Play title Sumidagawa Hana no Goshozome  In Japanese
Miyakodori Meisho no Watashi  In Japanese
Author Tsuruya Nanboku IV

Tsuruya Nanboku IV's drama "Sumidagawa Hana no Goshozome" was premiered in the 3rd lunar month of 1814 at the Ichimuraza [more details]. This naimaze ky˘gen mixed 4 sekai, using the Kagamiyama, Abbot Seigen/Princess Sakura (transforming the priest Seigen into a nun!), Sumidagawa and the D˘j˘ji legend (the transformation of Seigen into a serpent within a temple bell) worlds.

In modern times, it was revived (in a 7-scene version) at the Kabukiza in July 1956 [more details]. Two others revivals, much longer (5 acts/9 scenes), were staged at the National Theatre, in April 1977 and in March 1988.


The original drama was in 6 acts (19 scenes). The current version is made up of 5 acts (9 scenes). The Kagamiyama part of "Sumidagawa Hana no Goshozome" is no more in the current repertoire. The last scene is a Tokiwazu-based dance-drama, a futa-omotemono, which was entitled "Miyakodori Meisho no Watashi" and nicknamed "Ninin Matsuwaka" (the Two Matsuwaka). The third scene is also a dance-drama. The musical accompaniment is either Kiyomoto or Tomimoto.

Key words Ama
Naimaze Ky˘gen
Sumidagawa (N˘)

ACT I Scene 1: in Ropponsugi (the six cedars) in Kamakura

Matsuwakamaru, son of the illustrious Yoshida family in Ky˘to, is a fugitive from the law, charged with plotting to overthrow the government. He has been engaged to marry Princess Hanako, the eldest daughter of the Iruma family, which rules the Sayama province. Because of the crime attributed to Matsuwakamaru, Princess Sakura, Hanako's younger sister, has been named the heiress of the Iruma family. ďtomo Yorikuni, the fiancÚ of Princess Sakura, is a wicked man who has killed Matsuwakamaru's father and stolen the famous Miyakodori, a scroll which is a Yoshida family treasure.

Having been abducted by a tengu, Matsuwakamaru has learned the art of flying in the air. One day, he swoops down from the clouds and kills Yorikuni in Kamakura, getting back the stolen scroll. His plan is to pose as Yorikuni as a means of getting access to the Iruma family so that he can accomplish his ambition to seize the reins of government.

ACT I Scene 2: Cherry-Viewing at the Shinkiyomizu Temple

With cherry flowers in bloom all around, the red-painted temple, Shinkiyomizu, sparkles in the spring sun. The temple is modeled after the famous Kiyomizu Temple in Ky˘to. Princesses Hanako and Sakura arrive with a large retinue of maids in attendance to enjoy the flowers. But Hanako is resolved to become a nun in order to spend the rest of her life praying for the repose of the soul of Matsuwakamaru who is missing and rumored to have died.

A villain, named Sarushima S˘ta, barges in on the party, enchanted by Hanako's beauty and grace becoming a lady of rank. In a bid to win her heart, he tells her that he is sure Matsuwakamaru has died. Becoming all the more convinced of the fate of her fiancÚ, she steps into the main temple building, saying that she must get her head shaven and turn herself into a nun as quickly as possible now that she knows what has happened to him.

Soon afterward, Matsuwakamaru turns up in the disguise of Yorikuni. Quickly, he betrothed himself to Sakura, giving her the Miyakodori scroll as an engagement gift.

Hanako reappears, walking in the footsteps of the priest Todorokib˘, abbot of the temple, with a wimple to cover the shaven pate. Her name has been changed to nun Seigen (Seigen-ni in Japanese).

S˘ta gets a henchman to arrange to have her put on a pair of sandals made of an aphrodisiac grass. She has seen only a drawing of Matsuwakamaru, and when a young man exactly alike introduces himself as the fiancÚ of Princess Sakura, she is astonished. While she looks agape at him, the love potion works to arouse a desire in her toward him.

ACT I Scene 3: an Hermitage on a Path across the Fields near the Tama River

It is early fall. There is a small hermitage on a river. Fire bugs are flying about. While Matsuwakamaru is catching bugs, a shower begins to fall, making him seek shelter at the hermitage where the ama Seigen is quietly chanting Buddhist sutras. She has just taken orders, but Matsuwakamaru makes advances to her, telling her that he is the man who has been engaged to her. She is not sure whether what he says is true or not. Yet she throws herself into the arms of the man, who looks exactly like her fiancÚ.

ACT I Scene 4: the Otowa Waterfall at the Shinkiyomizu

Because of the balmy spring sunlight, the nun Seigen has dozed off, while leaning against the railing of the platform of the Shinkiyomizu Temple. The dream about the affair in the hermitage was the product of love potion. But when she wakes up, she is sure beyond all doubt that the man who has become engaged to marry her sister is Matsuwakamaru.

