Sukeroku (助六)

"Sukeroku" is a nickname for one of the Kabuki plays.
The title is different for the actor to impersonate the leading role Sukeroku (for further details, see 'Currently Performed Sukeroku.')

This is one of the classic Edo Kabuki plays. As the sophisticated ultimate Edo culture that embodied 'Iki', the ideal chic or stylish Eco culture, "Sukeroku" had a decisive impact on the future of Japanese culture. "Sukeroku" is not just one of the eighteen Kabuki repertoire items that are specialties of the Danjuro ICHIKAWA family, the head of Kabuki, but also the most frequently performed play among them because it is one of the most popular items because whenever it was performed, it always played to full houses.

Background and Motif

"Sukeroku" is one of the plays based on the SOGA brothers' revenge story called 'Sogamono' according to forms of Kabuki.
That is a reason for its somewhat nonsensical setting such that a street knight Sukeroku is 'in fact SOGA no Goro,' and the sake-seller is 'in fact SOGA no Juro, an older brother of Goro.'
But that is only for traditional rules for a Kabuki setting, i.e., specifying 'the world to avoid vagueness,' and "Sukeroku" is not based on the real SOGA brothers revenge story, there are neither historical sources nor legends to prove that the real SOGA no Goro Tokimune was such a dandy good-looking man as Hanakawado no Sukeroku.

Three persons had been considered as a model for Sukeroku. An opinion has it that there was a young master of a large merchant house of a rice wholesaler or fish wholesaler in Asakusa, Edo named Sukeroku OWAKE or Sukeroku TOZAWA and he might have been the model for Sukeroku; another opinion has it that a street knight in Kyoto and Osaka who was renowned for his chivalrous spirit might have been the model for Sukeroku; and another opinion has it that a rice broker in Kuramae, Edo who was renowned as a chic, stylish, generous man of culture named Gyouu OGUCHIYA might have been the model for Sukeroku.

Most of historians deny the first opinion.
One of the reasons is the name 'Sukeroku.'
They say that 'Sukeroku' might have been a probable name in the Kamigata area including Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, but it must have been outside of the sensitivities of 'Iki' among the Edo people, i.e., who considered 'Yabo', quite rough and uncouth in Edo. Edo was a place where people changed the word 'Sukibei' that originally meant 'a man of refined taste' or simply meant 'a dilettante' into 'Sukebei' with the new meaning 'lecherous,' which is the etymology of the modern word 'Sukebe' meaning 'a lecher, and coined from a Japanese Word of Chinese Origin 'Junroku' that means 'a placid person who is ignorant of the world' the new word 'Jinroku' with the meaning 'a dunce' in a phrase 'the eldest sons is proverbially a dunce,' for example. According to the sensitivities of Edo people, 'Sukeroku' might have not been a suitable name for such a chic, dashing, splendid-looking man.

As it is said of the second opinion that Sukeroku in Kyoto and Osaka was a street knight and was regarded as comparable to Chobei BANZUIN, the most famous street knight in Edo, he must have been a real person during the early Edo period. It is said that this Sukeroku fell in love with a courtesan named Agemaki in Shimabara, Kyoto but their love and social obligations were at odds and they committed double suicide in Hozen-ji Temple in Osaka during the Enpo era. But detailed information on this Sukeroku has not been handed down, therefore, there are a lot of different views including that Sukeroku was not a street knight but a young master of a large merchant house Yorozuya in Osaka; that Agemaki was a prostitute in the licensed quarters of Shinmachi in Osaka; and that their death was not a double suicide but Sukeroku was killed in a fight and Agemaki was brave enough to take revenge on Sukeroku.

Gyouu OGUCHIYA can be identified with a real person, one of eighteen rice brokers called 'the eighteen splendid sophisticates and big spender' who vied with one another to show their spirit of 'Iki' by spending a lot of money at the three theaters in Edo and the licensed quarters in Yoshiwara during the Kanen and Horeki eras. His real name was Harubei and 'Gyouu' was his pen name as a haiku poet. He was a man of culture well versed in haiku poetry and objects of art and curios, and quite generous. As he was a patron of Danjuro ICHIKAWA II among other actors, he bought all the tickets for the play of Danjuro ICHIKAWA II even though it had a small attendance.
This led to their forming a good relationship, and the rumor gradually spread in Edo that 'Danjuro's Sukeroku was modeled after OGUCHIYA.'
It is said that Gyouu, on the other hand, visited Yoshiwara attired as Sukeroku and was pleased at being called 'the contemporary Sukeroku.'
Although it is unknown who imitated first, Gyouu OGUCHIYA was a great influence on Sukeroku because it is said that it was from this period that the headband of Sukeroku was dyed Edomurasaki purple, the favorite color of OGUCHIYA.

