|Play title||Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki|
The play "Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 9th lunar month of 1731 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki at the end of the same year and produced for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1731 at the Kado no Shibai. The zamoto was Arashi Kokuseki (unknown casting). It was produced by Arashi Koroku I in the first quarter of 1732 in Ky˘to with the actors Mihogi Gizaemon I and Ichiyama Sukegor˘ I playing the roles of Yoshioka Kiichi H˘gen and Ichij˘ ďkura Naganari. Arashi Kokuseki produced the play one more time in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai in March and 4th lunar month of 1732 [casting]. It was performed for the first time in Edo, at the Moritaza, in the 1st lunar month of 1757 [casting].
The play "Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki" is in 5 acts. "Kikubatake", or "the Chrysanthemum Garden" in English, is the 2nd scene of 3rd act. The following scene, "Okuniwa" ("the Inner Garden) is added to "Kikubatake" on extemely rare productions. Here are the scenes names:
Yoshioka Kiichi was born in an important family, which supported the Genji clan. He broke up with his father after a dispute and joined the Heike clan, the arch enemy of the Genji, for which he became a talented strategist. Unfortunately for him, his efforts were not fully recognized by Taira no Kiyomori, the ruler of the Heike clan, who did not really trust him. Yoshioka Kiichi retired and became abbot in Imadegawa in Ky˘to. There were three Yoshioka brothers and Kiichi's half-brothers Kijir˘ and Kisanta decided to do their best to revive the defeated Genji clan, holding Minamoto no Yoshitomo's son Ushiwakamaru (the future Minamoto no Yoshitsune) as their new leader. Ushiwakamaru, disguised as the yakko Toraz˘, and Kisanta, as the yakko Chienai, have entered the household of Kiichi H˘gen (Abbot Kiichi) in order to steal the famous 3-volume book of strategies, in which were recorded the secrets of Kiichi.
The act opens in the garden of Kiichi H˘gen's residence, dazzling with chrysanthemums in full bloom. The yakko Chienai, who is supposed to sweep the place, is in fact shaving himself. The others yakko, who are doing the sweeping job, complain directly to Chienai. He is accused of being a spy. A short comical tachimawari follows and Chienai easily scatters the bunch of yakko. He is requested by a lady-in-waiting to prepare a comfortable seat for the master of the residence, who will soon visit the garden to enjoy a moment of chrysanthemum-viewing. Once the cushion is put at the right place on the bench, Chienai leaves the stage.
Kiichi H˘gen and his suite of ladies-in-waiting make their appearance on the hanamichi. He is an imposing and dignified white-haired warrior, wearing a magnificent Abbot costum and a staff with the figure of a dove carved on the handle. He enters his garden and makes the close inspection of his beautiful chrysanthemums. Kiichi H˘gen seats on the cushion prepared by Chienai and he summons the yakko. Kiichi H˘gen starts up a conversation with him in order to know him better. The clever old man quickly realizes the real identity of Chienai. He tells him that he would like to give his book to a valiant warrior but he is not sure about the people around him, like the other new servant Toraz˘, who has recently joined his household. Chienai can't give the truth away for he did not fully understand all the allusions made by Kiichi. The old man fears that, if somebody else finds Chienai's real identity out, he will have no choice but to put him under arrest.
Toraz˘ is back at Kiichi H˘gen's residence. He was sent on mission to Kiyomori's mansion to protect Kiichi's daughter Princess Minazuru, who told the leader of the Heike clan that the book of his father was not available. Toraz˘ reports that Kiyomori will send an envoy to get the book as soon as possible and to make inquiries about the loyalty of Kiichi H˘gen. The old warrior understands that he will soon be in trouble and he has to immediately clarify the situation regarding these two yakko. Pretending to be extremely angry against Toraz˘, he orders Chienai to beat the young boy up with his staff. Chienai betrays himself for he is absolutely unable to beat his own master. Kiichi H˘gen knows for sure that this so-called Toraz˘ is in reality Minamoto no Yoshitsune, son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo. Carrying on with the same strategy, Kiichi H˘gen seizes the staff from the hands of Chienai and comes up to Toraz˘ to beat him up. He is interrupted by the appearance of his daughter, Princess Minazuru, on the hanamichi. She humbly begs her father to spare Toraz˘ and the old man is happy to jump at this chance to avoid beating up his new lord and to dismiss the two yakko.
The envoy of Kiyomori, the warrior Kasahara Tankai, is announced by the koshimoto Shiragiku. He makes his appearance on the hanamichi and he majestically walked in the garden. His mission is to secure the book of book of strategies for his master but the beauty of Princess Minazuru distracts him. He hastens to pay court to her and Kiichi jumps at this opportunity to get rid of Tankai. He ushers Tankai within his residence and forces his daughter to take care of the envoy.
The two yakko are left alone on stage. Kisanta first checks that there is nobody around to listen to them, then he apologizes to his master Ushiwakamaru for the beating incident. The two men are deeply discouraged because the chances to take the book are very low. They have to find a way to get it without making Kiyomori thinking that Kiichi is responsible for the disappearance of the book. Kisanta suggests that they steal the book of strategies. Everybody in Kiichi's household would be convinced that these two suspicious yakko are the only culprits. If Tankai does not believe it, they will have to kill him as well.
Princess Minazuru is back on stage. She is deeply in love with Toraz˘. The young man refuses to face her as she starts a discussion with Chienai, full of hints at her love for Toraz˘. She picks up a white chrysanthemum and asks Chienai to offer this token of love to Toraz˘. Chienai fails in his mission as a go-between. The present is also refused by Toraz˘ when it is directly offered by Princess Minazuru. As Toraz˘ looks indifferent to her, Princess Minazuru decides to shake both men by telling them she knows who they really are. She tells their real names and Kisanta knows that killing her is the only way out. As he edges his way towards her, he is interrupted by Tankai, who has listened to everything and rushes on stage. Ushiwakamaru is quicker than Tankai and the villain is stricken down. Kisanta wipes the blood on the blade of his master's sword. The three actors pose grandly as the curtain is drawn.
Ushiwakamaru then advises Kisanta not to kill Minazuru. He says he will talk Kiichi into handing over the book of strategy to him and if he does not, he will take it from him by force. At this moment Priest S˘j˘b˘ from whom Ushiwakamaru learned swordsmanship on Mount Kurama, appears and praises Ushiwakamaru for his resolve to defeat the Heike Clan. He then removes his mask to show that he is Kiichi. Kiichi, who can not openly support Ushiwakamaru because he now serves Kiyomori, asks Ushiwakamaru to tell the world that he has learned swordsmanship not from Kiichi but from Priest S˘j˘b˘.
Saying that he will be glad to have Minazuru marry Ushiwakamaru, he gives his book of strategy to Ushiwakamaru through Minazuru. He then kills himself to atone for his betrayal of his master, Kiyomori.
Source for the "Okuniwa" scene: Hironaga Shűzabur˘
The actors Band˘ Shűka I, Ichimura Uzaemon XII and Sawamura S˘jűr˘ V playing the roles of Toraz˘ (in reality Ushiwakamaru), Chienai (in reality Yoshioka Kisanta) and Yoshioka Kiichi H˘gen in the "Kikubatake" scene of the play "Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki", which was staged in the 5th lunar month of 1847 at the Ichimuraza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)
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