Play titles Meido no Hikyaku
Koi Bikyaku Yamato rai
Koi no Hikyaku Yamato rai
Koi no Tayori Yamato rai
Keisei Koi no Hikyaku
Umegawa Chb
Authors Chikamatsu Monzaemon ("Meido no Hikyaku")
Namiki Shz I ("Koi no Tayori Yamato rai")
Suga Sensuke, Wakatake Fuemi ("Keisei Koi no Hikyaku")

The play "Meido no Hikyaku" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) by Chikamatsu Monzaemon and staged for the first time in saka at the Takemotoza in the 3rd lunar month of 1711. It was based on a real event that happened in saka the 5th of the 12th lunar month of 1710: a messenger named Chb was executed because he used some official money, which was entrusted to him, for the love of a courtesan named Umegawa. Chikamatsu Monzaemon was not the first author to work on this thema: the first drama was "Keisei Kuhonji Jdo", which was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1711 in Kyto at Miyako Manday's theater and starred Hanaoka Bunzaemon and Yamamoto Kamon in the roles of Chb and Umegawa. There was also a similar drama staged in saka in Spring 1711, starring Otowa Jirosabur I and Sodeshima Genji in the roles of Chb and Umegawa (title unknown). Chikamatsu's rival Ki-no-Kaion wrote also his own version, entitled "Keisei Sandogasa", which was staged in the 10th lunar month of 1713 at the Toyotakeza. A Kabuki drama similar to "Meido no Hikyaku" was written by Namiki Shz I and staged under the title "Koi no Tayori Yamato rai" (an other possible reading is "Koi no Hikyaku Yamato rai") in the 7th lunar month of 1757 in saka at the nishi no Shibai (casting unknown). Another drama, which had a deep impact on the current contents of "Koi Bikyaku Yamato rai", was written for the puppets by Suga Sensuke and Wakatake Fuemi, which was staged under the title "Keisei Koi no Hikyaku" in the 12th lunar month of 1773 at the Toyotakeza. It was adapted for Kabuki in the 2nd lunar month of 1796 at the Kado no Shibai [casting].


The original structure was in 3 acts, the second one being "Fin Giri" and the final one a michiyuki. Nowadays "Koi Bikyaku Yamato rai" is made up of two acts, "Fin Giri" and "Ninokuchi-mura". Both acts are frequently staged.

Key words Sewamono

Act I: Fin Giri
Breaking the Seal
--> A dedicated summary: "Fin Giri"

In the pleasure quarters, the most important possessions were money and reputation. In danger of losing his lover, the courtesan Umegawa, the money courier Kameya Chb breaks the seals on a package of money entrusted to him after being taunt by his rival Tanbaya Hachiemon, even though the use of such money is punishable by death.

Act II: Ninokuchi-mura
The Ninokuchi Village
--> A dedicated summary: "Ninokuchi-mura"

Kameya Chb and Umegawa travel throughout the countryside with the stolen money, hoping for a few meeting moments of happiness before the money runs out and they are captured and punished. They go through the snow covered landscape on their way to the Kameya Chb's home town where they meet their end.

The actors Onoe Kikugor IV and Kataoka Nizaemon VIII portraying Umegawa and Kameya Chb in a print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III in 1860

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