first time in ďsaka in the 11th lunar month of 1752 at the Naka no Shibai as a kaomise drama [casting].


"Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki" was originally made up of 5 acts, with 3 scenes per act except the 5th act, which was made up of 2 scenes. The most famous scene is the third scene of act III, "Kumagai Jin'ya", which is regularly staged.

Key words Chichibu Sh˘ji Shigetada
Genpei Kassen
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Goshirakawa Tenn˘
Horikawa Gosho
Ichi-no-Tani no Tatakai
Kajiwara Kagetaka
Kajiwara Kagetoki
Kubi Jikken
Kumagai Naozane
Minamoto Yoritomo
Okabe Rokuyata
Okabe Tadasumi
Suma no Ura
Taira Atsumori
Taira Kiyomori
Taira Munekiyo
Taira Shigemori
Taira Tadanori
Taira Tokitada
Yaheiby˘e Munekiyo

Act I, scene 1: Horikawa Gosho
At the Palace in Horikawa
--> A dedicated summary: "Horikawa Gosho"

In the scene at the Horikawa Palace, the Heike clan has fled Ky˘to and the Genji general Yoshitsune must recover the three imperial regalia. He plans to do so by showing mercy to the imperial court and the Heike clan. Yoshitsune gives a veiled order to the warrior Kumagai to spare the life of the young Heike general Atsumori because he is actually the son of the retired emperor. He also tries to see that the Heike warrior Taira no Tadanori gets his final wish to have a poem included in an imperial anthology, even though it must be labeled ôpoet unknownö because the Heike clan has now been designated enemies of the imperial court. Yoshitsune sends Okabe Rokuyata Tadasumi to take this message to Tadanori.

Act I, scene 3: Atsumori Shutsujin
Atsumori Going into Battle
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

Defeated in Ky˘to by the Genji force, Taira no Tsunemori, a Heike leader, is temporarily staying in a house in Fukuhara. With him are his wife Fuji-no-Kata, his foster son Atsumori and Tamaori, who is Atsumori's fiancÚe. Tamaori is the daughter of Taira no Tokitada and she has been adopted by Tsunemori in preparation for her coming wedding with Atsumori.

Tokitada, who is on the Genji side, now wishes to marry Tamaori to Hirayama Mushadokoro Sueshige, a Genji warrior. He has sent his messenger ďdachi Genba to Fukuhara to negotiate the release of Tamaori. Tsunemori and Fuji-no-Kata reluctantly agree to Tokitada's proposal but when Genba is about to take Tamaori into his palanquin, she suddenly grabs Genba's sword and stabs him to death.

Tsunemori and Fuji-no-Kata make Atsumori and Tamaori perform a wedding ceremony by drinking sake from the wedding cup, first Atsumori then Tamaori. A koshimoto reminds Tsunemori that it is the established rule that the bride drinks first and hand the cup to the groom. Tsunemori tells her that Atsumori is an exception because as he is actually the son of the retired Emperor Goshirakawa. Atsumori may someday be acknowledged as the heir to the imperial throne. Once the wedding ceremony is over, Tsunemori advises Atsumori to go up to Ky˘to with Tamaori and Fuji-no-Kata to join Goshirakawa. Atsumori, however, insists that he must go to the battlefront. Tsunemori dissuades Atsumori with a threat to kill himself unless Atsumori follows his advice. Atsumori, Fuji-no-Kata and Tamaori withdraw to an inner room to prepare for their trip to Ky˘to.

A messenger comes from the headquarters of the Heike force with a letter reporting another military defeat for the Heike clan. The letter orders Tsunemori to escort the young Emperor Antoku and his mother across the Inland Sea to Yashima in Shikoku. Tsunemori hurriedly leaves the house without even bidding farewell to his family. Fuji-no-Kata comes out of the inner room and picks up the letter from the Heike headquarters, which Tsunemori has left. Joined by Tamaori and some koshimoto, Fuji-no-Kata talks about her husband's sudden departure. Suddenly, Atsumori appears in the garden. He is fully armed and on horseback, telling all the gathered women that he is about to go to the Ichi-no-Tani Heike camp to fight in place of Tsunemori. His new bride volunteers to go with him.

After their departure, Narita Gor˘, a retainer of Hirayama, the man to whom Tamaori had been promised by Tokitada, and his followers come to abduct Tamaori and kill Tsunemori. Fuji-no-Kata, who is a skillful archer, kills Narita Gor˘ by an arrow and. Then, with the help of her koshimoto, she drives out his retainers with naginata.

