SHICHIJď KAWARA
   
Play title Taiheiki Chűshin K˘shaku  In Japanese
The Chronicle of Great Peace and a Lecture about the Loyal Retainers
Common title Shichij˘ Kawara  In Japanese
Authors Chikamatsu Hanji
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Takeda Koizumo I
Takemoto Saburobŕ II
Takeda Bungo
Takeda Heishichi
History

The puppet theater drama "Taiheiki Chűshin K˘shaku" was premiered in ďsaka at the Takemotoza in the 10th lunar month of 1766. It was quickly adapted to Kabuki the following year and was premiered in the 2nd lunar month of 1767 in Edo at the Ichimuraza [casting]. It was quite popular during the Edo period, especially the "Kinai Sumika" scene but, most likely due to the cruelty of some scenes [1], it is nowadays a rarely-staged drama. Only one revival for "Taiheiki Chűshin K˘shaku", without the "Shichij˘ Kawara" or "Kinai Sumika" scene, in July 1966 in T˘ky˘ at the T˘yoko Hall. We do hope that it will be revived at the National Theatre in the future to come!

Structure

The original drama was in 10 acts (12 scenes). Only 5 acts (6 scenes) have survived. "Shichij˘ Kawara" was the sole scene of the 6th act of "Taiheiki Chűshin K˘shaku".

Key words Adauchi
Adauchimono
Ageya
Ak˘ R˘shi
Ashikaga Tadayoshi
Chűshin
Chűshinguramono
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Gion
Giri/Ninj˘
Gishi
Gishi Ky˘gen
H˘s˘
Kawara
Manzaishi
Kuruwa
R˘nin
Sarumawashi
Shichij˘
S˘ka
Taiheiki
Yűjo
Summary

The scene is set on the dry bed (kawara) of the Kamo River near Ky˘to Seventh Avenue (Shichij˘), a place where it is possible to get cheap entertainment from prostitution to dance performances (manzaishi or sarumawashi). When prostitutes (s˘ka) Ohyaku and Okimi are touting, a day laborer buries a letterbox in the sand and goes away. Orie, an elegant-looking woman pretending to be a prostitute, appears and, taking a kind customer into a night watchman's hut, asks for and receives money from him without prostituting herself. She is in fact the wife of Yazama Jűtar˘, a former retainer of a feudal lord who was executed for his attack on his arrogant superior with a drawn sword in the Shogunate palace. She is hard up because not only her husband is unemployed, being intent on avenging his former master's death, but also her father-in-law Yazama Kinai is ill in bed and her son Taichir˘ is suffering from the smallpox (h˘s˘).

A beggar comes to dig out the letterbox. Then, he buries in its place a package containing money and he goes away. Ukihashi, a courtesan from Gion, then arrives and asks the prostitutes to help her hide because she is being chased by employees of the tea house from which she has run away. The prostitutes comply with her request and the search team from the kuruwa goes away without finding her.

Ukihashi, who is in fact Jűtar˘'s younger sister Omutsu, meets Orie and recognizes her as her sister-in-law. After Omutsu and the prostitutes have gone away, Orie tries to dig out the package when the beggar, who in fact is Jűtar˘ in disguise, comes back to claim it. They recognize each other as man and wife.

An illustration from an ezukushi banzuke depicting the "Shichij˘ Kawara" act of the drama "Taiheiki Chűshin K˘shaku", which was staged in the 8th lunar month of 1795 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai with Arashi Sangor˘ II, Sawamura Kunitar˘ I, Fujikawa Tomokichi I and Nakamura Utaemon III in the roles of Yazama Jűtar˘, Orie, Ukibashi and a manzaishi

 
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