Kamikakete sango taisetsu (a kabuki kyogen play) (盟三五大切)

Kamikakete sango taisetsu was a kabuki kyogen play written by Nanboku TSURUYA (the fourth)
It was first performed in October, 1825 at the Nakamura-za Theater in Edo. It is classified into sewamono (plays dealing with the lives of ordinary people) in the kabuki programs. Details of how this play was performed in the Edo period are unclear. However, since the new version, revised and supplemented by Masakatsu GUNJI, was performed in 1976 at National Theater under his direction, this play has been performed and is often played even today.


Among the kabuki programs, this 'sewamono' deals with the then current affairs (of roughly the Edo period) and contains various characteristic stories including a sequel to "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan" (a sewamono dealing with a ghost story in Yotsuya), a rewrite of "Godairiki Koi no Fujime" (a sewamono based on a real-life serial murderer) originally written by Gohei NAMIKI and a side story of "Kanadehon Chushingura" (a famous story of loyal retainers).

In the play, when Kazuemon FUWA, a famous character of "Kanadehon Chushingura," disguises himself as Gengobe SATSUMA for gathering money, he is cheated out of 100 ryo (a monetary unit) by Sangoro (in fact a son of Tokuemon, Sentaro's disguise), and as a result he becomes a cold-blooded murderer. In the last scene, Kazuemon takes off his disguise as Gengobe and avenged his master without shame with fellow ex-retainers, and it is said that especially in the scene the writer Nanboku described the then samurai society with a bitter irony.

The background to the production of this play is as follows: While "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan" was making a big hit, its leading actor, the third Kikugoro ONOE left the Nakamura-za Theater for visiting Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, and the theater manager commissioned Nanboku to write a new play in haste to solve the predicament. Although it is small in size, it has an elaborate structure, and is full of scenes of brutal murder, and even includes the element of a comedy. Therefore it can be said that in this play Nanboku's talent of writing plays was manifested, and it is well appreciated as much as "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan."

Structure of the Kyogen (the play)

When this play is performed as a present kabuki play, it is performed in the form of three acts and six scenes.

Act Ⅰ (Jomaku)

The scene of Tsukuda-oki Shinchi-bana

The scene of Fukagawa Yamato-cho

Act Ⅱ (Nimakume)

The scene of Niken-jaya

The scene of Gonin-giri (murdering five people)

Finale (Ozume)

The scene of Yotsuya Oni-yokocho

The scene of Aizenin-mon-mae (in front of the gate of Aizenin Temple)


Gengobe SATSUMA (in fact Kazuemon FUWA's disguise): Kazuemon FUWA, a ronin (master-less samurai) and ex-retainer of the Enya family, was banished by his master, since the goyokin (public money) 100 ryo, which he had been overseeing, had been stolen by thieves. While he was a ronin, his ex-master's clan was abolished sinece the lord of Enya Domain, Enya Hangan (the third highest official in the Ritsuryo system) hurt a man with a sword. Kazuemon changed his name to Gengobe SATSUMA and tried hard to gather 100 ryo to be allowed joining the group of the avengers.

Geisha, Dakki no Koman (in fact a servant of the Kamiya family, Oroku's disguise): a daughter of a retainer of the Kamiya family, Oroku married Mitsugoro who had been disowned by his father, and worked as a geisha to gain 100 ryo so that Mitugoro's father could forgive his son. Then she tried to make Gengobe, who was deeply in love with her, give her money.

Sendo (boatman) Sangoro SASANOYA (in fact a son of Tokuemon, Sentaro's disguise): Sentaro was disowned by his father Tokuemon for his immoralities, and changed his name to Sangoro and become a boatman of Sasano-ya. However, he was asked by his father to gain 100 ryo for his father's former master. Since he wanted his father's forgiveness, he made his wife Oroku work as a geisha named Koman in Fukagawa (in Edo, present Tokyo) to prepare 100 ryo. Not knowing that Gengoro was in fact Kazuemon FUWA, his father's former master, Sangoro planned to make Gengoro become deep in love with Koman to cheat him out of money.

Wakato (young samurai) Hachiemon ROKUSHICHI: He was a young samurai serving Gengobe.

Banemon SHIZUGAYA (in fact Gorotsuki [ruffian] Kankuro's disguise): Kankuro, a ruffian of Fukagawa, was a bad friend of Sangoro and helping him in cheating Gengobe out of money.

