Play title Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki  In Japanese
Authors Hasegawa Senshi
Matsuda Bunk˘d˘

The play "Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki" is a jidaimono history play on a grand scale and the story of three brothers with loyalties to the Genji Clan in a world ruled by the Heike clan. It was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 9th lunar month of 1731 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki at the end of the same year and produced for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1731 at the Kado no Shibai. The zamoto was Arashi Kokuseki (unknown casting). It was produced by Arashi Koroku I in the first quarter of 1732 in Ky˘to with the actors Mihogi Gizaemon I and Ichiyama Sukegor˘ I playing the roles of Yoshioka Kiichi H˘gen and Ichij˘ ďkura Naganari. Arashi Kokuseki produced the play one more time in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai in the 3rd and 4th lunar months of 1732 [casting]. It was performed for the first time in Edo, at the Moritaza, in the 1st lunar month of 1757 [casting].


The play "Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki" was originally in 5 acts. Two main parts have survived, "Kikubatake" ("The Chrysanthemum Garden" in English), which is the main scene of the 3rd act, and "Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari", which is the core of the 4th act. The final act, "Goj˘ no Hashi" is still part of the current repertoire but is rarely staged:

Act Scene In Japanese Reading in Roman Characters
II 3 播州書写山 Banshű Shoshazan
III 1 六波羅清盛館 Rokuhara Kiyomori Yakata
  2 今出川鬼一法眼館菊畑 Imadegawa Kiichi H˘gen Yakata Kikubatake
  3 今出川鬼一法眼館奥庭 Imadegawa Kiichi H˘gen Yakata Okuniwa
IV 1 檜垣茶屋 Higaki Jaya
  2 曲舞 Kusemai
  3 大蔵館奥殿 ďkura Yakata Okuden
V 1 五條橋 Goj˘ no Hashi
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Genpei-kassenmono
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Minamoto Yoritomo
Minamoto Yoshitomo
Musashib˘ Benkei
Taira Kiyomori
Taira Shigemori
Tokiwa Gozen

Banshű Shoshazan
Mount Shosha in the Banshű province

Iwachiyo, young son of Hiromori, Lord of Banshű Province, comes to the Seish˘in Temple, accompanied by Ichihara Dampei, a servant, to study under Sh˘kei Ajari, the chief priest.

After Sh˘kei and Iwachiyo have exchanged cup of sake, an earthen cup is passed around among the pages in attendance to acquaint Iwachiyo with them. When the cup comes to one of the pages named Oniwaka, he says that it is too small for him. He drinks directly from the cask and throws the cup at the floor to break it to pieces.

In the subsequent lesson for reading, Oniwaka blunders and is laughed at by Iwachiyo. Oniwaka gets angry and beats him up. An ired Dampei tries to at-tack Oniwaka but is persuaded by Sh˘kei to pardon him.

Asuka, Oniwaka's former wet nurse, visits the temple together with Oniwaka's elder sister Oky˘'s and her husband Yoshioka Kijir˘. Asuka tells Oniwaka that his mother was pregnant with him for seven years and that he was taken out of her body when she was killed by Iwachiyo's father Hiromori.

Oniwaka wishes to kill Iwachiyo in reprisal but is dissuaded by Kijir˘ and Asuka, who say that Oniwaka's true enemy is not Iwachiyo but Kiyomori, head of the Heike Clan.

When Oniwaka is taking a nap Iwachiyo and Dampei approach him, wishing to smear his face with ink.

Oniwaka awakes in time and, furious with rage, throws a desk and a book case into the garden. When Dampei protests to Oniwaka, Asuka accuses him of unnecessary meddling in children's quarrel. Dampei gets angry and kicks her so hard that she faints. Oniwaka retaliates by throwing him against the stone wall of a well to kill him instantly. Oniwaka then smears Iwachiyo's face with ink and drives him out of the temple.

Oniwaka then shaves his head to become a priest- soldier and changes his name to Benkei.

Rokuhara Kiyomori Yakata
At Kiyomori's Mansion

Kiyomori, head of the Heike Clan, which has defeated the Genji Clan, calls Hiromori, one of his leading retainers, to his mansion and asks him where Benkei is and why Kiichi H˘gen, a former Genji warrior now serving Kiyomori, has not yet presented his book of strategy to Kiyomori in spite of his persistent demand. In reply Hiromori says that Kiichi's daughter Minazuru will soon bring the book in place of Kiichi, who is ill, and that Kasahara Tankai, Kiichi's leading disciple, knows much about not only Benkei but also Kiichi's younger brothers Kijir˘ and Kisanta.

