The yearly show for young promising actors at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ in Asakusa, a lively and colorful neighboorhood that keeps the scent of old Edo.
Otoshidama: a special k˘j˘ for new year greetings (nenshi goaisatsu in Japanese)
with all young stars on stage.
(The Eight Dog Warriors)
the original novel is an immense epic by 19th century
novelist Takizawa Bakin published over many years, but eventually reaching
one-hundred and sixty volumes. The Satomi clan is being attacked and its lord
offers his daughter Princess Fuse to the warrior that will bring him the head of
the enemy. It is his loyal dog that kills and beheads the enemy and,
saying that her father must not go back on his word, Princess Fuse goes with the dog.
Nevertheless, the Satomi clan is defeated and one of its loyal retainers goes
to rescue Princess Fuse, shooting the dog, but unfortunately shooting Princess Fuse as well.
The eight crystal beads of her rosary, each engraved with the Chinese characters
of one of the Confucian virtues, goes flying through the air. Miraculously,
each will be found with a newborn baby. These eight children, all of whom have
the character inu for "dog" in their names, eventually meet and join
together to restore the Satomi clan. The play features all the stars of the
company and follows the adventures of the eight dog warriors as they
meet and gradually join together, leading to a climactic fight on the
roof of a dizzyingly high tower. Featuring Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Omez˘, Band˘ Minosuke,
Ichikawa Shun'en, Band˘ Shinsha, Nakamura Kikaku, Nakamura Kash˘ and Nakamura Kazutar˘.
Yoshidaya: the roots of this play go back to the earliest days of
Kabuki. Izaemon, the son of a wealthy family, has been disowned for loving a
courtesan and now has nothing but a paper kimono. This role is a classic
example of the wagoto or soft style of
acting that is one of the representative acting styles of the Kansai region.
Kataoka Ainosuke stars as Izaemon, a role that is a specialty of his family's Kansai
acting style. Featuring Nakamura Kazutar˘ as the courtesan ďgiya Yűgiri (Izaemon's lover),
Band˘ Takesabur˘ and Ichikawa Shun'en as the proprietor and proprietress of the Yoshidaya teahouse.
was first performed in 1781 in ďsaka, dramatizing a
true event that occurred over a century earlier. It is in the classical vengeance
play form, following the sufferings of the brothers Iori (Nakamura Kikaku) and Genjir˘ (Band˘ Minosuke)
as they search for T˘ma (Kataoka Ainosuke), the killer of their father. Iori first falls ill
and then is wounded by the enemy and finally ends up living in a shack as a
beggar where he is killed by the enemy. But the real reason for the continuing
popularity of this is not due to the historical incident, which has long since
been forgotten, nor because it is a vengeance play since there are other,
much more popular vendetta plays. Originally the role of the servant Motoemon (Ichikawa Kamejir˘),
a retainer of Iori's family who goes over to the enemy side was very small,
but the actor ďtani Tomoemon IV transformed
it into a brilliant, virtuoso role. At first Motoemon is supposed to guard his lord,
but fails due to his weakness for drink. He promises his brother Yasuke (Ichikawa Kamejir˘) to
stop drinking, but is tricked by the enemy into getting dead drunk
and during this time, T˘ma kills his lord. Motoemon is ready to kill himself to
atone, but instead decides to go to the enemy side.
There is no trick he will not stoop to, in order to turn things to his
advantage. For example, Motoemon tells his brother (who is still loyal to Iori)
that he has become blind due to illness, no doubt punishment for his evil arts,
and asks for charity. But in fact, he soon sneaks in, kills his brother
and wounds Iori, all in order to protect his new lord T˘ma. But in the end, Genjir˘
avenges his father's death with the help of former retainers of his father's clan.
Source: Earphone Guide website