Kanadehon Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers) (仮名手本忠臣蔵)

"Kanadehon Chushingura" (written in old character form: 假名手本忠臣藏) is the title of a representative ningyo joruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater) as well as kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors) based on the Genroku Ako Incident.

"Kanadehon Chushingura" was created jointly by Izumo TAKEDA the second, Shoraku MIYOSHI and Sosuke NAMIKI, and its story is based on "Enya Hangan zanshi no koto" (the tragic death of Enya Hangan (inspector (third highest of the four administrative ranks of the ritsuryo period (period during which the system of government was based on criminal and administrative codes))), volume 21 of "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace).

Brief history
As a ningyo joruri show, it was performed for the first time at Osaka Takemoto-za theater from September 6, 1748 to early January 1749. Its kabuki version was performed for the first time at Osaka Naka no shibai theater on January 19 1749. In Edo, it was shown for the first time at Morita-za theater on March 24, 1749.

Other kabuki or ningyo joruri plays based on the Ako Incident that existed before this program include "Higashiyama eiga no butai" (Edo Yamamura-za theater) and "Akemono Soga yauchi" (Edo Nakamura-za theater) performed from 1902 and 1703, shortly after the incident, "Taiheiki Sazareishi" and "Onikage Musashiabumi" performed in 1710, and "Goban Taiheiki" written by Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU; their stories vary from 'Oguri Hoganmono' (Oguri Hogan-style), 'Soga monogatari' (the tale of Soga) to 'Taiheikimono' (Taiheiki-style). Theme of the plays since "Goban Taiheiki," however, became "Taiheiki"-based, and the character roles also became fixed. Under this trend, this program was created as a compilation of Chushingura-related plays.

It is generally believed that the title "Kanadehon" comes from the names of Ako Roshi (lordless samurai of the Ako domain) ordered according to the traditional Japanese syllables, and that the title "Chushingura" (忠臣蔵) is derived from "Chushin Oishi Kuranosuke" (忠臣大石内蔵助) (Kuranosuke OISHI, the loyal vassal).
However, other views on "Chushingura" exist, such as the one that asserts that it means lots of chushin (loyal vassals) filling the kura (warehouse)
There is another view that asserts that Honzo KAKOGAWA (加古川本蔵) is the genuine chushin, and this point is implied by inserting 'chushin' (忠臣) between the two Chinese characters of his name, "Honzo" (本蔵).

Along with "Sugawara denju tenaraikagami" (Sugawara's secrets of calligraphy) and "Yoshitsune Senbonzakura" (Yoshitsune and One Thousand Cherry Trees), "Kanadehon Chushingura" is considered as one of the three masterpieces of ningyo joruri plays, and it has influenced various works in other fields since then. The reason why it continues to remain popular even today is that its story is carefully and cleverly composed, and that it contains less of the nonsense, which is seen more often in marumoto kabuki (plays written for ningyo joruri).

This program is famous as a play that consistently draws big crowds every time it is performed, and it was once called "shibai no dokujinto of theater" (medicinal bath for theaters) because it was an effective remedy for theaters facing financial difficulties. Therefore, it is performed in an overwhelming frequency compared to other plays, and it is considered a shame, among the people of the kabuki world, to ask for their predecessors' advice on any of the character roles in "Chushingura."

Because "Kanadehon Chushingura" became so famous, ever since the Edo period, proverbs related to Chushingura used the names of characters in this play more frequently than those of people who actually existed.

Style of performance
"Kanadehon Chushingura" is composed of 11 acts in total, and it is a rare joruri as well as marumoto kabuki play whose acts have survived almost in entirely as a theater piece to this day. However, the contents of kabuki are quite different from those of ningyo joruri. Principal differences are shown below.

Furthermore, for various reasons, it is sometimes performed by omitting the script substantially.

Although acts two, eight and nine are usually not performed, an attempt was made in 1974 to perform only acts two, eight and nine at the National Theater. Without doing so, it is almost impossible to understand the story of Rikiya and Konami.

Outline of the story

"Kanadehon Chushingura" is basically composed of four stories shown below.

The main story
Adauchi (revenge) by gishi (loyal retainers)
Moronao KO, the steward of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), bullies Enya Hangan, the lord of Hakushu. Hangan, no longer able to tolerate him, slashes Moronao. Hangan is ordered to commit seppuku (suicide by slashing one's own belly) in order to take responsibility for the incident, and his family is put to an end. His vassal, Yuranosuke OBOSHI, leads a life of debauchery in Gion, a red-light district in Kyoto, and he attacks the Ko residence when Moronao, not anticipating revenge, lets his guard down. He succeeds in cutting off Moronao's head. It is a story of the Genroku Ako Incident, a historical fact, depicted within the framework of "Taiheiki."

Affiliated stories
Story of Okaru and Kanpei
Kanpei is a retainer of Enya Hangan. Okaru is a koshimoto (female servant) of Kaoyo Gozen, Hangan's wife. These two are husband and wife. Kanpei goes out accompanying Enya Hangan, but he sneaks out, enjoying a secret date with Okaru. While Kanpei is away, a serious incident occurs, in which Hangan slashes Moronao. Kanpei feels responsible for the incident and tries to commit seppuku, but he is stopped. The pair have no choice but to elope. Kanpei strives to secure the funds necessary for participating in the plot to avenge Moronao, and he succeeds. However, the way he obtains the money is regarded as a violation of samurai virtues, and he commits seppuku. However, Kanpei is proven to be innocent immediately afterwards. He dies just after signing his name with his blood on the petition that allowed him to become a member of the revenge group. His fellow gishi takes Kanpei's purse as a keepsake and attacks Moronao's residence. This is a fiction.

Story of Rikiya and Konami
Rikiya OBOSHI and Konami OBOSHI are a married couple. Rikiya is a man on Hangan's side, and Konami is a daughter of the man who stopped Hangan from slashing Moronao. Konami's father tries to be forgiven for his conduct by being killed by Rikiya. Rikiya and Konami spend one night as husband and wife, then Rikiya departs in order to prepare for the raid. This is a fiction.

Story of Moronao and Kaoyo Gozen
Moronao, though unethical, is in love with a married woman, and he makes an advance on Kaoyo Gozen, but he is turned down. This becomes the direct cause for which Moronao provokes Hangan. Although Moronao KO and Enya Hangan are nominally based on real people, only this portion is based on the episode that appears in "Taiheiki," in which Moronao KO is in love with Enya Hangan's wife.

All of the affiliated stories are sewamono (plays dealing with the lives of ordinary people) involving love and money.

Daijo (prologue)
Alternate name: the scene of Turugaoka Shrine
Alternate name: the scene of Kabuto aratame (examination of the helmets)

On the left is Sadanji ICHIKAWA the second who wears the costume of Kuranosuke OISHI. On the right is Sergei Eisenstein, a film director of the former the Soviet Union. The photo was taken in 1928 during the kabuki performance held in Moscow, the Soviet Union.

