Play title Soga Moy˘ Tateshi no Goshozome  In Japanese
Author Kawatake Shinshichi II

The drama "Soga Moy˘ Tateshi no Goshozome" was premiered in October 1887 at the Ichimuraza [casting]. The role of Gosho no Goroz˘ was added to the Kak˘shű collection of dramas set by the star Ichimura Uzaemon XV.


The drama "Soga Moy˘ Tateshi no Goshozome" was originally made up of 6 acts, divided into 12 scenes. The current version, which is made up of 3 acts (7 scenes), is divided into two different stories which are loosely related: "Hototogisu Goroshi" (the Murder of Hototogisu) and "Gosho no Goroz˘". The former is occasionnally revived as part of a t˘shi ky˘gen production of "Soga Moy˘ Tateshi no Goshozome". The latter story is extremely popular and frequently staged. Usually, only the second act of "Gosho no Goroz˘" is staged when it is not a t˘shi ky˘gen production. The third act is only occasionnally revived as part of a t˘shi ky˘gen production.

Key words Ageya
Tome Onna
Tome Otoko

Act II, Scene 1: Goj˘zaka Nakanoch˘
On Nakanoch˘, the main street of the of the Goj˘zaka Pleasure Quarter [1]

Several years have passed. Suzaki Kakuya is now known as Goroz˘, and has become an otokodate. Owing to their financial difficulties, Tsuji has agreed to sell herself into prostitution (miuri), and has become a keisei known by the name of Satsuki. Hoshikage Doemon, who is now a r˘nin, and who is also in Edo, has become a fencing instructor.

It is Spring in Goj˘zaka, and Goroz˘ and Doemon, both accompanied by their followers, meet for the first time in years. Their respective henchmen [2], however, have recently had a brawl, in which Doemon's gang came off the worst. This only increases Doemon's resentment of Goroz˘, and his desire for revenge. Their gangs are anxious to be at each other's throats again, and have to be repeatedly restrained by their masters. Doemon infuriates Goroz˘ by spitefully threatening to buy Satsuki's services - every night! Goroz˘ points out this is not possible for, as a married courtesan, Satsuki can refuse any potential clients she chooses. Doemon will have to make do with the maid! Doemon remarks that he might buy out Satsuki's contract (miuke), and then she will belong to him. Goroz˘ retaliates that since she is married already, even this could never make her truly his own. Tempers flare, and the two are about to draw their swords when Kabutoya Yogor˘ [3], the proprietor of the Kabutoya ageya, interposes and prevents them from fighting in front of his establishment, ultimately enforcing a fragile truce.

Act II, Scene 2: Goj˘zaka Kabutoya Okuzashiki
An Inner Room at the Kabutoya in the Goj˘zaka Pleasure Quarter

Tomoenoj˘ has bankrupted himself through his nightly visits to the keisei ďshű. Despite having been dismissed from his service, Goroz˘ is still loyal to his former master, and has pledged to pay his debt of 200 ry˘ to the Hanagataya ageya. The debt is due this very night, but Goroz˘ has not managed to raise the money to pay it off.

The scene opens with Satsuki reading a letter from her husband in which he begs her to help him find the sum, for if he cannot repay it, the disgrace to both himself and to the Asama House will be such that he will have to commit suicide in atonement. Satsuki is at a loss as to what to do. As a married courtesan, she has no regular admirer from whom she could borrow the money. Doemon, there in yet another attempt to buy her favours, has been eavesdropping, and enters, magnanimously offering to lend her the sum. Satsuki is initially overjoyed, but soon discovers there is a catch. In order to have the money, she must write a letter of divorce to Goroz˘. Satsuki is devastated, for she still loves Goroz˘, and has always loathed Doemon. However, accepting is a way of repaying her debt of gratitude to the Asama House, and of saving her beloved husband's life. She has little choice but to agree to Doemon's demands, and puts a brave face on it by pretending that she no longer loves Goroz˘, since his financial state has forced her into prostitution, and he even finds it necessary to keep on extending her contract (enkiriba).

Doemon's henchmen burst in to congratulate their master, and a party is soon in full swing. When Satsuki has written the letter of divorce, Doemon wants one of his lackeys to deliver it to Goroz˘. Understandably, none of them is keen to do the job. However, at this moment, Goroz˘ enters - pursued by Yosuke, from the Hanagataya house, demanding repayment of the debt. This falls out better than Doemon could have devised, and the unfortunate Satsuki is forced to break off with Goroz˘ in a heart-rending scene in front of the assembled company, and with no opportunity to reveal to her husband the truth of the situation. Goroz˘ - wounded, maddened and publicly shamed - resolutely refuses to accept the money - much to the anguish of Yosuke. He denounces Satsuki, and makes to strike her with his shakuhachi when ďshű rushes in and interposes herself. She has presumably heard what has been going on, and feels partly responsible for the situation. She tries to calm down the incensed Goroz˘, and since she is Tomoenoj˘'s beloved, Goroz˘, out of respect for her and her lord, goes no further, but leaves, bitterly swearing vengeance.

