Sumida-gawa Gonichi no Omokage (隅田川続俤)

"Sumida-gawa Gonichi no Omokage" is one of the kabuki kyogen play written by Shimesuke NAGAWA. The common name is "Hokaibo." It is the play that consists of four acts, seven scenes, and was first played at Kado-no-shibai (latter-Day Dotonbori Kado-za theater) in June-July, 1784. It caught on because of the bad behaviors and comicality of Egen (the leading role). The part of the joruri version of the play "Futaomote mizuni terutsuki" were separated from the original play and known as "Futaomote" and "Shinobuuri."

The role of Egen was atariyaku (a role for which an actor gained a reputation) of Kichiemon NAKAMURA, the first and Kanzaburo NAKAMURA, the 17th.
Also, the story was made into a play and a movie by a comic actor Kenichi ENOMOTO

Story Line

A depraved priest Hokaibo who lives in Asakusa Shodencho Town makes his living with the money that he earns by seeking alms for erecting hanging bell. Hokaibo is hated by all the people because he is involved in wrong doing as a tool of a cruel bailiff, wears dirty clothes and is lascivious. Hokaibo falls in illicit love with Okumi of Eirakuya, but Okumi is in love with Yosuke who is tedai (assistant manger) of the shop. Actually Yosuke is Shojaku YOSHIDA, a samurai in Kyoto. He is searching for the missing treasured heirloom 'Rigyo no jiku' of Yoshida family. However he disguises himself as a tedai because he is being chased by a cruel bailiff. Hokaibo, who wants rewards, steals the treasured heirloom and put Yosuke, who is his rival, into a tight corner. However, he is prevented by Jinzo, who is actually Gunsuke, a vassal of Matsuwaka in disguise of utensil shop owner. Hokaibo who has strong tenancy of purpose captures Matsuwaka. He kills Okumi's father and Matsuwaka's fiancee Nowaki hime (princess) who came to see Matsuwaka. Hokaibo tries to rape Okumi, but he is killed by Jinzo who came in time to save her by a hairbreadth. Okumi and Yosuke run away in disguise of leek vendor. While running away, they are obsessed with the integrated vengeful ghost of Hokaibo and Nowaki hime on the bank of Sumida River. However, in the end they are saved by the merit of Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon Bodhisattva).


Hokaibo is the name of the depraved priest that appears in many preceding kabuki plays including "Futago Sumidagawa" by Monzaemon CHIKAMTSU. The role of Hokaibo is also the reconstruction of Dainichibo played by Nakazo NAKAMURA in "Iromoyo aoyagisoga."

The play is a comedy, which is unusual in kabuki, and the acting the role of Hokaibo who is evil but somehow lovable is the most important point in the play. To act the role the actor is required to have the sensitivity of humor including improvisation with amiability and skillfulness. When Kanya MORITA, the 14th played the role, his acting completely fell flat on the audience. He cut the story as long as 40 minutes short on Senshuraku (the last day of performance), which made him deplore, "No other role is more difficult than this." Recently Kanzaburo NAKAMURA, the 17th performed the role well, revealing Hokaibo's darkness of the evil and melancholiness behind the lavableness. The funny choreography like ballet, the acting of jumping rope and jokes were the patterns devised by him.

Shosagoto (dance in kabuki) "Futaomote mizuni terutsuki" in the final scene was written by Shinshichi KAWATAKE exclusively for this play because "Musume Dojoji (The maiden at Dojo Temple) that tachiyaku (a leading male-actor) Nakazo NAKAMURA wanted play was allowed to only onnagata (actor of female role). As the integrated vengeful ghost of Hokaibo and Nowaki hime just looks like Okumi in appearance, to play the role the actor is required to have the skillfulness to dance differentiating the ghastly depraved priest and lovely female. As for the accompaniment, the grave gidayu (a style of dramatic narratives) takes the part of Hokaibo and the graceful tokiwazu the part of the princess in order that each accompaniment can express each role. Ennosuke ICHIKAWA, the third and Kanzaburo NAKAMURA, the 18th came up with their own acting of the vengeful ghost's chunori (a midair stunt) and atojite ("shite" performer that appears after nakairi) disguised as ogre with oshimodoshi (push-back, one of kabuki juhachiban [eighteen best plays of the ichikawa family of kabuki actors]).

Sumidagawa mono

It is one of the groups of ningyo joruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater) works originated in Noh Sumida-gawa River.
The group of works that deals with Umewaka Densetsu (Legend of Umewaka) is called 'Sumidagawa mono.'
Sumida-gawa Gonichi no Omokage is one of those works.

The kabuki kyogen works performed often currently are "Futago Sumidagawa" written by Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU, "Sakurahime azuma bunsho" and "Sumidagawa hanano goshozome" by Nanboku TSURUYA and "Miyakodori nagareno shiranami" by Mokuami KAWATAKE. As for Kabuki Buyo (Kabuki Dance) "Sumidagawa" is often played nowadays.

Actors of the first performance

Hokaibo: Danzo ICHIKAWA, the fourth
utensil shop owner Jinzo: Hachizo FUJIKAWA, the second
Osaku: Kinpachi YAMASHITA, the second
Nowaki hime : Jiro ARASHIMURA
Kanjuro YAMAZAKIYA: Jiroza NAKAMURA, the second
Gonzaemon EIRAKUYA: Shichisaburo IMAMURA, the third
Eirakuya's tedai Yosuke: Shichisaburo SOMEMATSU
Okumi: Iroha YOSHIZAWA, the first

[Original Japanese]