Gyouu OGUCHIYA seemed to have had such an impact on Kabuki that he himself became a motif of Kabuki during the Meiji period.
The Kabuki play was "Kyokaku Harusamegasa" written by Ochi FUKUCHI, the main character of which was 'formerly a young master of a rice broker OGUCHIYA, and now the famous street knight Gyouu.'
He appeared by real name, and, by way of entertainment, the main character was written with the background of the other two models of Sukeroku who were said to have existed in the past.

Deha no Uta

Schools of Joruri, a combination of chanting and shamisen playing
Disciples of Joun SATSUMA
Gidayubushi: founded by Chikugonojo TAKEMOTO.

Icchubushi: founded by Icchu MIYAKODAYU. Later, it was incorporated into Bungobushi, then into Tokiwazubushi and Kiyomotobushi.

Osatsumabushi: founded by Shuzendayu OSATSUMA. Later, it was incorporated into Nagauta.

Disciples of Tango SUGIYAMA
Hanpeitabushi: founded by Hanpeita EDO. Later, it was incorporated into Katobushi.

Katobushi: founded by Kato MASUMI independently of Hanpeitabushi.

An accompaniment for Sukeroku entering onto the hanamichi is called 'Deha no Uta.'
On the first stage and mostly during the early period, this verse was narrated by Hanpeita EDO and his disciples for successive generations. Kato MASUMI and his disciples called 'Katobushi renju' had performed the accompaniment in most stages from that period until the present for successive generations.

As few professional performers have specialized in Katobushi through the history of kabuki, it has been performed in alternative basis for the stage of "Sukeroku" by merchant ship-owners in the past and amateur narrators belonging to the narrator group called 'Masumikai' at present. The amateur narrators here means that they have regular occupations other than being a Katobushi narrator, and needless to say their technique is comparable to those of the professionals.

As Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII made the Naritaya Danjuro ICHIKAWA family the proprietor of Katobushi, it has become the rule that when other families put "Sukeroku" on stage, they substitute Nagauta, Tokiwazu, or Kiyomoto for Katobushi for 'the Deha no Uta' out of consideration for the Naritaya family. For further details, see 'Currently Performed Sukeroku' below.

Establishment and Transition of "Sukeroku"
Danjuro ICHIKAWA of successive generations have been deeply involved with the establishment and transition of "Sukeroku" behind the scenes. It is not accidental that "Sukeroku" has been a special play among the eighteen Kabuki repertoire items such that it has always been put at the top of the eighteen items, has been put on the stage for the most frequently among the eighteen items, and its performance time is the longest among the eighteen items.

Established period
The main programs during the period when "Sukeroku" was performed as one of the SOGA brothers' revenge stories called 'Sogamono.'

"Hanayakata Aigo no Sakura"
Performance: in 1713, at the three theaters in Edo
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA II
Verse: Hanpeitabushi (Hanpeita EDO)
Note: This was the first performance in Edo. It is said that it had many more elements of rough style than the modern "Sukeroku." After this performance, Danjuro ICHIKAWA II began worshipping the SOGA brothers.

"Shikirei Yawaragi Soga"
Performance: in 1716, at the Nakamura-Za
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA II
Verse: Hanpeitabushi (Kichidayu EDO)
Notes: From this performance, "Sukeroku" was incorporated into 'Sogamono' that made a great hit in Edo. The setting of 'Hanakawado no Sukeroku is SOGA no Goro Tokimune, in fact' has been adopted from this performance. Kichidayu EDO for Verse was the best disciple of Hanpeita EDO.

"Hanabusa Bunshin Soga"
Performance: in 1733, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Uzaemon ICHIMURA VIII
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Notes: Katobushi has been used from this performance, and the title of the 'Deha no Uta' in this performance was 'Yukari no Edozakura.'
From this performance, this song was used only when Takenojo ICHIMURA IV changed to Uzaemon ICHIMURA VIII had impersonated Sukeroku at the Ichimura-Za the proprietor of which was Uzaemon ICHIMURA VIII.
This was succeeded to successive Uzaemon ICHIMURA, and Katobushi 'Yukari no edozakura' began the song dedicated to Uzaemon for over seventy years
(These days, 'Yukari' is written '由縁' not '所縁'.)