Sendo (boatman) Osaki no Inosuke: A boatman Inosuke was a bad friend of Sangoro in Fukagawa and member of the ruffian group in Fukawawa and also helping him. He had a sexual relationship with Kikuno, a geisha.

Geisha Kikuno: Kikuno, Koman's friend, was helping Sangoro and Koman for Inosuke although she was feeling pity for Gengobe.

Ryoshin (Doshin [police constable] Tokuemon): Tokuemon, the father of Sangoro, became a priest named Ryoshin, and was trying to gain money for Kazuemon.

Yanushi (landlord) Kurimawashi no Yasuke (in fact a servant of the Kamiya family, Dotehe's disguise): Yasuke, the landlord of the nagaya (row house) which Sangoro and his wife Koman (Oroku) rented, was accidentally Yasuke, a brother of Oroku.

Act Ⅰ, Scene 1: The scene of Tsukuda-oki Shinchi-bana

A boat, that a samurai calling himself Banemon SHIZUGAYA took, is passing across a river (Shinchi-bana, a point of Sumida-gawa River) near to Tsukuda-jima Island rowed by Sendo Osaki no Inosuke. In the scene, it is hinted that the samurai called Banemon SHIZUGAYA is in fact Gorotsuki Kankuro, a rogue in Fukagawa (also near to Sumida-gawa River). When the two men just talked about a letter from a geisha of Fukagawa, Koman, another boat comes up. On this boat are Koman who is given the nickname Dakki (ancient Chinese woman of great beauty who was murdered) and Sendo Sangoro SASANOYA. In fact, these two are a husband and his wife, and Sangoro is Sentaro, a son of a person related to the Enya family, who has been disowned due to a reason. Since Sangoro's father needs 100 ryo for his former master, Sangoro planned to prepare the money for gaining his father's forgiveness; he persuaded his wife Oroku of its necessity and she eventually became a geisha calling herself Koman.

Koman already cheated a ronin (master-less samurai) Gengobe SATSUMA, whom Sangoro had introduced, out of a considerable amount of money, however Sangoro is urging her to impose Gengobe's love for her and to squeeze more money out of him.

While the couple is frolicking and talking about their trick, suddenly the moon appears through the clouds and illuminates the river, and they notice a roofed boat floating nearby. They notice Gengobei SATSUMA on the boat. Gengobe also notices Koman and says hello to her. Since Koman responds to him with a pleasant smile, Sangoro is upset.

Act Ⅰ, Scene 2: The scene of Fukagawa Yamato-cho

In the house where Gengobe lives as a ronin, employees of a secondhand store are just going to carry out all the pieces of furniture and Hachiemon ROKUSHICHI, a wakato serving Gengobe, is trying to prevent it. However, Gengobe just comes home and declares that he sold them all, therefore the furniture is carried out after all. Even in such a situation, Gengobe sits on a futon which is the only thing remaining in the room and thinks about Koman. Being unable to bear seeing his master in the descendent, Hachiemon reproves him in tears.

Gengobe is in fact Kazuemon FUWA, he had been a retainer of the Enya family; however, since goyokin (public money), which he had been overseeing, had been stolen by thieves, he was banished and became a ronin. However, the head of the Enya family was given a sentence of seppuku for injuring Moronao KONO with his sword in the castle, and after his seppuku, the family was terminated (this setting was based on "Kanadehon Chushingura"). At such a crisis of the ex-master's family, Gengobe seemed to have been losing himself in playing with a geisha; however, he at last explains to Hachiemon that his such stupid behavior has been the disguise for deceiving the enemies, in fact, he has been secretly trying to prepare 100 ryo for the stolen money and to be allowed to join the group of the loyal avengers by offering the money.

At that time Geisha Koman comes to the house together with her friend Geisha Kikuno, Mawashi-otoko (employee of a brothel) Kohachi, and Naibin (employee of a brothel) Torazo. Hachiemon tries to turn them out of the house, however Gengobe, who is attracted to Koman in the recesses of the mind, let them come in after all. Kohachi, explaining that in fact Koman sneaked out of Banemon's party, takes her arm to bring her back, then the tattoo 'Go-taisetsu五大切' (literally 'Go, precious' which means 'I love Go') on her upper arm is seen. Koman tells that she tattooed it as shinju-date (an evidence of love) for Gengobe ('Go五' is one kanji character of the name of Gengobe源五兵衛), so he is pleased and poses as her husband, then Sukeemon TOMINOMORI, an uncle of Gengobe, comes to the house with 100 ryo.

