Play title Tsuchiya Chikara  In Japanese
Author Watanabe Katei

Watanabe Katei's chűshinguramono "Tsuchiya Chikara" was premiered in October 1907 in ďsaka at the Kadoza [more details]. It was a revised version of the seventh act of Fukuchi ďchi's Shinkabuki drama "Jitsuroku Chűshingura". The role of Tsuchiya Chikara became a vehicle for the Nakamura Ganjir˘ line of actors.


"Tsuchiya Chikara" is made up of 1 act, divided into 2 scenes:

Scene In Japanese In English
1 向島晋其角寓居 Muk˘jima Shin Kikaku Gűkyo
At the Temporary Residence of Shin Kikaku
2 松坂町土屋邸奥座敷 Matsuzaka-ch˘ Tsuchiya Yashiki Okuzashiki
In the Inner Room of the Tsuchiya Mansion in Matsuzaka-ch˘
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Adauchi
Ak˘ R˘shi
Asano Naganori
Ganjir˘ Jűnikyoku
Gishi Ky˘gen
Katsuta Taketaka
Kira Yoshihisa
ďishi Kuranosuke
ďtaka Tadao
Shin Kikaku
Takarai Kikaku
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
Tsuchiya Michinao

Muk˘jima Shin Kikaku Gűkyo
At the Temporary Residence of Shin Kikaku in Muk˘jima

It is a snowy night at the end of the 15th day of the 12th lunar month of the 15th year of the Genroku era [1]. A perfect night of poetry for haiku poets. Tsuchiya Chikara, a daimy˘ lord, has sent his servant to the temporary residence (gűkyo) in Muk˘jima of Shin Kikaku to ask the haiku master to come over to spend the night in composing poetry at Tsuchiya's mansion. Kikaku sends the messenger back home to tell his master that he has accepted the invitation. As Kikaku is about to leave, he is visited by ďtaka Gengo, another of his haiku disciples and a r˘nin, one of the former retainers of the befallen house of Lord Asano, who drew his sword, attempted to kill the high-ranking master of ceremony Kira Yoshihisa at Edo Castle the 14th day of the 3rd lunar month of the 14th year of the Genroku era [2] and was forced to commit seppuku by the Sh˘gun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi the same day. Gengo says that he has come to make his farewell to his master, as he will soon join another daimy˘, whom he refuses to name at the moment. Kikaku is bitterly disappointed, because he too secretly hopes that the former retainers of Asano Naganori would go through with their rumored vendetta (adauchi) against Kira Yoshihisa. If Gengo serves any other lord, it also would mean that he has given up all thought of such revenge. Kikaku is both disappointed and disgusted at Gengo's attitude.

Now another visitor comes at Kikaku's mansion. It is Ochiai Kigetsu, also a samurai and a haiku disciple of Kikaku. The haiku master introduces the two men, but when Kigetsu learns that Gengo is a former Asano retainer who has chosen to work for another daimy˘, he too shows his disgust even more openly than Kikaku. He insults Gengo and refuses to have anything to do with him. He is so angered that he even beats Gengo up, kicking him off the engawa of the mansion. Kikaku admonishes Gengo, asking him whether he is not ashamed of forsaking the memory of Asano Naganori to serve another lord. Gengo, however, answers that his mind is made up, and starts to leave Kikaku's mansion. As a parting gesture Kikaku composes an impromptu haiku verse to which he asks Gengo to add his verse.

  • Kikaku's verse : "As the year's ending is likened to a rapid flowing stream, so is a man's golden opportunity ..." [3]
  • Gengo's verse : "... Likened to a treasure-ship which comes but once in a life-time and leaves him a twinkling" [3]
  • Then, Gengo take his leave. Kikaku puzzles over the real significance of Gengo's verse.

    Matsuzaka-ch˘ Tsuchiya Yashiki Okuzashiki
    In the Inner Room of the Tsuchiya Mansion in Matsuzaka-ch˘

    Tsuchiya Chikara, the lord who has summoned Kikaku to his mansion to compose poetry on the snow, is waiting impatiently for Kikaku's coming. He is being served by the koshimoto Osono, who plays to him on a koto. Osono is the sister of Katsuta Taketaka, another former retainer of Asano Naganori. Presently Kikaku arrives at Tsuchiya's mansion and says that he is accompanied by one of his disciples, Ochiai Kigetsu. However Kigetsu refuses to come into the room because of the presence of Osono. Kigetsu has assumed that if Gengo has given up all thought of vendetta against Kira Yoshihisa, then it is obvious that there is no plan at all. He is so disappointed that he cannot bear the presence of anybody related to any former retainers of the Asano clan. Kikaku is in the same mood and he coldly refuses to accept sake served by Osono. Kikaku explains the situation to the puzzled Tsuchiya Chikara, but Tsuchiya refuses to believe that the Asano retainers have really called off the much-awaited revenge against Kira. However he tells Osono to retire to another, then he listens to what Kigetsu has to say. Taking everything into consideration, he is sure that Gengo has no intention of going into the service of another daimy˘. He is also sure that the vendetta itself must be near at hand. However he says nothing and pretends to doze, leaving his two guests to go to an adjoining room to compose haiku about the snow.

    Osono runs out with a dagger, saying that she is going to kill herself because of the humiliation caused by the failure of the Asano retainers to carry on the legitimate vendetta. Tsuchiya stops her, saying that the retainers will indeed carry out their vendetta. He then explains how he deduced from the various circumstances that Gengo had indeed come to say farewell to his poetry master Kikaku. Gengo's verse clearly hints that the vendetta is about to occur soon.

    At that moment the sound of fighting is heard from the adjoining mansion which is the mansion of ů Kira Yoshihisa. Tsuchiya understand that the retainers of Asano Naganori have now broken into Kira's mansion. Meanwhile, Kikaku is quite ashamed that he himself could not read the true meaning of Gengo's poem. Kikaku comes to apologize and say he will accept sake served by Osono. Then in his eagerness to see how the fight is going on next door, he climbs a tree near the wall. Tsuchiya admonishes his own men not to interrupt in the fights next door. Then he sends a messenger to the vendetta leader ďishi Kuranosuke to ask him to send pieces of information about the outcome of the fighting. Presently Gengo himself comes as the envoy of ďishi Kuranosuke to inform Tsuchiya Chikara that the revenge has been successfully accomplished. Kira Yoshihisa is dead! He also confirms that not only himself but Osono's brother too, were among the vendetta fighters. Ochiai Kigetsu tries to commit seppuku to apologize but he is restrained by Gengo and the others. Presently the whistles calling the vendetta members is heard. Gengo takes his leave and Tsuchiya remarks admiringly and enviously that Lord Asano has been served by amazing retainers.


    [1] The 15th day of the 12th lunar month of the 15th year of the Genroku era was the 31st of January 1703 in the western calendar.

    [2] The 14th day of the 3rd lunar month of the 14th year of the Genroku era was the 21st of April 1701 in the western calendar.

    [3] Aubrey and Giovanna Halford in "The Kabuki Handbook".

    The actors Nakamura Fukusuke IV (left) and Nakamura Ganjir˘ I (right) playing the roles of Osono and Tsuchiya Chikara in the drama "Tsuchiya Chikara", which was staged in April 1921 at the Shintomiza

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