Play title Kichisama Mairu Yukari no Otozure  In Japanese
Kichisa's Coming: A Lover's Letter [1]
Common titles Yukanba Kichisa  In Japanese
Kobori Seidan  In Japanese
Tennink˘  In Japanese
Benshű  In Japanese
Author Kawatake Shinshichi II

Kawatake Shinshichi II's drama "Kichisama Mairu Yukari no Otozure" was premiered in the 7th lunar month of 1869 [2] at the Nakamuraza [casting]. It was both a kakikae ky˘gen and a naimaze ky˘gen as it parodied the famous story of Yaoya Oshichi and mixed it with a k˘dan, which was made by Kenkonb˘ Ry˘sai and was entitled "Kobori Seidan", a story about family troubles (s˘d˘) in the Kobori samurai clan. It was revived in September 1918 at the Ichimuraza, produced by Tamura Nariyoshi with the two stars Onoe Kikugor˘ VI and Nakamura Kichiemon I in the roles of Kichisa and Benshű. This production made history as it totally changed the importance of the role of Benshű. Minor role in 1869, it became a major villain role in 1918 as most of the scenes related to the Kobori troubles were no more staged.


"Kichisama Mairu Yukari no Otozure" was originally in 5 acts, divided into 15 scenes. Most of the scenes related to the Kobori troubles have disappeared. The current version of "Kichisama Mairu Yukari no Otozure" is made up of 4 acts (9 scenes):

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 青山小堀邸 Aoyama Kobori Yashiki
At the Kobori Mansion in Aoyama
II 1 了念寺門前 Ry˘nenji Monzen
In Front of the Gate of the Ry˘nenji Temple
  2 了念寺庫裡 Ry˘nenji Kuri
Within the Office of the Ry˘nenji Temple
  3 了念寺裏塀外 Ry˘nenji Ura Heisoto
The Outer Wall at the Rear of the Ry˘nenji Temple
III 1 本郷八百屋見世先 Hong˘ Yaoya Misesaki
In Front of the Greengrocer's Shop in Hong˘
  2 本郷八百屋奥座敷 Hong˘ Yaoya Okuzashiki
The Inner Room at the Greengrocer's Shop in Hong˘
  3 元の見世先 Moto no Misesaki
Back at the Front of the Shop
IV 1 小石川天人香前 Koishikawa Tennik˘ Mae
In front of the Tennin Incense Shop in Koishikawa
  2 水道橋川端 Suid˘bashi Kawabata
At the Riverside near the Suid˘bashi Bridge
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Chakushi
Daraku B˘zu
Kakikae Ky˘gen
Naimaze Ky˘gen
Tenna no Taika
Yaoya Oshichi

(a short summary of the long-forgotten scenes before nowadays Act I)

The house of Kobori is one which has produced several generations of hatamoto faithful to the Sh˘gun. Kobori Yaheiji has been adopted into the Kobori family but he stands next in the succession, after Samonnosuke, the rightful son (chakushi) and heir of the clan. Yaheiji is a thoroughly bad person. Together with Yaheiji's mekake Omitsu and the treacherous Hatashiro Ryűzaemon, they are plotting to take control of the family. To this end, they have overpowered Samonnosuke and have imprisoned him in a stone-built storehouse, planning to starve him to death. However, Yoshida Chűzaemon, a faithful family retainer, and the koshimoto Osugi have rescued Samonnosuke and have hidden him in the Enj˘ji Temple in the nearby district of Komagome.

Act I, scene 1: Aoyama Kobori Yashiki
At the Kobori Mansion in Aoyama

The scene is set at the Kobori Mansion in Aoyama. A celebration in honour of Lord Kobori's recovery from illness has just taken place when it is announced that the son and heir, Samonnosuke, has disappeared without leaving any trace. A hairpin belonging to the koshimoto Osugi is found in a corridor. She is called and both Yaheiji and Ryűzaemon try to force a confession from her through torture but she stubbornly refuses to speak. She eventually takes her own life. There is general consternation as to what to do with her body, but Omitsu's brother the daraku b˘zu Benshű, appears and announces that he will take care of it. He will receive fifty ry˘ if he is successful. He decides to ask Yukanba Kichisa (Kichisa from the yukanba) to dispose of the body by morning. Kichisa [3] is a young scoundrel who earns his living by removing valuables from corpses as they are prepared for encoffining. He is also the lover of Yaheiji's mekake Omitsu.

Act II, from scene 1 to scene 3: Ry˘nenji
At the Ry˘nenji Temple

Benshű and Kichisa arrive together at the temple. Benshű asks Kichisa to steal the wooden pass ticket which would allow them to cremate the body but foolishly blurts out that he has been promised fifty ry˘. Kichisa demands half of the money in payment. It is half and half or nothing will be done. Benshű threatens to report to Yaheiji Kichisa's love affair with Omitsu, but Kichisa retorts that this would be more damaging for Benshű and his family rather than himself. After a good deal of tough negotiation, Benshű is forced to accept Kichisa's terms.