"Hatsumotoyui Toshi Soga"
Performance: in 1799, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA III
Verse: Nagauta (Shogoro MATSUSHIMA)
This program rarely used Nagauta for "Sukeroku" by Danjuro.

"Mukashinikiku Sogamonogatari"
Performance: in 1746, at Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Kikugoro ONOE
Verse: Bungobushi (Mojidayu MIYAKOJI)

"Otokomoji Soga Monogatari"
Performance: in 1749, at the Nakamura-Za
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA II
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)

Notes: People lived as long as fifty years in those days as expressed in a famous song, and the actors who turned fifty were generally retired, but Ebizo ICHIKAWA II (Danjuro ICHIKAWA II) played the role of young man Sukeroku at the age of sixty-one in this program for the first time over thirty-three years.
In these performances, the outfit for Sukeroku became almost the same as that of the present Sukeroku such as 'a shiny silk short sleeve kimono lined with scarlet cloth, a set of pure pale greenish-blue underwear, a purple silk crepe headband, and a small lacquered container bearing a crest and a sharkskin attached scabbard at the waist'
In those days, a rumor spread that this outfit was arranged imitating Gyouu OGUCHIYA, a rice broker in Kuramae.

"Edomurasaki Kongen Soga"
Performance: in 1761, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Uzaemon ICHIMURA IX
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Notes: By those days, it was accepted among Edo people that 'Hanakawado no Sukeroku was Gyouu OGUCHIYA.'
It was from this performance that the headband of Sukeroku was redyed Edomurasaki purple, the favorite color of OGUCHIYA. Katobushi 'Yukari no Edozakura' was used by Kamezo ICHIMURA (later Uzaemon ICHIMURA IX), the proprietor of the Ichimura-Za, in this performance for the last time and thereafter, it has been exclusively used by successive Danjuro ICHIKAWA.

"Kasanegasane Utano Soga"
Performance: in 1785, at the three theaters in Edo
Sukeroku: Kikunojo SEGAWA III performed the Female Sukeroku and other five roles by quickly changing costumes.

Note: This was the beginning of the 'Female Sukeroku.'

"Oedo no Hana Nigiwai Soga"
Performance: in 1806, at the Kawarasaki-Za
Sukeroku: Omezo ICHIKAWA
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Note: This was the only performance where Katobushi 'Yukari no Edozakura' was used on the stage of Sukeroku impersonated by an actor other than Uzaemon ICHIMURA and Danjuro ICHIKAWA. This is because the program was for a memorial performance held on the seventh anniversary of Danjuro ICHIKAWA VI's death.

Development Period
The main programs during the period when "Sukeroku" was performed with the main character 'Sukeroku' highlighted the entire play.

"Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura."
Performance: in 1811, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Artificial cherry blossoms were decorated from the stage to the hanamichi for the first time in this performance during the history of Sukeroku, and here, a style of likening the entire auditorium to the quarters of Yoshiwara was completed in this performance. Sukeroku' was incorporated in the title for the first time in this performance during the history of Sukeroku, and all programs of the present "Sukeroku" had been made a model of this version.

"Yayoi no hana Onna Hinagata"
Performance: in 1819, at the Nakamura-Za
Sukeroku: Kikugoro ONOE III
Verse: Hanpeitabushi (Hanpeita EDO)
Notes: The title of Hanpeitabushi performed in this program was 'Kuruwa no momoyogusa.'

"Yayoi no hana Sennin kamuro"
Performance: in 1819, at the three theaters in Sakaicho, Fukiyacho
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Notes: This was the first time Katobushi was used at a theater other than the Ichimura-Za. In this performance, it was shown that Katobushi was no longer dedicated to Uzaemon ICHIMURA and that Danjuro ICHIKAWA had a patent on Katobushi.