Hearing that he has 100 ryo, Koman ponders it, however Hachiemon, taking advantage of Sukeemon's sudden visit, takes out her and her followers, and Sukeemon hands that 100 ryo to Gengobe. Sukeemon advices Gengobe to bring the money to Yuranosuke OBOSHI and to request him to include Gengobei in the group which is planning to avenge their ex-master, and he leaves.

Soon after Sukeemon left, Sangoro visits Gengobe and confirms that Gengobe has the 100 ryo, which Koman told of, in his pocket, and tries to lure him out using the letter from Koman. Hachiemon stops his master and Gengobe himself is prudent at first, however since he stupidly believes Koman's sincere love for him and is explained that she is in trouble, finally decides to go out. Hachiemon still tries to stop him mentioning that the landlord is coming to gather the rent. However, Gengobe takes the half of his short sword's wari-kogai (a metallic spatula set in the shell of a sword, originally used as a comb) carved with a lot of monkeys, and hands it to Hachiemon for the rent, and he leaves with Sangoro.

Act Ⅱ, Scene 1: The scene of Niken-jaya

In Niken-jaya Tea House (a nightclub for guiding customers to brothels) of Fukagawa, Banemon SHIZUGAYA (Kankuro's disguise), Koman, Kikuno, and Inosuke who is going to be pretend to be her brother, are planning to put on an act for cheating Gengobe out of the 100 ryo. The trick is as follows: They fabricate a story that Banemon is going to buy out Koman for 100 ryo, and they are going to make Gengobe, who would not want to lose Koman, believe the story and make him pay 100 ryo.

According to their plan, Koman pretends to stubbornly refuse Banemon's proposal of buying out her, hinting that she swore to keep her earnest love for Gengobe, and from hiding Sangoro and Gengobe are watching them. Banemon asks her reasons for stubbornly refusing, so Inosuke explains that Koman is, in fact, in love with a man called Gengobe, and Koman shows the tattoo on her arm.

Then Sangoro brings Gengobe to the room, however, Gengobe does not know what to do and just says: "I don't care whether you are becoming his wife or whether you are becoming his mistress." Hearing his answer, Koman, by Sangoro's direction, takes Gengobe's short sword and tries to commit suicide. Being at a complete loss, Gengobe offers the 100 ryo prepared by his uncle, saying that he will buy out Koman.

Then Gengobe's uncle Sukeemon enters the room guided by Hachiemon. Sukeemon accuses Gengobe of such immoral behavior, and declaring that he has done with his nephew, Sukeemon leaves.

Gengobe, who lost his hope of joining the group of the avengers for their ex-master, is about to bring back Koman as his wife. However, Sangoro confesses that Koman is his wife and that the whole things are their lies to cheat Gengobe out of 100 ryo. Driven into frenzy, Gengobe pulls out his sword to kill Sangoro, however Hachiemon stops him. Then Sangoro turns to bay and sharply accuses Gengoebe of having tried to steal his wife, then Hachiemon is about to jump on him and Gengobe stops him, and eventually the two just leave.

Act Ⅱ, Scene 2: The scene of Gonin-giri

The people who helped Sangoro to cheat Gegobe of 100 ryo is gathering at Naibin Torazo's house. Kikuno appears to feel pity for Gengobe and Koman also appears to feel guilty for the situation. However, Sangoro feels good for the success of his trick and changes Koman's tattoo to 'Sango-taisetsu三五大切' (literally, 'Sango, precious;' 'sango三五' sounds like Sangoro三五郎's nickname) by adding 'San三' to the former one, and he watches her smugly.

It is getting late and all the people goes to bed, then Gengobe breaks a round window to sneak into the house; he first kills Inosuke and Kikuno mistaking for Sangoro and Koman. Although he notices his mistake immediately, he continues killing the sleeping persons one after another. Sangoro and Koman wake at the sound and escape, however Gengobe keeps swinging his sword; at a result he murdered five people including Kohachi who happened to come to the sight.

