Play title Hade Sugata Onna Maiginu  In Japanese
Authors Takemoto Saburobŕ II
Toyotake ďritsu
Yatami Heishichi

Akaneya Hanshichi, the son of a sake merchant in the Yamato province, and his lover Minoya Sankatsu, a courtesan of ďsaka, committed double suicide the 7th of the 12th lunar month of 1695 in the burial ground of Sennichi in ďsaka. Their story was adapted many times to the puppet theater or Kabuki. The play "Hade Sugata Onna Maiginu", one of these adaptations, was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1772 at the Toyotakeza. It was not adapted for Kabuki before March 1874, when it was staged at the Chikugo no Shibai. The prestigious role of Osono was performed for the first time by Arashi Gansh˘ in ďsaka and by Ichikawa Metora II in T˘ky˘.


The original drama was in 3 acts. "Sakaya" is the middle one.

Key words Sewamono
Gidayű Ky˘gen

Hanshichi, son of Hanbei the wine merchant, has been accused of murdering a man in a brawl. Previous to this, Hanshichi has deserted his wife Osono, and left his parent's home to live with Sankatsu, a courtesan, by whom he has a child. As a result of his behaviour S˘gan, father of Osono, has taken her away forcibly from the house of her parents-in-law, while Hanbei has disinherited his son. In spite of all this Hanbei, unknown to his wife, goes to the magistrate's court on hearing of Hanshichi's crime and enters bail for his son, being released on parole and in chains. Hanshichi is still at large and in this way Hanbei hopes to prolong the young rake's life.

When the play opens it is evening, and the stage set shows the sake shop, both interior and exterior, in the customary fashion of the Kabuki a dozing apprentice is seen at the entrance to the store and a second one makes an appearance with an empty wooden wine container and they go off. Then Hanbei is seen coming down the lane towards his house, i.e. the actor makes his entry on the hanamichi; he is accompanied by two of his acquaintances who see him to the entrance of the house and then depart. All three wear the sober coloured kimono of elderly citizens, and haori, the wide sleeved three-quarter length coat worn over the kimono. Sayo, wife of Hanbei, comes out to receive him, and he enters an inner room whilst she goes off to prepare the lamps.

Then as the gidayű narration tells us in the play: 'When the evening bell is tolling, S˘gan brings his daughter to her husband's home for, young wife though she is, she has been separated.' S˘gan appears outside Hanbei's house, his daughter following respectfully behind. Sayo comes to the door and gives an exclamation of surprise on seeing her daughter-in-law again. They greet each other. Father and daughter enter the house, Osono remaining modestly near the entrance in accordance with correct etiquette. S˘gan takes off the skull cap he wears to reveal that his head is shaven, a sign of repentance. He asks to see Hanbei, who comes out still wearing his haori and demands angrily why they have returned, saying that since S˘gan took his daughter away by compulsion, they must continue to remain as strangers. Sayo is about to apologize for her husband's hasty words, but S˘gan stops her saying that Hanbei's conduct is natural enough under the circumstances. He then tells them that he took Osono back because he considered Hanshichi had forfeited her love by his conduct. He was thinking only of Osono's future, he continues, but realizes now that it was an error on his part. Ever since he had taken Osono away, she had wept and refused to eat until at last he became concerned about her health. Now he wished to return their daughter-in-law to them and apologize for his mistake.

Sayo wants to take Osono back immediately, but Hanbei still refuses, saying that since they have disinherited their son, they have now no need of a daughter-in-law. S˘gan retorts that the disinheritance is only temporary, and on Hanbei refuting the suggestion, asks why in that case he had taken his son's place at the tribunal that very day. Both the women start on hearing this. Hanbei is seized with a paroxysm of coughing; they rush over to assist him and taking off his haori they see, to their horror, that he is bound by chains which up until now have been concealed by the outer garment. They are even more horrified when they learn the reason from S˘gan and hear of Hanshichi's crime which has brought suffering on his father in this way.

S˘gan turns to Hanbei and says that he now understands the depths of his love for his son and that, more than ever, does he realize how wrong his own conduct has been in taking Osono away. He points out that his daughter is a motherless child whom he loves as Hanbei loves his son; he pleads for Osono to be received back into the house of her parents-in-law to save her reason and to avoid destroying the true love of fathers.

Hanbei, his heart touched, replies that he realizes that Osono has been a dutiful daughter-in-law and a pattern of virtue. He now has no great regrets in parting with Hanshichi, but to lose Osono is a mortal blow; however, if she stays in his house she is likely to become a widow. He turns to Osono and tells her that she must not grieve because he appears too hard on her, he is only thinking of her future; he excuses himself to discuss matters with S˘gan in the next room. The three elders go off leaving Osono to herself. Next follows a very famous scene, one of the climaxes of the play. Like a dutiful housewife, Osono commences to tidy up the room, folds away her father-in-law's haori, clears away the teacups and attends to the lamp. As she carries out this series of homely actions, she soliloquizes on her present unhappiness. This is known as kudoki.

'If I die,' cries Osono, 'the parents will receive Sankatsu as his wife because there is a child between them. I tried to please Hanshichi, although I realized it was hopeless to expect his love. Forgive me, Hanshichi, I was never angry with you; the more I think of you, the greater is my sorrow, and though you do not love me, I shall die for you in your house.' The whole time that Osono has been speaking, her words have been accompanied with a series of poses and gestures in time to the music of the shamisen, showing the strong influence of puppet technique. It is an exceedingly emotional passage and as an example of kudoki is one of the more famous renderings of its kind.

At the conclusion of her soliloquy, Osono has taken out a small dagger and is about to stab herself, when a small child enters the room crying out for milk. It is Otsű, the daughter of Hanshichi and Sankatsu. Osono is surprised and calls Otsű to her; at this moment the three elders come back into the room. Hanbei, on seeing his son's child, cries out that she surely must bear a letter with her; his intuition is correct, and as they search the child a folded letter drops from an amulet case worn by her. They all cluster round and Hanbei commands Osono to read it. There follows an emotional scene in which Osono, Sayo, Hanbei and S˘gan read from the letter aloud in turn.

In the missive, Hanshichi thanks his parents for their devotion and upbringing and commands his child to their care as a symbol of the love he should have borne his parents. He goes on to apologize to Osono for failing to respond to her selfless devotion to him, but explains that he had already been in love with Sankatsu before his marriage; perhaps, however, they could become husband and wife in a future life. He concludes by asking Osono to comfort his parents after the death of their undutiful son and to take care of his daughter Otsű. They are all very moved by the letter; the grandparents take Otsű in their arms and try to comfort Osono.

The stage revolves, Hanshichi and Sankatsu are seen outside the house attired as for a midnight journey. Sankatsu, who wears the long flowing kimono of the courtesan, has a silken scarf draped over her high coiffure, one point of the drapery being held between her teeth to shroud her face. A kerchief is bound round Hanshichi's head. Sankatsu is weeping and cries out that she would like to hold her child to her breast again. Hanshichi on his knees begs his parents' forgiveness. Then rising he tells Sankatsu they must tarry no longer; taking her by the hand they flee down the lane, Sankatsu calling a sorrowful farewell to her child as they hasten towards a double suicide. This is a typical and dramatic finale as the two lovers run down the hanamichi, Hanshichi pulling Sankatsu by the hand as she looks backward over her shoulder.

Source: A. C. Scott

An illustration for the performance of "Hade Sugata Onna Maiginu" in October 1928 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza

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