Matsu-ura no Taiko (The drum in Matsura) (松浦の太鼓)

"Matsu-ura no Taiko" (The drum of Matsu-ura) a play of kabuki. It is written in "松浦之太鼓."

A part of "Shinbutai Iroha no Kakizome" created by Joko SEGAWA (the third), which was performed at the Edo Morita-za Theater in 1856 for the first time, was revised by Genzo KATSU in Osaka in the early Meiji period. In 1882, it was performed at Osaka Kadoza theater for the first time. The play consisted of three parts.

It was selected as one of `Shuzan Jusshu,' which Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the first generation), the eldest son of Karoku, is good at.

The family name of successive lords of Hirado domain (Kitamatsuura County, Hizen Province and Iki Province), including 松浦侯, the real lord of Hirado domain with 63,000-koku (of rice) (a unit of volume: rice 1-koku is 180.39 liter, lumber 1-koku is 0.278 cubic meter) is `matsura.'
松浦侯 who appears in this play and the title of `松浦' is read `matsu-ura.'

Part of Ryogoku-bashi Bridge
It was in Edo when it was snowing in the end of the year. Kikaku TAKARAI, a master of Haikai (seventeen-syllable verse), came across Tadao OTAKA, Ako Roshi (lordless samurai of Ako domain), who spent his time selling bamboo grass on the Ryogoku-bashi Bridge.
Gengo, who had knowledge of Haikai, called himself `Shiyo,' as a disciple of Kikaku,
Gengo told Kikaku that he wanted to quit samurai to live quietly. Kikaku, who felt sorry for Gengo, gave him a haori (a Japanese half-coat) which he had received from 松浦侯.
Kikaku said to Gengo, `If you have a problem, I will listen to you. You may be able to have days when you enjoy this snow.'
Kikaku recited hokku (the first line of a waka poem), `Toshi no seya Mizuno nagare to hito no miha' (It's the end of the year, one's circumstance always change like the flow of a river turns). Gengo continued the line adding wakiku, the second half lines in Waka poem, `Asita mataruru sono takara bune' (I expect a ship of fortune coming tomorrow), and left there. While Kikaku saw off Gengo, he was in deep thought, wondering what Gengo's wakiku meant.

Part of the residence of Matsu-ura
Shigenobu MATSUURA (Tensho) is daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) elegant enough to have lessons of Haiku from Kikaku. On that day too, he invited Kikaku and held a kukai (a haiku gathering). Kikaku, who learned Shigenobu was peeved at Gengo's younger sister, Onui, and recited the haiku, `Kini iranu kazemo aroka yanagi kana' (treat the things calmly as if willows were blown by various winds) to caution him. 松浦侯 followed Kikaku's line by reciting `toku areba koso hito mo yamo,' and reflected himself.

However, 松浦侯 turned grouchy when Kikaku talked to him that he had come across Gengo on the Ryogoku-bashi Bridge. Why don't Kuranosuke OISHI and other roshi (masterless samurai) launch a raid ? 侯, who secretly supported Ako Roshi (lordless samurai of Ako domain), wondered. As a fellow that learned military science in Yamagaryu (Yamaga style) with Oishi, it is irritating. They are not samurai anymore. This is why he was peeved at Onui. Kikaku made efforts to calm down him, but 侯's anger increased. kikaku ended up having to take back Onui. Kikaku was reminded of the wakiku, which Gengo recited, `Asita mataruru sono takara bune' and told 侯 about it before Kikaku leaves. Then, 侯's anger faded, and asked Kikaku and Onui to stay in.
Is there something?

Then drums beat.
侯's face beamed with joy counting the number of drums, not caring about Kikaku and Onui, who were amazed,
`三丁陸六つ、一鼓六足、天地人の乱拍子, the ones that know Yamagaryu (Yamaga school) military science are 千坂高房, Oishi from Ako, and me, Matsu-ura.'
Ako Roshi (lordless samurai of Ako domain) launched a raid. `Takara bune' is a notice of launching a raid.
While 侯 was excited saying `revenge, revenge,' he noticed Kikaku and Onui were there, and apologized to them by saying `I was wrong,'

The part of the entrance to the residence of Matsu-ura
候, who put fire to costumes to support them, and rode on a horse, was about to depart with Kikaku who carried Rokushaku-bo (quarterstaff), but his vassals stopped him by saying that it was a rash act. A young samurai with a spear came rushing into the din. It was Gengo OTAKA. He was in costumes for a raid and appeared differently from yesterday, and he was pleased to learn `takara bune,' which he recited, was understood. He reported that they were led by Oishi and completed the mission by presenting the severed head of the lord of the Kira.

候 listened to what he was saying, and was impressed with tears, saying `Such a loyal samurai, Mr.Asano certainly has excellent retainers.'
Kikaku, who was moved to tears of joy, asked Gengo by saying, `Mr. Shiyo, what's your death haiku?'
Gengo held out tanzaku (long, narrow card on which Japanese poems are written vertically) which was attached onto the end of the spear.
It is written on Tanzaku that `Yamawo nuku chikaramo orete matsuno yuki,'
候 thought that Gengo was an excellent Samurai, and as a man of refined taste and was impressed with Gengo.

Although it is a simple story, it is an enjoyable play in which the audience are attracted to the style and skill of the actors. Because the first generation, Kichiemon was a disciple of Kyoshi TAKAHAMA, who was granted the name for Haiku (Japanese poetry), `Shuzan,' and recited many Haiku. For this reason, he looked like he pleasantly acted this play.

Apart from "Kanadehon Chushingura" (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), plays so called `Gishi gaiden' (The biography and story about the person except Ako Roshi) that includes "Matsu-ura no taiko," "Chushin Renri no Hachiue" (uekiya, gardener), 赤垣源蔵徳利の別れ,""Hato no Heiemon," "Yasaku no Kamabara," and "Honzo Simoyashiki,"are the plays of Kabuki dealing with the raid of Ako Roshi. Among them, this play is a popular play which has been performed many times.

At the first performance, a turning stage was used to alternately to show the parts of 松浦候, and the part of the raid at the entrance of the Kira.

"Chikara TSUCHIYA" (kabuki) with similar characters and a similar outline was rewritten for Ganjiro NAKAMURA (the first generation) to act.

At the first performance
松浦侯, Karoku NAKAMURA (the third)
Gengo, 市川鰕十郎 (the fifth)

Roles for which an actor gained a reputation
松浦侯, Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the first), Kanzaburo NAKAMURA (the thirteenth), Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the second)
Gengo, Hakuo MATSUMOTO
Kikaku, Danzo ICHIKAWA (the eighth), Nizaemon KATAOKA (the thirteenth)

[Original Japanese]