Finale, Scene 1: The scene of Yotsuya Oni-yokocho

At the row house in Yotsuya Oni-yokocho, the residents are stopping Hachiemon who is saying he will move to another place although he just moved in the house yesterday. Hachiemon says that because he saw a ghost last night he has to move out although staying only one night. The landlord, Kurimawashi no Yasuke tells that once Iemon KAMIYA, a ronin and ex-retainer of the Enya family, lived in this house and the ghost of his wife who was murdered appears (this setting was based on "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan"). Hearing Yanosuke's story, Hachiemon thinks he should leave the house more immediately. However, Yasuke insists that the resident has to pay for even half a day and they have a squabble. Then Taroshichi, a guard at a sentry box, comes to inform Yasuke that there is a man who is looking for a room. Hachiemon threatens that he will tell the new tenants about the ghost, so Yasuke backs down and comes to terms with the condition that Yasuke returns half of tarudai (money that a new tenant pays when moving in as a gift conforming to a old custom).

The new tenants Taroshichi brought are Sangoro and Koman. They brought their child and Okuro, the foster mother of the child. Introducing themselves, they are astonished to find that Yasuke is Koman's brother. Knowing that, Sangoro says that his wife's brother is his brother and bows down to Yasuke, then the family decides to stay in Yasuke's row house.

Then a priest Ryoshin comes to the gate with a banner for building Oiwa-inari shrine. Ryoshin's real name is Tokuemon; he is Sangoro's father who became a priest; seeing him, Sangoro comes out and hands his father the 100 ryo that he took from Gengobe. Receiving the money, Ryoshin forgives Sangoro whom he disowned, and goes to offer the money to his former master.

Then Gengobe, who found out the area Sangoro and his wife have moved to, comes to the house. Thinking that he wants to kill them, Sangoro and Koman are scared. However, Gengobe gently asks them to forget the whole things which happened between them and to get along well from now on like brothers and sisters, and he offers a small sake barrel. Then Sangoro takes out sake from his room and entertains Gengobe. At that time Officer Takube IZUSHI comes to arrest Gengobe on suspicion of the murder of five people. Gegobe pretends not to know saying that he suspects a wrong person, however Takube takes out an evidence, a half of a wari-kogai which was collected from the murder site. For this evidence, Gengobe is left speechless. However, Hachibe dashes out of the nearby sentry box and announces that he is the murderer murdered the five people, showing the half of the wari-kogai that Gengobe handed him. Takube binds Hachibe with a rope and drags him away. After seeing them leave, Gengobe leaves as well saying that he gives up Koman.

Relieved that Gengobe did not do anything, Sangoro and Koman go to bed, and then a ghost appears at their bedside. They fearlessly jump at the ghost and hit it, then they find out the ghost was the landlord Yasuke. Yasuke confesses that he has been disguising himself as a ghost to frighten away his tenants so that he can gain tarudai. At that time, Sangoro finds a drawing. This is the drawing of the residence of the Kono family and it must be a possession of the ex-resident, a carpenter working for the Kono family. Since Sangoro sympathizes with the ex-retainers of the Enya family, he asks Yasuke to give him the drawing, however Yasuke ignores him and puts it into his pocket. Then Yasuke starts drinking the sake Gengobe brought.

Yasuke gets drunk on the sake and tucks up his sleeves, then Sangoro sees the tattoo on Yasuke's arm and notices that Yasuke was the thief who stole the goyokin of the Enya family. Accused of his past crime, Yasuke becomes defiant and says that he will deliver the drawing to the Kono family. However, in a while, he vomits blood and starts agonizing. When Yasuke breaks the sake barrel, a poisonous lizard appears from it, showing that the sake Gengobe brought was, in fact, deadly poisonous alcohol.

Since Yasuke keep suffering greatly, Sangoro kills him with a kitchen knife, and tries to commit suicide persuading Koman to deliver the drawing of the residence of the Kono family to his father Ryoshin. When Koman is trying to stop him, Ryoshin comes back and tells them that his former master wants to thank them directly for preparing the money. Sangoro hands Ryoshin the drawing and explains what happened to them, then Ryoshin let his son have the kitchen knife for caution and hides him in a shitodaru (a big barrel), and he carries it to his temple.

After Ryoshin leaves, Gengobe comes again to check whether Sangoro and Koma already drank the poisonous sake. In a room, Gengobe finds an infant Koman bore Sangoro; he lifts the infant in his arms and comes out of the room.
Seeing Koman, he instantly grips her arm, and notices her tattoo changed to 'Sango-taisetsu三五大切.'
When he sees the tattoo, a wild desire to kill her comes over him.

Sensing danger approaching, Koman tries to run away, and Gengobe slashes at her with his sword. Although Koman desperately asks him just not to kill her baby, he grips her hands and makes her hold the sword with him to stab the infant to death. Then he also kills Okuro who has been giving the breast to the infant for Koman. Koman cries saying that "You are an ogre, must be an ogre." Gengobe responds: "Yes, I am an ogre, the ogre that the two of you created," and he slashes Koman to death. Then he cuts her head off and puts it into his robes, and composedly leaves the row house in the rain.

