Play titles Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Irifune Monogatari  In Japanese
Keisei Sato no Funauta  In Japanese
Authors Namiki Sh˘z˘ I (1771 "Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Irifune Monogatari")
Chikamatsu Tokuz˘, Namiki Miyosuke (1810 "Keisei Sato no Funauta")

In the 1600s, new sea transport networks were developed around Japan. High-capacity cargo ships sailed between Edo and others main ports. One brave ship captain, who was called Kuwanaya Tokuz˘, became a sea legend. The legend said that, when his ship was about to sink in a terrible sea tempest, he had a supernatural discussion with an ominous sea monster and succeeded in saving his ship. A seaman like this one was tailored for Kabuki stages. Namiki Sh˘z˘ I's drama "Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Irifune Monogatari" was premiered in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai the 27th day of the 12th lunar month of the previous year, which was the 11th February of 1771 in the western calendar [casting]. It was full of new mechanical devices used on stage, the most notable one being the room of a Yoshiwara courtesan transformed into Tokuz˘'s ship at sea. The story of Kuwanaya Tokuz˘, most notably the scene on the rough sea with Tokuz˘ and the ghost of Higaki, was integrated in Chikamatsu Tokuz˘ and Namiki Miyosuke ni-no-kawari drama "Keisei Sato no Funauta", which was premiered in the 1st lunar month of 1810 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai [casting]. The premiere was the 13th day of the 1st lunar month (the 16th of February in western calendar) and it was so successful that it was extended up to the 1st day of the 3rd lunar month of 1810 (the 4th of April in the western calendar). Both dramas were successful and performed quite often, only on Kamigata stages but never in Edo.

In modern times, "Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Irifune Monogatari" was revived in July 1963 at the Yomiuri Hall in T˘ky˘; it was a T˘h˘ Kabuki production and it was staged with the following casting:

Roles Actors
Kuwanaya Tokuz˘, Sagami no Gor˘ Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VIII
Takamaru Kamejir˘ Nakamura Mannosuke
Yamana Tomoenoj˘ Ichikawa Somegor˘ VI
The keisei Higaki, the ghost of Higaki Nakamura Mannoj˘
Ishid˘ Tatewaki Ichikawa Chűsha VIII
Ohama, Omata Sandayű Nakamura Shikaku II
ďdachi Kageyu Nakamura Matagor˘ II

the current version of "Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Irifune Monogatari" is divived into 5 acts (7 scenes):

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 深川花見 Fukagawa Hanami
Flower-viewing in Fukagawa
II 1 吉原揚屋吾妻屋 Yoshiwara Ageya Azumaya
In the Azumaya House of Assignation in Yoshiwara
III 1 深川座敷 Fukagawa Zashiki
The Inner Room in Fukagawa
III 2 遠州灘 Enshű Nada
The Open Sea of Enshű
IV 1 二軒の湊渡し場 Niken no Minato Watashiba
At the Ferry in Niken no Minato
V 1 桑名屋徳蔵内 Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Uchi
At the House of Kuwanaya Tokuz˘
V 2 同裏手汐見の松 D˘ Urate Shiomi no Matsu
(Same) the Tide-viewing Pine in the Backyard
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Ageya
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu

Act I, Act II

Takamaru Kamejir˘, the young heir to the Takamaru family, the Lord of Sanuki, has been given an important assignment to extend official welcome to Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the Sh˘gun, who is coming to pay homage to the Shrine of Konpira. Though the day is drawing near, Kamejir˘ does not return home from Edo where he is infatuated with the keisei Higaki, a courtesan at Yoshiwara.

Tadotsu Ikkaku, the Lord's Chief Retainer, is deeply concerned with the situation. Pretending to join Kamejir˘ in fun, Ikkaku helps him to chase Yamana Tomoenoj˘, his rival, out of Yoshiwara. However, at the same time Ikkaku devises a plan with his colleague Ishid˘ Tatewaki and Tokuz˘ to get Kamejir˘ and Higaki out of Yoshiwara secretly by carrying them out in an oblong chest.


Kamejir˘ and Higaki, who have been taken out of Yoshiwara, are now separated. Higaki meets her death when Tokuz˘ throws her into the sea, and Kamejir˘ is locked up in a cabin of the heavy ship. The big ship steered by Tokuz˘ speeds to Sanuki. When the ship reaches the Sea of Enshű, a storm overtakes it, and Higaki's ghost (yűrei) appears from under the waves. Undeterred by the ghost, brave Tokuz˘ speaks to it and explains that if the Clan of Sanuki fails to receive the Sh˘gun properly because of Kamejir˘'s indulgence in pleasures it will suffer a disaster. That was the reason why Tokuz˘ killed her, though reluctantly. He finally succeeds in persuading the ghost to disappear. The ship, skillfully steered by Tokuz˘, returns to Sanuki, and Kamejir˘ is now able to carry through his important mission.

Act IV

In the meantime, Shinz˘, Ikkaku's brother, was married into the family of Tokuz˘, who had not been home for over ten years, to be the husband of Koshio, Tokuz˘'s wife. They had a daughter who has been looked after by Rokubei, his father-in-low.

During his stay in Edo, Kamejir˘ had embezzled his clan's money because of his infatuation with Higaki. The money, amounting to 1,000 ry˘, was to be used for the construction of a new shrine for the Konpira, and Shinz˘ has been trying to make up the loss for his master. Then, by chance, Rokubei comes with a girl with 100 ry˘ in her bosom. Not knowing that she is in fact his own daughter, Shinz˘ murders her to get the money.

Act V

Kamejir˘ has been expelled by his family because of his embezzlement, and is now being sheltered by Shinz˘ and his wife. There appears Sagami no Gor˘, the rebel, disguised as Tokuz˘ who has been missing, and seeks Kamejir˘'s life.

Koshio, Shinz˘'s wife, becomes suspicious of his behavior which is unlike Tokuz˘'s. Then, Kuwana no Ohama, a woman, drops in and reveals that Tokuz˘ once promised to marry her, and, not knowing that Tokuz˘ is in fact Gor˘, presses him to marry her. Discovering from her amulet-case that she is Kamejir˘'s step sister, Shinz˘ beheads her so that he can present her head to his Clan instead of Kamejir˘'s.

The ghost of Higaki, who met an untimely death, still unable to give up her love for Kamejir˘, reappears to protect him from the villains. Sagami no Gor˘'s plot against his master now comes to light, and he gets wounded by Shinz˘'s dirk. But they promise each other to have a duel someday and part.

The actors Nakayama Nanshi II and Kataoka Ichiz˘ I playing the roles of the keisei Higaki and Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ in the drama "Keisei Sato no Funauta" in a mitate-e print made in 1861 by Utagawa Kunikazu

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