It is a solemn scene that starts with kabuki instrumental music, and it is one of the few prologues which is currently performed as an independent act. An announcement called "yakunin kaena," which means an explanation of casting by a puppet called "kojo ningyo," is always made in front of the curtain. This is an obvious trace of ningyo joruri.

Even after the curtain is drawn at the signal of tozaigoe (the word "tozai"), actors remain as ningyoshin (puppets), looking down with their eyes closed, and they do not act yet. After each character's name is called by the takemoto (narrator), the actor looks up and starts to act as if "life is put into the puppet."

The end of the scene takes the same form as that of "Kotobuki Soga no taimen," in which Moronao, who is the enemy, and Wakasanosuke, who is the excited aragoto (kabuki character featuring exaggerated posture, makeup, and costume), are being held back by Hangan, who is the wagoto (the peacemaker character in kabuki).

By the order issued by Shogun Takauji ASHIKAGA, the younger brother of shogun, Naoyoshi ASHIKAGA, is dispatched to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine in order to search out Yoshisada NITTA's helmet and hold a memorial service for Yoshisada. As Enya Hangan and Wakasanosuke MOMONOI are appointed to kyooyaku (person in charge of entertainment) and Moronao KO is in charge of instructing them, these three men also visit Hachiman-gu shrine together with Naoyoshi, and the three men wait behind him. Because Kaoyo Gozen (the wife of Hangan) has seen the Emperor giving a helmet to Yoshisada while she was working at the Imperial palace, she is summoned in order to find Yoshisada's helmet out of many helmets, and she finds the helmet. When Naoyoshi and the two kyooyaku men step away in order to place the helmet at the alter, Moronao, who has fallen in love at first sight with beautiful Kaoyo, makes advances on her. Wakasanosuke, who happens to come by, saves Kaoyo and gets her to leave, but Moronao gets angry and speaks insulting words to Wakasanosuke. Short-tempered Wakasanosuke tries to slash Moronao, but Hangan, who happens to pass by, successfully mediates the squabble.

Act Two
There are two different play scripts.

Momonoi-yakata no ba (scene of the Momonoi mansion)
Momonoi-yakata joshi no ba (scene of the messenger at the Momonoi mansion)
The play starts with joruri saying "空も弥生のたそかれ時、桃井若狭之助安近の、館の行儀、掃き掃除、お庭の松も幾千代を守る勘の執権職、加古川本蔵行国、年の五十路の分別ざかり、上下ためつけ書院先". Honzo KAKOGAWA, chief retainer of Wakasanosuke, hears a rumor from his servants that his master was humiliated by Moronao. Then, Honzo's wife, Tonase, and his daughter, Konami, appear and they worry that the master's wife already knows about it. Honzo scolds them by saying, "why didn't you come up with words to patch things up," and he enters into the mansion in order to reassure her. Then, Rikiya OBOSHI comes as a messenger to deliver a message regarding the time of the master's visit to the castle tomorrow. The mother tries to make Konami, who is in love with Rikiya, receive the message, but Konami cannot even say a word because she is rapt in fascination. Their master Wakasanosuke appears and he receives the message.

Momonoi-yakata matsukiri no ba (scene of cutting branches of a pine tree at the Momonoi mansion)
Honzo appears again, gets his wife and daughter to leave, and he asks the master about the incident involving Moronao. Wakasanosuke confesses that he was so furious that he intended to kill Moronao. Instead of trying to stop Wakasanosuke, Honzo instigates him by slashing a branch of a pine tree located off the veranda, saying, "it will be refreshing, like this." Wakasanosuke is delighted, and he enters inside of his mansion. After seeing him off, Honzo shouts to the retainers, "bring my horse" and rides away on his horse, leaving behind his wife and daughter who are in a shock.

Kamakura Kencho-ji shoin no ba (scene of the study alcove in Kamakura Kencho-ji temple)
It is said that this scene was created by Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the seventh) at the end of the Edo period and that the script was handed over to Sojuro NAKAMURA in Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka region). This scene is about an exchange of words between Wakasanosuke and Honzo regarding the letters written on the hanging scroll.

Act Three
Shinmotsu no ba (scene of offering a bribe), Fumizukai no ba (scene of a messenger) (Ashikaga-yakata jogai no ba (scene of the outside of Ashikaga mansion))
Wakasanosuke makes up his mind to kill Moronao, but Honzo KAKOGAWA, the chief retainer of Wakasanosuke, uses his quick thinking to offer a bribe to Moronao. Moronao doesn't appear in this scene. This is a scene in which the actor playing the role of Bannai, Moronao's retainer who receives the bribe, can show his skill as an actor.

Kenkaba (Ashikaga-yakata denchu matsu-no-ma Ninjo no ba (scene of sword-drawing in the Pine Tree Room in Ashikaga mansion))

Wakasanosuke comes to the castle saying, "koikuchi (carp's mouth, the open end of the scabbard) of my sword, hold your breath, I will split Moronao in two," and he tries to slash Moronao. Moronao, however, grovels and apologizes by saying, "Master Wakasanosuke, you come to castle so early." Discouraged by Moronao's attitude, Wakasanosuke hurls an abuse, "stupid samurai," and leaves. Then Hangan comes to the castle, and Kaoyo's letter rejecting Moronao's advances is delivered to Moronao.
Moronao shouts insult at Hangan, "Funa (crucian carp), Funa, you are a Funa-samurai!"
Hangan retorts by saying, "What an insult to call me a Funa-samurai, are you drunk," but Moronao further insults him saying, "whether I am drunk or not, Musashi no kami (the governor of Musashi Province) performs his duty." Hangan finally loses his temper and slashes Moronao, but he is held back by Honzo. The script of this scene is highly regarded.

Uramon-gaten (meeting at the back gate) (Ashikaga-yakata uramon no ba (scene of the back gate of the Ashikaga mansion))
Kanpei HAYANO, an accompanying samurai of Hangan, elopes with Okaru, a koshimoto of Kaoyo.

Ochiudo (a fugitive)
Official title : Michiyuki tabiji no hanamuko (a groom on the run)
Though not a part of "Kanadehon Chushingura," this act it is now integrated into the play. It is the ending scene of Act Three in the case of Joruri. In the case of post-war Kabuki, it is performed as an independent performance after Act Four. When the performance is held twice a day, the daytime performance ends with "Ochiudo" and the evening performance starts with Act Five. It is a delightful and colorful shosagoto (dance in kabuki) which is performed in place of "Uramon-gaten." It is a program in which the audience can enjoy the light yet gorgeous atmosphere while listening to a refreshing kiyomoto (a joruri performance). Puns are incorporated into the script, especially in Tokyo. It is also a standard dance piece.

