Play title Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto  In Japanese
Karukaya D˘shin and the Souvenir of Tsukushi [1]
Authors Namiki S˘suke
Namiki J˘suke

The play "Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 8th lunar month of 1735 in ďsaka at the Toyotakeza. It was based on a famous sekky˘-bushi entitled "Karukaya" and a j˘jűri entitled "Karukaya D˘shin Monogatari". It was adapted for Kabuki the following year and staged for the first time in the 3rd lunar month of 1736 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai (unknown casting).


"Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto" was made up of 5 acts. A few scenes have survived and the two most famous are "Imorizake" from the 3rd act and "K˘yasan" from the 5th act.

Key words Buzen
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Ise Jingű
Karukaya D˘shin
Karukaya D˘shin Monogatari
Kat˘ Saemon Shigeuji
K˘ga Jisshu

In Act I, Kat˘ Saemon Shigeuji, commander of the emperor's castle at Chikuzen for seven years, is rewarded for his excellent work by being given the beautiful kanjo Chidori as his concubine. While Chidori is on her way to pay her respects to the goddess of mercy on Mount Takao [2], she is captured by Tatara Shind˘zaemon, a vassal of the evil ďuchi Sabur˘ Yoshihiro of Buzen, but Yoshihiro is himself captured by the Kat˘ family regent Kenmotsu Tar˘ Nobutoshi. The captors arrange to exchange prisoners.

The second act begins at the Kitsune River, where Shigeuji saves two destitute r˘nin. At his mansion, Chidori and Shigeuji's okugata, Maki-no-Kata, fall asleep while playing sugoroku, and their hidden jealousy manifests itself by their hair turning into snakes who bite at each other [5]. Shigeuji observes this and decides to become a monk. His wife returns home to Tsukushi with her son Ishid˘maru, and Chidori, aiming to kill Shigeuji, kills his brother Kurozuka Kurando instead, but is wounded and dies.

Act III begins with the "ďuchi Yakata" scene in Yoshihiro's mansion, where, hoping to gain power over Kyűshű, he seeks to obtain as pawns all the family jewels in the region. He has his eyes on the Kat˘ family's jewel, which, he is falsely told by Kenmotsu Tar˘, will lose its lustre if handled by anyone other than a female virgin past twenty. At the time, most girls married well before twenty, so Tar˘ thinks no such person will be found. To get the jewel Yoshihiro sends Yűshide, the shrine priestess (miko) daughter of his vassal, Tatatara Shind˘zaemon, who accompanies her to the Shigeuji mansion. She arrives in formal dress, with her hair done up with a white arrow in place of a hairpin. Tar˘ gets her drunk on imorisake, mixed with an aphrodisiac. When Yűshide sees Tar˘'s handsome brother, Onnanosuke [3], she falls for him and lets him make love to her. It is up to Tar˘'s wife, Kenmotsu Hashidate, to keep Shind˘zaemon occupied while his daughter is being deflowered. The jewel is shown to have lost its lustre (a black stone replaces it), which enrages Shind˘zaemon, and the apologetic girl dies by stabbing herself in the throat with the arrow in her hair. Shind˘zaemon becomes aware of the deception that has been carried out, including the fact that the story about the jewel's properties was a ruse and that the lustreless stone was a substitution. He realizes that his daughter fell in love with one of the Kat˘ family, so he sympathetically gives the jewel to Onnanosuke, Maki-no-Kata, and Ishid˘maru, and lets them depart to find Shigeuji.

In the following act, Onnanosuke, Maki-no-Kata, and Ishid˘maru are seen in a michiyuki as they near Mount K˘ya. At its foot, the trio are surrounded by Yoshihiro's men, but they fight free. They stop at a lodging owned by Tamaya Yoji, whose wife, Orachi, is the former spouse of Onnanosuke, and who lives with their young son. Yoji leads those pursuing the group, but because he was one of the r˘nin saved by Shigeuji when he was in distress at Kitsune River, he promises to save Shigeuji's wife and son. Onnanosuke has a dream in which he has evil intentions toward Shigeuji's wife and, after entrusting his affairs to Yoji, kills himself as a preventive measure. Because Komagata Ikkaku Haruhide, one more of those seeking to capture Maki-no-Kata and the boy, is the other r˘nin saved by Shigeuji, a substitution (migawari) is carried out whereby Orachi and her son are taken in place of Shigeuji's family.

In the final act, Maki-no-Kata lies ill in a hall for ladies on Mount K˘ya, so only her son can make the climb up the mountain to find his father. Meanwhile, the substitution has been discovered and the pursuers close in. Ishid˘maru finds his father, who has not seen him since he was two and who is now called Karukaya D˘shin. Karukaya realizes who the boy is, but the latter does not recognize his father, nor does Karukaya acknowledge his identity because of his vows to leave behind worldly things. He does, however, give the boy medicine for his mother before sending him back [4]. He secretly follows the boy and prays for his dying wife. Yoshihiro is captured and brought on and Shigeuji orders him to save the life of Ishid˘maru, who has left for the capital.

Courtesy of Samuel Leiter
Summary from
"New Kabuki Encyclopedia"

A must-read !

[1] The title "Karukaya D˘shin and the Souvenir of Tsukushi" comes from "A Kabuki reader: history and performance".

[2] Most likely Mount Takao near Ky˘to.

[3] His full name was Kuwabara Onnanosuke. Not Kenmotsu Onnanosuke.

[4] This qualifies the scene as a kowakare.

[5] A scene with shittogoto.

The cover of the ezukushi banzuke for the staging of the drama "Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto" in the 9th lunar month of 1853 in ďsaka at the Takeda no Shibai

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