Act II, scene 1: Jinmon
The Camp Gate
--> A dedicated summary: "Jinmon"

Yoshitsune has planned an attack on the Heike Camp and Kumagai's son Kojir˘, although still but a youth, is in the van of the attack. It is night and inside the Heike camp a warrior (in fact Atsumori) is playing a flute when Kojir˘ appears outside the walls. While the boy pauses, listening to the music, Hirayama appears and tells Kojir˘ that they must attack the camp together. Kojir˘ rushes to the gate of the camp, shouting his name, as is customary but the treacherous Hirayama hangs back and Kojir˘, unable to fight alone the Heike enemies, is captured and dragged into the enemy camp.

Kumagai appears on stage and Hirayama pretends that Kojir˘ was so reckless that he would not let himself be restrained by Hirayama. Kumagai immediately rushes forward to rescue his son but once again the cowardly Hirayama hangs back from the fighting. Kumagai reappears carrying his wounded son and tells Hirayama to fight off any pursuers so that he may get Kojir˘ back to their own camp. No sooner has Kumagai left than Atsumori appears and attacks Hirayama, who quickly runs away.

Act II, scene 2, part 1: Suma no Ura
The Suma Beach
--> A dedicated summary: "Suma no Ura"

The coward Hirayama flees to the beach at Suma Beach and hides among the rocks. Tamaori, who is seeking her husband, Atsumori, enters on stage. Hirayama, who want to marry Tamaori, comes out of his hiding place and seizes the opportunity of this chance meeting to catch his future wife. He pretends that Tamaori must now go with him, for her parents have agreed that they shall be married. Tamaori, however, answers that she will marry only Atsumori whom she loves. Hirayama says that this devotion is useless, for he has killed Atsumori during the battle. Tamaori draws her sword to revenge herself upon the lying Hirayama but is disarmed by him. Even under the threat of death she refuses to submit to him and Hirayama in a rage mortally wounds her. The sounds of fighting are coming nearer and Hirayama hides the dying Tamaori among the rocks. Then, he runs away.

Act II, scene 2, part 2: Kumiuchi
The Duel
--> A dedicated summary: "Kumiuchi"

Far out at sea appear the ships carrying the fleeing Heike force, defeated by the Genji army. Atsumori, riding on his horse, tries to make for the ships. Before he can go far, however, Kumagai appears, orders the young warrior to fight and throws him from his horse. Kumagai dismounts to give the final blow to Atsumori. He asks Atsumori if he has any last request. The youth proudly declares himself to be Taira no Atsumori, son of Taira no Tsunemori, and asks only one thing: the return of his body to his father.

Kumagai, taking pity on his young opponent, advises him to escape as nobody is witnessing. Unfortunately, some Genji soldiers appear. They are at the pursuit of the Heike stragglers. The hidden Hirayama, emboldened, comes out of hiding and, seeing Kumagai's hesitation [1], scornfully tells him that it is treachery to spare the life of an enemy. Atsumori proudly begs Kumagai to kill him and with great reluctance the Genji warrior severs the young man's head. Holding the severed head, he proclaims to all the death of Taira no Atsumori. Tamaori, in anguish, crawls toward the body. Kumagai lets her touch the head. Her eyes, already blind with grief, close in death as she calls the name of her love.

Act II, scene 3: Ubara no Sato
At the Village of Ubara
--> A dedicated summary: "Ubara no Sato"

The old woman Hayashi lives in a small house at Ubara in the Province of Tsu. She used to be the nurse to Kiku-no-Mae, the daughter of Fujiwara no Shunzei. A warrior visits this house to ask whether or not he could spend the night here. Hayashi complies with his request and immediately recognizes him as Taira no Tadanori, a Heike warrior who has presented his poem to Shunzei, asking him to include it in the "Senzai Wakashű" collection of poems. The poet warrior retires into an inner room.

A thief suddenly breaks into the house. Hayashi catches him and finds to her surprise that he is Tagohei, her long-separated son. Tagohei confesses that he has tried to steal his late father's sword because he wants to become a soldier. Hayashi refuses to give him the sword but he tries to take it by force. In the midst of their struggle Mojibei, an employment agent, comes to the house to tell Tagohei that he wants to recommend Tagohei as a flag-older (hatamochi in Japanese). Hayashi answers Mojibei that she does not want her son to go to war but Mojibei assures her that his future job involves no danger at all. Tagohei receives an amour and a helmet brought by Mojibei and jubilantly takes the road to the war zone.