This scene depicts the events that occur in Totsuka (present-day Yokohama City) while Okaru and Kanpei are on their way from Kamakura to Yamazaki, an area near Kyoto. It is boorish to say that Totsuka doesn't locate on the way or that going to Totsuka means going back. The script has "night time" as its original setting, but the words that are supposed to be used only in the daytime are used. These are reminiscent of the Edo period performance style, in which jidaimono (historic drama) and sewamono were always combined on the stage. There are scenes that make sense when they are performed independently within the framework of 'Midori kyogen' (select performance pieces), but these scenes become nonsensical when they are performed as a 'toshi kyogen' (performance of the entire play) because the content becomes too obvious. As "Kanadehon Chushingura" is often performed in the form of toshi kyogen, such a problem becomes relatively conspicuous.

Incidentally, the verse used in this scene is a rehash of a portion of "Meido no hikyaku" (The Courier for Hades) written by Chikamatsu.

There are three styles of staging. They are: the one in which hanayoten (constable in colorful uniform) appear in front of asagimaku (light-blue curtain), the one in which only asagimaku is shown without hanayoten (when asagimaku is drawn, Okaru and Kanpei are walking together), and the one in which Okaru, followed by Kanpei, runs out from hanamichi (passage through audience to the stage) after hanayoten leaves in grief.

Mt. Fuji is seen in the distance. Kanpei says, "Let's take a rest here, Okaru. I can live no more since I have put my master (Hangan) in the corner. Please hold a memorial service after my death." Okaru says, "Don't say such a thing. Please come to my family home (Yamazaki in Kyoto)." Okaru further says, "For you, I don't mind working as a weaver or a laborer." Kanpei says, "I understand."

Then, Bannai SAGIZAKA, Okaru's superior and the retainer of Moronao, appears along with hanayoten. He says, "I will block your journey. Hand over Okaru to me (Bannai intended to obtain Okaru)." Kanpei says, "I will kill you." He does a spectacular job in beating hanayoten.
Okaru says, '(Bannai san,) I don't want to become your lover.'

When the two are about to go toward the hanamichi, Bannai, who is supposed to have been beaten, appears again. Bannai: "Kanpei, wait."
Kanpei: "What do you want?"
Bannai: "Want...Nothing!"
Kanpei: "You fool." Hyoshigi (wooden clappers): "Chon !" and Bannai falls on his bottom.

The curtain is drawn in the opposite direction (from stage right to stage left). Bannai becomes almost hidden behind the curtain, but he begins to draw the curtain by himself from halfway. This is the reason why the curtain is drawn from stage left to stage right at the beginning of the show, which is the opposite of the usual practice. The performance ends when he is done drawing the curtain.

Bannai SAGIZAKA was originally a hando gataki (a comic evil man), but he is a perfect clown in this act, and his costume is also different from that of other acts.

Act Four
Alternate name: Ogiyatsu Enya-yakata no ba (scene of the Enya mansion in Ogiyatsu)
Also known as: Tosanba (the scene where no one is permitted to enter the auditorium in the middle of the play)
As shown by its name, only for this section, the doors of the auditorium are closed when the play starts, and people are not allowed to enter the auditorium in the middle of the play. Bento lunches (boxed lunches) also cannot be delivered. This is because there is a solemn scene where Enya Hangan commits seppuku. According to kuden (oral instruction), the actor who plays the role of Enya Hangan must return home immediately after the play ends, without seeing or speaking to other people (this instruction was observed during the Edo period).

Hanakenjo/hanakago no dan (the scene of flower offering/flower basket)
This scene is called the scene of Hanakenjo in kabuki, and in joruri, the scene of hanakago. Each of koshimoto offers a piece of flower to Hangan who is being confined to his house. This scene is usually omitted. It is a comfort scene before the scene of seppuku.

Hangan's seppuku
Umanojo ISHIDO and Jirozaemon YAKUSHIJI are visits from the shogun family,
ISHIDO is merciful while YAKUSHIJI is spiteful. Hangan receives them calmly, and he is ordered to commit seppuku. Hangan waits for the arrival of the chief retainer Yuranosuke OBOSHI, but he does not appear. Yuranosuke arrives when Hangan thrusts a short sword into his belly while saying, "Rikiya, Rikiya, where is Yuranosuke," "he is not here yet," "tell him that I am sorry that I could not see him while I was still alive. Everyone, please have a good look at how I end my life." "Is it you, Yuranosuke?" "Yes." "I have been waiting for you, you must have heard about the state of things." "I am at a loss for words, I hope you finish your life in a dignified manner." Becoming unconscious, Hangan puts forth his final effort and hands his short sword to Yuranosuke saying, "this is a keepsake from me. Use it to carry out my revenge." Yuranosuke pounds on his chest and prostrates. This effectively means that Hangan ordered him to avenge on his behalf. Hangan dies while smiling contently. This scene is the origin of the phrase "Osokarishi Yuranosuke" (you are too late, Yuranosuke). Yuranosuke appears for the first time in this scene.

Hyojo (consultation)
After Hangan's dead body is removed, ISHIDO offers a word of comfort to Yuranosuke and enters the mansion with YAKUSHIJI. After Kaoyo Gozen leaves in sorrow, a conference concerning the hand-over of the castle is held. Yuranosuke confronts another chief retainer, Kudayu ONO, regarding the distribution of money, and Kudayu leaves the scene. Yuranosuke conveys the master's order to the remaining vassals, including Goemon HARA and Yagoro SENZAKI, and tells them to wait for the right timing for the revenge. Then, the time for the hand-over of the castle comes. Yuranosuke and others leave the scene reluctantly saying, "This is the last time for us to see the castle where we, as well as our ancestors, worked around-the-clock."

Hand-over of the castle (Ogiyatsu omotemon no ba (scene of the front gate of the Enya mansion in Ogiyatsu))
At the front gate, his son Rikiya and other vassals, who are worked up about the revenge, are enraged and making a commotion. With the help of Goemon Yuranosuke persuades them and gets them to leave, then he remains there alone. He takes a short sword, with which his master committed seppuku, out of a purple-colored fukusa (wrapping cloth) and vows to avenge while licking the blood at the tip. Amid the sounds of a hanging bell and cawing of crows, Yuranosuke walks and sits down facing the gate a third of the way down the hanamichi, and he puts both of his hands on the floor. The gate closes and the curtain is drawn in silence. Yuranosuke wipes off tears and blows his nose with a tissue paper, stands up feebly and leaves the scene with the accompaniment of "okurisanju," a music played by nagauta (long epic song) shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese banjo), whose player appears from stage right (in kamigata, the scene continues with the signal of ki (wooden clappers)).

In kamigata, the scene where the gate becomes distant is staged by using a technique called "aori," in which the gate is painted on a board, and when the upper half of the board is flipped open a smaller version of the painted gate appears.

A flute is played behind the stage for the cawing of crows. Hidejuro NAKAMURA, a disciple of Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the first), was a master of karasubue (a crow flute).

