Play title Debauchi Otama  In Japanese
Knife-Throwing Otama
Author Ikenami Shtar

Ikenami Shtar's drama "Debauchi Otama" was premiered in February 1975 at the Kabukiza [more details]. This drama belonged to a series of dramas which was entitled Edo Onna Sshi (Stories about Edo Women).

"Debauchi Otama" is rarely-staged on Kabuki stages; since the premiere in 1975, we've found only 4 records of performances in shibai between 1975 and 2006:

Date Theater Debauchi Otama Masuda Shz
2006/12 Kabukiza (Tky) Onoe Kikugor VII Nakamura Baigyoku IV
1994/02 Kabukiza (Tky) Onoe Kikugor VII Ichikawa Danjr XII
1976/05 Shinkabukiza (saka) Onoe Baik VII Kawarasaki Gonjr III
1975/02 Kabukiza (Tky) Onoe Baik VII Onoe Shroku II

"Debauchi Otama" is in two acts divided into 5 scenes.

Key words Adauchi
Deai Jaya
Edo Onna Sshi
Shinobazu no Ike

Act I, scene 1: Yanaka Chayamachi miya-nai Otama no Heya
Otama's Room within the miya in the Tea Houses District of Yanaka

Otama is a yjo at the miya, a house of assignation located in Yanaka not far from the Kan'eiji Temple of Ueno in Edo. Orphan as a child, she became a member of an itinerant troupe in which she was a skilled knife-thrower (debauchi). But she has been victimized by a man named Donden no Shinsuke, falling in love with him and being deceived and utilized by him (kanezuru). She had to sell herself as a yjo in order to pay off Shinsuke's huge gambling debts. This good-for-nothing parasite continues to live off her, coming to beg money from miya Yoh, the owner of the miya and leaving it to her to pay off the debt by selling her body.

The house of assignation is frequented by lecherous abbots from the nearby temples, and today too, Otama has been selected by the aging osh Ken. Oroku, a fellow yjo, comes to warn Otama that Shinsuke has come again to borrow money from miya Yoh, and advises her not to be so lenient with Shinsuke. But when Yoh and Shinsuke come to speak to her about another loan, Otama tells Yoh to go ahead and lend Shinsuke the money. The old priest Ken throws out one ry for Shinsuke, and Otama tells Shinsuke to take the money and be sure to buy medicine and not alcohol with it, as he is obviously very ill. It is also obvious that Otama no longer has any feeling left for him. As Shinsuke takes his leave, muttering insults, Otama takes out a knife (deba) from a box and throws it. The knife swishes by Donden no Shinsuke's cheek and sticks into a nearby pillar.

Later, after the old priest too has left, a young man selling sieves (zaru-uri) is seen peering into Otama's room from outside. Someone calls Otama's attention to his presence. When she questions him, the youth says that he has money and that he wants to spend the night together with Otama. Otama quickly realizes that he probably has never slept with a woman before. He is timid and unsure of how to act, so Otama sends him around to the entrance where she can meet him and escort him.

As she brings in drinks and food, she notices that the youth is shivering. He reveals that his name is Masuda Shz and that he is 23 years old. Then he confides to her that he will surely soon die, so he has wanted to sleep with a woman once before his death. He quivers in fear, saying he is afraid to die but that he has finally located the murderer of his father and must, as a matter of honor, go to strike the enemy even though he knows that he is no match for him. Otama caresses him gently, feeling sorry for the pathetic youth.

Act I, scene 2: Iriya Shgakuji Ura Hyakushya no Urate
At the back of a Farmer's House in the backyard of the Shgakuji Temple in Iriya

The day chosen by Masuda Shz to attack his father's killer is the anniversary of his father's death. Early in the morning before it is quite light yet, he goes to the vicinity of a farmer's house (hyakushya) in the back of the Shgakuji Temple in Iriya, where he has discovered that his enemy, the rnin Mori Tjr, is now living.

