|Play title||Igagoe Dôchû Sugoroku|
|Common title||Manjû Musume|
The play "Igagoe Dôchû Sugoroku" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 4th lunar month of 1783 in Ôsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki the same year and staged for the first time in the 9th lunar month of 1783 in Ôsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting].
This play is based on the famous Igagoe vendetta, which took place in 1634. When it was dramatized, the names and details, and even the era were changed because of censorship by the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate:
"Igagoe Dôchû Sugoroku" is made up of 10 acts. "Karaki Masaemon Yashiki" ('At the Mansion of Karaki Masaemon'), commonly called "Manjû Musume" ('Bean Jam Bun Girl'), is the first scene of the fifth act.
Karaki Masaemon, through Usami Goemon's recommendation, is now employed as fencing teacher at Kôriyama Castle, and is regarded highly by Honda Dainaiki , the lord of the Kôriyama Domain. He is a member of the famous Shinkage School. Masaemon has learned of the murder of Wada Yukie, his wife Otani's father, and is anxious to go to help Wada Shizuma in his vendetta against the murderer. However, there are certain conditions which are necessary before he can officially join in the vendetta. One is that he is a close relation of the family. The other is that he must be free, and therefore must gain permission from the lord to leave his post as fencing master.
Otani, although she is Yukie's daughter by birth, has been disowned by her father, so Masaemon cannot claim in-law relationship through her. As a result, although he does not reveal the reason to her, he has abruptly divorced her, leaving her highly distraught.
The servants all sympathize with Otani, particularly as Masaemon has immediately arranged for the coming of a new bride to replace Otani. So when Otani slips back to the house to seek a meeting with Masaemon to beg him to reconsider, the servant Ishidome Busuke readily complies.
Karaki Masaemon comes home, slightly inebriated. He tells Busuke that the lord has ordered a duel to be fought before him between Masaemon and a contender named Sakurada Rinzaemon. Actually, Masaemon does not want to carry on the match, because he is sure to win, and victory will make him even more prized by the lord. This in turn, will make it difficult for him to resign to take up Shizuma's vendetta.
However, he has been unable to turn down the request, and so finally had accepted, while secretly determining to lose the match on purpose even at the price of humiliation.
Otani had entered the room with Busuke, and starts to do her usual duties of seeing to Masaemon's comfort. Masaemon notices her, and asks Busuke who she is. Busuke, having no other recourse, says she is the newly hired help. Masaemon accepts his word, and then orders the "maid" to serve the sake at the nuptial ceremony scheduled for that night between himself and his new bride. Then Otani is forced to withdraw from the room.
Usami Goemon comes blustering in. He is not only the man responsible for Masaemon's current post, but is also the man who had acted as foster-father to Otani in order to make possible her marriage to Masaemon after her own father had disowned her. He has heard of Masaemon's sudden divorce of Otani, and has come to complain. He finds a letter to Masaemon, challenging him to a sword match. Masaemon tries to laugh the matter off, but Goemon is not to be put off. Masaemon then says the duel must be put off at least until after the match that has been ordered by the lord, at which Goemon is expected to act as judge. Goemon is unwillingly forced to concede on this point.
Now the coming of the new bride is announced. Masaemon orders manjû and tea to be brought. Otani complies, much to Goemon's surprise. Masaemon introduces her to Goemon as the new servant, and invites him to stay around to see the new bride. It turns out that the "bride" is none other than a child named Onochi, accompanied by her nurse Okura and her mother Shibagaki, the widow of Wada Yukie. Onochi is undeniably Yukie's legitimate and official daughter, so "marriage" with her would qualify Masaemon as a close-enough relative to seek revenge for Yukie's death. For the first time, both Otani and Goemon understand the real intent behind Masaemon's act in divorcing Otani, and both are ashamed at having doubted Masaemon. The innocent child is soon taken off to sleep by her nurse after having begged for a manjû.
Afterwards, Masaemon confides to Goemon that he plans to purposely lose the match the next day. This will mean that Goemon, who has recommended Masaemon in the first place, will lose face and will no doubt be compelled to commit seppuku as a result. Goemon gladly consents to give his life to the cause.
The "Manjû Musume" scene of the drama "Igagoe Dôchû Sugoroku" in a print made by Utagawa Kuniteru I around 1850
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