Play title Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana  In Japanese
(The First Flowers of Ueno)
Kumo no Ueno San'e no Sakumae  In Japanese
Yuki no Yűbe Iriya no Azemichi  In Japanese
(A Narrow Road in Iriya on a Snowy Evening)
Author Kawatake Shinshichi II

"Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana" derived from Matsubayashi Hakuen II's famous k˘dan entitled "Tenp˘ Rokkasen", telling the stories of 5 larger-than-life Edo thieves and gamblers and one courtesan. The story was full of the Edo emotional mood which was being lost when the Meiji period started. The first attempt made by Kawatake Shinshichi II was entitled "Kumo no Ueno San'e no Sakumae" and was premiered in October 1874 at the Kawarasakiza [casting]. It was not a huge success and the drama focused primarily on the bogus priest K˘chiyama S˘shun. The second attempt was a complete revision of the first one, with a lot a new scenes dealing with others characters, the "honest samurai" Kataoka Naojir˘ and his lover the courtesan Michitose. This new play, which was entitled "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana", was premiered in March 1881 at the Shintomiza with an amazing casting: Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX (K˘chiyama S˘shun), Onoe Kikugor˘ V (Kataoka Naojir˘), Ichikawa Sadanji I (Kaneko Ichinoj˘) and Iwai Hanshir˘ VIII (the courtesan Michitose) [casting].

The part of "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana" dealing with Kataoka Naojir˘ and his lover Michitose was staged independently from the rest of the play, under the title "Yuki no Yűbe Iriya no Azemichi", for the first time in April 1910 at the Kabukiza [casting]. It contained one of the most famous Kabuki love scenes, enhanced by a beautiful Kiyomoto accompaniment. As a consequence of this successul production, the Kabuki producers had 3 options: the staging of the play as a t˘shi ky˘gen (commonly called "K˘chiyama to Naozamurai", to meaning "and" in Japanese), a set of scenes focusing on the osukiya b˘zu and blackmailer K˘chiyama S˘shun (commonly called "K˘chiyama") and a set of scenes focusing on the love story between Kataoka Naojir˘ and the courtesan Michitose (commonly called "Naozamurai to Michitose").


The original "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana" drama was in 7 acts. Nowadays, a classic "K˘chiyama to Naozamurai" t˘shi ky˘gen of "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana" is usually made up of 5 acts divided into 11 scenes:

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 湯島天神境内 Yushima Tenjin Keidai
In the Precincts of Yushima Shrine
  2 上州屋見世先 J˘shűya Mise Saki
At the J˘shűya Pawnshop
II 1 大口楼二階廻し座敷 ďguchi-r˘ Nikai Mawashi Zashiki
A Parlor on the Second Floor of the ďguchi Bordello
  2 大口楼三千歳部屋 ďguchi-r˘ Michitose Heya
Michitose's Room in the ďguchi Bordello
  3 吉原田圃根岸道 Yoshiwara Tanbo Negishi Michi
On the Negishi Road in the Rice Fields near Yoshiwara
III 1 松江邸広間 Matsue Yashiki Hiroma
The Audience Room at Matsue Mansion
  2 松江邸書院 Matsue Yashiki Shoin
The Guest Chamber at Matsue Mansion
  3 松江邸玄関先 Matsue Yashiki Genkan Saki
The Entrance at Matsue Mansion
IV 1 入谷蕎麦屋 Iriya Sobaya
The Noodles Shop in Iriya
  2 入谷大口寮座敷 Iriya ďguchi-ry˘ Zashiki
A Nearby Pavilion belonging to the ďguchi in Iriya
V 1 池の端河内山妾宅 Ike-no-Hata K˘chiyama Sh˘taku
At the Home of K˘chiyama's Mistress in Ike-no-Hata
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters

Another act, made up of 3 scenes, is still in the Kabuki repertoire but it is rarely staged (only once after WWII, in January 1983 at the National Theatre). It is staged between Act III and Act IV of the standard t˘shi ky˘gen of this drama:

Act Scene In Japanese In English
Act IV 1 隆慶橋 Ryűkeibashi
At Ryűkei Bridge
  2 比企東左衛門屋敷 Hiki T˘zaemon Yashiki
At Hiki T˘zaemon's Mansion
  3 小石川御堀端 Koishikawa Ohoribata
The Moat at Koishikawa
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Anma
Cha B˘zu
K˘chiyama S˘shun
Osukiya B˘zu
Tenp˘ Rokkasen
Yushima Tenmangű