"Sukeroku Sakurano Futaeobi"
Performance: in 1822, at the Kawasaki-Za
Sukeroku: Koshiro MATSUMOTO V
Verse: Hanpeitabushi (Hanpeita EDO)

"Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura"
Performance: in 1832, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Notes: This was the name-changing performance of Danjuro ICHIKAWA VIII, the son of Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII, in which Danjuro ICHIKAWA VIII impersonated the medicine peddler. In this performance, "Sukeroku" was preceded by 'Kabukikyogen Kumi Juhachiban no uchi' meaning 'one of the eighteen Kabuki repertoire items' for the first time.
This was later changed to 'Kabuki Juhachiban.'

"Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura"
Performance: in 1857, at the Kado-Za in Dotonbori
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII
Verse: Nagauta
Notes: Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII who was banished from Edo in the Tempo reform performed at the Kado-Za in Osaka by the name of 'Shigezo HATAYA.'
This was a rare case where Nagauta was used in "Sukeroku" performed by the Danjuro ICHIKAWA family, the head family of Kabuki.

"Kurotegumi Kuruwa no Tatehiki"
Performance: in 1858, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Kodanji ICHIKAWA IV
Notes: This was a domestic play scene as the second scene of "Edozakura Kiyomizuseigen" of a series of play written by Mokuami KAWATAKE in cooperation with Kodanji, that is to say, 'Sukeroku of their own style.'
Although Kodanji had been wanting to do "Sukeroku," he was small and not suitable for the role. In response to the complaints of Kodanji, Mokuami remade the conventional "Sukeroku" as "Kurotegumi no Sukeroku" by condensing the essence of the original "Sukeroku" including gorgeous outfit, exaggerated Kumadori makeup, romantic drama, sophisticated words, and big fights. In contrast to the original version that was a one-act play lasting as long as three hours, Mokuami made the new one a concise three-act play lasting half as long as the original one, making it like the model of Edo Kabuki.

"Sukeroku Yukari no Yaezakura.'
Performance: in 1873, at the Ichimura-Za
Sukeroku: Danjuro ICHIKAWA IX
Verse: Katobushi (Kato MASUMI)
Notes: During the transition period when Danjuro ICHIKAWA IX returned from his adoptive family, the Kawarazaki family, to the house where he was born, the Horikoshi family, Danjuro temporarily took the name 'Sansho KAWARAZAKI' for 10 months. He performed "Sukeroku," the representative of the eighteen Kabuki repertoire items in this transition period, which shows he might have been enthusiastic about his succession to 'Danjuro ICHIKAWA IX' immediately after the performance. Out of consideration for the new government, 'Edozakura' was substituted by 'Yaezakura' to avoid using the letters 'Edo' as the city of Tokyo had been just established.

Currently Performed Sukeroku
It is not uncommon for a play to have multiple nicknames other than its original title. For example, the play entitled "Kotobuki Soga no Taimen" is generally called by its nicknames "Kichirei Kotobuki Soga," "Soga no Taimen," and "Taimen." But "Sukeroku" is the only play that has a lot of titles, but commonly called by only one nickname.

It is a well-known Kabuki trivia that only the Naritaya family performed "Sukeroku" by the title "Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura," but it can be more strictly said that "Sukeroku" is performed by the title "Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura" only when Ebizo ICHIKAWA or Danjuro ICHIKAWA impersonates Sukeroku.

Originally, 'Yukari no Edozakura' was a title of 'Deha no Uta' by Katobushi and Danjuro ICHIKAWA VII (Ebizo ICHIKAWA V) had a patent on the song of Katobushi; therefore, when other families put "Sukeroku" on stage, they substitute Nagauta, Tokiwazu, or Kiyomoto for Katobushi for 'Deha no Uta' out of consideration for the Naritaya family. For that reason, the title changes according to the title of the song.

The actors that played Sukeroku, the titles of the play, and the forms of the Joruri for 'Deha no Uta' are shown below.

These days, "Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura" is written as "助六由縁江戸桜" by substituting '由縁' for ' 所縁' for 'Yukari.'

"Sukeroku" is a one-act play with the scene of in front of the lattice of Miuraya brothel' that usually lasts for two hours, and if it is performed without any omission, it lasts as long as three hours. The scene does not change, and the play continues from the beginning to the end at the same place. This is because the play is essentially written as an attraction and does not emphasize narrativity.

