The very first version of "Kamahige" was staged for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1719 at the Moritaza, within the drama "Keisei Murasaki Tazuna", starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ I and his adopted son Matsumoto Shichiz˘ I. Another version was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1769 at the Nakamuraza in the drama "Soga Moy˘ Aigo no Wakamatsu", starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IV in the role of Taira no Kagekiyo (the one being shaved). Then, the official version was finally staged in the 4th lunar month of 1774 at the Nakamuraza, within the drama "Oatsuraezome Soga Hinagata", starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘ III in the role of Taira no Kagekiyo (the one being shaved). "Kamahige" was revived by Nakamura Nakaz˘ III during the Meiji era. The current version was revived in October 1910 to celebrate the shűmei of Ichikawa Danshir˘ II and his son Ichikawa Ennosuke II at the Kabukiza. It is now an important play for the Omodakaya guild, which is only staged for special occasions like shűmei or commemorative programs.

A newly-created drama, which was entitled "Kotohoide Mimasu Kagekiyo", was staged in January 2014 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ and starred Ichikawa Ebiz˘ XI in the role of the warrior Akushichiby˘e Kagekiyo. This drama was created by mixing scenes and elements coming from 4 kagekiyomono belonging to the Kabuki Jűhachiban: "Kan U", "Kagekiyo" "Kamahige" and "Gedatsu" [more details]. This drama was also staged in September 2014 at the Minamiza.


The current version of "Kamahige" is made up of 2 scenes.

Key words Aragoto
Emen no Mie
Kabuki Jűhachiban
Minamoto Mitsunaka
Tada Mitsunaka
Taira Masakado
Taira Yoshikado
Tawara T˘ta Hidesato

The first scene is set in an inn managed by a man named Manjű, in reality Minamoto no Mitsunaka, a former warrior belonging to the Minamoto clan, who fell into disgrace. One evening, a monk named My˘den turns up in the inn, asking to stay for one night. Shigesaku, a former yakko, who is in service with Manjű, starts up a conversation with My˘den and realizes that the monk is a man of the Eastern provinces because of his accent. They talk about this and that and their conversation leads them to the final battle of the rebel warlord Taira no Masakado. Shigesaku narrates the battle from the viewpoint of Tawara no T˘ta, the warrior who gave the coup de grÔce to Masakado. My˘den speaks from the viewpoint of Masakado. The story becomes animated and reaches its climax when the monk suddenly breaks his staff. The conversation is over but Shigesaku is doubtful about the real identity of My˘den. The monk starts to shave his face with a giant pair of pliers but it is not a really efficient method. Shigesaku suggests to take care of the shaving the following day with a more appropriate tool: a sickle! The monk agrees, bringing the first scene to an end.

The second and final scene is set in the garden of Manjű's inn, full of maple trees loaded with beautiful red leaves. Shigesaku and My˘den suddenly appear on stage trough the stage trapdoor (seriage). The monk holds a wooden tub full of water and the yakko has a big sickle in his hand close to the throat of My˘den. After a series of spectacular mie and a bit of confusion on stage, each man lets fall a funeral tablet, which he was hidding in his costum. They quickly try to take it back and take the wrong one. Shigesaku realizes he is holding the funeral tablet of Taira no Masakado, meaning that My˘den is none other than Masakado's son Taira no Yoshikado. My˘den realizes he is holding the funeral tablet of Tawara no T˘ta, meaning that Shigesaku is none other than T˘ta's son Tawara no Kot˘ta. Drumrolls from the geza suggest the presence of supernatural forces in this garden. The two fighting men collapse. Kot˘ta is the first to wake up. He quickly leaves the stage through the hanamichi, performing an impressive ropp˘, and goes to bring reinforcements. Then, Yoshikado wakes up. Suddenly his sister Princess Takiyasha appears and asks him to spend all his energy fighting and eradicating both Tawara no Kot˘ta and Manjű. The final fight starts with a great bukkaeri revealing a new costum for Yoshikado. He has no trouble to defeat a troupe of soldiers using a big rock and a big piece of lumber. He strikes an impressive mie after his victory. Then, all the actors playing in the first scene, surrounding Tawara no Kot˘ta and Manjű, appear on stage, wearing beautiful and dignifying costums. In a short speech, Manjű respectfully tells his enemy that he refuses to take advantage of Yoshikado and they swear to meet again on the battlefield for a final fight. All the actors pose, ending "Kamahige" with a beautiful emen no mie.

The actors Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VIII (top) and his father Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V (bottom) playing the roles of Tawara no Kot˘ta and Taira no Yoshikado in the drama "Kamahige" (print made in 1852 by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

Print made by Torii Kiyosada
Print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III (1852)
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