Finale, Scene 2: the scene of Aizenin-mon-mae

Gengobe is having dinner in front of Koman's head in the hermitage in Aizenin Temple where he lives secretly. However he cannot restrain his anger, so douses tea over the head (this scene is the parody of "Godairiki" by Gohei NAMIKI). Then Ryoshin comes to the room. The former master of Sangoro's father Ryoshin is, in fact, Gengobe, Kazuemon FUWA's disguise.

Ryoshin already gave Gengobe 100 ryo and now he offers an important drawing, so Gengobe is very surprised. He asks Ryoshin to deliver the 100 ryo and the drawing to Yuranosuke OBOSHI (the ex-leader of the retainers of the Enya family and the leader of the avengers) and confesses his crimes, then saying he no longer hope to join the avengers, he tries to commit suicide. Hearing Gengobe's confession, Ryoshin decides to die for taking all the blame and saving Gengobe. At that time, a voice comes from the shitodaru that Ryoshin put nearby, and its hoops are broken, then Sangoro comes out with the kitchen knife stabbed in his stomach.

He says he is sorry that they were hiding their real backgrounds and real faces and that without knowing he should have served Gengobe from the beginning, he cheated him out of money; besides he says he will die taking the blame for all the crimes and asks Gengobe to join the avengers. At that time, the ex-retainers of the Enya family, who have been in row houses in Oni-yokocho disguising themselves, come to tell Gengobe that they finished all the preparation for the vengeance against their master's enemy and they allow him join in. Taroshichi hears their conversation and tries to run to the police, then Sangoro notices him and kills him; Kazuemon sheds his disguise as Gengobe and leaves for the residence of the Kono family.

Backdrop for Producing the Play

"Godairiki Koi no Fujime" written by Gohei NAMIKI was first performed played in January, 1795 (in old lunar calendar) at the Miyako-za Theater in Edo, and succeeded phenomenally because based on a real brutal murders in Kamigata (Kansai region), it depicted the characters' feelings elaborately. It is said that young Nanboku also participated in the play as a writer of popular stories, whose name was written in the fifth line (the fifth most important) of the advertisement board. Thirty years after that, at the age of 71 Nanboku entered his most productive era and wrote this play by mixing elements of "Kanadehon Chushingura" and of "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan" into "Godairiki Koi no Fujime" that had been already famous as a masterpiece. One of his masterpieces "Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan" had been first performed two months before and succeeded particularly well, therefore it is considered that the success of the play affected the production of the new play considerably.

Evaluations in the present day

Although being a masterpiece, this play had been evaluated unreasonably lowly. From the beginning, people did not like it because the story was too gloomy and even their favorite actor Kikugoro left the theater. The performance of the play started on September 25, and only three weeks later, on October 14 it was terminated. Therefore, this play had not been performed for many years.

Occasionally, in the Taisho period Shojiro SAWADA presented it, and after World War Ⅱ some company of Shingeki (modern play) performed it. As for the performance by the Kabuki actors, it appears that this play had not been performed until the new version was produced; the new version was supplemented and directed by Masakatsu GUNJI, and Tatsunosuke ONOE (the first) played Gengobe, Ninzaemon KATAOKA (the fifteenth) played Sangoro, and Tamasaburo BANDO (the fifth) played Koman.

It is said that Nanboku satirized the unreasonable hierarchical society indirectly and severely by depicting the outcomes of main two characters' lives; although Sangoro is just a ruffian of the common people's town Fukagawa, he cheats a person to save his father's ex-master who has been in difficulties; however, although Gengobe murders many people by passions, at last he sheds his disguise and as real himself Kazuemon, joins the group of the loyal samurai with no shame.

Actors in the opening

Gengobe SATSUMA (in fact Kazuemon FUWA), Yanushi Yasuke (in fact a servant of the Kamiya family Dotehei): Koshiro MATSUMOTO (the fifth)
Sendo, Sangoro SASANOYA (in fact a son of Ryoshin, Sentaro): Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the seventh)
Geisha Koman (in fact a servant of the Kamiya family, Oroku): Hanshiro IWAI (the sixth)
Ryoshin: Sozaburo ICHIKAWA
Okuro: Heikuro KAMAKURA

[Original Japanese]