SOGA no Tokimune frequently visits the licensed quarters in Yoshiwara to search for the MINAMOTO clan's treasured sword 'Tomokirimaru' under the guise of a street knight named Hanakawado no Sukeroku. As various men come to Yoshiwara, Sukeroku plots to make the customers draw their swords by provoking a quarrel with them. Agemaki, a courtesan and the lover of Sukeroku, and magnificent beard Ikyu, who are making approaches to Agemaki, enter the stage. As Sukeroku suspects that Ikyu has the Tomokirimaru, he tries hard to make Ikyu draw his sword. There, SOGA no Sukenari, an older brother of Sukeroku under the guise of a sake-seller, enters and scolds Sukeroku, but once he understands Sukeroku's intention, he begins to learn to provoke quarrels.

After a while, Agemaki accompanying a warrior enters the scene again. Sukeroku tries to provoke a quarrel with the warrior, but to his surprise, the warrior is his mother Manko who came because she was anxious about her sons. Manko puts a paper kimono on Sukeroku and warns him against having big fights, and returns home with Juro.

Ikyu enters the stage again. Ikyu knows that Sukeroku is SOGA no Tokimune, and ties to trick Sukeroku into betraying the MINAMOTO clan by drawing his Tomokirimaru sword. Needless to say, Sukeroku does not accept his words, and kills Ikyu who is a survivor of the Taira clan, IGA no Heinaizaemon, in fact, and escapes from Yoshiwara with Tomokirimaru.

Each scene is described in detail below. All of the examples are from "Sukeroku Yukari no Edozakura," in which the head of the ICHIKAWA family plays Sukeroku with 'Deha no Uta' narrated in Katobushi.

name-saying speech
When the program is done in the Katobushi version, the play begins with Kojo, formal announcements to the audience. Kojo is done by a kabuki player kneeling center stage and announcing to the audience. When Sukeroku is impersonated by Danjuro or Ebizo, Kojo is done by an actor from apprentice families of the head of the Danjuro ICHIKAWA family. For most of the program in which Danjuro ICHIKAWA XII impersonates Sukeroku, Danshiro ICHIKAWA IV performs Kojo.

After the announcement to the spectators, the actor, with a humble attitude, calls to the Katobushi chorus who are behind the black bamboo curtain set up at the right of the stage from the spectators' viewpoint especially for the play, 'Please start' using the most polite expressions. This proves that the Katobushi chorus are not merely performers, but essentially spectators, who are the best treated better than ordinary spectators.

Courtesans enter in a row
Night guards used to enter on both of the hanamichi, harmonizing with Katobushi, but they were removed during the Taisho period. Accordingly, the auditorium is set with the main hanamichi. Here, from the Tenpo era to the early Showa period, a medicine peddler entered and delivered his sales pitch, but it was removed for a long time. Exchanges between Kanpera Monbei and Shiratama and between Shiratama and sake-seller were also removed--In fact, in the removed scene, sake-sellers were selling sake to make the spectators understood that he sold sake. Currently, courtesans enter in a row and they pass dialogue back and forth, and then, Agemaki enters.

Agemaki enters
Agemaki enters the hanamichi. As Agemaki is intoxicated in the plot, this scene requires the superior acting ability. During the Edo period, there was a powdered medicine called 'Sode no Ume' to get one sober after drinking. Agemaki takes the medicine to become sober.

Letter from Manko
Agemaki is handed a letter. It is from Manko SOGA, the mother of Sukeroku, appealing strongly to Agemaki to make Sukeroku stop haunting the gay quarters. This scene was originally a scene where Manko appears in person to make an appeal to Agemaki for help, which was replaced by this scene of receiving the letter at the end of the Taisho period.

Ikyu enters. Magnificent beard Ikyu and a courtesan Shiratama enter the hanamichi. Ikyu mentions a new prostitute and says he will hire her.
Shiratama warns Ikyu 'Do not cheat on Agemaki, she will hate you.'
They run into Agemaki and her attendants. They start talking about Sukeroku. Ikyu seeks to win Agemaki's heart, and vexed himself at Agemaki who lost her heart to Sukeroku. They say that Sukeroku enthusiastically examines the swords other persons bear--which means, they keep their purses nearby.
Sukeroku must be a robber.'
No, must be a pickpocket.'
Ikyu upbraided Agemaki 'Are you going to be the lover of such a man and lead a miserable life?'
In response, Agemaki reviles Ikyu. This is the famous scene 'Akutai no Hatsune', Agemaki's first abusive language.

