Play title Shima Chidori Tsuki no Shiranami  In Japanese
Iro Masaru Momiji no Yűbae  In Japanese
Island Plovers and Moonlit Waves [1]
Common title Shima Chidori  In Japanese
Author Kawatake Mokuami

Kawatake Mokuami's zangirimono drama "Shima Chidori Tsuki no Shiranami" was premiered in November 1881 at the Shintomiza [casting]. The first day of staging was the 20th of November 1881. It was also the retirement shűmei of Kawatake Mokuami.


The original drama was in 5 acts.

Key words Akashi no Ura
My˘jin T˘ge
ďshű Kaid˘
T˘ky˘ Sh˘konsha
Yasukuni Jinja

Act I

Two thieves, Akashi no Shimaz˘ and his accomplice Matsushima Senta, have recently robbed the Fukushimaya pawnshop (shichiya), wounding the proprietor Fukushimaya Seibŕ and stealing 1000 yens. Dividing the money in half, they have separated although they have agreed to meet later in T˘ky˘.

Senta is now on his way to his birthplace, Matsushima, in ďshű. En route, he puts up at the ďshűya inn in Shirakawa-shuku on the ďshű Kaid˘ and becomes familiar with a beautiful courtesan named Benten Oteru.

Senta pretends to her that he works for a T˘ky˘ bank and that his name is Hamazaki Chiemon. Meanwhile, Oteru's mother, Sokkin Oichi, appears, accompanied by a professional storyteller named Furukawa Benzan. Hearing that her daughter now has a wealthy patron, Oichi has come to ask for money. Oteru is not inclined to comply and Oichi threatens to kill her. Senta appears and stops her. Giving her 100 yens, he sends her away. Another guest at the inn, from the same town as Senta, appears and tells him that his mother and father have died. He blames Senta for his lack of filial piety.

Oteru is suspicious of Senta, but he invites her to see a play as a change and they set off with a rikisha. As they approach the My˘jin Pass, Senta tells the driver to stop and tries to pay him and send him away. The driver, however, is Yashű Toku [2] who was once in prison with Senta and has recognized him. Toku realizes that Senta is up to something and demands 10 yens. To get rid of him, Senta gives him the money and Toku leaves.

Senta shows his true intentions towards Oteru by trying to physically abuse her, but he is chased off by a search party warned previously by Toku. Oteru is left alone with Toku who, in turn, tries to take advantage of her, but she is rescued by a valiant man named Mochizuki Akira who is passing by.

Act II

Meanwhile, Shimaz˘ has returned to his own birthplace of Akashi Bay in the prefecture of Hy˘go, taking with him the money he stole. Shimaz˘'s wife died three years ago. Shimaz˘'s father, the ry˘shi Isoemon, his younger sister Ohama and his son Iwamatsu are living together. Today is the anniversary of the passing away of Shimaz˘'s wife and Isoemon is thinking about who should be his heir. Since his own son Shimaz˘ is not to be trusted, he is thinking of marrying Ohama off and leaving everything to his future son-in-law.

At that moment, Shimaz˘ himself appears and apologizes for his long absence. He tells them that he has been working for a foreigner in T˘ky˘ and that he has been lent to set himself up on his own. He gives them 300 yens each as a present. However, he is appalled to hear that Iwamatsu suffered a serious injury, and that the accident took place on the same day and at the same time that he robbed the Fukushimaya pawnshop and wounded the proprietor Fukushimaya Seibŕ. That his son is now a cripple causes him to regret his past life and he decides to reform. He resolves to work to make up that portion of the stolen money that he has already spent, to return the 1000 yens to the Fukushimaya and then to give himself up to the authorities.

The ry˘shi Okiz˘, who is in love with Ohama, and has overheard everything, warns the police out of jealousy. Shimaz˘ is forced to escape in a boat in very bad weather. His plan is to make for the city of K˘be on the other side of the bay and then to head for T˘ky˘. The sea is too rough, however, and the boatman and Shimaz˘ are thrown overboard. Shimaz˘ surfaces and clings to the boat.


Oteru, accompanied by a maid, comes to the Benten Yu bathhouse (yuya) at Kagurazaka. The man who helped her at the My˘jin Pass, Mochizuki Akira, turned out to be a wealthy shizoku. Oteru has since married him, settled in T˘ky˘ and is now a pillar of the Kagurazaka community.

Senta comes to the same bathhouse. He recognizes Oteru and finds out where she lives. He is delighted at the prospect of being able to extort money from her.