While Hayashi is treating Mojibei to sake as a token of her gratitude, Kiku-no-Mae arrives. She is desperately looking for her lover Tadanori. Hayashi tells her that Tadanori is fortunately staying in the house and takes her daughter to the inner room, where Tadanori is sleeping. Mojibei thanks Hayashi and leaves the house. Kiku-no-Mae then runs out of the inner room and tells Hayashi that Tadanori told her to part with him. Tadanori also comes out of the room and tells Kiku-no-Mae that he has no hope of returning alive from the coming battle and that he wants her to marry somebody else. Before Tadanori can succeed in persuading Kiku-no-Mae to give him up, a group of Genji soldiers headed by Kajiwara Heiji Kagetaka arrives to capture Tadanori. Though heavily outnumbered, Tadanori valiantly fights them off.

Then another group of soldiers headed by Okabe Rokuyata arrives. Rokuyata tells Tadanori that he has come to inform him of Yoshitsune's decision to include Tadanori's poem in the "Senzai Wakashű". Glad of the great honor, Tadanori offers himself to be arrested by Okabe but the Genji warrior prefers to meet him openly in the forthcoming battle. A horse is given to Tadanori to help him reaching quickly the Heike headquarters. Kiku-no-Mae desperately tries to see her lover for the last time. She is hidden by Hayashi but Okabe, who is aware of the presence of the young lady, cuts one sleeve from Tadanori's outer garment and gives it to Kiku-no-Mae through Hayashi. This is the sleeve from the right arm ů a bad omen [2] for Tadanori. Okabe Rokuyata and Taira no Tadanori pose as the curtain is drawn to end the scene.

Act III, scene 1: Midaroku Uchi
At Midaroku's Home
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

A handsome young man visits late at night the house of Midaroku, a stone mason living in a village near Mikage Beach. As Midaroku is absent, the youth is received by his pretended daughter Koyuki, who is in reality the daughter of Taira no Shigemori, son of the Heike clan's leader Taira no Kiyomori. She secretly fell in love with this young man when he visited Midaroku some days ago to ask the stone mason to erect a gravestone to the memory of Atsumori. He is asked to go into an inner room and to wait until Midaroku comes home. Koyuki enters the room but soon comes out because she cannot find him in the room. At this moment the young man surprises her by appearing from another room. When she tries to approach him, he says that he can't become intimate with her and asks her to give him up. Presently Midaroku comes back home and takes the youth to the place where he has erected the gravestone.

Act III, scene 2: Mikagehama Hamabe
On the Shore of Mikage Beach
--> A dedicated summary: "Mikagehama Hamabe"

The stonecutter Byakug˘ no Midaroku shows his neighborhood villagers a flute he was given by a young client for the gravestone that he built on the shore. Fuji-no-Kata then appears and claims the flute is the Aoba no Fue [3], the treasure of her son Taira no Atsumori. The Genji-side pursuers then arrive, led by Banba no Chűta, running after Fuji-no-Kata. In the furious brawl, the villagers knock Chűta dead. In bewilderment, they begin drawing lots to decide who is to blame for the incident. The task falls upon the unlucky sh˘ya.

Act III, scene 3, part 1: Kumagai Zakura
Kumagai's Cherry Tree

Sagami, Kumagai's wife, arrives at the Genji headquarters, seeking news of their son Kojir˘. A cherry trees stands before the gate. Yoshitsune's cryptic message is written on a wooden notice-board standing near the tree. While she is talking with Kumagai's retainer Tsutsumi no Gunji, Fuji-no-Kata appears. The two women recognize each other. Fuji-no-Kata explains to Sagami that she has come to the camp to avenge the death of his son. She has learned that Kumagai has killed Atsumori and she demands that Sagami repay her debt of 16 years ago by aiding her to kill Atsumori's murderer. Sagami is torn between loyalty to Fuji-no-Kata and love for her husband but reluctantly consents. She will ask her husband on his return whether or not he is Atsumori's killer.

Noticing the approach of Kajiwara Heiji Kagetaka, a Genji warrior, the two women retire to an inner room. Kajiwara calls Midaroku, the stone mason, who is also visiting the camp, and questions him closely. He wants to know who ordered the gravestone he has just completed. Midaroku answers that the gravestone was ordered by a young man who he now believes to be Atsumori's ghost. Kajiwara is not completely convinced and he hands Midaroku over to Gunji for safekeeping.