Here, it's my turn to curse, for the first time.'
When I compare you with Sukeroku, he is a handsome strong man.'
And you are wicked and ill natured.'
Sukeroku and You may be compared to SNOW and INK. Both Umi, the water container, of ink stone and Naruto no Umi, the straits of Naruto, have the same words Umi, but the former is a shallow and the latter is deep just like my feelings toward you, one of my customers, and Sukeroku, my lover. With no real lover, the life of a courtesan is dark, but I would not take you for Sukeroku-san even in the dark.'
Ikyu is infuriated. He shouts 'Shut up!' to Agemaki and sulks. Here, Sukeroku enters.

Sukeroku enters. Sukeroku enters the hanamichi. Sukeroku appears with his umbrella. Sukeroku dances on the hanamichi with his umbrella. He dances as long as twenty minutes. Danjuro ICHIKAWA IX instructs disciples that, technically, this scene should be performed as a 'narration' instead of a dance.

Sukeroku steps onto the main stage. The Katobushi music in this program ends here. About an hour has passed from curtain-up. The women in the quarters acclaim to him 'Wow. Wow.' and Sukeroku greets them saying 'How are you?' while swaggering into center stage.

Those days, the Edo citizens bathed in public baths. Upon entering a big bath, one used to say to preceding bathers 'I'm a cold one.' as an etiquette.
Pretending to be a bather, Sukeroku sits on a stool saying 'I'm a cold one.'
The courtesans crowded around Sukeroku to hand him their 'lighted pipe' as a sign of affection. Sukeroku receives the pipes from them with both hands. Ikyu watches that. Ikyu must envy Sukeroku. Ikyu requests the courtesans to light a pipe for him, but nobody can meet his request. This is because they have handed all of their pipes to Sukeroku. This means, all the courtesans want to kiss Sukeroku indirectly.

Sukeroku says 'I have a shower of pipes!,' and to Ikyu, 'If you want a pipe, I'll lend you one' and offers a pipe by holding it between his left toes. Ikyu pretends to be unperturbed by that and begins preaching to Sukeroku. Sukeroku does not listen and says 'Hogwash!' in a dialect of Yamanashi Prefecture, the home of Danjuro ICHIKAWA I. On the contrary, Sukeroku derides Ikyu as a very queer snake, for he does not tire of being reviled.

Kanpera Monbei and a Noodle vendor of Fukyama
Kanpera Monbei comes out of the Miuraya brothel. Monbei is infuriated at a courtesan in Miuraya, as Monbei offered a large sum of money to monopolize the girl's love, but she has sold her favors to another guest.

Noodle vendor of Fukuyama enters the hanamichi. He is a vendor of the noodle shop 'Fukuyama,' selling noodles from a large box over his shoulder. On the stage, the vendor bumps Monbei, who picks a quarrel with the vendor.
You, idiot!
Fool! Noodle-brain!,' here, the vendor boldly makes a sharp retort. Kanpera Monbei reveals himself as a retainer of Ikyu, starting a long-winded speech. Sukeroku warns Monbei 'Let the noodle vendor go, or the noodles will softened and lose their taste,' but Monbei does not forgive the noodle vendor. Sukeroku decides to buy the noodles by himself.

Sukeroku says to the vendor, 'Don't you use fish broth in this?'--the vendor answers 'Yes, we use fish broth'--To Monbei, 'I don't know if you abstain from fish or not, but I'll serve them to you!,' and eventually brings the noodle box up over Monbei's head and dumps it upside-down on his head. Monbei thinks his head was broken, taking the noodles and the broth for his blood, and makes a great fuss about it.

Asagao Senbei's appears and Sukeroku puts a clog on Ikyu
A clown Asagao Senbei in kumadori makeup for a clown enters. This character is named 'Asagao Senbei' because he advertises the rice cracker brand.
Monbei says 'The blood is dripping, dripping…, No, it's noodles!'
Senbei says to Monbei 'It's killing me' in a cautioning tone, and starts a verbal attack on Sukeroku, also advertising the rice cracker brand Asagao Senbei, and together with Monbei demands Sukeroku identify himself.

Sukeroku makes a famous name-saying speech here to talk the two men down. The actor's theatrical elocution works the best in this scene at which the spectators feel great satisfaction.