Called by Kiyomori to his mansion, Tankai soon arrives and tells Kiyomori that if he marries Minazuru, he will become the heir to Kiichi, who has no son. When Minazuru arrives Tankai woos her but is sternly rejected.

Tankai then challenges her to a martial art contest, telling her she must marry him if she is defeated. Fighting with a sword against Minazuru who wields a halberd, Tankai is defeated and flees melter skelter.

When asked by Kiyomori to present the book of strategy, Minazuru takes out a letter of admonition to Kiyomori written by his son Shigemori. As Minazuru reads it aloud Kiyomori gets very angry and goes away after telling Hiromori to make Tankai visit Kiichi and find out where Benkei, Kijir˘ and Kisanta are.

Imadegawa Kiichi H˘gen Yakata Kikubatake
The Chrysanthemum Garden at Kiichi H˘gen's Mansion in Imadegawa

In a garden of brilliant yellow and white chrysanthemums, there is Kiichi, an elderly strategist working for the dictator Kiyomori, his beautiful daughter Minazuru and two footmen, the elegant young Toraz˘ and the powerful Chienai. But in fact, Toraz˘ is a young general from the enemy side here to steal Kiichiĺs secrets of strategy. Chienai is his retainer. But Kiichi has realized why they are there and also knows that Chienai is actually his younger brother. At the same time, Minazuru has fallen deeply in love with Toraz˘.

Imadegawa Kiichi H˘gen Yakata Okuniwa
The Inner Garden at Kiichi H˘gen's Mansion in Imadegawa

Ushiwakamaru tells Princess Minazuru that she has nothing to fear and charges Kisanta to take her and her father to a place of safety. The girl directs his attention to the open door of the house. There on the threshold of the inner room her father waits to place in the hands of his true lord the precious book of tactics.

Higaki Jaya
The Higaki tea-house

After the death of the Genji general Yoshitomo, the despotic Heike ruler Kiyomori had forced Tokiwa Gozen, Yoshitomo's widow, to become his mistress in return for his sparing the lives of her three small sons. Eventually tiring of her, he had passed her on to a retainer, Lord Ichij˘ ďkura Naganari, who appears to be an imbecile. The truth, however, is that the lord is secretly sympathetic to the Genji cause and is merely playing the role of the fool in order to stay clear of involvement in Kiyomori's despotism. Consequently he had accepted Tokiwa not from lust but to save her from further humiliation by ensuring her position as his legal wife. Loyal Genji retainers including Kijir˘ and his wife Oky˘, however, suspect that Tokiwa may be a wanton woman who has betrayed the Genji cause, and plot to spy out the situation.

For this purpose Kijir˘ and Oky˘ have made arrangements for Oky˘ to be taken into the lord's service if possible, and are waiting outside the gate for the lord and his retinue to come by as scheduled. It is known that the lord loves to entertain himself with little skits and plays and for this purpose hires anyone with a little talent to put on spontaneous performances for him. Thus Oky˘ is to present herself as one such performer so as to be hired by him and then seek an opportunity to approach Tokiwa.

When Ichij˘ ďkura comes by, Kijir˘ slips away so as not to be noticed while Oky˘ quickly approaches the lord. Naruse, the wife of ďkura's chief retainer Kageyu, with whom previous contact had been made, introduces Oky˘ to the lord as a woman exceedingly talented in farce. ďkura engages Oky˘ on the spot, speaking nonsense all the while in a droll manner that suggests a moronic mind. Oky˘ per- forms a dance and the lord enjoys it so much he tries to imitate her while sitting on the bench, and losing his balance, falls to the ground.

In high good humor he proceeds on his way with Oky˘ now added to the retinue. Kijir˘ is still standing by the side watching the group, and the lord notices him just as Kijir˘ hastily hides his face under his sedge hat. For just a moment the lord's moronic mask disappears as he alertly regards the suspicious stranger. But immediately he returns to his role as the innocently smirking imbecile lord.