But she has taken a vow of devoting her life to Buddhism. Having a dream of sleeping with a man is something unpardonable for a nun. She decides that death is the only alternative left for her. Praying to the Goddess of Mercy, she leaps from the platform.

The scene changes to the Otowa Falls. Matsuwakamaru is watching the ama Seigen lying unconscious. He opens her mouth and drops water from the cataract by his own. When she comes to, she clings to him and tells him that she will return to secular life and marry him now that it has come to such a pass. But he turns down her plea. Insisting that he is Yorikuni, he shakes off the nun's clawing hands, unwittingly pushing her into the water pool. When she crawls out of the pool, S˘ta is there. He tries to lay his hands on her, but she manages to give him the slip and goes after Matsuwakamaru.

ACT II: at a Watchman's Hut in Shinobu-ga-Oka

Umewakamaru, the younger brother of Matsuwakamaru, is wandering around in the eastern region of the country in search for the missing brother, assisted by Gunsuke, a faithful servant. The cares of the long travel make him sick.

Gunsuke asks for a lodging at a street watchman's hut in a place called Shinobu-ga-Oka. While the servant is gone to a nearby store to buy medicine, S˘ta, the watchman, kills Umewakamaru, mistaking him for a criminal he has seen in a police circular. The watchman was formerly Awazu Shichir˘, a retainer of the Yoshida family from which he was expelled.

ACT III Scene 1: at the Grave of Umewakamaru near the Sumida river

A year has passed since Umewakamaru's tragic death at Shinobu-ga-Oka. A memorial service is held for the ill-starred young man under the auspices of Gunsuke and his wife Otsuna, attended by their neighbors. Princess Sakura turns up there with Umene, Otsuna's younger sister. While on a trip to look for Yorikuni who has disappeared, she has come to be chased by Matsui Gengo, a wicked man. Gunsuke has a fierce fight with Gengo who arrives there soon, letting Princess Sakura escape.

ACT III Scene 2: at the Ferry on the Sumida river

Dusk has descended on the Sumida River. The nun Seigen, who has fallen to a beggar, takes a ferryboat, manned by S˘ta, to get back across the river to her hermitage. By the light of fires aboard white bait fishing boats, she sees Matsuwakamaru in one of the passing crafts. But the current of the river unmercifully takes her away from him.

ACT IV: at Seigen's Hermitage in Asaji-ga-Hara

Having lost sight of Matsuwakamaru on the river, Seigen becomes sick and takes to bed at her hermitage in the Asaji-ga-Hara plain. She cannot forget the man who has engaged himself to her sister on the day when she gets her head shaven to spend the rest of her life praying for the repose of his soul, assuming that he is dead.

Then Princess Sakura comes visiting the hermitage. The nun madly puts pressure on her to give up Yorikuni, until finally she draws a sword held by her sister's maid and slashes at her. Gunsuke, who comes running in, stuns the ama Seigen unconscious by a blow at a vital spot, enabling Princess Sakura to flee.

S˘ta, visiting the hermitage later, wakes up the nun and woos her again, but she turns a deaf ear. While struggling with her, the man kills her on the spur of the moment. He, too, is slain by Gunsuke when the latter comes back.

ACT V: the Miyakodori Scroll at the Ferry on the Noted Sight of the Sumida river

With the nun Seigen dead and Princess Sakura missing, the mental affliction drives Matsuwakamaru into madness (ky˘ran). He is in hiding at the house of Gunsuke.

Cherry blossoms are in full bloom on the bands of the Sumida river. A care-worn Matsuwakamaru, with a headband and carrying a fishing rod on the shoulder like a lunatic, boards a ferryboat, helped by Otsuna, the wife of Gunsuke. The boat takes them to the other side near where there is the grave of Umewakamaru. When Otsuna burns some incense which was given her by Princess Hanako, the ghost of the ama Seigen, in the same form as Matsuwakamaru, emerges in the smoke.

Matsuwakamaru fondly recalls the day when he first set his eyes on Princess Hanako at the Shinkiyomizu Temple. The three of them, Matsuwakamaru, Otsuna, and the ghost, chant Buddhist scriptures at Umewakamaru's grave.

The apparition then grows wild and tries to take possession of Matsuwakamaru. The man takes out the Miyakodori scroll and thrusts it at the specter which, awed by the august power of the family treasure, flees into a temple bell.

Arai Kit˘ta, a chief magistrate arrives with a large number of policemen to arrest Matsuwakamaru, still a fugitive from the law, and a fight ensues as the latter puts up resistance. The ghost of the nun Seigen, which has turned into a snake in the bell, attempts to drag Matsuwakamaru into the river.

Awazu Toshikane, a loyal follower of the Yoshida family, happens to pass by. By dint of his valor, he calms the raging ghost (oshimodoshi) and rescues Matsuwakamaru unharmed.

The actors Iwai Hanshir˘ V and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V playing the roles of the ama Seigen and Yoshida Matsuwakamaru in the drama "Sumidagawa Hana no Goshozome", which was staged in the 3rd lunar month of 1832 at the Ichimuraza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

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