Play title Hidakagawa Iriai Zakura  In Japanese
Authors Chikamatsu Hanji
Takemoto Saburobŕ II
Takeda Koizumo II (Takeda Izumo III)
Kitamado Goichi

The play "Hidakagawa Iriai Zakura" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 2nd lunar month of 1759 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was quickly adapted for Kabuki a few months later and staged for the first time in the 11th lunar month of 1759 at the Takeda no Shibai, a hama shibai venue. It was staged for the first time in Edo in the 9th lunar month of 1770, at the Moritaza [casting].


The original drama was in five act. The short 20-minute "Ferry Crossing Scene", commonly called "Hidakagawa" (the Hidaka River) was part of the 4th act.

Key words D˘j˘ji

Introduction (the previous scenes)

Due to a feud over the Emperorĺs successor, Prince Sakuragi is in danger. He disguises himself as an ascetic monk named Anchin to escape his pursuers. On his journey, the Prince spends a night in the village of Manago (Kii province), in the home of man named Sh˘ji in the Kumano region. Princess Kiyo, the daughter of Manago no Sh˘ji, not knowing that the monk is actually a prince, falls hopelessly in love with him. Anchin escapes to the Temple of D˘j˘ji, across the river Hidaka.


In "The Ferry Crossing Scene" Princess Kiyo has followed Anchin all the way to the river, and there asks the boatman for passage across. But the boatman has been instructed by Anchin to refuse her at all costs. The boatman denies her request. Princess Kiyo first laments (kudoki), then, she is consumed by a jealous rage and gives into such intense wrath. She is so determined to cross the river by her own strength thaht she transforms into a giant serpent (shittogoto). She jumps into the river Hidaka to chase after Anchin.


It is a custom in Kabuki to perform the role of Princess Kiyo in ningy˘buri. The main pupeeter, dressed as a kurogo, is always a kanbu actor. He is assisted by a black-hooded manipulator. The boatman is also played as a puppet, with comical thick eyebrows.

The musical ensemble is either Gidayű or Shinnai. The Sh˘wa star Nakamura Utaemon VI used to prefer the latter musical style.

"Hidakagawa" on youtube.com: part 1/2 and part 2/2.

The actor Kataoka Nizaemon XII playing the role of Princess Kiyo in the dance-drama "Hidakagawa Iriai Zakura", which was staged in January 1937 at the T˘ky˘ Gekij˘

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