Aotozoshi hanano nishikie (青砥稿花紅彩画)

"Aotozoshi hanano nishikie" refers to 'Shiranami-mono' (stage works with thieves and lowlifes) of Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors) which was performed at Ichimura-za Theater in 1862 for the first time, and written by Shinshichi KAWATAKE the second (later Mokuami KAWATAKE).

It is commonly called "Shiranami Gonin Otoko" (The Five Shiranami Men), "Bentenmusume Meono Shiranami," "Otonikiku Bentenkozo" and so on.

This play shows activities of outstanding thieves in Japan, 'Shiranami Gonin Otoko,' who were comparable to Goemon ISHIKAWA and Nezumi Kozo (a famous robber in Edo city).

This play put Kikugoro ONOE the fifth, famous actor in the Meiji period, on the road to success. He performed six times throughout a lifetime from the age of 17, and also performed Bentenkozo (Benten the Thief) at his last stage. The autobiography of Kikugoro mentioned that a man involved in play whose name was Naosuke visited Kikugoro to show nishiki-e (a color woodblock print) drawn by Kunisada UTAGAWA which showed that Kikugoro himself was disguised as Bentenkozo stick a bare sword into a floor and drank sake, and Kikugoro immediately asked Shinshichi KAWATAKE to adapt it.

Another theory mentions that Shinshichi hit on an idea when he saw a beautiful young man wearing Japanese kimono for women at Ryogokubashi one day, Toyokuni who heard of it from Shinichi drew it as nishiki-e, and Shinichi dramatized it based on the nishiki-e. Talking' which was an advertising statement of play had a phrase meaning that 'this was a story about chivalrous robber which was shaped into Kabuki as shown in Toyokuni's preliminary sketch. In any way, there is no doubt that it was made by getting a hint from Toyokuni's work.

Bentenkozo was performed by Kikugoro ONOE the sixth, a biological child of the fifth, and Uzaemon ICHIMURA the 15th before the war, and by Kanzaburo NAKAMURA the 13th and Baiko ONOE the seventh after the war. At present, its role is succeeded to by Kikugoro ONOE the seventh, a great-grandchild of the fifth, Kikunosuke ONOE the fifth, a son of Kikugoro ONOE the seventh, Kanzaburo NAKAMURA the 18th and so on.

Shiranami-mono' refers to a generic name for kabuki plays in which thieves flourish. Famous scenes are that a beautiful man dressed as a woman, Bentenkozo Kikugoro, made a speech (declaring that he was a man and showing a tattoo) in Scene One (Yukinoshita Hamamatsuya) of Act Two, and that Goninotoko (five men) who put up their bangasa (coarse oilpaper umbrella) with the letters of 'Shi-ra-na-mi' (志らなみ in Japanese) left undyed, and pretended to be otokodate (ones who seek to right wrongs) made a speech in Scene Three (Inasegawa seizoroi) of Act Two. After magnificently appearing from Hanamichi (passage through audience to stage), five men came to the stage, and meet together in front of torite (official in charge of imprisoning offenders). The beauty of form is concentrated in the scene that each man makes Mie (a pose) while saying 'watarizerifu' (dialogue passed along), and makes a speech using rhythmical 'tsurane' (range) in shichigo-cho (seven-and-five syllable meter rhythm) commanding engo (associated words) and kakekotoba (pivot words). This form comes down even to hero series for children under the theme of 'squadron' including "Himitsu Sentai Gorenja" (Secret Squad Five Rangers) in far-distant future generations. Another eye-catching scene is 'gando gaeshi' (to pivot one large piece of scenery onto its side so as to reveal a different one) performed from a scene of Bentenkozo Seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) in Scene One (scene of Gokurakuji yane tachibara) to a scene of appearance of Daemon in Scene Two (scene of Gokurakuji sanmon) of Ozume (final act). Aoto' was named after a name of chaser, Fujitsuna AOTO. Having also had scenes made by providing 'haiku or other techniques' to famous scenes in popular kabuki kyogen plays such as "Karigane Gonin Otoko" (Five gans of Karigane, the head), "Shin Usuyuki Monogatari" (The Tale of Usuyuki), "Sanmon Gosan No Kiri" (The Temple Gate and the Paulownia Crest) and so on, this play was a witty masterpiece by a writer, Mokuami, who changed those into whole new plays.

Shiranami Gonin Otoko

It is known that Shiranami Gonin Otoko was modeled on a real or unreal character, respectively.

Nippon Daemon
Model: Real thief by the name of Shobei HAMAJIMA or Zaemon NIPPON
However, a character of Nippon Daemon was set just as that of Goemon ISHIKAWA.

First performer: Sanjuro SEKI the third
Watarizerifu (dialogue passed along): Towarete nanorumo okogamashiiga...(It is intrusive to give out my name when asked who I am...)
Character setting: Famous master thief. Daemon subordinated Kikunosuke who caused Senju Hime (Lady Senju) to throw herself into the water.

