Tsutamomiji Utsunoya-toge (literaly, Painted maples in the Utsunoya-toge pass) (蔦紅葉宇都谷峠)

Tsutamomiji Utsunoya-toge (literaly, Painted maples in Utsunoya-toge pass) is a Kabuki play. In 1856, it was first staged at the Ichimra-za Theater. It is commonly known as "Bunya goroshi (Bunya killer)", or "Usunoya-toge pass".

Tsutamomiji Utsunoya-toge (painted maples in Utsunoya-toge pass) was a sewamono play (basically concerned with the lives of the townspeople and merchants), written by Mokuami KAWATAKE, based on the ninjobanasi (human-interest story) by Basho KINGENTEI. Mokuami wrote this play for Kodanji ICHIKAWA Ⅳ.
The play became well-known with the famous lines of, ' our evil karma led us to Utuyano-toge where I kill you, in the tangled ivy path, the maples of blood stain are bloody tears, your life will end in this morning, forgive me, Mr. Bunya'
Forgive me, Mr…' became a catch phrase in those days.

This kyogen of five acts and one scene unfolds the story of at least three 'worlds' that had already established at the first performance.

The world of 'a family trouble of the Sasaki family' from "Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no inazuma" (or Saya-ate, Scabbard confrontation). Tha world of 'A love story of keisei (a courtesan) Kokin and Hikozo KUROKIYA' from the "Kokusenya Sugatano Utsushie"(Hikozo KOKIN). The world of 'A case of Okuma SHIRAKIYA' from "Tadasuke Ooka's Ooka seidan (a factual story of a magistrate Tadasuke Ooka)". Both 'Saya-ate' and 'Hikozo KOKIN' were Kabuki kyogen plays written by Nanboku TSURUYA Ⅳ, and 'Okuma SHIRAKOYA' was a factual attempted murder happened in 1727.

Bunya ANMA (messasu Bunya) and Daiba no Nisa, whose personalities and backgrounds have completely different, are the leading characters. The story is lengthy and the plot is quite complicated. In additiion, in this kyogen (kabuki act), Mokuami assigned two roles for Kodanji Ⅳthat required him quick-changes. Therefore, after the first stage, this play has never been performed as Toshi kyogen (full-length play); only the opening and the ending, where Buyna and Jubei have a dialogue, have been played. The only exception until now was, in July, 1969, with Kanzaburo NAKAMURA XVII as Bunya and Nisa, the full length play was re-performed at the National Theater.


Okiku, a daughter of a poor family, accidentally dropped her younger baby brother Bunya on a stone, which made him blind. To make up for it, Okiku became a prostitute in Yoshiwara. Then she gave the 100 ryo she made to Bunya so that he could go to Kyoto to get an official rank as Zato (a blind massage professional).

At Mariko-juku post station on his way, DAIBA no Nisa, a thief who tried to steal Bunya's big money, but was captured by Jubei ITAMIYA, a fellow lodger. When Bunya and Jubei reached the Utusoya-toge pass, Jubei knew about the money for the first time and asked for a loan for his master. However, he was refused. Jubei, who once gave up the idea, finally killed Bunya to snatch his money. However, Nisa, who was hiding behind the small Buddhist temple saw the whole event happened.

In fact, Rokurozaemon OBANA, Jubei's master and Shobei, Bunya's father, were longtime foes regarding their family trouble. In addition, Jubei's loan was basically related to the family trouble. Without knowing such causal relationships, Jubei started a pub in Edo (old Tokyo) with the money of 100 ryo. However, a Zato ghost came to trouble Jubei and his wife, and Daiba no Nisa started to play blackmail referring to a cigarette case that Jubei left on the scene. After Jubei killing his wife to keep her mouth shut, he lured Nisa into the Suzugamori forest and killed him. When Jubei knew the truth from Kokin and Hikozo who run after him, he committed seppuku (hara-kiri) because he was afraid of his karma.

Characters and Casting

Casting in the first performance
Anma (a blind massager) Bunya/Daiba no Nisa : Kodanji ICHIKAWA Ⅳ(playing two roles, quick changes)
Jubei ITAMIYA : Hikozaburo BANDO Ⅳ
Bunya's older sister, Okiku, Jubei's wife, Oshizu, latterly keisei Kokin : Kikugoro ONOE Ⅳ
Katsuranosuke SASAKI/Hikozo: Hikozaburo BANDO Ⅴ
Saizaburo Obana : Danjuro ICHIKAWA
Bunya's younger sister, Oichi : Kikugoro ONOE Ⅴ

Successcul characters in history
Bunya/Nisa : Kikugoro ONOE Ⅵ, Kanzaburo NAKAMURA XVII and others
Jubei ITAMIYA : Kichiemon NAKAMURAⅠ, Hakuo MATSUMOTOⅠand others

[Original Japanese]