Play title Jiraiya G˘ketsu Monogatari  In Japanese
Authors Kawatake Shinshichi II
Shinoda Sasuke
Umezawa S˘roku
Katsumi Ch˘z˘

"Jiraiya G˘ketsu Monogatari" ("the Heroic Tales of Jiraiya" in English) was premiered in the 7th lunar month of 1852 at the Kawarasakiza [casting]. This drama was based on the "Jiraiya G˘ketsu Monogatari" popular series of illustrated books (kusaz˘shi), which were written by Mizugaki Egao (1789~1846), Keisai Eisen (1790~1848), Ryűkatei Tanekazu (1807~1858) and Ryűsuitei Tanekiyo (1821~1907). They were published in Japan from 1839 to 1868 (43 volumes!). The hero of these books was modeled on a Chinese Robin Hood look-alike story. Utagawa Kunisada I and six disciples illustrated the books and they used the face of the great and extremely popular Kabuki star Onoe Kikugor˘ III to depict Jiraiya. In modern times, "Jiraiya G˘ketsu Monogatari" was successfully revived in March 1975 at the National Theatre [casting]. Onoe Kikunosuke V, the young heir of the Otowaya guild, played the role of Jiraiya in the revival which was produced in Nagoya at the Misonoza in April 2004.


The drama "Jiraiya G˘ketsu Monogatari" was originally made up of 4 acts.

Key words Chűnori

Tsukikage Gunry˘ Miyukinosuke, the lord of Echigo province (now Niigata Prefecture), was appointed Regent of the Shogunate. On the way to Kamakura where he was going to take office he was suddenly attacked by a Giant Snake. Luckily he was helped by a young swordsman named Orochimaru (son of the Giant Snake). Tsukikage was so impressed by his valor that he brought him back to his castle and took him into his family as his own son. Orochimaru was, in fact, possessed with an evil spirit of a Giant Snake, which had survived for a thousand years deep in the mountains. This devil had been scheming to gulp down the world and exterminate human beings. Although Tsukikage had numerous children he decided, against his retainers' admonitions, to kill them all off and make Orochimaru the sole heir to his Echigo domain. Everything was due to the curse of the Giant Snake. Diabolic Orochimaru who embodied the Giant Snake's curse tenaciously deluded Tsukikage. So, Tsukikage finally came to be filled with ambition to take over the whole country. In order to attain his ambition he first coaxed the Shogunate, saying that his allies, the Ogata and the Matsuura families, were plotting to overthrow the government.

Next, he sent a false envoy to the two families to cheat them out of the Seal of the Moon and the Flag of the Sh˘gun, which they each held in trust for the Sh˘gun. The former was proof of the backing of the Sh˘gun when some lord needed an army to suppress a mob.

The latter served the same purpose for a navy. After robbing the two families of these prized possessions, Tsukikage killed them and had his men throw the two infants, Jiraiya, the successor to the Ogata family and Tsunate-Hime, a Matsuura princess from a cliff into a deep valley. Fortunately they were rescued by a hermit named Senso D˘jin. Thus they survived and grew up strong and healthy.

Jiraiya and Tsunate have been training under the aegis of the hermit. One day Senso D˘jin tells them that their families were unjustly killed and their treasured Seal of the Moon and Flag of the Sh˘gun were robbed by Tsukikage. Knowledge of these facts fueled the young couple's anger and thoughts of revenge. With Senso D˘jin's encouragement they vow to revenge their families' murder and he instructs them in the necessary secret arts: for Jiraiya, the Magic of the Giant Toad and for Tsunate, that of the slug. During their training Senso D˘jin tells them a story about a Chinese wise man named Kan'inshi whom he quotes as saying that "A toad is more powerful than a slug, a slug is more powerful than a snake, and a snake is more powerful than a toad. When all three meet none can be the victor. Such a relationship is called sansukumi (Triangular Balance of powerful). Senso D˘jin teaches them a special way to get over this hurdle and defeat the witchcraft of the Giant Snake in Orochimaru. That is, they must get the wave- cutting sword Namikirimaru. In addition if Jiraiya gets wounded in the battle against Orochimaru, he needs to obtain and drink the blood of a woman who was born at the hour of the snake (9-11am) on the day of the snake in the year of the snake. When they attack their enemy with that particular sword, they will win. With this advice in mind they leave Senso D˘jin burning with thoughts of revenge.

After some years have passed, Jiraiya, still in search of the sword, marches alone into the mansion of Orochimaru who, using a dirty trick, killed his foster father and has become lord of the entire domain. While fighting his enemy, Jiraiya gets wounded. Just then Tsunate appears and saves him with her magical power of the Slug. She takes Jiraiya to a therapeutic bath to take care of him. Despite Jiraiya's disabled body they continue to travel in search of their enemy.

One day Jiraiya drops in at an inn in Echigo province to spy on the Tsukikage clan, when he happens to meet his sister who, using the name Ayame, has been working there as an adopted daughter. She was separated from him when they were infants and since then they have not seen each other. Learning the whole story from Jiraiya, Ayame makes up her mind to sacrifice herself in order to achieve the reinstatement of the two families.

In fact, she was born at the hour of the snake on the day of the snake in the year of the snake. Ayame stabs herself with a sword, and offers her blood to Jiraiya saying that this is the only thing she can do for them. She then encourages Jiraiya and Tsunate to avenge the murder of their families. Thanks to her sacrifice Jiraiya gets recovered. Jiraiya and Tsunate head for Hell Valley where it is rumored that the precious sword Namikirimaru is enshrined. After many hardships they manage to get possession of the sword. Now Jiraiya and Tsunate are about to turn upon Orochimaru with the sword. Having no other course open to him Orochimaru tries to commit suicide. Then Takasago Yűminosuke, a high ranking officer in the Shogunate, appears and informs Jiraiya and Tsunate that the misunderstandings concerning their families' have been cleared up and the Sh˘gun has reinstated them. He says to Orochimaru, "Since you have committed a grave offense, you must be severely punished". Then Jiraiya says to the envoy, "Now that Orochimaru's possession by the snake has been exorcised thanks to the virtue and influence of Namikirimaru sword, he has become a normal person. I request a pardon for him." Yűminosuke accepts it. Thus the two parties part from each other in peace.

This summary, which has been written by Watanabe Hisao, would have not been possible without the help of Jeff Blair!

The actors Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VIII and Arashi Rikan III playing the roles of Jiraiya and Takasago Yűminosuke in the drama "Jiraiya G˘ketsu Monogatari", which was staged in the 7th lunar month of 1852 at the Kawarasakiza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

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