When Mori Tjr comes out to wash his face at the well, Masuda Shz accosts him, saying he has come to take revenge for his father's death (adauchi). Tjr looks the youth over and tells him to go off because it would be folly to attack when his defeat is certain. Shz, in spite of his fear, refuses to retreat and Tjr taunts him, saying he is just like his foolish father who has attacked him in order to save a country girl from being raped by Tjr. Mori Tjr has killed Shz's father, but as a result has also been forced to flee himself, becoming a rnin and losing his former means of livelihood. Then, seeing that Shz has no intention of backing off, he engages the youth in a duel (kett). Shz is no match for him and is struck with terror.

Otama, who has been observing the scene, throws her knife (debauchi) and it strikes Mori Tjr in his right eye. Taking advantage of this unexpected event, Shz strikes and kills the wounded warrior. He has avenged his father's death and is now free to go back home in honor. Otama comes out to pick up her knife. Shz realizes that he has been saved thanks to Otama's intervention. He is deeply filled with gratitude.

Act II, scene 1: Deai Jaya Yoshinoya no Hanareya to Niwa
In the Garden and the Detached Solitary House of the Yoshinoya Tea House

Twenty-eight years have passed. Oroku, who has been a yjo at the miya in Yanaka as Otama at that time, is now running the Yoshinoya, a deai jaya by Shinobazu Pond. But things have not gone so well for Otama who has aged beyond her years and is now working as a menial maid (gejo) at Oroku's establishment. Yoshinoya Oroku, unlike Otama, is a shrewd and hard woman, and has made quite a bit of money providing innocent virgin girls for lewd lords. On this day too, the guest room is being readied for a high-ranking official with a taste for young girls. The 17-year-old Ofusa, an impoverished local girl, has been procured for this customer's enjoyment. Otama is aware of the situation and pities the victim but can do nothing about it in her lowly position.

It turns out that the expected guest is none other than Masuda Shz. Otama, who is sweeping the garden, recognizes him in amazement and hides behind some shrubbery. Shz's successful vendetta 28 years earlier has won him the favor of his father's daimy, and he has subsequently risen rapidly in rank. He has also developed quite a taste for young virgins. Moreover, in answer to his companion's obsequious query, he boasts of his old success in defeating and killing his father's murderer, with not a mention of the part played by Otama in the incident, or of his own fear at the time. Otama listens everything in total disgust. Then Oroku brings Ofusa into the room, so Shz goes off with the girl to the sleeping room.

Act II, scene 2: Moto no Hanareya
In the Detached Solitary House

A while later, as Shz is drinking some sake, Otama approaches him. He is startled and, without recognizing her, orders her off. Otama calls him by name and introduces herself, then congratulates him on his obvious success in life. As she talks, she watches him to observe his reaction. Shz tries to keep up a bold front, but when Otama starts to talk about his 'valor' in the duel 28 years ago, he starts to quake. Otama taunts him saying that he is shivering just as he did at that time. When Otama takes up a sake cup and familiarly asks him to pour a drink for her, Shz can stand no more. He slaps her in the face and then stamps out of the room. Otama, watching him leave, mutters that there is a limit to what she can bear.

Act II, scene 3: Shinobazu no Ike Aze no Michi
On the Footpath by Shinobazu Pond

Masuda Shz comes hurrying down the path (azemichi) by the pond, obviously very uneasy. His puzzled companion comes running after him asking him why he isn't waiting for the palanquin which is arriving soon. Shz sends him off to go fetch his retainer Mitsui Heinosuke. Then, with Heinosuke on hand, he is a little more at ease, but still keeps glancing back in fear in the direction from which he has come. Unwilling to wait there till the palanquin comes, he starts to move away. At that moment a knife comes flying through the air and hits him in the right eye. Heinosuke notices a fleeing figure and is about to go off in chase, but Shz stops him, ordering him instead to bandage his eye. Heinosuke is unwilling to let the knife-thrower escape, but Shz orders him not to give chase. Mystified, Heinosuke helps his master away from the site.

Debauchi Otama watches their departure and then comes out to pick up the knife that Shz has thrown aside. She is satisfied with her own little revenge, but cannot help wondering why Shz has allowed her to get away when it would have been an easy matter to have had her caught.


This Edo sewamono Shinkabuki drama was set in three famous shitamachi neighborhood in Edo/Tky: Yanaka, Iriya and Ueno.

Masuda Shz (left) and Debauchi Otama (right)

Debauchi Otama

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