Act Five
Alternate name : Yamazaki kaido no ba (scene of the Yamazaki road)
Alternate name in Kamigata : nuregappa (a raincoat)
The scene changes to a road near Kyoto from here. The entire story of this section is a fiction.

Kanpei has become a hunter and he is married Okaru. At this point, Kanpei already knows about the plot to kill Moronao and wants to take a part in it. He is also aware of his need of the funds. Without telling Kanpei, Okaru's father, Yoichibei, successfully makes an arrangement with Ichimonji-ya, a red-light district in Kyoto, to sell Okaru at 100 ryo (currency unit during the Edo period) for the sake of Kanpei. Yoichibei leaves Kyoto for home with the advance payment of 50 ryo in his pocket.

It happens in the middle of the night on June 29 of the old calendar (midsummer, around July or August in the modern calendar). It is raining very hard (this point is not emphasized because of the stage set).

Teppo watashi (handing over of a gun)
Kanpei works and earns his income as a hunter in Yamazaki. It is raining so hard so he takes shelter from the rain under a pine tree. The fire of his matchlock gun, a tool of his livelihood, goes out due to the rain. Luckily, a man with chochin (Japanese paper lantern) in his hand passes by.
Kanpei says: "Can you give me a light?"
The man thinks that Kanpei is a bandit because Kanpei has a gun, and he shoos him off saying, "I will not be deceived by such a trick (a trick to put a person off guard by speaking to him light-heartedly), go away." Kanpei says, "I am a hunter, but I can understand why you mistake me for a bandit in a place like this," and he gives his gun to the man. "As I have given you my gun, I am unarmed now." "I only need a pilot light for this matchlock gun." "Please light it by yourself and return it to me." When the two men face each other, they realize they know each other. They were Kanpei HAYANO and Yagoro SENZAKI, former vassals of Enya Hangan.

Kanpei asks SENZAKI by saying, "Let me take a part in the plot to revenge, let me seal renpanjo (a covenant with joint signatures)."
SENZAKI intentionally plays innocent by saying, "Well, well, Kanpei, what do you mean with your talk of nonsense about the plot and the renpanjo?"
He tests Kanpei by saying, "I am collecting money for the construction of a stone monument for our deceased master, do you understand ?"
Kanpei understands everything, promises to come up with the money and tells SENZAKI where he lives. SENZAKI agrees, and the two men parted.

Futatsudama (two bullets)
There are two types of staging for this scene, namely the one prior to Nakazo NAKAMURA (the first) (it still remains in Kamigata kabuki at present) and the one created by Nakazo NAKAMURA the first (Edo kabuki). After Act Six, the Edo style and the Kamigata styles become very different.

There are three characters, and in many cases the same actor plays the role of the three characters by hayagawari (quick change in roles).

The outline of the story
Okaru's father, Yoichibei, is carrying 50 ryo in order to give it to Kanpei. There is not much to the story if he delivers the money to Kanpei directly. On the contrary, he is killed by a bandit (a robber) on the way and is robbed of money. By chance, Kanpei happens to be hunting nearby at the time, and he mistakes the robber for an inoshishi (a wild boar), shoots him and kills him. By accident, Kanpei realizes that the robber has a wallet with a large sum of money inside, and he takes the wallet. Thus, 50 ryo becomes stolen money because it went through the hands of a robber rather than directly into Kanpei's hands.

This leads to a big tragedy later, namely Kanpei's suicide depicted in Act Six. In other words, all of the three characters die either in this act or in the following act. SENZAKI of Teppo watashi also commits seppuku (though this is not depicted in the story). Only the inoshishi, which Kanpei the hunter was pursuing, survives. Accordingly, the following zareuta (limerick) was composed in the Edo period.

The only one that is lucky in Act Five is the inoshishi.

Jorui was played : "又も振りくる雨の足、人の足音とぼとぼと、道の闇路に迷わねど、子ゆえの闇に突く杖も。直ぐなる心、堅親父"
Yoichibei appears from the hanamichi. As mentioned above, he is carrying money. A suspicious character chases him saying, "Hey mister, wait up." This man is Sadakuro ONO, a son of Kudayu ONO. He has been disinherited by his father and he is a dirty robber now. He tries to take the wallet by force from Yoichibei's inside pocket saying, "I have followed you as I know you have 40 to 50 ryo in your wallet. Please lend me money." Yoichibei resists, but Sadakuro slashes and kills him saying, "You are being unreasonable. I didn't want to be cruel, but you are taking advantage of my mercy and you leave me no choice. Hand over your money. Hurry up or I will slash you." Sadakuro takes out the wallet from Yoichibei's inside pocket. He checks the content of the wallet.

(while counting money piece by piece) (charin…charin…charin…)…50 ryo…much appreciated.

Inoshishi dashes out while the toko (musicians) narrate, 'はねはわが身にかかるとも、知らず立ったるうしろより、逸散に来る手負い猪。これはならぬと身をよぎる。駆け来る猪は一文字.'
Sadakuro hides himself in the weeds. Inoshishi appears and runs through the stage. Inoshishi disappears to left stage. In order to escape from the inoshishi, Sadakuro stands up while looking back over his shoulders. His figure looks like that of an inoshishi (the actor is required to make himself look like an inoshishi). He stumbles as his foot is caught in the mud.


Sadakuro is shot on his back and falls down while squirming. He is vomiting blood from the mouth.

Kanpei appears from toriya (a hut) with a matchlock gun in his hand, which he just used to shoot. He walks down the hanamichi, holding a burning match cord in one hand and spinning its tip around. He puts out the fire of his matchlock gun on the stage and binds the game with a rope, but he realizes that something is wrong. It is a human being ! I have killed a human being instead of an inoshishi. He puts his hand into the inner pocket of the dead person and to see if there is a medicine. There is no medicine, but he finds a wallet. I need money… everything will be fine if I get this money….

Like the wind, he runs down the hanamichi as fast as he can ahead of the inoshishi (this performance is technically very difficult) and exits the stage.

Kamigata kabuki
Sadakuro doesn't speak to Yoichibei. When Yoichibei squats down at the opening scene, two hands suddenly appear and grasp Yoichibei's feet. These are Sadakuro's hands. Sadakuro drags Yoichibei and stabs him to death. Sadakuro does not speak a word until he kills Yoichibei.

Sadakuro wears tattered clothes of a bandit. This role is regarded as a small role and is normally allotted to a lower-ranking actor. Enjaku JITSUKAWA (the second) adopted the style of hayagawari of Kanpei, Yoichibei and Sadakuro. This style was inherited by Enjaku JITSUKAWA (the third), and Tojuro SAKATA (the fourth) is adopting at present. It is a typical performance style of Kansai kabuki, which is full of featured scenes.

