Chinzei Yumiharizuki (椿説弓張月)

"Chinzei Yumeharizuki" (The Crescent Moon) was a book written by Bakin KYOKUTEI and illustrated by Hokusai KATSUSHIKA. Its correct name was "Chinzei Hachiro Tametomo Gaiden Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki" and was a romantic novel that focused on MINAMOTO no Tametomo (Chinzei Hachiro Tametomo), who was the busho (Japanese military commander) strong with arrows and appeared in "Hogen Monogatari" (The Tale of the Hogen War) that rewarded the good and punished evil and filled with sheer nonsense. This also applied to the title of adapted Kabuki play.

The first edition was published in 1807, and a complete five editions consisting of 29 volumes of prequel, sequel, second sequel, shui (collect), and remaining volumes were completed in 1811. It was originally planned to finish a prequel and sequel, but completion was extended due to its unexpected popularity and the fact that imagination of Bakin improved with time.

The story was divided into the prequel that depicted the deeds of Tametomo exiled to Izu-oshima Island almost according to the truth and the reconstruction of Ryukyu Kingdom by Tametomo that travelled there in sequel that vastness and unexpected development especially in later volumes brought popularity to the later edition. It is believed to have been affected greatly by making MINAMOTO no Tametomo considered to be a tragic hero just like MINAMOTO no Yoshi as the main character and having Ryukyu which was treated as a foreign country back then as a setting.

The format greatly influenced by classics such as "Hogen Monogatari" (The Tale of the Hogen War) and "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace) that told of the bravery of Tametomo, and Chinese Hakuwa Shosetsu (Chinese novel) such as "Suikokoden" (The later water margin) (It was the sequel to "Suikoden (The Water Margin)." Ri Shun became the Thai king) and "Teki Sei Engi" (狄青演義).

Main Characters
MINAMOTO no Tamemoto
He was the eighth son of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi and was skilled in archery.

Princess Shiranui
She was the legal wife of Tamemoto. She was skilled in martial arts and naginata (a long pole with a sharp curving sword). She gave birth to Sutemaru. She boarded a ship to defeat TAIRA no Kiyomori, but came in middle of a storm that she threw herself to the sea in order to quell a storm.

Royal Princess Nei
She was the First Crown Princess of Ryukyu kingdom and was an official heir to the thrown. However, she was prosecuted by the evil monarch of her father, King Shonei, and risks her life. She lost her life but....

Royal Princess Shiranui
It was the spirit of Princess Shiranui hosted within the body of Nuiwannyo. She reached nirvana after she rebuilt Ryukyu Kingdom.

Haccho Tsubute no Kiheiji
He was the loyal servant of Tametomo and skilled in pebble (slinging) throwing game. He adopted and raised Sutemaru.

He was the legal child of Tametomo and Princess Shiranui. He defeated Moun and became the king of Ryukyu. He later became Sutemaru.

Tsuru (Crane) and Kame (Turtle)
They were two sons of Mokokutei, who was the loyal servant of Ryukyu Kingdom. Their father was killed by the conspiracy of cunning retainer Riyu, and their pregnant mother Niigaki was killed and infant taken away by Kumakimi while trying to protect her and escape from the pursuers. Even after they started to serve Tametomo, they seek for an opportunity to take a revenge on enemies of their parents.

She was a famous female shaman of Ryukyu Kingdom. She helped with the conspiracy of Riyu, attempted to deceive Nuiwanyo, steal the infant of Niigaki to make him into a crown prince but….

He was the monster monk that appeared from snake pit revealed by King Shonei. He manipulated Queen Chofu no Kimi and cunning retainer Riyu, and sweet talked into killing Royal Princess Nei and Mo Kokutei, and eventually killed the king and Queen Chufu to put himself on throne. The actual identity of this man that controlled monster beasts and curses with supernatural power was….

He was the 75th Emperor Shutoku. He was the master of Tametomo. He caused the Hogen Disturbance but was exiled to Sanuki Province after being defeated and died there. He later appeared as a ghost whenever Tamemoto was under peril and assisted him once in a while.

Influence and History of Reception
It was a work that brought Bakin success, drawn as the busha (samurai) illustrations, adapted into Kabuki, and received the popularity of a general public back then. "Nanso satomi hakkenden" (The story of eight dog samurai and a princess of Satomi family in Nanso region) was written after the success of this work. "Hakkenden" is currently more famous, but film adaptation of "Hakkenden" partially diverts to it, and the series of doll play "Shin Hakkenden" (The new story of eight dog samurai) borrowed the setting and the main characters of "Yumihari zuki" (a crescent moon). The new Kabuki called "Chinzei Yumiharizuki," written by Yukio MISHIMA was first performed in 1969. "New Yumiharizuki" (Volume 1 and 2 by Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.) rewritten in a modern style by Nobuyuki MITAMURA also exists.

There is a translated version by Yumie HIRAIWA (complete 1 volume) available currently from Gakken M Bunko.

[Original Japanese]