Play title Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu  In Japanese
Author Tsuruya Nanboku IV

The drama "Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu", which is commonly called "Koman Gengobę", was premiered in the 9th lunar month of 1825 at the Nakamuraza [casting]. The three main characters, the samurai Satsuma Gengobę, his lover the courtesan Koman and Koman's husband Sasanoya Sangorô (commonly called Sango), were played by Matsumoto Kôshirô V, Iwai Kumesaburô II and Ichikawa Danjűrô VII.


The standard version of "Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu", which is performed nowadays, is made up of 3 acts and 6 scenes.

Key words Godairikimono
Kakikae Kyôgen

Gengobę is in reality Fuwa Kazuemon, one of the 47 loyal retainers of Lord Enya Hangan, who was forced to commit suicide, and whose story is depicted in "Chűshingura." Gengobę needs to raise 100 ryô to reestablish good relations with that group because he has been disowned for allowing the household safe to be broken into while he was guarding it. However, he has squandered every bit of money he has on the courtesan Koman, even to the point of the debt collectors removing the tatami covering from his floors. Moreover, Koman claims that she wants to devote herself solely to Gengobę, and as proof shows a tattoo on her arm which includes the Chinese characters of his name.

Unexpectedly, Gengobę's uncle arrives with the felicitous news that he has managed to secure the 100 ryô. Gengobę swears not to part with the money until he can repay the group, but we sense that doom is approaching. Koman and Sango, who is secretly her husband, play a confidence trick on Gengobę making him believe that Koman is about to be sold to another patron, who will only give her up on payment of 100 ryô. Resist as he might, his resolve melts and he gives over the money, only to be greeted a few minutes later with the reality of their duplicity. Insane for revenge, he returns to Koman's house at night and slaughters everyone he finds there, but in the dark he cannot see who his victims are. Koman and Sango escape, but he tracks them down. Pretending to be amused by the whole incident, he tells them he has given up any more thought of revenge, and presents them with a container of sake rice wine.

After Gengobę leaves, Koman's brother drinks some of the sake and soon dies from the poison with which Gengobę had laced it. Later, Gengobę returns to see if the poison has done its work and finds Koman alone. The scene that follows is like a long scream. As he grabs her arm he notices that the tattoo has been changed to her husband's name. Enraged, slash by slash he cuts at her and her clothing, and when her baby starts crying he forces her to grip onto his sword hilt and slice her own child's neck. Finally she falls at his feet and he decapitates her, and as we watch the grisly scene in horror, he puts her head inside his kimono. As Gengobę leaves the house, blood-spattered and in trauma, the skies open and rains lashes down, washing the blood down his clothes.

The gruesome sight of Gengobę offering some of his food to Koman's decapitated head greets us as the scene changes. Like Macbeth gone mad, he talks to the head and pours water and food over it and himself. He is snapped back to reality by the arrival of a visitor who reveals that Sango and Koman were also hiding their true identities and were secretly working to collect money for Fuwa Kazuemon. Thus, the final cruel irony of the story comes with the realization that the very samurai the two had duped the money from was the same samurai they were planning to give the money to, namely Gengobę.

Text courtesy of Jean Wilson (1998)

Ichikawa Danjűrô VII playing the role of Sangorô in the drama "Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1825 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

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