Edo kabuki
By changing the nature of Sadakuro, Nakazo NAKAMURA the first changed the role of Sadakuro to the one that is to be played by a handsome actor. His costume is made of kurohabutae (black silk cloth), and he is very handsome. Sadakuro is originally a son of a high-ranking samurai before he becomes disinherited. Therefore, the role of Sadakuro has been assigned to young, popular actors. Though Nakazo himself did not belong to a distinguished family of kabuki actors, he had a successful career.

Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the ninth) made a lot of changes in staging. One of them was Sadakuro's line when he is counting money. He deleted "much appreciated" and used only "50 ryo..." As a result, the number of Sadakuro's line became only one throughout the entire play.

As shown by the name "Futatsudama", Kanpei fires two bullets in the case of Edo kabuki. In Kamigata, the meaning of "futatsudama" is interpreted as "futatsudama no tsuyogusuri," which means "a powerful bullet using double the amount of gunpowder," and therefore, only a single bullet is fired.

Existing staging of "Chushingura" was completed by Kikugoro ONOE (the fifth), and there are no other styles besides this one in Edo kabuki. Kikugoro ONOE the fifth was a great actor who was called, along with Danjuro ICHIKAWA the ninth, "dangiku" (legendary actor).

Kanpei hides his face with an umbrella in the opening scene of "Teppo watashi." He removes the umbrella at the signal of a time bell, and his face becomes visible. It is an excellent staging since Kanpei's face emerges out of complete darkness.

The role of inoshishi is played by a utility actor called "Sankai-san." A long time ago, a utility actor who stood ready to play the role of the inoshishi at the edge of hanamichi fell asleep. He heard the voice saying "shishi, shishi" in his dream, and he thought he had missed his cue and he rushed out onto the stage. However, because the inoshishi appeared in Act Four, the scene of Hangan's seppuku, the play was thrown into chaos. He heard "shishi" (as in "inoshishi") instead of "shoshi," (a group of samurai) which was a line spoken on the stage.

When a utility actor played the role of the inoshishi, the person in charge of drawing the curtain said that he would call out like Nakamuraya or Naritaya. The actor was delighted but wondered how a person would call out. The play started and the inoshishi appeared from the hanamichi. At that time, the person in charge of drawing the curtain called out "Momonjiya!" and all the staff and audience burst into laughter (Momonjiya was the name of a restaurant serving inoshishi).

Rather impromptu staging was conducted in the past. Another time, an actor playing the role of the inoshishi touched a pine tree on the stage and said, "I can see a sweet potato field. I think I'm going to eat one."

Explanation on the background
The Yamazaki road is the name of the Saigoku-kaido road seen from the Kyoto side, and the Saigoku-kaido road refers to the Sanyo-do road. The neighboring areas of Yamazaki have been known for a long time as an important traffic position, and this area became the battle field of many wars, including the Battle of Yamazaki, which is famous for "tenka wakeme no Tennozan" (the deciding battle of Tenno-zan Mountain). This scene is set not to Oyamazaki-cho but to Yokoyama-toge, namely, present-day Tomooka 2-chome, Nagaokakyo City, Kyoto Prefecture.

Although Yoichibei is a fictional character, what is believed to be 'Yoichibei's grave remains in Tomooka 2-chome. It is not something that was constructed in the modern times to attract tourists. Kaimyo (posthumous Buddhist name) of Yoichibei and his wife are engraved on the tombstone. Even at present, many people visit and offer flowers in order to mourn their death.

Act Six

Alternate name : Hayano Kanpei sumika no ba (scene of the house of Kanpei HAYANO)
Alternate name : Hayano Kanpei harakiri no ba (scene of the seppuku of Kanpei HAYANO)
Also known as Shutan no ba (a tragic scene)
Okaru is sold to and taken away by Osai, an okami (madam) of Gion, and Genroku. Kanpei is grateful and sheds tears for the thoughtfulness of his wife who has sold herself for the purpose of his revenge. Then, Yoichibei's corpse is brought on a board and causes a big racket. Because of the wallet Kanpei is holding, he is suspected by Okaya, his mother-in law, of killing his father-in-law. Because Kanpei took the wallet in the dark from an unknown person, he is convinced that he killed his father-in-law and becomes upset. His comrades (the two samurai, Yagoro SENZAKI and Goemon HARA), who are visiting him, also blame him by saying, "We can't take money from someone who eloped, let alone money obtained by doing evil things." "A virtuous man advises us not to drink water from a stolen well even if we are thirsty. The money obtained by killing your father-in-law cannot be used for our deceased master. What you did is a shame to our deceased master. You are possessed by an evil spirit."

Kanpei is driven to the corner and commits seppuku. Before long, Kanpei is cleared of suspicion and it becomes apparent that he has taken his father-in-law's revenge without realizing it. However, it is too late. Kanpei's name is added to the renpanjo of the raid thanks to the consideration of his comrades. Kanpei dies while being watched by Okaya, who is weeping, and his comrades. The scene ends with a woeful Joruri saying, "it's sad to see people who are shedding tears and saying farewell."

Kanpei's words "because Kanpei was addicted to love affairs," which he says on the verge of his death after committing seppuku, is well-known.

Staging style of Kamigata and that of Kanto are quite different.
In Kanto, for example, Kanpei thrusts a sword into his belly when he says, "I killed my father-in-law," and his comrades shout, "Oh, no, can that be true?"
The wound on his father-in-law is checked and then Kanpei is cleared of suspicion. In Kamigata, Kanpei thrusts a sword while his comrades are checking the wound, in other words, immediately before Kanpei is cleared of suspicion. The above means to perform in accordance with the words of Joruri, "isuka's beak" (discrepancy as in the beak of Common Crossbill). According to the current staging style, there is a sound effect at "aware" (what a pity), and Kanpei cuts his throat with the signal of "hakanaki'" (ephemeral) and dies while being held by Okaya and putting his hands together. According to the another style (Enjaku JITSUKAWA the second), he crawls on his hands and knees and prostrates himself. The above is based on the interpretation that a samurai should observe the proprieties until the last moment of his life. In Kamigata, Kanpei wears a costume of cotton, and haori (a Japanese half-coat) is put on after committing suicide. The above implies that he finally dies as a samurai. In Kanto, Kanpei changes his costume to the blue-colored silk one while Osai is conversing with others. This implies that he returns to a samurai at this moment, and the staging emphasizes the beauty of committing seppuku with the costume of glossy silk. The difference between the logical performance style of Kamigata and the aesthetic style of Kanto can be seen.