No one, but an ass who sets foot in this district Gochome, does not know my name. Hear it well.'
Knowing my name should cure your malarial shakes.'
It has another merit.'
Write my name three times on the palm of your hand as you pass through this quarter's Great Gate as your incantation and no whore can refuse you.'
I appears small, but legendary fearless.'
My fights have always been talked about by everyone from the charcoal-sellers of Hachioji and toothless rustic old men in the fields to old madams of a brothel and hags in this gay quarters.'
I have limitlessly spent my heroic spirits and have never been beaten by anyone.'
I wear the headband of Edomurasaki purple on my tightly greased topknot.'
Look through my glued up topknot, you can see Awa Province and Kazusa Province like a Ukiyoe print.'
I liken myself to a dragon that comes to life in water when I come to life as my enemies increase. My name is well-known from the guest hall of Senso-ji Temple to Ryusen-ji Temple, in the eight-hundred-and-eight districts in Edo, anybody knows me for my peonie-crest-adorned kimono I wear under the cherry blossoms of Nakanocho, they call this youth Sukeroku in Hanakawado or Agemaki's Sukeroku, bow before this face!'

Then, Sukeroku gets closer to Ikyu. Sukeroku presses Ikyu to draw his sword.
Sukeroku removes his clog and puts it on Ikyu's head!

Sukeroku intones a prayer 'Joze chikusho hosshin bodaishin ojo anraku… Donganchin, Yah Yah! Great Beggar King of Hades!'

Yet, Ikyu does not draw his sword.

Sake-seller enters
A sake-seller enters the hanamichi and calls to Sukeroku. Sukeroku gets angry at such a rude call.
Who are you!
I will throw you into the gutter!, I will kick a houseboat into your nostril!
With a strange intonation, Sukeroku asks 'What on earth is this?' and sees the face of the sake-seller Shinbei, the man who called him, Alas, it is SOGA no Juro Sukenari, that is, an older brother of Sukeroku. Shinbei scolds Sukeroku, who is Shinbei's younger brother SOGA no Goro Tokimune, for doing nothing everyday, but outrageous fighting. Sukeroku reminds Shinbei that their family MINAMOTO clan's treasured sword Tomokirimaru is still missing. Their father-in-law SOGA no Sukenobu was forced to die to take responsibility for having Tomokirimaru stolen. Sukeroku reveals that all of his fights were for checking for the treasured sword, that is, he picked a quarrel with them to make them get angry, to make them draw their swords, in order to check their swords. Needless to say, Shinbei accepts his words. Not to mention he encourages Sukeroku to pick a quarrel with others. What is more, Shinbei learns 'how to pick quarrels with others' from Sukeroku. Shinbei, who is polite and a typical character of the gentle acting style called Wagoto, tries to pick a quarrel with others following Sukeroku's example, but he completely lacks the power.
This is a typical Wagoto style scene full of 'humor.'

Passing between his legs
The brothers pick a quarrel with any customer in the district who comes across them and challenges him to pass between their legs. This scene functions as vaudeville in this long program. They start with a country samurai warrior and his servant. The samurai and his servant gesture at each other through the scene. Next, a dandy Rigyo enters. The dandy ad-libs his performance incorporating contemporary topics or news to make the spectator laugh. After the war, Gonjuro KAWARAZAKI III's dandy was a masterpiece.

Manko enters. Agemaki accompanies a man in a deep wicker hat coming out of the Miuraya brothel. The man wears swords. He looks like a samurai warrior. Sukeroku takes it that his lover Agemaki is going out with other man. Sukeroku uses abusive language to Agemaki at first. Then curses and abuse the man in foul language belligerently. Wait, samurai!,' then, the samurai takes off his wicker hat. The person is Manko, mother of the brothers. Being unaware of that, Shinbei picks a quarrel with the man, and is surprised to know that the man is his mother. The brothers feel very small. Manko scolds her children sharply.

Do not fight day after day.'
You dumped noodles over a person's head, placed a clog on a warrior's head, how outrageous.'
Who cut down the cut-up of Takecho?'
Who pushed the man into the gravel pit?'
Who laid to rest the man in Umamichi?'
That was too much, and who took the navel at the Kaminarimon Gate?'
Not a day passes without me hearing about your fights.'