Act III, scene 3, part 2: Kumagai Jin'ya
Kumagai's Camp
--> A dedicated summary: "Kumagai Jin'ya"

Kumagai returns from the Suma Beach to his headquarters with a heavy heart. Unexpectedly finding his wife in the camp, he asks her tersely why she has come to the camp in defiance of his order never to write to him, let alone visit him, until the campaign ends. Sagami apologetically answers him that her grave concern over their son Kojir˘, who is engaged in his first battle. Her worried led her to disobey his order. Kumagai cannot bring himself to tell Sagami what he has done and instead describes, as though he were still alive, Kojir˘'s valor and fighting spirit on the battlefield. He tells also of the death of Atsumori. He is overheard by Fuji-no-Kata. As she is so desperate for revenge, she leaps at Kumagai with a dagger in her hand but he halts her and makes her listen him. He begins his monogatari, which his one of the highlights of "Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki". He tells the two women of the heroism of Atsumori and his final hours on the Suma Beach. Broken with grief at the telling, Fuji-no-Kata renounces all thought of revenge.

Kumagai goes to an inner room to fetch Atsumori's head for presentation to Yoshitsune. Fuji-no-Kata plays Atsumori's flute in a prayer for the repose of his soul. Suddenly Atsumori's shadow appears on the paper sliding door. His mother rushes to fling it open but finds only Atsumori's armour. Kumagai appears with a casket supposedly containing Atsumori's head. Fuji-no-Kata entreats Kumagai to show its contents only to meet his flat refusal. He declares he cannot show it to anyone else before it is offered to Yoshitsune for inspection. At this moment Yoshitsune unexpectedly appears from an inner room. saying he has secretly slipped into Kumagai's camp in order to find out the motive behind Kumagai's appeal to him for permission to retire from military service in the midst of the war. Yoshitsune demands to see the head of Atsumori as proof that the order to slaughter the leaders of the Heike has been carried out. In reply Kumagai shows Yoshitsune the notice which he had received before and which he had understood as an order to sacrifice his own son, Kojir˘ for Atsumori, He then opens the casket and displays to Yoshitsune the head within, the head of Kojir˘. Yoshitsune scrutinizes the head before him and after a tense silence declares it to be that of Atsumori.

At that moment, however, the evil Kajiwara Kagetoki appears on stage and announces that he has overheard everything and will go and report to Yoritomo, the Genji leader in Kamakura, that his younger brother and Kumagai have conspired to save the life of an enemy. Kajiwara is suddenly killed by a chisel thrown by Midaroku. When Midaroku is about to leave, he is called back by Yoshitsune who recognizes the old man as the former Heike warrior, Taira no Munekiyo, who saved his life years ago. The old man admits this is true and Yoshitsune is greatly moved to see his ancient benefactor. Midaroku, however, regrets that he saved the life of the one who is responsible the downfall of his clan. Yoshitsune has a gift for Midaroku, however, and he orders Kumagai to bring it in. This is a large box containing Atsumori's armour. The contents of the box should be handed over to Midaroku's daughter. When the old man opens the box, he sees Atsumori inside, alive and well. Yoshitsune has had Atsumori hidden in the box so that he can be smuggled safely out of the camp. The message is crystal clear: Atsumori should marry Koyuki to guarantee the survival of the Heike clan. Fuji-no-Kata tries to see the contents of the box but she is stopped by Midaroku.

Kumagai returns on stage in full armour. Yoshitsune demands to know why Kumagai has asked for leave in the midst of battle and Kumagai removes his armour and helmet to reveal the shaven head and robes of a Buddhist monk. He has entered the priesthood to spend the rest of his life praying for the soul of his son Kojir˘. Meanwhile Midaroku prepares to leave with Fuji-no-Kata and warns Yoshitsune that, if there is a Heike revival, they will meet again as enemies. Kumagai then sets off on a wandering priesthood life. Yoshitsune allows him a final glimpse of the head of Kojir˘. The play ends with Kumagai's famous exclamation that the sixteen years of his son's life have passed like a dream, and an equally famous exit on the hanamichi.

Act IV, scene 3: Rokuyata Yakata
At Rokuyata's Palace
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

The Genji warrior Okabe Rokuyata has killed the Heike warrior Taira no Tadanori during the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani. This exploit was rewarded: Okabe has been given a greater territory by his lord. He now lives in a beautiful mansion in Matsubara in Ky˘to with his second wife Suganoi, their young daughter Nadeshiko, his daughter Hatsushimo by his first wife, and ů Tadanori's lover Kiku-no-Mae. Shunzei's daughter was taken into custody at Okabe's mansion after Tadanori's death.

When the mansion koshimoto are gossiping about Hatsushimo's imminent marriage to the Genji warrior Chichibu no Sh˘ji Shigetada and the sorry fate of Kiku-no-Mae, who has lost her lover, the two young ladies appear on stage. To beguile the sorrow of Kiku-no-Mae, Hatsushimo and the koshimoto play with her the game of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets.

