Play title Kishi no Himematsu Tsukuwa Kagami  In Japanese
Momo Chidori Nigiwai Soga  In Japanese
Mirror of the Pine Trees on the River Bank and the Horse's Bit Blazon
Authors Namiki Eisuke I
Toyotake ďritsu
Wakatake Fuemi
Fukumatsu T˘suke
Asada Icch˘

The play "Kishi no Himematsu Tsukuwa Kagami" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 4th lunar month of 1762 in ďsaka at the Toyotakeza. The story was about the rivalry between the H˘j˘ clan and the Minamoto clan and the central figure was Asaina Sabur˘ Yoshihide. It was not adapted for Kabuki for almost 98 years! It was revived in the 1st lunar month of 1860, in Edo at the Moritaza, where it was integrated within the new year drama "Momo Chidori Nigiwai Soga" [casting]. It was performed in Kabuki under the original title in the 5th lunar month of 1861 in ďsaka at the Gory˘ no Shibai (miyaji shibai). Nowadays, this drama is rarely staged. The "Asaina J˘shi" act was staged only once during the second half of the 20th century, in June 1958 at the T˘yoko Hall [more details].

Kishi no Himematsu are in fact the seashore pines on the Sumiyoshi Coast near ďsaka. Tsukuwa means horse's bit. In a different act, one samurai goes into the service of the Minamoto clan wearing the "horse's bit" mon (in the Kabuki world, this is the mon used by the ďtani Hiroemon/ďtani Hiroji/ďtani Tomoemon lines of actors). "Kishi no Himematsu Tsukuwa Kagami" could be entitled "Mirror of the Pine Trees on the River Bank and the Horse's Bit Crest" in English.


The original act was in 5 acts. The only act which has survived is the 3rd one, "Iihara Hy˘e Yakata" ("at Iihara Hy˘e's Mansion"), which is also commonly called "Asaina J˘shi" ("Asaina the Messenger"). It was a mix of two existing scenes, the famous "Benkei J˘shi" scene ("Benkei the Messenger") from the 1737 drama "Gosho Zakura Horikawa no Youchi" and the no more existing "Funaoka Yakata" scene ("at the Funaoka Mansion") from the 1762 now-forgotten drama "Hana Keizu Miyako Kagami".

Key words Chikubushima
Gidayű Ky˘gen
H˘j˘ Tokimasa
Minamoto Yoriie
Minamoto Yoritomo

Visiting Iihara Hy˘e Suekage's mansion as a Shogunate messenger (j˘shi), Asaina Sabur˘ Yoshihide demands that Hy˘e behead Princess Yosooi, a girl in Hy˘e's custody who has fallen in an illicit love with Hy˘e's son Iihara Hayatonosuke. In reality, this love story is a strategy by Hy˘e to protect Princess Yosooi who was ordered by H˘j˘ Tokimasa to get married with the Emperor's son but fell in love with Minamoto Yoritomo's son Yoriie.

While Asaina is waiting in an inner room for the execution of the Shogunate order by Hy˘e, two pilgrims, the old man Yomosaku and the young girl Osoyo, come to the front of the mansion to ask for permission to take rest in the house for a while.

Fujimaki, Hy˘e's wife, calls them in and starts talking with them. Remembering that she had a daughter of about the same age as Osoyo, Fujimaki tells the visitors that she sent her daughter on a pilgrimage at the age of two with her nurse who acted as her guardian and that they have never been heard of for 17 years. Yomosaku thereupon says that her missing daughter is Osoyo and shows her as evidence Osoyo's outer garment part of which is made of the very garment her daughter wore when she left. Yomosaku also says that her nurse died in an accident on board a boar near Chikubushima and he, as a fellow passenger, took over the infant and has brought her up without knowing her identity.

Hy˘e overhears their conversation and decides to use his daughter as a substitute for Princess Yosooi. Before dying Osoyo tells everybody that she promised to be the wife of a man whom she met on Chikubushima. The man is none other than Asaina, who promises to all the witnesses that he will never marry anybody. Hy˘e kills her own daughter in cold blood and offers her severed head to Asaina. At Hy˘e's request, Yomosaku takes Princess Yosooi on his pilgrimage, disguising her as Osoyo.

The actors Ichikawa Ichiz˘ III and Sawamura Tanosuke III playing the roles of Asaina and Princess Yosooi in the new year drama "Momo Chidori Nigiwai Soga", which was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1860 at the Moritaza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

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