Shinju Tenno Amishima (心中天網島)

"Shinju Tenno Amishima" refers to Joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a samisen accompaniment) written by Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU. The first performance was given at Osaka Takemotoza (the puppet theater in Osaka) on January 3, 1721. This consists of three acts in total, and is categorized as Sewa-mono (play dealing with the lives of ordinary people).

A case of love suicide committed by Jihe KAMIYA and a prostitute, Koharu, which occurred in the same year was adapted. This play shows a binding brought by love and obligations, and especially gained a high evaluation as a masterpiece among all of CHIKAMATSU's Sewa-mono. A phrase in the act named Michiyuki, 'Nagori no Hashizukushi,' is known to be written in an excellent style. The play was changed to a style of Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors) thereafter, and "Kawasho" and "Shigure no Kotatsu" (The coverlet drenched with tears) which were made by reorganizing its highlights are mainly performed at present.

The term 'Tenno Amishima' (described as 天網島 in Chinese characters) was created by combining a proverb, 'Tenmo kaikai' (the evil never fails to be punished) (described as 天網恢恢 in Chinese characters), with a place of love suicide, Amishima (described as 網島 in Chinese characters). It is said that CHIKAMATSU who received information on this case at a fancy Japanese-style restaurant and took fast palanquin came up with the first line, 'Hashirigaki, utai no hon wa Konoe-ryu, yaroboshi wa murasakino' on the way back to Osaka.

Story line
Although he had two children and a wife, Jihe of KAMIYA was a regular customer of Kinokuniya Koharu, a prostitute in Sonezaki Shinchi, for about three years. A relationship between Koharu and Jihe was too deep for anyone to break it, and a worker of his shop getting beyond endurance laid various plans to destroy this relationship. Koharu and Jihe who felt sorrow for getting separated exchanged vows of committing love suicide when it became impossible to meet again. One day, Koharu was at Kawasho in Shinchi with a customer who was samurai. Since Koharu only talked about frightening things when samurai tried to talk with her, he wondered about Koharu, and asked her a reason.
Koharu said, 'I made a promise to commit suicide with my regular customer, Jihe, but, to tell the truth, I don't want to die.'
Then, she asked him, 'So, please come and see me regularly so as for Jihe to give me up.'
When Koharu stood up to close a window which had been kept open, a short sword was put in from between lattices suddenly. A person who did it was Jihe who carried a short sword to commit suicide with Koharu, and came to Kawasho secretly without being spotted by staff at the shop. Jihe who recognized Koharu by the light through a window stood there listening to the whole story. In order to caution Jihe's rudeness, samurai bound Jihe's wrists to a lattice. And unfortunately, Tahee in Itami who was a romantic rival of Jihe came to Kawasho. Tahee who competed for Koharu with Jihe sneered at Jihe's ungainly appearance. Then, samurai who bound Jihe's wrists to a lattice came between them, protected Jihe and made Tahee go away. As a matter of fact, the customer who was believed to be samurai was Jihe's brother, Magoemon KONAYA, who was disguised as samurai.
He lost patience with Jihe who was in love with Koharu as madly as posing a problem for business, and came and saw Koharu in order to stop Jihe from visiting Sonezaki
Jihe who found out about this story got mad, decided to definitely break up with Koharu, and took back the written vows from Koharu. However, a letter from Jihe's wife, Osan, was included in them, and Magoemon who learned the truth was secretly thankful for Koharu's strong sense of loyalty.

After ten days, while Osan worked smart, Jihe failed in any way to devote himself to his work, and always laid under the kotatsu (table with heater). At that time, Jihe's aunt and Magoemon who heard the rumor of Koharu's miuke (redeem, buy the freedom of a geisha from her employer) came to KAMIYA to question Jihe. They took word of Jihe and Osan for that Jihe went nowhere for these ten days, and miuke was conducted by Jihe's romantic rival, Tahee, and after the aunt took the precaution of letting Jihe write kishomon (sworn oath) on which a crow of Kumano Gongen Deity was printed, they left for home with peace of mind. However, after the aunt and Magoemon left for home, Jihe crawled under the kotatsu and was dissolved in tears. At the bottom of his heart, he still could not let go of Koharu. Osan felt sorrow for such shiftless husband. However, Osan who heard from Jihe that Koharu had said 'she would definitely commit suicide if other customer did miuke for her' recommended Jihe to conduct miuke before Tahee, considering a it as a duty of hers. Osan tried to procure ransom money for Koharu with 400 monme of silver for business, and money obtained by pawning clothes as many as children and she had. However, unfortunately, Osan's father, Gozaemon, came to the shop. Even though Jihe himself wrote the vows, Gozaemon who knew Jihe's usual irresponsibility was still skeptical of Jihe, and came to KAMIYA in dread of Osan. Gozaemon who naturally got mad as a father forced unwilling Osan to bring back home, and had her divorce Jihe using the right as a parent. All Osan's sacrifices went to waste.