Uzaemon ICHIKAWA (the 15th), Ganjiro NAKAMURA (the first), Enjaku JITSUKAWA the second and Kanzaburo NAKAMURA (the 17th) all performed the role of Kanpei well, but the best performance was that of Kikugoro ONOE (the sixth). Kikugoro expressed Kanpei's desperation with exquisite skill, and his performance became the standard of the current style. The role of Okaya is a rather difficult role since it can emphasize Kanpei's tragedy if performed by an experienced supporting actor. Enjo ICHIKAWA (the first) in the pre-war period as well as Taganojo ONOE (the second) and Kichiya UEMURA (the fifth) in the post-war period are famous. Today, this role is a specialty of Matagoro NAKAMURA (the second). The role of Osai, okami of Gion Ichiriki, is performed by an actor called hanaguruma-yaku, who is good at playing the role of women in the red-light district. Gado KATAOKA (the 13th) and Sojuro SAWAMURA (the ninth) performed this role very well by creating sensual atmosphere. The role of Genroku, a hannin (a witness when women are sold to red-light districts) who attends to Osai, was a signature role of Matsunosuke ONOE (the fourth) in the past, and after the war, Koisaburo ONOE (the third) performed it well by creating a stern atmosphere.

Act Seven
Alternate name : Gion Ichiriki no ba (scene of Ichiriki at Gion)
Alternate name : Chayaba (scene of tea house)
In the meantime, Yuranosuke leads a life of debauchery in Gion as if he has forgotten about the revenge. Although his comrades come and persuades him, Yuranosuke ignores them. Comrades get angry and tries to slash him, but they get blocked by Heiemon TERASAKA, an ashigaru (common foot soldier) and an older brother of Okaru.
Heiemon wants to join the comrades, but Yuranosuke evades the issue and says that the revenge is a stupid thing like 'hanging oneself after drinking carrot juice.'
Heiemon gets disgusted and leaves. Kudayu, who now sides with the enemy, tries to grasp Yuranosuke's real intention, but Yuranosuke gets away. Yuranosuke drinks himself to sleep. Kudayu and Moronao's vassal, Bannai, secretly check Yuranosuke's sword, and they find out that it is covered with red rust. They are surprised, saying 'It's a rusty akaiwashi' (pickled sardine).

Then, Rikiya, who is wearing a towel as a head cover, delivers Kaoyo's secret letter to Yuranosuke. Yuranosuke reads the secret letter, but Kudayu, who has been hiding under the floor together, and Okaru steals a glance at the letter. Yuranosuke leaves the scene saying he will buy Okaru's freedom from her employer, but in fact, he is planning to kill Okaru because she has come to know the secret, though he feels sorry for her. Okaru is delighted, thinking that she can return to her husband, but her brother Heiemon appears. After hearing Yuranosuke's words, Heiemon understands the situation and says, "I see everything and now we come face-to-face with each other. I understand the purpose of buying Okaru's freedom." He slashes Okaru with a determination to become a member of the comrades by killing his younger sister. Okaru is surprised, and Heiemon tells her about his situation and informs that her father as well as Kanpei are already dead. Okaru tries to commit suicide, but Yuranosuke appears and tells her that he has been living a life of debauchery in order to deceive both the enemy and friends. He puts a hand on Okaru's sword and stabs Kudayu, who has been hiding under the floor, saying "This man's son is responsible. Take a revenge for our father and Okaru's husband." He also allows Heiemon to become a member of the comrades. Heiemon is deeply moved, and Yuranosuke asks him to deal with Kudayu saying, "Throw him in Kamo-gawa river."

"Mitate" is done in the first half of the scene where Yuranosuke plays at a chaya (literally "teahouse", which refers to the place where geisha entertain their guests). "Mitate" is an acting gesture that uses small tools or clothing, pretending that they are something else, with the accompaniment of hayashi (Japanese music played to enliven the mood). Examples are: "how about umeboshi" while picking Kudayu's head with chopsticks, "how about girichoko" (chocolate given out as a social obligation on valentine's Day) while putting a sake cup (choko) on a saw (nokogiri), and "how about Shibaraku" (title of a drama) while showing a towel and zabuton (Japanese cushion), and they all use puns. In spite of the silly contents, they are appreciated by the audience as a relief during the long play. These are played by low- or middle-ranking actors who play the roles of nakai (waitress) or hokan (professional jester). Playing a "mitate" is an opportunity for them to show their skills and get recognition from high-ranking people.

The scene change from Act Six, in which a tragedy was performed at a dark and poor country house, to the scene of luxurious chaya is very contrasting, and it is an excellent staging method. The beautiful stage of chaya appears with the accompaniment of lively song "花に遊ばば祇園あたりの色揃え". Yuranosuke is playing with geisha and his purple-colored costume stands out. In the modern day, the best actor who played the role of Yuranosuke, who lives a life of debauchery while harboring an ambition in mind, was Nizaemon KATAOKA the 13th. As he often played at chaya in Gion himself, he could perform according to his true nature. Uzaemon ICHIKAWA the 15th and Shoroku ONOE (the second) were the two best actors for the role of Heiemon. Baiko ONOE (the sixth) is said to be the best actor for the role of Okaru. Immediately before the ending, Yuranosuke reappears on the stage, wearing a greenish brown costume and saying, "You two, wait, don't be in haste." This implies a change in his state of mind. As the curtain falls, Heiemon carries Kudayu over his shoulder, and Yuranosuke, with Okaru beside him, spreads a Japanese fan gently and caringly, and strike a swaggering pose.

Rakugo "Shichidanme" is a shibai-banashi (rakugo story based on kabuki) in which a servant boy and his young master, who likes kabuki, play the roles of Okaru and Heiemon respectively, in a room on the second floor, then the servant boy falls down the stairs, the young master says, 'Are you all right?' and the servant boy replies, 'I am all right, I only fell down from shichidanme' (seventh step on the stairs). Enka SANYUTEI the second, who was good at telling this story, used the starting music of Act Seven for his debayashi (stage music for rakugo).

Act Eight
Alternate name : Michiyuki tabiji no yomeiri (a bride's travel)
This section depicts the scene in which Tonose KAKOGAWA and her daughter Konami travel the Tokai-do road to Yamashina with a resolution in their minds. Famous places along the Tokai-do road are incorporated into gidayu (musical narratives), which draws out the sentiment of a traveler. The set (scenery) is frequently changed according to the itinerary of the trip, and yakko (varlet) are also involved.

Famous places and historic scenes on the Tokai-do road are also incorporated into joruri, which expresses the lilting air of the mother and the daughter who are traveling to the see the daughter's husband-to-be.
It is also amusing that a sexual conduct is expressed like a Buddhist sutra, as '紫色雁高我開令入給.'
This is the most light-hearted scene in the entire act, in which a high-ranking onnagata (actor playing female roles) and a young onnagata play together, and it presents a strong contrast to the tragedy depicted in Act Nine.
Utaemon NAKAMURA (the sixth) said, 'Keep in mind that the road trip in Act Eight should be performed like a dance that leads into Act Nine.'