Doemon, who wishes to show off his prize to the world, commands Satsuki to accompany him to the Hanagataya. Satsuki, disgusted by him as well as shattered, feigns illness, but ďshű once again steps in, and volunteers to take Satsuki's place. If she wears Satsuki's outer robe, and has her crested lantern carried before her, in the dark everyone will assume that it is Satsuki herself who is accompanying him. Doemon reluctantly agrees, though commanding that Satsuki follows as soon as possible. Before she leaves, ďshű is slipped a letter by Satsuki, who asks her to deliver it to Goroz˘ to explain recent events. Satsuki is left alone, a broken woman, still clutching the packet of money which has cost her so dear.

Act II, Scene 3: Kuruwa Uchi Yofuke
Dead of Night inside the Pleasure Quarter

In the dark in front of the Hanagataya lattices, Goroz˘ lies in wait, and when Doemon, ďshű and their retinue appear, he attacks. Some of the party flee, and he easily drives off those who don't, until he and ďshű are left alone. Taking her to be Satsuki, he repeatedly stabs her, in another scene of "beautiful cruelty", until she dies at his feet.

There is more than one ending to this scene. When the Gosho no Goroz˘ section of the play is performed alone, it is usual for Goroz˘ to bend over ďshű's body and realise his terrible mistake. Having killed his lord's beloved, he vows to take his own life - but to kill Doemon first. Doemon reappears, and the two fight, the curtain being drawn in the middle of this, although it is conventionally assumed that Doemon is killed (and just occasionally this is actually shown to happen).

However, when a fuller version of the play is performed, with a further Act to follow, Goroz˘, after killing ďshű, cuts off her head (still without realising her true identity), and then proceeds to fight Doemon. However, in the middle of their fight, Doemon uses his magical powers to vanish. The curtain is drawn on a bewildered Goroz˘, and then Doemon reappears on the suppon lift. The moon comes out from behind the clouds, and Doemon gazes at it and laughs coldly, before casually exiting along the hanamichi.

Act III, Scene 1: Goroz˘ Uchi Harakiri
Self-disembowelment at Goroz˘'s home

Next morning, Goroz˘ is awoken by two visitors, who give him a letter from ďshű, and tell him that she was murdered the previous night. Goroz˘ says he thought that Satsuki was the victim. The visitors grow suspicious. They see a blood stain on the floor (upon which Goroz˘ hastily spills tea), and recall that a witness saw Goroz˘ near the scene of the crime last night. They leave rapidly.

Goroz˘, realising that he will soon be arrested for murder, locks the door and takes out the severed head of his victim, only to find that it is indeed that of ďshű. He then reads the letter his visitors have brought. It is, of course, the one that Satsuki asked ďshű to deliver to Goroz˘, and it explains the whole unhappy situation, and expresses Satsuki's intention to die. Then Satsuki herself arrives - she has run away, and somehow escaped from Goj˘zaka. She knocks frantically at the door, whilst inside Goroz˘ commits seppuku to atone for his actions. Satsuki stabs her breast, and, injured as she is, manages to break open the door.

The couple are taken aback that they are both about to die. It makes Satsuki worry about her letter of divorce, but Goroz˘, regarding it as now being null and void, tears it up so that they may be reunited in the afterlife as man and wife. As they die, the couple play a duet on shakuhachi and kokyű, for ďshű's departed soul.

Summary written by Sekidobashi Sakura (June 2002), edited by Sh˘riya Aragor˘ (December 2006) and revised by Marion Hudson (January 2010) & Sh˘riya Aragor˘ (July 2020)


[1] The Goj˘zaka Pleasure Quarter was in Ky˘to, not Edo, but the famous Nakanoch˘ was the heart of the Yoshiwara Pleasure Quarter in Edo.

[2] Hoshikage Doemon's henchmen were Kanizuka Soheita, Samezu Goheiji, An˘ Takuroku and Aranami Kirokuta. Gosho no Goroz˘'s henchmen were Kajiwara Heibei, Shingai Araz˘, Ninomiya Tar˘ji and Hatakeyama Jir˘z˘ (or Chichibu Jűsuke).

[3] Either Kabutoya Yogor˘, a male role, or the Kabutoya ny˘b˘, a female role. The name of the ny˘b˘ is related to the actor guild. For example, it was Kabutoya Omatsu when the role was performed by Kataoka Hidetar˘ II (yag˘ Matsushimaya) in June 2003 at the Kabukiza. It was Kabutoya Okoma when the role when the role was performed by Nakamura Utaemon V (yag˘ Narikomaya) in December 1915 at the Kabukiza.

The actors Seki Sanjűr˘ III, Band˘ Mitsugor˘ VI and Ichikawa Kodanji IV playing the roles of Hoshikage Doemon, ďshű and Gosho no Goroz˘ in the drama "Soga Moy˘ Tateshi no Goshozome", which was staged in the 2nd lunar month of 1864 at the Ichimuraza (print made by Toyohara Kunichika)

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