Play title ďmi Genji Senjin Yakata  In Japanese
The Castle of the Genji Advance Guard at ďmi [1]
Authors Chikamatsu Hanji
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Matsuda Saiji
Takeda Shinsh˘
Chikamatsu T˘nan

The play "ďmi Genji Senjin Yakata" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1769 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki the following year and staged for the first time in the 5th lunar month of 1770 in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. The play is based on the fight between the Toyotomi and the Tokugawa clans and the Siege of ďsaka. The drama was set during an older period and names were changed to disguise the protagonists' identity and avoid the Shogunate censorship:

History Kabuki
Tokugawa Ieyasu H˘j˘ Tokimasa
Toyotomi Hideyori Minamoto Yoriie
Kimura Shigenari Miura Yoshimura [2]
Sanada Yukimura Sasaki Takatsuna
Sanada Nobuyuki Sasaki Moritsuna
Got˘ Matabŕ Wada no Hy˘e Hidemori
Princess Sen Princess Tokiko [3]
ďsaka Castle Sakamoto Castle

The original play was in 9 acts. Only one act survived, the 8th one, entitled "Moritsuna Yakata" and commonly called "Moritsuna Jin'ya".

Key words Biwako
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Got˘ Matabŕ
Got˘ Mototsugu
H˘j˘ Tokimasa
Kimura Shigenari
Kubi Jikken
Minamoto Yoriie
Miura Yoshimura
ďsaka no Eki
ďsaka no Jin
Sanada Nobuyuki
Sanada Yukimura
Sasaki Moritsuna
Sasaki Takatsuna
Tokugawa Ieyasu
Toyotomi Hideyori

Act VII: Sakamoto-j˘
At Sakamoto Castle
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire [4]

Sasaki Saburoby˘e Moritsuna and his younger brother Sasaki Shirozaemon Takatsuna are respectively in the service of the warlords H˘j˘ Tokimasa and Minamoto Yoriie, who are fighting with each other.

One day Moritsuna visits Takatsuna at Sakamoto Castle to tell him that he wishes to fight on the side of Yoriie. Actually, his true intention is to see whether his brother is inclined to join Tokimasa's side. Angered by his brother's proposition, Takatsuna beats him with a bow and tells him that a warrior who has once pledged allegiance to a lord should never change his master.

On leaving the castle, Moritsuna is met by his aide, Furug˘ri Shinzaemon, who has been waiting outside, and tells him that Takatsuna is firm in his determination to be loyal to his master to the end.

In the ensuing battle, Sasaki Kosabur˘ Morikiyo, Moritsuna's young son, and Sasaki Koshir˘ Takashige, Takatsuna's young son of the same age, confront each other, being observed by Moritsuna and Kagaribi, Takatsuna's wife. Kosabur˘ is the winner, defeating and capturing his cousin Koshir˘.

Act VIII: Moritsuna Jin'ya
At Moritsuna's Camp
--> A dedicated summary: "Moritsuna Jin'ya"

At Sasaki Moritsuna's battle headquarters there is much excitement because Moritsuna's little son Kosabur˘ had gone out into battle for the first time (uijin) and returned with a captive. The prisoner is Koshir˘, the small son of Takatsuna. Moritsuna's mother Mimy˘ [5] is moved to tears because to her Koshir˘ is as much her grandson as is Kosabur˘.

Meanwhile the coming of Wada no Hy˘e Hidemori as an envoy (j˘shi) from Takatsuna is announced. Wada has come with a request from Takatsuna: his son Koshir˘ has to be returned to him. Moritsuna is surprised at this show of weakness on his brother's part, quite out of keeping with his usual intrepid nature. He fears that Takatsuna may disgrace himself out of this unseemly anxiety for his son, and feels that it is his duty to help prevent such a disgrace to Takatsuna's reputation. After giving the matter some thought he calls Mimy˘ [5] and confides his fears to her. He feels that the best way to prevent Takatsuna from being tempted into some ungallant stand for the sake of his son is to urge Koshir˘ to die honorably by his own hand after convincing him that such is the best way to preserve his father's honor. Mimy˘ [5] is entrusted with the unhappy task of speaking to the boy.

As dusk gathers, a furtive figure draws near the house. It is Kagaribi, Koshir˘'s mother. She attaches a message to an arrow and shoots it into the house where it is fund by Hayase, Moritsuna's wife. Hayase reads the message and realizes that Koshir˘'s mother is near at hand. She shoots an answering message back outside, chastising her for her lack of pride. In the meantime Koshir˘ runs out into the yard from an adjoining room followed by Mimy˘ [5] who has come on her errand to urge Koshir˘ to take his own life. She admonishes Koshir˘ for his weakness, and places before him the plain white garment which means death but Koshir˘ keeps trying to run out into the yard to meet his mother. Kagaribi breaks the gate and is about to run to Koshir˘ when the sound of battle-drumming is heard. It is said by the messenger Shigaraki Tar˘ that Takatsuna has launched a desperate assault on Moritsuna's camp to deliver his son. His troops are outnumbered by Moritsuna's army and the chances of victory are almost equal to zero. A second messenger, a man named Ibuki T˘ta, comes to announces both the defeat of Takatsuna and the arrival of Tokimasa.