Samegai T˘ta, one of Rokuyata's two chief retainers, comes in to tell the koshimoto to work instead of playing. Hatsushimo and the maids go away but Kiku-no-Mae is asked by Samegai to stay. He bluntly asks why Kiku-no-Mae does not bear a grudge against Okabe, who killed her sweetheart and wonders if she has shamelessly become intimate with him. Provoked by Samegai's ungrounded accusation, Kiku-no-Mae attacks him with her dagger. He catches her arm, apologizes to her for his impoliteness and goes away.

Suganoi enters with her young daughter Nadeshiko. She tells Kiku-no-Mae that Suganoi is the daughter of Kiku-no-Mae's nurse Hayashi and that Samegai is none other than Suganoi's elder brother, Hayashi's son, who was formerly named Tagohei. Samegai helped Okabe kill Tadanori by cutting off Tadanori's right arm. It is in appreciation of this exploit that Samegai has been given a very high position in the Okabe household. Kiku-no-Mae asks for Suganoi's permission to visit the Kiyomizu Temple in Ky˘to to offer prayers, since this day happens to be the death anniversary of Tadanori. Suganoi grants her wish and maker Hatsushimo accompany her.

Soon after their departure Hirayama Mushadokoro Sueshige arrives as Yoshitsune's messenger to bring Okabe's letter to his two chief retainers, Samegai T˘ta and Koyurugi Tar˘. Both retainers are absent but Hirayama says that he cannot wait until their return because the letter concerns an urgent business. Therefore, Suganoi and Koyurugi 's wife Umenoto read the letter as proxies of the two kar˘. In the letter Okabe says that he was ordered by Yoshitsune to kill Kiku-no-Mae and deliver her severed head to Hirayama. Suganoi, however, finds in the letter box a white chrysanthemum flower which she takes as a symbol of Okabe's secret instruction to save the life of Kiku-no-Mae by using a substitute. Suganoi promises to Hirayama to scrupulously obey Yoshitsune's order but asks him to wait until dawn. He gives a head casket to the two okugata and leaves the stage.

Suganoi then confides to Umenoto that she is going to substitute Hatsushimo for Kiku-no-Mae. Umenoto vehemently opposes this cruel idea but Suganoi runs out, carrying the head casket in her arm. Umenoto rushes out of the mansion to kill Kiku-no-Mae. She is, however, stopped by Suganoi on the Sannenzaka slop of the Kiyomizu Temple. Samegai, who has come to help Suganoi, ties Umenoto to a tree with a rope and goes away with Suganoi to find Hatsushimo. Koyurugi, who has heard of Suganoi's outrageous attempt, arrives but before he can release Umenoto, Samegai comes back with the head casket in his arm, declaring that Hatsushimo's head is in it. Koyurugi attacks Samegai with a sword and wounds him. In the midst of their struggle Hatsushimo unexpectedly enters with Kiku-no-Mae. The surprised Koyurugi stops fighting and throws off his sword. Samegai shows him the content of the casket-the head of Suganoi, who has offered herself to save the lives of Kiku-no-Mae and Hatsushimo. Impressed with Suganoi's noble sacrifice, Koyurugi tries to disembowel himself to follow her to the other world but is dissuaded by Okabe, who has made his appearance from behind trees. Okabe orders Koyurugi to take the pretended head of Kiku-no-Mae to Hirayama's quarters. Samegai dies of his wound.


[1] Kumagai's hesitation in killing Atsumori is fully understood by the audience: everybody knows that, obeying Yoshitsune's camouflaged order to save the life of Atsumori, Kumagai carried from the Heike camp not Kojir˘ but Atsumori and took the latter boy to a place of safety, letting his son playing the role of Atsumori. Kojir˘ disguised himself in the distinctive armour of Atsumori and deliberately allowed himself to be killed by his own father in order to perfectly comply with Yoshitsune's request. This terrible truth will be revealed later in the "Kumagai Jin'ya" scene but it is always deeply felt from the very beginning by most of the members of the theater audience.

[2] This is a bad omen as Taira no Tadanori will be killed during the battle of Ichi-no-Tani by Okabe Rokuyata but, before receiving the final blow, his right arm will be severed by ... Tagohei.

[3] Literally 'Flute of Green Leaves'.

Band˘ Kamez˘ I (bottom/left) and Sawamura Tanosuke III (top/right) playing the roles of Okabe Rokuyata Tadasumi and Kiku-no-Mae in the drama "Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki" in a print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III in 1857

Fujikawa Tomokichi III (bottom/left) and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V (top/right) playing the roles of Taira no Atsumori and Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane in the drama "Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki" in a print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III

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