Shimaz˘ appears. He has learnt from a dealer that he will be able to sell his sword for 100 yens and is relieved that he will soon be able to repay all the stolen money to the Fukushimaya. Senta calls to Shimaz˘. They have not met since the time of the robbery and each enquires how the other has been. Since his change of heart, however, Shimaz˘ now regrets his connection with the other man.

Senta goes to the house of Mochizuki Akira and reminds Oteru that he gave her 100 yens to help her when she was in trouble. He demands now 500 yens as a compensation for having broken off relations with her. It turns out, however, that Mochizuki Akira was in the past a famous criminal and he is not intimidated by blackmailing from such an insignificant criminal as Senta. Mochizuki puts Senta back in his place and Senta has no other solution than sneaking off discomfited.

Mochizuki apologizes to Oteru for having kept secret from her his criminal background. On the contrary, she is impressed by his attitude and admits, herself, that her own life is not all that it might have been [3].

Act IV

Since coming to T˘ky˘, Shimaz˘ has been running a sake shop (sakaya) at Kagurazaka. His sister Ohama, accompanied by Iwamatsu, has also come to T˘ky˘ to get away from Okiz˘. They have been staying with Shimaz˘. Shimaz˘ is eager to sell his sword and repay the money to the Fukushimaya, but he is dismayed to learn that the proprietor Fukushimaya Seibŕ has disappeared. Meanwhile, a maid from the Fukushimaya comes to buy some soy sauce. Shimaz˘ is delighted to have discovered the whereabouts of Seibŕ and he sends a man named Tokuz˘ to spy on them.

Shimaz˘'s father, Isoemon, is concerned for his son and has also come to T˘ky˘. He assures Ohama that Shimaz˘ will soon be able to expiate for his crimes. However, Senta appears on the scene and in his confusion, Shimaz˘ tells his father and the others to wait outside. Senta says that he has work to do that evening and that he wants Shimaz˘ to help him. Shimaz˘ is embarrassed but feels unable to refuse and agrees to meet him that night at the entrance to the T˘ky˘ Sh˘konsha Shrine on top of Kudanzaka slope [4].

Tokuz˘ comes back and Senta immediately recognizes him as Yashű Toku, the rikisha at the My˘jin Pass. Shimaz˘ had also realized that there was something suspicious about Tokuz˘ but has resolved to do nothing about it until his own plans were complete. When Senta leaves, Isoemon and the others come back. His father has overheard their conversation and accuses Shimaz˘ of still harboring criminal intentions. Shimaz˘ assures him that this is not the case and he promises to persuade Senta to change his ways. Shimaz˘ bids farewell to his family, but, as he leaves, he realizes that Tokuz˘, in reality Yashű Toku, has stolen his sword.

Act V

As arranged, Senta is already waiting at the torii of the shrine when Shimaz˘ arrives. Senta is resentful at the way he was treated by Mochizuki Akira and plans revenge by robbing his house. He wants Shimaz˘ to help him but he categorically refuses. Shimaz˘ recommends that Senta return to the Fukushimaya the money that he has stolen. Senta refuses, draws a knife and they fight. Shimaz˘ again urges Senta to mend his ways. After much fighting and arguing, Senta is moved by Shimaz˘'s sincerity and is persuaded to give up his life of crime.

Yashű Toku appears from behind a tree. Impressed by what he has seen and heard, he also decides to go straight and he returns to Shimaz˘ the stolen sword. With the return of the weapon, the amount of money that Shimaz˘ and Senta have at their disposal is 800 yens, still 200 yens short. At that moment a voice is heard from behind the torii offering them that sum of money. Mochizuki Akira and Oteru appear. They explain that they will give them the money as an expression of their gratitude for not having attempted to rob them. Shimaz˘ and Senta now have the money to repay what they have stolen. They will then give themselves up to the authorities and make a complete break with the past.


[1] Donald Keene 1956.

[2] Literally Toku from the province of Yashű.

[3] This section is performed with a Kiyomoto ensemble. It was entitled "Iro Masaru Momiji no Yűbae" in the original drama.

[4] This is now the Yasukuni Shrine.

The actors Nakamura Kichiemon I and Onoe Kikugor˘ VI playing the roles of Matsushima Senta and Akashi no Shimaz˘ in the drama "Shima Chidori Tsuki no Shiranami", which was staged in August 1918 at the Imperial Theater

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