Play titles Hiyoku no Ch˘ Haru no Soga Giku  In Japanese
Sono Kouta Yume mo Yoshiwara  In Japanese
That Song and a Dream of Yoshiwara [1]
Common titles Gonj˘  In Japanese
Gonge  In Japanese
Gonpachi Komurasaki  In Japanese
Author Fukumori Kiusuke

"Gonpachi Komurasaki" was premiered in the 1st lunar month of 1816 in Edo at the Nakamuraza as the first and second acts of the nibanme of the sogamono "Hiyoku no Ch˘ Haru no Soga Giku" [more details]. This new year drama mixed two sekai: it was a sogamono and a gonpachi-komurasakimono. The first ("Gonj˘") and second ("Gonge") acts became famous, were staged under the title "Sono Kouta Yume mo Yoshiwara" and were finally kept in the Kabuki repertoire whereas he others acts related to the vendetta of the Soga brothers fell into oblivion.


"Gonj˘" (1st act), which is more popular than "Gonge" (2nd act), can be staged independently or with "Gonge". "Gonj˘" is made up of two scenes. "Gonge" is made up of two scenes

Act/Scene In Japanese In English
I/1 鈴ヶ森刑場 Suzu-ga-Mori Keij˘
At the Execution Ground of Suzu-ga-Mori
I/2 新吉原仲の町 Shin-Yoshiwara Nakanoch˘
In the Main Street of the Shin'Yoshiwara
II/1 新吉原三浦屋小紫部屋 Shin-Yoshiwara Miuraya Komurasaki Heya
In Miuraya Komurasaki's Room in Shin-Yoshiwara
II/2 六郷川権八立腹 Rokug˘gawa Gonpachi Tachibara
Self-disembowelment of Gonpachi along the Rokug˘ River
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Ageya
Hirai Gonpachi
Miuraya Komurasaki
Nakai Nakanoch˘
Shirai Gonpachi
Taiko Mochi

Act I, scene 1: Suzu-ga-Mori Keij˘
At the Execution Ground of Suzu-ga-Mori

Shirai Gonpachi is brought to the Suzu-ga-Mori execution site (keij˘) on horseback, both arms bound and dressed in prison garb. He is pulled off the horse and brought into the execution enclosure, where two officials overseeing the execution and some hinin have gathered. The kenshi Yonezu Hayato reads off Gonpachi's crimes and sentence and then asks Gonpachi whether there is any last message he would like to say before he is executed.

Gonpachi makes his confession, saying that he has been born to a good samurai family but that in a moment of youthful passion he has committed a murder, for which he has been forced to flee to Edo. In Edo, he has fallen in love with the yűjo Miuraya Komurasaki, and as any love affair with a courtesan is bound to be an expensive one, he has fallen in debt and eventually has resorted to robbery and other crimes to find some cash. He says that he repents and asks those present, officials or hinin, to pray for his soul.

At this point Miuraya Komurasaki comes running to the site. She has slipped away from the Shin-Yoshiwara pleasure quarter (kuruwa) in an attempt to meet Gonpachi before his execution. She pleads with the officials to allow her to enter the enclosure so that she can share a sip of water with Gonpachi in a farewell ritual. Yonezu Hayato is sympathetic and overrides the complaints of the other official, the fukushi ďtsuka Jidayű, allowing Komurasaki to enter the enclosure. After the farewell water drinks, Komurasaki suddenly takes out a small knife and cuts Gonpachi's bonds, freeing him. The guards rush to prevent the two from getting away, and Gonpachi, while defending himself, strikes a pose holding off the guards' sticks in a position that strongly resembles that of crucifixion (haritsuke), the manner of execution to which he has been sentenced.

Act I, scene 2: Shin-Yoshiwara Nakanoch˘
In the Main Street of the Shin-Yoshiwara

It turns out that the preceding frightening scene has taken place in Shirai Gonpachi's dream (yume) as he dozed on the palanquin (kago) on his way to visit Miuraya Komurasaki at the Shin-Yoshiwara pleasure quarter. He awakens to find himself in Nakanoch˘, the heart of the kuruwa, but he cannot shake off the dread induced by his dream, half-fearing that it might be a bad omen, which is likely to come true.

In the meantime, Komurasaki has been waiting impatiently for her lover's arrival, and a whole cortege including nakai, shinz˘ and taiko mochi come to greet him. Amid the company is Umeno, a kamuro serving Komurasaki, who has brought a letter from Komurasaki for Gonpachi. She gives him the letter and then ties her obi to Gonpachi, saying that Komurasaki has told her to do so, in order that she may be sure that Gonpachi will come to visit her. Gonpachi goes off with the lively company but he still cannot shake off the gloom of the dream.

Act II, scene 1: Shin-Yoshiwara Miuraya Komurasaki Heya
In Miuraya Komurasaki's Room in Shin-Yoshiwara

Gonpachi is in Komurasaki's room at the Miuraya house of assignation (ageya), playing his bamboo shakuhachi to the accompaniment of Komurasaki's koto. One of the strings on the koto snaps, which is an ill omen. Gonpachi, remembering his frightening dream, cannot help but be perturbed.

Miuraya Shirobŕ, the proprietor of Miuraya, who is sympathetic to the lovers, comes to the room. Komurasaki quickly hides Gonpachi in an adjoining room. Shirobŕ says that he is aware that Gonpachi comes often to meet her, but he has heard of some of his bad deeds and that he is also a wanted man. He warns Komurasaki of the danger of being too close to Gonpachi and hints that she must quickly send Gonpachi on his way so that the torite will not catch him tonight.

Komurasaki thanks Shirobŕ for his consideration, and Shirobŕ, quite aware that Gonpachi is in the next room, makes his departure. Gonpachi, who has overheard Shirobŕ's words, dashes out in a frenzy. Komurasaki tells him that she has been more or less aware of the circumstances from the many rumors going around the kuruwa. Gonpachi answers that his nightmare will no doubt soon come true. He is afraid that Komurasaki will have nothing further to do with him now, but Komurasaki says that she will remain true to her pledge and stay with him to up to death. Before fleeing together, it is necessary to change Gonpachi's appearance so that he will not be easily recognized. Komurasaki brings out her mirror and starts to arrange her lover's hair in a different style in order to alter his appearance. Even as she does so, torite rush into the room.

Act II, scene 2: Rokug˘gawa Gonpachi Tachibara
Self-disembowelment of Gonpachi along the Rokug˘ River

Gonpachi comes in his flight in the dead of night to the bank of the Rokug˘ River where there is a small ferryboat. He calls into the boatman's shack to ask for passage across the river. It turns out that the boatman is a torite in disguise Gonpachi is quickly approached by a large number of torite, and rather than surrendering to the law, he prefers to commit suicide by self-disembowelment in the boat.


[1] The title "That Song and a Dream of Yoshiwara" comes from Samuel Leiter's "Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre".

Illustration from a tsuji banzuke for the October 1915 production of "Sono Kouta Yume mo Yoshiwara" at the Kabukiza

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