Kosode Soga Azami no Ironui (小袖曾我薊色縫)

"Kosode Soga Azami no Ironui" is a program of Kabuki (traditional performing act). The Edo-Ichimuraza Troup first performed it in March 1858. Mokuami KAWATAKE is the author of this program made up of six acts.

It is based on a koshaku (narration of a story) about the robber Seikichi ONIBOZU, who was executed in 1805, and also includes the incident of Edo-jo Castle Gokinzo Yaburi (Theft of the shogun's gold) in 1856, anecdotes of the expert swordsman Monzo YAEGAKI, and the scene of the Soga brothers' encounter which was often performed as a new year's program. These days, the story of Seikichi and his courtesan Izayoi is extracted and performed under the title of "Satomoyo Azami no Ironui." This extracted version is known by the common title of "Izayoi Seishin."

Act One

The Inasegawa River scene. Robbers attack the Gokuraku-ji Temple in Kamakura, and take away 3,000 ryo (unit of mass and currency) of money that was donated by the shogun Yoritomo. In the process of an investigation, it turns out that the sexton Seishin-bo at the temple, who was in charge of accounting, has had a sexual relationship with a courtesan Izayoi at Ogiya, and he is expelled from Kamakura. Seishin is aimlessly walking down Inasegawa Hyappongi, when Izayoi, who slipped out of the entertainment establishment, catches up with him, and the two attempt a double suicide by throwing themselves into the river. Seishin fails in his suicide attempt. He finds that a passer-by, Motome TERAZUKA, is suffering from a sudden stomachache and nurses him. Soon Seishin finds out that Motome is holding a large amount of money, 100 ryo. Seishin kills Motome and robs the money, thus he becomes a robber. Seishin has no idea that Motome was the younger brother of his courtesan Izayoi, and that the 100 ryo of money was a farewell gift to Seishin. Meanwhile a haiku poet Hakuren, who was fishing for ice fish, saves Izayoi.

Act Two

The scene at the courtesan's house in Hatsuse-koji
Izayoi, who has become a courtesan of Hakuren and been given the name of Osayo, believes that Seishin is dead and prays to his Buddhist mortuary tablet every day. Impressed by her morality, Hakuren frees her and lets her enter into the priesthood. Osayo and her father Saishin go on a pilgrimage.

The scene at Jigokudani (the Hell Valley) Yamagamihokora
Osayo has been abducted by villains and turned into Izayoi Osayo, a follower of the female robber Jigokuba Otani. She meets Seishin again by accident in the mountains of Hakone. Seishin has also turned into a robber called Seikichi ONIAZAMI (this scene is performed in a dark setting).

Act Three

The scene of Hakuren's house in Yukinoshita
Seikichi and Osayo become a villainous pair, and visit Hakuren's house with the purpose of extorting money from him. As Hakuren hands them some koban (former Japanese oval gold coin) to get rid of them, Seikichi finds on the wrapping paper of the koban a seal which he carved as a sexton of the Gokuraku-ji Temple. Pushing their luck, Seikichi and Osayo keep blackmailing him. However, it turns out that Hakuren is the top robber of the country, Shobei ODERA, and is an older brother of Seikichi separated at his young age. The three get surprised at this unexpected truth, when an official Tojuro TERASAWA who has disguised himself as Hakuren's manservant learns the situation and orders the torite (officials in charge of imprisoning offenders) to surround them. The wife of Hakuren (actually Shobei) has her husband kill her on purpose. Seikichi, Osayo and Shobei escape from the besiegers and run away.

Act Four

The scene at Muen-dera Temple (temple for the souls of the dead who have no relatives) in Nagoe
Seikichi and Osayo are hiding in the hermitage of Saishin (Osayo's father) together with their young child. Seikichi learns that he killed Osayo's younger brother without knowing that, and confesses the fact to her. Osayo wails in a frenzy of grief. They struggle in an suicide attempt, when Seikichi kills Osayo by mistake. Seikichi kills himself, entrusting his child's future to Saishin and Shobei who have run to them. Shobei tries to escape by hiding himself in the coffin, but gets captured (in this scene, Seikichi's sentiment is well expressed by a scene borrowed from Yosogoto Joruri "Koimusume Mukashi Hachijo" [The Love-Inspired Murder; also known as Okoma Saiza], "Suzugamori Hikimawashi Scene" [the scene of a criminal being dragged to the execution ground]).

Casting at the first performance

Seishin, the sexton of the Gokuraku-ji Temple; later Seikichi ONIAZAMI…Kodanji ICHIKAWA (the fourth)
Izayoi, the keisei (courtesan with high dignity and literacy); later Izayoi Osayo…Kumesaburo IWAI (the third)
Jigokuba Otani…Sanjuro SEKI (the third)
Saishin…Yoroku ASAO (the second)
Motome KOIZUKA, the tera-kosho (boy doing chores of a temple)…Uzaemon ICHIMURA (the thirteenth)
Mokusuke, the manservant; actually Tojuro TERASAWA…Yonejuro ICHIKAWA (the second)
Ofuji, the wife of Shobei…Ichinojo AZUMA
Sanji, the boatman…Kozo NAKAMURA
Monzo YAEGAKI…Gonjuro KAWARASAKI (the first)

Comments and anecdotes

As Shinshichi has much concern with the title of his works, 'kosode (a kimono with short sleeves worn as under clothing by the upper classes)' from "Kosode Soga Azami no Ironui" refers to the scene where Seishin receives a kosode when being expelled; 'azami' expresses the name 'Seikichi ONIAZAMI'; and 'iro' implies iromachi (red-light district) where Izayoi works.

The first performance was a smash hit. However, the officials kept an eye on this story by the fact that it included the incident of Edo-jo Castle Gokinzo Yaburi and ordered the ommision of many parts in the performance to the extent that the audience could not follow the story. Finally, on the thirty-fifth day, the performance was banned.

In 1886, after Shinshichi KAWATAKE changed his name into Mokuami, he wrote "Shisenryo Koban no Umenoha," a documentary dramatization of the Edo-jo Castle Gokinzo Yaburi.

In "Inasegawa," the love story of Kodanji, a plain-looking man and Kumesaburo, a beautiful actor of female role is well expressed in the atmosphere of Edo (old Tokyo), effectively using Kiyomoto bushi (theatrical music) "Umeyanagi Nakamoyoizuki." Kumesaburo was so glamorous that Kodanji said this with a sigh. "No one can avoid falling in love." "I can accept transgression."

Shinshichi had the young actor Kumesaburo perform in different hairstyles; plenty of beautiful black hair in Act One; butch haircut in Act Two; short hair in Acts Three and Four. In this way, Kumesaburo's charm was successfully emphasized. Actually, Kumesaburo's mother opposed having him appear in a butch haircut from the very beginning of Act Two. So the stage direction was changed like this: first Osayo wears a hood; and at the ending of this act, Saishin takes off the hood, saying "Let the master see your hair after the change," and Osayo gets bashful, saying "Oh, I am so embarrassed," when revealing her butch haircut. This received favorable reviews.

Traditionally, the roles of Seishin and Izayoi have been acted by popular actors of each age. Before the Second World War, the typical pair was Uzaemon ICHIMURA (the fifteenth) and Baiko ONOE (the sixth). After the war, the pair was Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the eleventh) and Baiko ONOE (the seventh). At present, the pair is Nizaemon KATAOKA (the fifteenth) and Tamasaburo BANDO (the fifth).

[Original Japanese]