Act I

There is a huge crowd at the Yushima Shrine because of an exhibition match put on by fencing master (kenkyaku) Kaneko Ichinoj˘ with his disciples as an "offering" paid by local shopkeepers to the shrine. Kurayami no Ushimatsu (literally Ushimatsu of the "Darkness"), a local hoodlum, demands protection money from Kaneko Ichinoj˘. His argument is simple: if Kaneko succeeded in collecting money from shops in the neighborhood under the pretext of performing as an "offering" to the shrine, he, too, is a wayside entertainer. The protection money rule applies to all entertainers in the precincts of the Yushima Shrine. Ushimatsu's demand angers Kaneko's disciples. Quickly, the two groups are squaring off for a huge fight with each other, when K˘chiyama S˘shun, an osukiya b˘zu, steps in to intervene. Thanks to his imposing manner, Ushimatsu and his men reluctantly end their show of force and retreat. K˘chiyama is thanked by the Head of the Yushima Shrine and by Kaneko Ichinoj˘.

K˘chiyama S˘shun is a wily master of bluff. He comes to the Joshűya pawnshop (shichiya) to see whether he can borrow 50 ry˘ with only a wooden sword to offer as collateral. The clerk Den'emon turns down the request because the collateral is a worthless object. Hearing the argument, Omaki, the mistress of the shop, comes out to intervene. Her daughter Ofuji is in trouble and Omaki needs some help, even from somebody with a bad reputation like K˘chiyama. Ofuji, who entered the household of Lord Matsue (the kami of the province of Izumo), four years ago to serve as a koshimoto, is now being held prisoner in a room at the residence because of her refusal to become the lord's concubine. K˘chiyama sees a chance for claiming a big reward. He says he will bring the daughter back in two days and, full of self-confidence, asks for 200 ry˘.

Act II

Michitose is the most beautiful and popular oiran at the ďguchi in Yoshiwara. She is in love with Kataoka Naojir˘ (nicknamed Naozamurai, the honest samurai), who was formerly a low ranking samurai but who has now taken to a life of crime. He has recently been hard up for money and has been coming to Michitose for help. Using up her own funds, Michitose has herself been forced to borrow money procured for her by her friend Okuma and the sum has now reached a hundred ry˘. Okuma has recently been asking for repayment and Michitose is at a loss what to do. Her only solution is for her and Naozamurai to join in a lover's suicide but he refuses since the problem is only money. They decide to think of something but Michitose is called away to the room of one of her clients, the kenjutsu-zukai Kaneko Ichinoj˘.

Unfortunately, the money that Okuma has been obtaining for Michitose belongs to Ichinoj˘. He demands repayment and threatens to redeem her from her contract with the ďguchi (miuke) in which case she will become his 'property'. At that moment, Naozamurai enters and gives a hundred ry˘ to Ichinoj˘ who is surprised and displeased, but he accepts the money and leaves. (The money was, in fact, obtained from K˘chiyama, the gang leader).

The last scene of Act II is set in a lonely rice-paddy area not far from the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. In the darkness, Kaneko Ichinoj˘ is hiding among the shadows of reeds by the Negishi roadside. He is lying in wait for his rival Naozamurai who should be soon returning from Yoshiwara. Ichinoj˘ plans to kill his rival in love.

A palanquin (kago) approaches, and Ichinoj˘ is sure that its passenger is Kataoka Naozamurai. He leaps out and strikes out the kago lantern with his sword. Then, he starts to poke his sword point into the palanquin. At this moment, the passenger of the palanquin quickly lifts up the side curtain. To Ichinoj˘'s amazement, it is not Naozamurai inside but the gang leader K˘chiyama. Hurriedly, he hides his sword behind his back. Meanwhile, Naozamurai, who had been accompanying K˘chiyama on foot, hides behind the palanquin and watches the scene.

K˘chiyama looks out at Ichinoj˘ and asks him what objects has just flashed in his back. Seeing Ichinoj˘'s helplessness, K˘chiyama disregards the fact that he knows Ichinoj˘'s murderous intention by saying that it must have been a falling star. Ichinoj˘ is overawed by K˘chiyama's show of boldness. A moment of suspense ensues, with the three characters in tense and watchful positions. In the end, Ichinoj˘ is unable to make his planned assault. No one will be killed tonight!