At this point, word is brought that Takatsuna has been killed in battle. As Takatsuna's features are not known to H˘j˘ Tokimasa, Takatsuna's severed head is brought by Tokimasa for Moritsuna's inspection to see whether it is really that of Takatsuna. The kubioke is placed before Moritsuna who with mixed emotions takes out the head to inspect it. To his great surprise it is that of a complete stranger, but before he can say a word, Koshir˘ runs out from the next room, weeping and calling the substitute head father. Moritsuna realizes that Koshir˘ has been carefully coached to play his part well in the grand hoax. Ostensibly in grief at his father's death, Koshir˘ stabs himself fatally then looks up pleadingly into his uncle's face. Moritsuna cannot bring himself to disappoint the boy and make his death meaningless. Making a difficult decision, he announces that the head is indeed that of his brother Takatsuna. Tokimasa, satisfied, takes his leave. Moritsuna, after ascertaining that only intimates are near, calls out to Kagaribi telling her he will allow her into the premises to see her dying son. Then, to atone for his own act of having deceived his master, he prepares to commit seppuku.

However, a voice is heard restraining him. It is Wada no Hy˘e Hidemori, Takatsuna's messenger, who challenges Moritsuna to a duel. Moritsuna is about to comply, when Wada takes out a gun. But instead of shooting Moritsuna, he points it at an armor chest in the corner of the room, left there by Tokimasa as a gift to Moritsuna. At the shot a man leaps out of the chest, fatally wounded. He was a spy concealed inside the armor by the suspicious Tokimasa. Moritsuna and Wada swear mutual secrecy concerning the events of this day and vow to meet each other again on the battlefield. Wada makes his departure, sent off respectfully by his enemy Sasaki Moritsuna. In the meantime the women sorrowfully start to light a sacred fire for the soul of Koshir˘ on its journey into the afterlife.

Act IX: Takatsuna Kakurega
At Takatsuna's Hideout
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire [4]

Disguising himself as a fisherman named Jirosaku, Sasaki Takatsuna now lives with his wife Kagaribi, who has changed her name to Oyotsu, in a house on the shore of Lake Biwa in ďtsu. In Takatsuna's absence, a warrior visits the house toward evening. As Kagaribi pretends to be a widow, the visitor makes amorous advances and tries to sleep with her but she puts out the light and escapes, leaving Bonta, her male servant in bed in her place.

After the visitor has run away, Takatsuna comes back, carrying in his boat an old man clad in armor. Takatsuna picked him up when he was wandering along the beach after being defeated in battle. The old man retires to an inner room to rest.

Tanimura Kot˘ji comes as a messenger from the battlefront to report that Tokimasa's force was defeated but that Tokimasa himself made good his escape. Tokimasa's attire described by the messenger is exactly the same as that of the old man now staying in the house.

Another messenger, a kerai named Shinomiya Rokur˘, comes to tell Takatsuna that his two leading retainers, Furug˘ri Shinzaemon and Sakamoto Miuranosuke, were killed. Kagaribi, convinced that the old man in the house is Tokimasa himself, urges her husband to kill him but Takatsuna says he will bide his time.


[1] The title "The Castle of the Genji Advance Guard at ďmi" comes from the 1st volume of "Kabuki Plays On Stage".

[2] In "ďmi Genji Senjin Yakata", he was named Sakamoto Miuranosuke Yoshimura.

[3] In "ďmi Genji Senjin Yakata", the daughter of H˘j˘ Tokimasa was called Princess Toki, not Tokiko, and this role is one of the finest akahime roles.

[4] These acts have fallen into oblivion but they might be revived in the future to come at the National Theatre. "Takatsuna Kakurega" was staged for the last time in T˘ky˘ in ˘shibai in January 1940 at the Kabukiza with Nakamura Kichiemon I, ďtani Tomoemon VI, Nakamura Tokiz˘ III, Onoe Kikugor˘ VI, Ichikawa Somegor˘ V and Band˘ Mitsugor˘ VII in the roles of Takatsuna, Tokimasa, Kagaribi, Shinomiya Rokur˘, Bonta and Tanimura Kot˘ji.

[5] Mimy˘ [5] was named Bimy˘ in "The Kabuki Handbook". Idem in the Ritsumeikan Univ. Roles Database. Mimy˘ or Bimy˘, which reading is the correct one?

The actors Arashi Rikaku II (left) and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V (right) playing the roles of Princess Toki and H˘j˘ Tokimasa in the drama "ďmi Genji Senjin Yakata" in a mitate-e print made in 1861 by Utagawa Kunikazu

Search this site powered by FreeFind
  Site map | Disclaimer
Contact | Main | Top | Updates | Actors | Plays | Playwrights | Programs | Links | FAQ | Glossary | Chronology | Illustrations | Prints | Characters | Derivatives | Theaters | Coming soon | News