The Old Dance

ďkura's kar˘ Yatsurugi Kageyu and Harima Daij˘ Hiromori are plotting together to take advantage of ďkura's imbecility and eventually usurp his estate. Hiromori is suspicious of the fact that Tokiwa should have so docilely agreed to become the wife of such an idiot daimy˘, and fears that Tokiwa means to utilize her husband's imbecility and make the mansion a focal point to gather support for the Genji cause. Hiromori comes at ďkura's mansion to discuss this critical issue with Kageyu. He is surprised to find Kageyu in a quite unusual costume. The senior retainer explains that he has been called on to humor his lord by wearing the costume and participating in a Ky˘gen farce. When Hiromori expresses his fears, Kageyu reports that he has seen nothing suspicious in Tokiwa's attitude. The only strange thing is that she practices archery nightly with a small bow and an arrow. Kageyu came to the conclusion that this is only an occupation to avoid spending time with her weak-minded husband in the bed room. Hiromori, however, is still unconvinced.

Music is heard, and Lord ďkura appears on stage, accompanied by Oky˘ and Naruse. Hiromori makes his greetings and ďkura answers in a nonsensical manner. He invites Hiromori to stay a while to witness a Ky˘gen farce put on by the two women. Hiromori finds the invitation a nuisance and tries to beg off. However, Kageyu hints to him that he should accept the invitation and ask for a performance of the sword dance. Hiromori understands this suggestion that he should take this opportunity to kill the lord, and asks for a sword dance. The sliding doors behind are opened, revealing a group of musicians to accompany ďkura in the dance.

During the dance, Kageyu and Hiromori try to kill ďkura, but ďkura, while continuing his dance and pretending that he does not notice, skillfully parries all their attempts. The dance ends before the two evil characters can find a chance to strike the lord. ďkura departs from the room, followed by Oky˘ and Naruse and leaving two disgruntled warriors behind him.

ďkura Yakata Okuden
In the inner pavilion of the ďkura's palace

Tokiwa Gozen, the widow of the head of the defeated Genji clan and mother of Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, the future leaders of the clan, has become the mistress of the dictator Kiyomori, then the wife of Lord ďkura, a seemingly simple-minded fool who spends all his time watching pretty women dance. Outraged members of the Genji clan sneak into Lord ďkura's mansion only to discover that Tokiwa Gozen's immorality and Lord ďkura's idiocy are a guise, the only way to survive in a world ruled by the enemy.

Goj˘ no Hashi
The Goj˘ Bridge

Ushiwakamaru appears nightly on the Goj˘ Bridge in Ky˘to to fulfill his pledge to kill 1,000 persons in a prayer for the repose of his late father's soul. One night Benkei, who has been training himself in martial art on Mt. Hiei, appears to attack him with a halberd.

Ushiwakamaru is, however, so skilled in swords- manship that Benkei proves no match for him. Benkei lays down his weapon and asks Ushiwakamaru to make him his retainer.

  • Source for the "Banshű Shoshazan", Kiyomori Yakata, "Goj˘ no Hashi": Hironaga Shűzabur˘
  • Source for the "Kikubatake" and "ďkura Yakata Okuden": the Earphone Guide website
  • Source for "Higaki Jaya": Kabukiza April 2000 program
  • Source for "Okuniwa": Aubrey and Giovanna Halford in "The Kabuki Handbook"
  • This page would have not been built without the help of my friend Marion Hudson! Thank you very much Marion!
  • The actors Nakamura Utaemon IV and Onoe Kikugor˘ III playing the roles of Benkei and Ushiwakamaru in the "Goj˘ no Hashi" scene of the drama "Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki", which was staged in the 9th lunar month of 1838 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Kuniyoshi)

    The "Kikubatake" scene in the 9th lunar month of 1849 at the Ichimuraza (Edo)

    The "Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari" scene in June 1882 at the Ichimuraza (T˘ky˘)

    The "Goj˘ no Hashi" scene in the 3rd lunar month of 1828 at the Naka no Shibai (ďsaka)

    Prints & Illustrations

    Search this site powered by FreeFind
      Site map | Disclaimer
    Contact | Main | Top | Updates | Actors | Plays | Playwrights | Programs | Links | FAQ | Glossary | Chronology | Illustrations | Prints | Characters | Derivatives | Theaters | Coming soon | News