Act Nine
Alternate name : Yamashina kankyo no ba (scene of the retreat at Yamashina)
Rikiya OBOSHI and Konami, a daughter of Wakasanosuke's chief retainer Honzo KAKOGAWA, get engaged. Konami and her mother, Tonose, come to Yamashina and ask for marriage, but Rikiya's mother Oishi refuses, because Konami is a daughter of Honzo, a person who stopped Hangan. Filled with a feeling of regret, Tonose tries to commit suicide with Konami. Oishi puts a small sword on sanpo (a stand) and says, "I'll allow the marriage after seeing Honzo's white-haired head. What do you say, yes or no." Honzo, disguised as a komuso (begging Zen priest), appears saying, "I will give you the head of Honzo KAKOGAWA," makes derogatory comments on Yuranosuke and his son, and he squabbles with Oishi. Rikiya gets angry and stabs Honzo with a spear. Yuranosuke appears and says, "It has been a long time, Honzo. You might be happy since you are going to be killed by Rikiya, your son-in-law, just as your planned." He saw through Honzo's real intention of sacrificing himself for the sake of his daughter's love. Yuranosuke shows a grave, made of snow, for the father and the son, located in the back garden. In his last moment, Honzo appreciates Yuranosuke's resolution, asks Yuranosuke to marry Konami, and hands over the drawing of Moronao's residence saying, "This is a gift to my son-in-law." Yuranosuke and his son inform Honzo of the strategy to raid Moronao's residence. Honzo dies laughing, "Good, good, ha, ha, ha..." Rikiya and Konami became husband and wife and they spend a night together, then Rikiya departs for the revenge.

The highlight of this section is the heated exchange of words between Honzo and Yuranosuke as well as between Tonose and Oishi. It is said that Nizaemon KATAOKA (the 11th) played the role of Honzo well, and Hakuho MATSUMOTO (the first) and Enjaku Jitsukawa the second played the role of Yuranosuke well. Baigyoku NAKAMURA (the third) was good at Tonose and Kaisha NAKAMURA was good at Oishi. These two actors were rivals in the performing arts, and their exchange of words was magnificent. Among the actors of post-war period, Utaemon NAKAMURA the sixth, who played the role of Tonose, and Baiko ONOE (the seventh), who played Oishi, were superb. Uzaemon ICHIKAWA the 15th was the best actor for the role of Rikiya.

Some words which suggest the actual Ako Incident are used in this section. The name of Yuranosuke's wife, "Oishi," refers to an actual person, "Kuranosuke OISHI," and Honzo's "Asaki takumi no Enya-dono" is also derived from an actual person "Takuminokami ASANO," and "En" (salt), a local product in Ako.

In "Act Nine" performed in the afternoon show at Osaka Shochiku-za theater in January 2007, Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the 12th) played the role of Yuranosuke and Tojuro SAKATA the fourth played the role of Tonose. Along with "Kanjincho" performed in the morning, it was the first-ever joint appearance by Danjuro and Tojuro.

Nizaemon KATAOKA, who often played the roles of Honzo and Yuranosuke, favored Act Nine, and he appreciated the sense of color as follows. "The real beauty of the play is in Act Nine. Tonose wears a hirinzu (scarlet figured-satin), Konami wears a shiromuku (white kimono), Oishi wears a grey costume in the first half and a black costume in the latter half, Yuranosuke wears a brown kimono and a pair of black hakama with green bamboo patters, Honzo wears a brown komuso costume, Rikiya wears a kihachijo (high-quality yellow silk) in Tokyo and montsuki (formal dress with family crest) of two comma designs in Kamigata. Various colors are used and they make perfect sense."

Though it is never performed nowadays, there is a scene at the beginning of this act, which is called 'Yuki kokashi,' (rolling snow) in which Yuranosuke appears together with a nakai and a hokan while rolling a big snow ball. This is a tasteful scene in which Yuranosuke comes home in the morning, and this snow ball becomes the grave made of snow, which Yuranosuke shows to Honzo in the later part of this act in order to express his determination. This scene was performed when the entire portion was performed in 1986.

When Tonose and her daughter visit Oboshi's house, a maid servant Rin answers, and she makes the audience laugh with a silly, comical conversation. Like Yodarekuri of "Terakoya" and Omura TOFUKAI of "Goten," dokekata (clown) characters sometimes appear in tragic dramas of maruhonmono (kabuki drama of joruri origin). It is a thoughtful staging to give audience a break when tension is building in the play. For that reason, skilled supporting actors play this role. This role was a signature role of Kichinojo NAKAMURA in the past, and currently, that of Tsurusuke KAGAYA.

Act Ten
Alternate name : Amakawaya mise no ba (scene of the Amakawaya warehouse)
Pursuers come to the store of Gihei AMAKAWAYA, who is preparing arms for the raid, and they press him to confess the plan of the raid. Gihei, however, refuses this request, sits down on the nagamochi (large oblong chest) and strikes a swaggering pose. Yuranosuke appears. He says that the pursuers are the vassals of Hangan, and he apologizes that he only wanted to check Gihei's heart. Passwords for the raid are determined as "Ama" and "Kawa".

The line, "Gihei AMAKAWAYA is a man," is famous, and this scene was often performed during the pre-war period. However, it is seldom performed nowadays, as this scene can no longer evoke sympathy in the audience because its content is outmoded. After the war, this scene was performed only by Eno ICHIKAWA, Mitsugoro BANDO (the eighth) and Tomijuro NAKAMURA (the fifth) in December 1986.

Act Eleven

Alternate name : Moronao-yashiki uchiiri no ba (scene of the raid on Moronao's residence)

In the case of kabuki, only this section's script is completely independent from the original noh script. To describe in an extreme manner, a different script is used for every performance. Therefore, the story is not fixed and is highly diversified. However, under any circumstances the core of the story is the scene in which Yuranosuke and other loyal vassals successfully kill Moronao.

Ko-ke uchiiri no ba (scene of the raid on the Ko mansion)
Hangan's vassals including Yuranosuke and Rikiya divide into two groups, namely those for the front gate and those for the back gate, and they raid Moronao's residence. Amid a large-scale stage fight, Rikiya and Shinzaemon KATSUTA fight against Moronao's son Moroyasu KO and Heihachiro KOBAYASHI, respectively. Hangan's vassals pull out Moronao, who is hiding himself in a charcoal storehouse. Yuranosuke hands a short sword, a keepsake from Hangan, to Moronao and he suggests him to commit suicide. Moronao, however, attacks Yuranosuke using the short sword. Yuranosuke wrestles and takes the short sword away and stabs Moronao. Yuranosuke and other members finally attain their long-cherished ambition and they cut off Moronao's head.

Shibabeya shoko no ba (scene of the offering of incense at Shibabeya)
Alternate name : Saifu no shoko (incense offering for a wallet)
Uramon hikiage no ba (scene of the withdrawal from the back gate)
All of the member withdraw. They meet Wakasanosuke MOMONOI on Ryogoku-bashi Bridge, and Wakasanosuke appreciates their service. Yuranosuke and other members start to march again toward Komyo-ji temple where Hangan's tomb is located.