Jihe who lost his hopes went to Shinchi with a blank mind. He came to see Koharu. Jihe told a reason to Koharu who was suspicious of his visit because she thought he gave her up, and made a promise again to commit suicide with Koharu so as to go to a world together where they would not be bound by anything.

Jihe who made an arrangement with Koharu in advance crossed many bridges from the Shijimi-gawa River, and headed to Daicho-ji Temple in Amishima. Then, at around dawn on October 14, after Jihe and Koharu cut their hair to disconnect with the secular world, Jihe knifed Koharu in the throat, and hung himself to loyal to Osan, to commit love suicide.


In Kabuki, present-day "Kawasho" (Kamiji) and "Shigure no Kotatsu" (Jihe nai) were made based on "Shinju Kamiya Jihe" revised by Hanji CHIKAMATSU in 1778, and its further revised work of 'Tenno Amishima Shigure no Kotatsu.'
At present, plays true to the original are performed by Tojuro SAKATA. Osan's jeremiad in "Shigure no Kotatsu" is especially famous as a great line.

Ganjiro NAKAMURA the first made a hit in "Kawasho." He devised a method of performing Jihe which had been performed by Enjaku JITSUKAWA the first and Sojuro NAKAMURA, and perfected own Jihe.
His appearance from Hanamichi with covering his cheeks was reputed to be splendid, and Suifu KISHIMOTO remained a famous phrase, 'Japan's best face in the covered cheeks.'
Kawasho in which essences of wagoto (the production style of a love scene) were concentrated, and which was handed down to Ganjiro NAKAMURA the second and to Tojuro SAKATA the fourth was one of the specialties (Ganjiro-junikyoku (12 Ganjiro roles)) of Narikoma-ya in Osaka.

The magnificent performance by Ganjiro the first in "Kawasho" attracted Kabuki lovers both in Osaka and in Tokyo. The performance at the Kabuki-za Theater in 1905 was as highly-reputed and was extended by two days.

Shotaro HANAYAGI of a new school devised his own way so as to perform Jihe, but gave props to Ganjiro by saying, 'I get hung up with that Ganjiro's appearance from Hanamichi.'
Kikugoro ONOE the sixth who looked at Ganjiro's performance of spreading his legs in the style of aragoto (Kabuki play featuring exaggerated posture, makeup, and costume), and twisting his legs, sighed and said, 'I can't copy his legwork by the name of giba (actions of jumping up, falling on one's hips, and spreading and stretching out one's legs when being thrown or kicked).'

In "Kawasho," supporting roles of Magoemon and Osho plays a large part. Magoemon is a townsman, but is disguised as samurai. An unnatural performance full of delicate nuances is required. Great actors played such supporting roles like Baigyoku NAKAMURA the second and Chusha ICHIKAWA the seventh for Ganjiro the first, Nizaemon KATAOKA the 13th for Ganjiro the second, and Uzaemon ICHIMURA the 17th for present-day Tojuro.
Osho is a representative female master of Hanamachi (geisha district in Kyoto) (role called kashagata (old female roles)) in Kabuki as well as Oen of 'Fuinkiri.'
A merciful and sexually attractive demeanor is required. In these years, Gado KATAOKA the 13th (Nizaemon KATAOKA the 14th) excelled at this role.

In 1969, Shinju Tenno Amishima was made into a film by a director, Masahiro SHINODA. He used Kichiemon NAKAMURA the second on Jihe, and used Shima IWASHITA on two roles of Koharu and Osan. This film was produced in an experimental way differently from normal theatrical films, and had a style heavily tinged with an air of ningyo joruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater) or Kabuki.

Falls in love with a prostitute, Koharu, while he has a wife, Osan. Cannot forget Koharu although he broke up with her.

Jihe's wife
Good wife who supports her husband hand and foot while feeling lousy for Jihe who has an affair with Koharu

Prostitute of Kinokuniya in Sonezaki Shinchi
Spare Osan's feelings, and try to stand back from Jihe

Magozaemon KONAYA:
Jihe's brother
Lose his patience with Osan's distress, and try to break the relationship between Jihe and Koharu.

Man competing with Jihe

Female master of 'Kasho,' a shop in Sonezaki

[Original Japanese]