The act is set at the Matsue Mansion (yashiki). As the koshimoto at the residence of Lord Matsue are gossiping about the lord's infatuation for Namiji (Ofuji was named Namiji when she entered the residence 4 years ago), she comes running into their midst, trying to escape from the lord who comes chasing after her, sword in hand. Miyazaki Kazuma, one of the lord's young retainers, is trying to restrain his lord. However, his rival retainer Kitamura Daizen aggravates the situation by hinting that Kazuma's interest in saving Namiji is that he himself has had an affair with her. As the lord presses him for an answer, elder retainer Takagi Kozaemon comes and remonstrates with the lord for his unscrupulous ways. The lord is in no mood to be remonstrated and tries to execute Takagi; but at this point a page comes to announce that a priest has come from the Kan'eiji Temple of Ueno. As the lord is in no mood to meet the envoy, Kozaemon meets him. Kozaemon is afraid that the imperial envoy has come to check on rumors of the lord's questionable ways.

The visitor, who introduces himself as the abbot D˘kai, regally demands that the lord himself be present. Finally Lord Matsue makes his entrance into the guest room. D˘kai looks appraisingly at Lord Matsue, and then remarks sarcastically that he looks remarkably fit for one supposed to be indisposed. D˘kai tells the lord to release Namiji as his reputation is being affected by his bad conduct, but the daimy˘ is highly reluctant. When D˘kai mentions that the lordship itself may be endangered if he continues in such a manner, Lord Matsue finally agrees and gives the envoy a gift of money.

Presently the envoy comes to the entrance for departure, when Kitamura Daizen calls out loudly from the side and reveals the envoy's true identity by pointing out a large wart on his face as that of K˘chiyama S˘shun. Realizing that the game is up, K˘chiyama threatens that if he is not allowed to retreat peacefully he will tell all, thus bringing dishonor and ruin to the Matsue household. Elder retainer Takagi comes to straighten out the matter, forcing Daizen to retreat. K˘chiyama departs, with one last sarcastic remark [1] aimed at Lord Matsue and Daizen. As K˘chiyama walks off, the lord comes out to watch his departure.

Act IV [2]

Hanshichi, a clerk at the Shimaya store, has been inveigled into an illegal gambling game and tricked out of 200 ry˘ of his employer's money. Unable to return to his place of employment, he visits his brother-in-law, Terada K˘bŕ, and explains the situation. Naozamurai (Kataoka Naojir˘) arrives and, hearing what has happened, he undertakes to get the money back. He disguises himself and, together with Ushimatsu, another gang member, he goes to the game and gains admittance. He is recognized by the leader of the gambling group and is offered twenty ry˘ to leave quietly.

Naozamurai refuses and threatens to expose their illegal gambling syndicate unless he is given the whole 200 ry˘. As they are arguing, Ichinoj˘ appears and Naozamurai gets the money.

Meanwhile, Hanshichi has been waiting by the bank of the moat at Koishikawa. Naozamurai arrives and gives him the money. Ichinoj˘ appears and calls to Naozamurai. He explains that he is resentful at having lost Michitose and challenged him to a duel. Naozamurai agrees and they fix the time and date at several days hence.

Act IV [3]

It is winter and snow is falling heavily. Two men, police spies, are eating soba (hot noodles in soup) at a small sobaya in Iriya, a village close to the Yoshiwara pleasures quarter. They are actually searching for Naozamurai (Kataoka Naojir˘) who is now a wanted man and is on the run. They ask the way to the ďguchi and leave.

Naozamurai appears, his kimono hitched up exposing his legs. His face is wrapped in a scarf and he is carrying an umbrella. Although a fugitive, he still manages to cut a dashing figure. He enters the shop warily, steps out of his clogs and warms himself. He orders soba and sake. Sitting down, he loosens his scarf and talks to the people in the shop. He learns that two men were there earlier, asking for the ďguchi. Another customer, the anma J˘ga, comes in and Naozamurai settles himself behind a small screen. As he eats, J˘ga says that he has been very busy recently, attending on Michitose at the ďguchi. He explains that she has been ill, pining for her lover, and is now resting at a nearby villa. Naozamurai has been listening carefully all the while. He calls for writing materials, disguising his voice through his scarf so that J˘ga, who knows him, will not recognize him. When Naozamurai has written his letter, he pays for his meal, gets up and leaves.