Sukeroku was ashamed of his ignorance, and was patient and scolded by his mother--This scene is categorized as a quiet performance for male active role called 'ShinboTachiyaku' which requires superior acting ability. Sukeroku repeats the same explanation he gave to his brother, explaining that he inevitably picks a quarrel with others to search for the 'Tomokirimaru'. Manko understands Sukeroku's words but she tells Sukeroku to stop fighting, giving him a paper kimono. That is to say, as the paper kimono is fragile, it will break if Sukeroku fights again, and if it breaks, Manko will disown Sukeroku--This paper kimono is used to parody the Kamigata version of Sukeroku. Manko exits with the sake-seller on the hanamichi. This Act requires the Agemaki role to act as a devoted wife in serving her lover's mother.

Manko is an old woman role. This role needs a dignified presence. After the war, Taganojo ONOE III, now Tanosuke SAWAMURA VI, was perfect for the role.

Tiff between Agemaki and Sukeroku
Agemaki and Sukeroku are left on the stage. The two start having a tiff. Danjuro IX removed this scene, which is followed by later generations.

Ikyu reappears. Ikyu comes out of the Miuraya brothel again. Sukeroku hides behind Agemaki's skirt under a campstool--This scene also parodies the Kamigata version of Sukeroku. Ikyu sits besides Agemaki and start murmuring words of love in her ear, but every now and then someone pinches Ikyu's leg. Is it Agemaki's mischievous young girl attendant? No, even the attendant has left, there is still someone pinching his the leg.
Agemaki says,
It might be a rat.'
Ikyu replies,
The rat must be Sukeroku.'
Ikyu starts reviling Sukeroku as 'such a coward cannot attain a great ambition. You, chicken SOGA no Goro Tokimune!' Ikyu said the real name of Sukeroku, which was a secret he must keep. Ikyu knew that Sukeroku is really SOGA no Goro Tokimune from the beginning, indeed. Then, Ikyu reviled Sukeroku and beats Sukeroku with a fan.
Sukeroku says 'Beat me because I'm to blame.'
Ikyu still keeps reviling. Ikyu stands before a three-legged incense burner, pointing out that the three SOGA brothers should unite steadfastly like the burner.
Here, Ikyu tricks Sukeroku into betraying MINAMOTO no Yoritomo as three SOGA brothers, saying 'If you do that, I will support you.'
If the brothers lack harmony, all of you will be defeated this', Ikyu draws his sword and cuts the burner into two. Sukeroku stares at the sword. Sukeroku saw in an instant the signature on the sword when Ikyu drew his sword. The sword is certainly the Tomokirimaru. Ikyu enters Miuraya after that. Wait Ikyu, I've got this sword' Sukeroku enthusiastically exits onto the hanamichi. Most of the kabuki plays directed from the Taisho period to the present end here.

The scene of 'Mizuiri,' where the hero uses real water on stage, is mostly omitted.

After a while, Ikyu comes out of Miuraya. Sukeroku has been waiting in ambush. After a fight, Sukeroku kills Ikyu. When the people happen to pass and find Ikyu's body, Sukeroku cuts the paper lantern that passerby holds. Pursuers are sent off after Sukeroku. A rainwater barrel is set on the stage right. Sukeroku conceals himself in the barrel. Sploosh!--As he plunges into the barrel, water flows out extravagantly. Sukeroku gets out of the barrel. He is drenched. Pursuers find him. Here comes Agemaki, rushing to Sukeroku, hiding Sukeroku with her whole body. Pursuers leave. Sukeroku seems to faint. Agemaki has Sukeroku take a rest and hugs him for a while--Love scene. The Zenshinza Theater Company attempted to revive this scene, but it was censored as "obscene" by police, and could not be revived before the war. After the war, Zenshinza succeeded in reviving the scene at the Osaka Kabuki theater in July 1946. At last, Tomokirimaru returns to Sukeroku, and then, the scene ends with a collective dramatic pose performed by pursuers who have just entered onto the stage, Sukeroku, and Agemaki. When good-looking Danjuro ICHIKAWA VIII performed Mizuiri, all the women and girls wanted to buy the water in the barrel.

Sukeroku Zushi
Sukeroku' is the name of a package of pouches of seasoned fried tofu stuffed with sushi rice called Inarizushi and bite size cuts of sushi roll called Makizushi including a roll with various ingredients in the center called Futomaki and a roll with cooked gourd in the center called Kanpyomaki.
This name was a pun on the name of Agemaki, the lover of Sukeroku, for 'AburaAGE', material of Inarizushi, and 'MAKIzusi.'

[Original Japanese]