Bentenkozo Kikunosuke
Model: Beautiful young man wearing Japanese kimono for women who was seen by Shinshichi KAWAKITA at Ryogokubashi
There is no doubt that Kikugoro the fifth himself was reflected in the name and appearance.

First performer: Kikugoro ONOE the fifth
Watarizerifu: Sate sonotsugiwa...(Now, what comes next?)
Character setting: Person who worked under Daemon NIPPON and committed blackmail and a theft after deceiving Senju Hime and causing her to thrown herself into the water.

Tadanobu Rihei
Model: Character appearing in Act Four of "Yoshitsune Senbonzakura" (Yoshitsune and One Thousand Cherry Trees)
First performer: Danjuro ICHIKAWA the ninth
Watarizerifu: Tsuzuite tsugini hikaeshiwa...(Secondly, who comes next?)
Character setting: Person whose father attended on the Akaboshi family and escaped as a result of embezzlement
He was one of the subordinates of Daemon NIPPON.

Akaboshi Juzaburo
Model: Gonpachi SHIRAI who was a real and beautiful boy thief before genpuku (celebrate one's coming of age), and who was also used as a subject of "Sonokouta Yumemo Yoshiwara" and "Suzugamori."

First performer: Hanshiro IWAI the eighth
Watarizerifu: Mata sonotsugini tsuranaruwa...(Who comes next after this?)
Character setting: Person who became a thief because his uncle asked him for money to buy a medicine
He met Tadanobu Rihei, and became one of the subordinates of Daemon NIPPON.

Nango Rikimaru
Model: Korikumaru NANGU who was a real thief working under Zaemon NIPPON. A character that he was a son of boat owner and an irrepressible villain has been actually handed down in the Shonan Area, and his memorial tower exists in precincts of Saiun-ji Temple in Nango, Chigasaki City.

First performer: Shikan NAKAMURA the fourth
Watarizerifu: Sate donjirini hikaeshiwa...(Now, who comes last?)
Character setting: Person who fought with Tadanobu Rihei using a blade in order to steal his money (which had been originally offered before butsuzen (before the Buddha or a mortuary tablet) of SHIDA no Kotaro, bride elect of Senju Hime, and had been stolen by Akaboshi Juzaburo). He committed blackmail and a theft with Kikunosuke.

Famous dialogue

Miarawashi (the dramatic technique of clearly revealing one's true identity by oneself after the origin and social status hiding it) in the scene of Hamamatsuya (line of Kikugoro ONOE the fifth in his first performance)
Shirazaa itte kikaseyasho (I will explain about it to you if you don't know.)
Hama no masago to goemon ga, uta ni nokoseshi nusutto no, tane wa tsukinee shichirigahama, sono shiranami no yobataraki, izen o iyaa enoshimade, nenkizutome no chigogafuchi (As Goemon ISHIKAWA's death poem says, there are innumerable thieves in this world like sand of Shichirigahama beach, and I am one of the thefts who once was a page boy working as apprentice at Enoshima Island.)
edo no hyakumiko no makisen o, ate ni kozara no ichimonji, hyaku ga nihyaku to saisen no, kusune zeni see dandan ni (I gambled counting on offertories of hyakumiko (a gathering in which believers offer 100 kinds of food to the temple) in Edo, and the money I stole became more and more.)
akuji wa noboru kaminomiya, iwamotoin de koju no, makurasagashi mo tabikasanari, otenagako to fudatsuki ni, toto shima o oidasare, sorekara wakashu no tsutsumotase, koko ya kashiko no terajima de (My crimes were getting serious, and I often committed bedroom theft; at last I was driven away from the Island because of my stealing, so pulled badger games at various temples.)
komimi ni kiita tottsuan no, ninu kowairo de koyusuri katari, na sae yukari no Bentenkozo Kikunosuke taa ore ga koto da (It is me, Benten kozo kikunosuke, who blackmailed people with awkward impression of my grandfather's voice, whose name is related to mine.)

Shiranami' refers to a thief, and is a pun for each word of 'yobataraki,' 'shiranai' and 'shichirigahama.'
The term 'terajima' referring to 'a temple in an island' is a pun for 'Kiyoshi TERASHIMA,' real name of Kikugoro the fifth, the term 'tottsuan' is a pun for 'Kikugoro ONOE the third' who was a grandfather of Kikugoro the fifth and was reputed to be a great actor in the Bunka Bunsei period, and the phrase 'na sae yukari' is a pun for 'Kikunosuke ONOE' who was a second son of Kikugoro the fifth.
These are a kind of word game to elicit laughter from audience, so-called 'kusuguri (literally tickling) in kusuguri traditional performing arts.'

[Original Japanese]