Kichisa then sneaks into the temple. He is in the act of stealing the pass and the shroud when a temple servant notices him and talks to him. With studied innocence, Kichisa slips him a few coins and escapes the temple.

Benshű, with the cheap coffin containing Osugi, is waiting impatiently for Kichisa. He is relieved when he appears with the necessary pass. Kichisa gives it to Benshű who is delighted. Covering the coffin with a white cloth, he is about to leave when Kichisa demands the promised amount of money. Benshű gives him ten ry˘ but Kichisa objects that it is not the sum he was promised. They argue and Kichisa ends up taking forty ry˘.

Between Act II and Act III
(a short summary of the long-forgotten scenes between nowadays Act II and Act III)

The plot against the Kobori family has finally been discovered. Kobori Yaheiji and Hatashiro Ryűzaemon have received their due punishments. Kichisa and Benshű have been banished from Edo. Omitsu, who has lost touch with both Kichisa and Benshű, has disappeared into the underworld.

Act III, from scene 1 to scene 3: Hong˘ Yaoya
At the Greengrocer's Shop in Hong˘

Kichisa is anxious to lay his hands on some money for the journey and, seeing that the door to a greengrocer's shop in Hong˘ is open, he slips in. Whilst hiding in the Enj˘ji Temple, Samonnosuke has met and fallen in love with Oshichi, the daughter of the yaoya Kyűshir˘, the owner of the shop. Both Kyűshir˘ and Oshichi took refuge at the Enj˘ji Temple when the greengrocer shop burnt down during the Great Fire of Tenna. Presently a young samurai approaches, wearing a wicker travelling hat. He reveals himself to be Samonnosuke to the shop servants. They smuggle him through the garden to the back of the house where Oshichi is.

Samonnosuke, seated in the inner room of the house, is joined by his lover Oshichi. Because of the destruction of his shop during the Great Fire of Tenna, Kyűshir˘ was forced to borrow money from Kamaya Buhŕ, an ironmonger. Embarrassed at not yet being able to repay the loan, the only solution for Kyűshir˘ is to force his beautiful daughter to marry the old and ugly Buhŕ. She, however, is deeply in love with Samonnosuke and is anxious to elope with him. Samonnosuke has received considerable help from the chief priest of the Enj˘ji Temple who is none other than Kyűshir˘'s brother. Because of this connection, it is strictly impossible for him to run away with the girl. He refuses to elope and leaves the shop without her.

Meanwhile, Kyűshir˘ calls his daughter and for the first time tells her about the existence of her brother who disappeared long time ago when he was a young boy. He begs her to marry Buhŕ in order to help him repaying the loan. Oshichi feels sorry for her father and agrees, at the same time secretly planning to take her own life. She writes her will. Kichisa, however, has overheard their conversation and realizes that Kyűshir˘ is his father. Without revealing who he is, he stops his sister from killing herself. Confessing his initial intention to steal some money, he promises to bring them the 100 ry˘ which they do need by the following day. Oshichi thanks Kichisa for his intervention, addressing him naively as "Mr. Thief". Kichisa leaves the shop. Kyűshir˘ suddenly realises that this young thief must be his long lost son and hurries after him.

Act IV, from scene 1: Koishikawa Tennik˘ Mae
In front of the Tennin Incense Shop in Koishikawa

The yotaka Okan of Yushima, in reality Omitsu, meets Kamaya Buhŕ by chance outside the Tennink˘ incense shop in Koishikawa and knocks him out in order to steal his purse. Kichisa, hidden in the darkness, watches from the shadows and then calls her. Okan is frightened, but her fear turns to joy when she realizes it is the voice of her lover. As they discuss and finally plan to leave Edo together, Kichisa's sleeve catches on a nail and he drops the sum of one hundred ry˘ which he has stolen from the Tennink˘ incense shop. Benshű passes by and the three all start searching in the darkness for the money (danmari). At the end of the danmari, Benshű quickly picks up the money. Kichisa pursues him, followed by Okan. The alarm is given inside the Tennink˘ incense shop and all the tedai rush out searching for the thief. They find the unfortunate Buhŕ and beat him up, thinking he must be the thief.

Act IV, scene 2: Suid˘bashi Kawabata
At the Riverside near the Suid˘bashi Bridge

Kichisa catches up with Benshű near the Suid˘bashi Bridge. He demands the money back but Benshű refuses. Kichisa and Benshű fight desperately in the darkness. At the end of the scene, Kichisa kills the evil priest.

A very short summary of what happens afterwards

Kichisa succeeds in sending the 100 ry˘ to Kyűshir˘. He and Okan are caught by the torite when they are about to escape from Edo.


[1] The title "Kichisa's Coming: A Lover's Letter" comes from Samuel Leiter's "Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre".

[2] "Kichisama Mairu Yukari no Otozure" was premiered the 15th day of the 7th lunar month of the 2nd year of the Meiji era, which was the 22nd of August 1869 in the western calendar.

[3] Kichisa is a diminutive of Kichisabur˘.

The actor Onoe Kikugor˘ VI playing the role of Yukanba Kichisa in the drama "Kichisama Mairu Yukari no Otozure", which was staged in September 1925 at the Ichimuraza

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