|Genpei Nunobiki no Taki
The Genji, the Heike and the Nunobiki Waterfalls
|Namiki Senryû I
The play in five acts "Genpei Nunobiki no Taki" was originally written for the puppets theater in 1749 It was adapted for Kabuki in the 9th lunar month of 1757, produced by the zamoto Anegawa Daikichi I in Ôsaka at the Kado no Shibai (casting unknown). It was staged in Edo for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1757 at the Moritaza. "Yoshikata Yakata" was not as popular as "Sanemori Monogatari" and was rarely staged. It was revived in June 1943 at the Kabukiza, starring Kataoka Nizaemon XII in the role of Kiso Senjô Yoshikata. Following the advice and support of Matsuo Hazue, the head of the Matsuo Foundation for promoting performing arts, the young star Kataoka Takao performed this role for the first time in August 1965, in Ôsaka at the Nakaza. It became one of his atariyaku. The others actors who have performed this role are Ichikawa Ennosuke, Ichikawa Ukon or Nakamura Hashinosuke.
The "Yoshikata Yakata" scene, Commonly called "Yoshikata Saigo" ("the end of Yoshikata"), is the last and main scene of the second act of the play "Genpei Nunobiki no Taki".
In 1159, Minamoto no Yoshitomo, who was one leader of the Genji family, rebelled against the Heike clan, and was killed at the incident. After the incident, Yoshikata, the younger brother of Yoshitomo, who pretends to be sick, secretly hopes to destroy the dictatorial government of the Heike.
Lady Aoi, who is the wife of Yoshikata, is expecting a baby soon. Yoshikata got married to Lady Aoi after his first wife had died. He had a daughter with her first wife, Princess Matsuyoi. One day, when Lady Aoi and Princess Matsuyoi are talking together, three people come to Yoshitaka's mansion. They are the yakko Orihei's wife Koman, her father Kurosuke, and a boy called Tarokichi, the son of Orihei and Koman. The family came here in order to take the yakko Orihei back to their home. Orihei is a faithful retainer of Yoshikata, and Princess Matsuyoi is in love with him. She had an affair with him and is shocked to learn that Orihei already got married. Orihei is not presently in the mansion because his lord has sent him on a mission. Lady Aoi already knows that Princess Matsuyoi, who is her step-daughter, loves Orihei. She takes the trio to another room to avoid bothering the Princess.
Orihei is in reality the Genji warrior Tada Kurando Yukitsuna. Orihei became a retainer of Yoshikata in order to know his real mind because Yoshikata might have forgotten to rebel against the Heike. Yoshikata, however, had seen through his ruse and was aware of his real identity. When Orihei comes back to the mansion, Princess Matsuyoi is waiting for him. She asks why he didn’t say that he was married, and if he loves her. She thought that he was out in order to meet his wife. Orihei, who is taken by surprise, answers that he was really on a mission, not at Kurosuke's cottage. He must see his master right away.
Yoshikata appears on the stage, looking pale. He orders his daughter to go away in order to discuss important matter with his yakko. Orihei says that he couldn’t find the man whose name was Tada Yukitsuna, to whom Yoshikata has written the letter. When Yoshikata gets back his letter, he finds that the seal has been opened. Yoshikata has suspected that Orihei might be Yukitsuna. He decided to write a letter to the Genji warrior and made Orihei carry it. Yoshikata thought that, if Orihei was really Yukitsuna, he would necessarily read it. When Orihei is going to leave the stage, Yoshikata calls him Tada Yukitsuna in order to stop him. Yukitsuna is surprised so much because he thinks that Yoshikata intends to betray him into the Heike hands, because he is a wanted man. Orihei makes a few cautious remarks, before revealing his real identity and the fact that he has indeed read the letter. Yukitsuna gives to Yoshikata the letter’s reply, that means he intends to work for the restoration of the Genji clan. Then Yoshikata reveals his own secret goal because Yukitsuna has understood Yoshikata’s true mind. Yoshikata displays the white banner of the Genji clan.
Meanwhile Osada and Takahashi, who are the envoys of the dictator Taira no Kiyomori, the leader of the Heike clan, come to Yoshikata’s mansion. Yoshikata meets with them alone. Osada, who was responsible for the killing of Yoshitomo, carries with him the skull of the dead warrior. He tells Yoshikata that the skull is Yoshitomo's, and that Yoshikata should be able to kick it if he doesn't have any dangerous hope. Yoshikata tries to kick the skull but he can’t. He shouts Yukitsuna’s name and kills Osada. Yukitsuna attacks Takahashi but the Heike envoy can get away. It means that the reinforcements will come soon.
Yoshikata orders Yukitsuna to bring Princess Matsuyoi to a safe place. After Yukitsuna and Princess Matsuyoi have left, Yoshikata asks Yukitsuna’s father-in-law Kurosuke to do the same with Lady Aoi, to find a safe place where she will give birth safely to the child who will succeed him and successfully lead the Genji to victory. Yoshikata gives her second spouse the white flag, the precious symbol of the Genji.
Many Heike warriors arrive at the mansion. They go after Lady Aoi but are faced by Koman, who fights them valiantly. Yoshikata start a terrible fight against them. The banner is lost by Ladi Aoi but Yoshikata manages to retake it from the hands of an enemy warrior. The warriors easily outnumber Yoshikata, who is fatally wounded. In the last breath of a dying man, Yoshikata entrusts Koman with the white banner, asking her to keep it for his son. After Koman watches the death of Yoshikata, she gets out from the mansion.
The actors Bandô Minosuke II (front) and Bandô Mokuzô (?) (back) playing the roles of Kiso Senjô Yoshikata and Shinnô Jirô Munemasa in the "Yoshikata Saigo" scene of the drama "Genpei Nunobiki no Taki", which was staged in the 6th lunar month of 1826 at the Ichimuraza (print made by Utagawa Kuniyasu I)
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