Play title Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura  In Japanese
Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees
Authors Takeda Izumo II
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Namiki Senryű I

The play "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 11th lunar month of 1747 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki the following year and staged for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1748 in Ise with Kataoka Nizaemon IV (Tokaiya Ginpei, Yokawa no Zenji Kakuhan) and Yamamoto Koheiji (Tadanobu). It was performed for the first time in a city licensed theater in the 5th lunar month of 1748, in Edo at the Nakamuraza [casting].


The "Tokaiya" scene is the second scene of the second act of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura". It is either staged independently of the rest of the play, along with "Funayagura" and "Daimotsu no Ura", or as part of a t˘shi ky˘gen production of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura".

Key words Genpei Kassen
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Minamoto Yoritomo
Minamoto Yoshitsune
Musashib˘ Benkei
Taira Kiyomori
Yoshitsune Shitenn˘

Previous scene: "Torii Mae"

At the Tokaiya

Yoshitsune and his followers have arrived at Daimotsu Bay outside ďsaka. There they await a boat to Kyűshű, where they have decided to take refuge. The weather is rough, and they are forced to wait at the Tokaiya Inn run by the shipping agent Ginpei, who lives there with his wife Oryű and little daughter Oyasu.

Oryű is preparing a meal. Benkei, now disguised as a traveling priest, goes to leave the inn. When he steps over the sleeping body of the child Oyasu, he finds that his legs are unable to move. This, we will understand later, is because the child is of imperial lineage, and thus Benkei's action is one of great disrespect.

A retainer of Yoritomo named Sagami arrives and demands a ship to take him to Kyűshű, where Yoshitsune is rumored to be planning to escape. When Oryű tells him that the next available boat has already been spoken for, he says that he will force the other would-be passengers to heed his demands. At this tense moment, the master of the house, Ginpei, returns. Sagami suspects that the other passengers may be the very men he is seeking, and bares his sword as he goes to confront them. He is disarmed by Ginpei and runs off. At this, Yoshitsune emerges to thank Ginpei for his help. Ginpei says that the storm seems about to break, and urges Yoshitsune and his party to take flight before other pursuers appear.

Yoshitsune and his men board a barge for the ship that will take them to Kyűshű. Suddenly, Ginpei reappears in armor and bearing a halberd. He reveals that he is actually none other than the Heike warrior Taira no Tomomori, and that Oyasu is in reality the boy Emperor Antoku. Furthermore, the woman posing as his wife Oryű is actually Suke-no-Tsubone, wet nurse to the child Emperor. Tomomori has posed as the commoner Ginpei as he awaited his chance to get revenge on Yoshitsune. The quarrel just now with Sagami was deliberately devised in order to gain Yoshitsune's trust. Now Tomomori looks forward to getting revenge on Yoshitsune for having defeated him in battle.

Tomomori tells Suke-no-Tsubone that, if in fact he is not successful in his mission, all the lights on his boat will be extinguished. Should she see that signal, she is to take the child Emperor and commit suicide with him by jumping into the sea.

Source: Valerie L. Durham

Next scene: "Funayagura"

Nakamura Shikan II (left) and Segawa Kikunoj˘ V (right) playing the roles of Tokaiya Ginpei (in reality Taira no Tomomori) and Ginpei's wife Oryű (in reality Suke-no-Tsubone) in the "Tokaiya" scene of the drama "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura", which was staged in the 3rd lunar month of 1829 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

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