Outside, he waits for J˘ga who soon appears and recognized him. Naozamurai asks him to deliver his note to Michitose. J˘ga agrees and takes his leave. Naozamurai then bumps into his fellow gang member, Ushimatsu, who warns him that the police are after him and that he should get away from Edo as quickly as he can. Naozamurai parts from him sadly, not knowing when he will meet his old friend again. Ushimatsu remains behind and decides that he has a better chance of saving his own skin by betraying Naozamurai to the police. He hesitates at first and then he sets off after him.

Naozamurai comes through the snow to the rear entrance of the villa and knocks. He is let in by two maids. Ushimatsu appears and runs off to tell the police. Naozamurai dries himself. Michitose enters and scolds him for so neglecting her that she has become ill. He tells her that he cannot stay long but must leave Edo that night. She asks why, but he says he will explain later and glances meaningfully at the two maids. They take the hint and leave.

The next part of this scene is more stylized, and the dialogue is interrupted by passages of dance which include several famous poses. With the maids gone, Naozamurai and Michitose back slowly towards each other, touch and sink to a kneeling position. He explains that he is not the man she thinks, but a criminal on the run. She prepares a pipe for him and dresses his hair (kamisuki); both intimate signs of affection. He gives her a letter explaining everything, but she surprises him by announcing that she has known all the time and that it makes no difference.

At that moment, they are interrupted by Ichinoj˘ and Naozamurai conceals himself behind a screen. Ichinoj˘ tells Michitose that he has paid the money to free her and that he is going to take her away. She, however, will have none of it.

Ichinoj˘ becomes angry and insults Naozamurai who jumps out from behind the screen and attacks him but is easily overpowered. Naozamurai asks Ichinoj˘ to kill him and Michitose urges him to kill her too. He refuses, unwilling to soil the blade of his sword with their blood. He throws a paper to them, says they may marry if they wish and leaves. Inside they find the document making Michitose a free woman and a letter from Ichinoj˘ explaining that he is her brother and that he was trying to save her from her disastrous relationship with Naozamurai. The two raise their hands in a gesture of gratitude to Ichinoj˘ but, at that moment, torite burst in and seize Naozamurai. He manages to break free and, shouting farewell to Michitose, leaps over a low fence and rushes off. She calls after him as he runs to the hanamichi, makes a powerful pose, and exits.

Act V [4]

Three days later. Omaki and Seibŕ of the pawnshop are paying a visit to K˘chiyama at the home of his mistress Omitsu in Ike-no-Hata to thank him for the safe return of Ofuji. K˘chiyama S˘shun had requested a loan, and unable to refuse under the circumstances, they have brought 200 ry˘ with them. Then K˘chiyama reveals for the first time his part in the ruse at the Matsue Mansion, saying that the priest in question was none other than himself. Omaki and Seibŕ show consternation as they fear danger of getting involved in such shady business, and scurry off.

K˘chiyama hands the money to Omitsu, instructing to keep half for herself and take the other half to K˘chiyama's wife, as he himself will no doubt soon be arrested. Now Naozamurai (Kataoka Naojir˘) slips into the house. He had been in flight since that night at Iriya and has finally managed to come to visit his boss. He tells him that he has been betrayed by Ushimatsu. He has succeeded in taking his revenge and has killed the traitor Ushimatsu before coming here. He now hopes to flee from Edo. K˘chiyama tells Naozamurai that running away is useless. He advises him to act more gallantly. K˘chiyama says that he himself is resolved to stay in his mistress's home until the arrival of the torite. Naozamurai is impressed and says he will do likewise. Omitsu brings out trays of food and some sake. Then, K˘chiyama informs the apprehensive Naozamurai that the house has been surrounded by the torite.

Naozamurai, who cannot muster up the same kind of bravado as K˘chiyama, shows his inner fear. As the torite rush into the room, K˘chiyama unhurriedly picks up his cup and motions to Naozamurai to fill it up. Naozamurai does as bid. After K˘chiyama has drunk from the cup, Naozamurai takes his turn, while the torite are shouting for their surrender.


[1] As he reaches the hanamichi, K˘chiyama pauses to look back in triumph. Lord Matsue and Kitamura Daizen appear on the porch and the bogus priest insults them with the word bakame.

[2] The rarely-staged original 4th act.

[3] It was the 5th act in the original drama.

[4] It was the 6th act in the original drama.

The actors Iwai Hanshir˘ VIII (left print), Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX (right print, top) and Onoe Kikugor˘ V (right print, bottom) playing the roles of the courtesan Michitose, K˘chiyama S˘shun and Kataoka Naojir˘ in the drama "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana", which was staged in March 1881 at the Shintomiza (print made by Y˘shű Chikanobu)

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