Play title Shin Usuyuki Monogatari  In Japanese
Authors Matsuda Bunkôdô
Miyoshi Shôraku
Takeda Koizumo I (Takeda Izumo II)
Ogawa Hanbei

The play "Shin Usuyuki Monogatari" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 5th lunar month of 1741 in Ôsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki a few months later and staged for the first time in the 8th lunar month of 1741 in Kyôto at Hayagumo Chôdayû's theater, produced by Sakakiyama Jûtarô I [casting]. The "Kajiya" scene was performed for the first time with the actors Sakakiyama Shirotarô I, Sakakiyama Koshirô I and Takenaka Heikichi in the roles of Dankurô, Gorobê Masamune and Rai Tarô Kunitoshi.


"Shin Usuyuki Monogatari" was originally a 3-part drama. The current version is now made up of 4 acts (divided into 7 scenes). "Kajiya", the Forge, is last act.

Key words Gidayû Kyôgen

Katana-kaji Masamune Uchi
The House of the Swordsmith Masamune

Kunitoshi, now calling himself Kichisuke, has become Gorobei's apprentice. He and Gorobei's daughter, Oren, have fallen in love. Gorobei's son Dankurô has arbitrarily ousted his father and rules the household. He claims that the old man is lazy and spendthrift - he frequents the licensed quarter and has his hair dressed every day.

When the scene opens, Dankurô returns home with some friends, installs himself in the best room, and orders his sister about. Gorobei appears at the gate and Dankurô's friends attempt to bring about a reconciliation (for which the son now seems anxious) but the old man refuses to accept "forgiveness". When the friends have gone it becomes apparent why Dankurô wishes to come to terms with his father. He has been ordered by Daizen to make a sword to replace the one "damaged by Sonobe Saemon" and alone he is not competent to do so. He shows the damaged sword to Gorobei, who recognizes it as the work of Kuniyuki and undertakes to make the new blade. Dankurô insolently orders him to go and bathe "to remove the stink of the licensed quarter". Oren leads her father away.

Shibakawa Tôma comes to the gate to summon Dankurô to Daizen's presence. He tells him that Princess Usuyuki is believed to be hiding in the vicinity.

Katana-kaji Masamune Uchi Furoba
The Bath of Masamune House

Kunitoshi is preparing his master's bath, helped by Oren. He tells her that he cannot hope to marry her unless her father teaches him the innermost secret of his craft, which is the correct temperature of the water for tempering a blade. This secret Gorobei has imparted to no-one, not even Dankurô. Gorobei enters and complains that the water is not hot enough. Kunitoshi stokes the fire. Gorobei again tests the water, then takes Kunitoshi's hand and dips it in, bidding him remember the temperature as it is the correct heat needed to temper a sword; this is the secret of his craft. He has recognized Kunitoshi as the son of the great swordsmith Kuniyuki, whose father taught Gorobei all his skills. Kunitoshi tells the story of his disinheriting, his father's death, and his own vow to avenge him and be worthy to take his place. Gorobei appoints Kunitoshi his assistant in the forging of the new sword and gives his blessing to his marriage with Oren.

Katana-kaji Masamune Uchi Shigotoba
The forge of Masamune House

Gorobei, in ceremonial dress, is seated in the centre with Dankurô and Kunitoshi as his assistants. Gorobei prays and begins to forge the sword. When the moment comes to temper the blade, Dankurô tries to discover his father's secret by dipping his hand in the water. Gorobei turns around him and wounds his right arm with the half-made sword. This he does to punish Dankurô, whom he knows to have committed the crime of damaging the Shôgun's sword. When he looked at the blade, he saw upon it a mark showing it was under a curse, but it was not the secret curse mark of the swordsmith Kuniyuki, who made the sword; it was the secret curse mark of the Masamune family. Only Dankurô could have put it there. Dankurô is unworthy to be his son and, although he still loves him, he disinherits him Perhaps in time, now that the skill he used for evil purposes is taken from him, he may repent and become good man. Gorobei begs Kunitoshi and Oren to care for him and makes Kunitoshi his heir in the craft.

Princess Usuyuki and Magaki enter by the hanamichi and beg for shelter. They are recognized by Gorobei and Kunitoshi. Dankurô repents of his former wickedness and confesses his part in Kuniyuki's murder. He offers to help Princess Usuyuki by way of expiation. When Tôma reappears at the gate, Dankurô tells him that his association with Daizen is at an end. Tôma attempts to have him and Kunitoshi arrested by his followers. In the ensuing fight, Dankurô seizes the newly forged sword in his left hand and defends himself gallantly. Kunitoshi kills Tôma, saving Dankurô's life. All pose triumphantly as they express their intention of going at once to report Daizen's evil doings to the Shôgun's deputy and to demand permission to be revenged on him.

Aubrey and Giovanna Halford in "The Kabuki Handbook"

The actors Ichikawa Ebizô V, Ichikawa Danzô V and Sawamura Tosshô I playing the roles of Dankurô, Gorobê Masamune and Rai Kunitoshi in the "Kajiya" scene of the drama "Toki-ni Saiwai Sakura no Irodoki", which was staged in the 3rd lunar month of 1839 at the Kawarasakiza
(print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

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