Restriction on staging
Edo period
The performance of this play was repeatedly banned because the Genroku Ako Incident was a scandal in samurai society, and showing of this play could imply, depending on how it was performed, criticism against the shogunate administration. Nearly 50 years passed before showing of this play was regarded as harmless.

The period of U.S. occupation
After World War Ⅱ, the occupation forces banned everything which was linked to militarism. Because Kabuki was regarded as a medium for promoting the philosophy of loyalty (which leads to patriotism), it was severely suppressed. For several years, it was considered that traditional kabuki plays would not be performed. The person who gradually lifted the ban was Army Major Faubion Bowers, an adjutant to the Supreme Commander of General Headquarters.

According to Bowers, he has spent some time in Japan before the war started, and he was very fond of kabuki. As he was aware that the basis of kabuki was a human drama rather than dangerous militarism, he reduced the number of prohibited programs one after another. The last prominent play that remained was "Kanadehon Chushingura." The major informed Takejiro OTANI of Shochiku that he would permit the staging of Chushingura if the following condition was met. The condition was to use the best kabuki actors at the time, including Takasagoya (Baigyoku NAKAMURA the third) of Kansai kabuki. Along with Shinkomaya (Kaisha NAKAMURA, killed in an air-raid), Takasagoya was a great onnagata who had supported Kansai kabuki, and he was famous for his excellent skills among kabuki fans in Kanto. Casting of other actors, which the major effectively instructed himself, was as follows.

This can be considered as the best casting at the time, and this indicates that Bowers had a good eye for kabuki. "Kanadehon Chushingura" was presented in November 1947 at Togeki Theater, since Kabuki-za Theater and Shinbashi Enbujo Theater were burnt down during the war. The theater was crowded with a large audience from the premiere, and it was a great box-office success.

English translation
Dickins, Frederick Victor, Chiushingura - or the Loyal League, Yokohama, 1874–75. It was serialized in the English paper The Far East.

Dickins, Chiushingura - or the Loyal League, London, 1875. This is the series above published as a book.

Masefield, John, The Faithful, London, 1915. Masefield changed the cause of ninjo (sword-drawing) from a love affair to Kira's plot to takeover Asano's territory in an attempt to expand his domain territory.

Japanese title "Chugi" (loyalty) translated by Kaoru OSANAI
Sadanji ICHIKAWA (the second) adapted it to kabuki play. It has also been adapted for Shinkokugeki theater company.

Gaiden (side story)

"Yotsuyakaidan Tokaido Yotsuyakaidan"

Written by Nanboku TSURUYA
Both Samon YOTSUYA and Iemon were vassals of the Enya family, and after their master's family was abolished they did every evil thing imaginable, such as begging, murder and rape.

"Taiheiki Chushin Koshaku"

Jointly written by Hanji CHIKAMATSU and six others

"Gishin Dentokugiri Koshaku"

"Nihonbana Ako kankame"

"Kiku no en Tsuki no Shiranami"

Written by Dainanboku
Recently, Ennosuke ICHIKAWA (the third) performed it for the first time in over a hundred years.

"Chushingura Gonichi no Tatemae" (Onna Sadakuro)

It is the sequel concerning the wives of three main characters. Sadakuro's wife takes revenge on the wives of Yoichibei and Kanpei. Needless to say, means for the revenge are extorting, blackmailing and robbing.

"Genroku Chushingura"

Written by Seika MAYAMA. It is a masterpiece of shin kabuki (new kabuki) written for Sadanji ICHIKAWA (the second).

"Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu"

Written by Dainanboku. A bloodthirsty killer Gengobei is actually Kazuemon FUWA, and at the end, he returns to being a loyal vassal immediately after he receives an invitation to participate in the raid.

"Ichigaku SHIMIZU"

Written by Mokuami KAWATAKE.

"Matsuura no Taiko"

Written by Joko SEGAWA (the third), adapted by Genzo KATSU. It is about conversations between lord Matsuura, who is expecting a raid, and Kikaku TAKARAI and Gengo OTAKA, with whom Matsuura is acquainted through Haiku.

"Michinao TSUCHIYA"

It is a specialty of Ganjiro NAKAMURA (the first), and its content is almost the same as that of "Matsuura no Taiko" (The Drum in Matsuura).

Relation between Rakugo and Kanadehon Chushingure
In Rakugo, "Kanadehon Chushingura" is sometimes used as a material for kusuguri (making the audience laugh) or ochi (the punch line of a joke) in the traditional art of kusuguri Rakugo. Kanadehon Chushingura itself is sometimes used as the theme for story-telling. Title corresponding to each act is shown below.

Act Two: Shibaiburo Shibaiburo (drama in the public bath)
Act Three: Shichiya Shibai (pawnshop theater)
Act Four: Kuradecchi Yodogoro (Yodogoro, the shop boy confined in a warehouse)
The scene of Hangan's seppuku constitutes a sage (the punch line in the trail of Rakugo-like narrative). It is also performed under the title of "Yondanme" (Act Four).

Act Five : Nakazo Nakamura (Rakugo)
It is a story of Nakazo NAKAMURA, an actor, who was given the role of Sadakuro. Usually there is no ochi.

Act Six: Shikaseidan
It is used as kusuguri.

Act Seven: Yakusha Musuko (a son who is an actor)
It ends with a sage in which an actor falls from the seventh step of the stairs. It is also performed under the title of "Shichidanme" (Act Seven).

Act Nine
Though the story exists, it is seldom performed since its sage is hard to understand.

Act Ten: Rihei AMANOYA (Rakugo) (Gihei AMAKAWAYA)
It is a so-called "barebanashi." Its sage is the scene in which Rihei AMANOYA (Gihei AMAKAWAYA), who was mistaken for a woman, says "Rihei AMANOYA (Gihei AMAKAWAYA) is a man."

It is believed that rakugo narratives based on Section 8 and Section 11 do not exist.

Relation between karyukai (world of the geisha) and "Chushingura"
In karyukai (world of geisha), songs based on popular kabuki plays are sometimes created. "Sasayabushi" is the representative song based on "Kanadehon Chushingura."

Its direct source is believed to be rokyoku (naniwabushi, storytelling with shamisen accompaniment) "Gishiden," which is based on "Chushingura," and some parts of the song are sung in rokyoku-style, even though the song is categorized as a folk song.

The words of the song vary depending on different schools, but the contents are basically the same, and therefore an example is given below.

Gengo OTAKA sells bamboo grass on the bridge and waits for the day of a raid. Wearing a red raincoat and manjukasa (knitted straw rain hat) in the snow, Genzo AKAGAKI walks drunkenly and drowns his leave-taking in drink. While being in agony at Nanbuzaka, Oishi also took leave with his heart hardened and says in the snow "Come, Terasaka".

[Original Japanese]