Meiboku Sendai Hagi: this play is about the attempt to take over one of the most
famous samurai households in the Edo period, a scandal that caused a sensation in
Hanamizubashi: the daimy˘ Yorikane
(Nakamura Fukusuke) has fallen in love with a courtesan and has neglected responsibilities,
causing high ranking retainers to plot the takeover of his domain.
Returning from the pleasure quarters, he is attacked at Hanamizu Bridge, but
is able to escape thanks to the help of a sum˘ wrestler retainer.
Take-no-Ma/Goten: Masaoka (Onoe Kikugor˘), a loyal maidservant, is taking care of the
lord's young heir. Afraid he will be poisoned, she refuses to let anyone see
him who might try to assassinate him. She even fixes his meal in her quarters
using her delicate tea ceremony implements to cook rice. The plotting faction
does not give up, though, and sends poison in the form of candy as a present
from the Sh˘gun. Masaoka's son sacrifices his life for the young lord
by eating the poisoned candy, and when he is killed, she thinks only of
protecting her lord. Her fierce devotion to duty convinces the plotters
that she is on their side. Masaoka's actions help save the young lord,
and only when she is alone can she grieve for her son. With Kataoka Nizaemon
as the villainous Yashio, a court woman who kills Masaokaĺs son.
Yukashita: Another faithful retainer Otokonosuke (Nakamura Tomijűr˘), stands guard
underneath the room, but the evil Nikki Danj˘ (Ichikawa Danjűr˘) appears as a giant rat,
but then slips away, walking calmly through the clouds.
Taiketsu/Ninj˘: the elderly Geki (Ichikawa Danshir˘), a faithful retainer,
brings charges against Danj˘. Danj˘ cleverly protests his innocence, but his lies
are seen through by the wise judge Katsumoto (Kataoka Nizaemon). Condemned to death,
Nikki tries to take his revenge on Geki.
Shichimai Tsuzuki Hana no Sugatae: two different dances, Genta (Kajiwara Genta and his Battles) and Gannin B˘zu (The Begging Priest).
First performed in 1808 by Band˘ Mitsugor˘ III,
this was originally a series of seven dances featuring
the same actor in a variety of roles. The character of Genta is a historical figure
from the wars between the Genji and Heike clans, but in this dance is shown as an
elegant dandy from the Edo period visiting the pleasure quarters.
Then the actor changes to a begging priest who gets money by going door to door
performing songs and dances. Starring Band˘ Mitsugor˘ in dances created by his ancestor.
Tsuru Kame: the crane (tsuru) is said to live for a thousand
years, the tortoise (kame) is said to live for ten thousand years.
Together, they are a traditional symbol of longevity. There is no particular plot
to this play, but simply shows a visit by the empress to the Moon Pavilion where
two courtiers dance as the spirits of the crane and tortoise.
Starring Nakamura Jakuemon as the empress, Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as the spirit of the crane and
Nakamura Fukusuke as the spirit of the tortoise.
R˘ben Sugi no Yurai: this play deals with the legendary origins of the
priest R˘ben, one of the founders of the great T˘daiji temple in Nara. Once as a
farm woman was watching over her child, he was stolen away by a giant bird.
She wandered for years looking for him and was driven mad by her desperate search.
In the scene that will be presented, finally she comes to T˘daiji where the head
priest considers a certain tree very precious since that is where he was found as
a child. A Buddhist priest took care of him and now he has risen to this great
status. When she realizes that R˘ben is none other than her long lost child,
the mother recovers her senses and there is a happy reunion.
Starring Nakamura Shikan as the mother and Kataoka Nizaemon as R˘ben.
Hinasuke Ky˘ran: There are many dances that feature characters that have been
driven mad with grief by the loss of some loved one. This is a very rare performance
of one of these scenes in the oldest style of Kabuki starring Onoe Kikugor˘.
Goj˘bashi: a short dance showing Ushiwaka, a delicate young man
who actually is a powerful warrior picking fights on the Goj˘ Bridge in Ky˘to and Benkei,
the stout warrior priest who challenges him. Starring Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as Benkei with
his young son Takanosuke as Ushiwaka.
K˘chiyama: the tea priest K˘chiyama (Ichikawa Danjűr˘) is a skilled thief and
extortionist, but cannot turn down a request to help those in need.
He disguises himself as a high-ranking priest to try to gain the freedom of a
girl held by a powerful samurai lord (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) because she will not become his mistress.
Using the famous poetic cadences of the late 19th century playwright Mokuami,
K˘chiyama not only succeeds in his mission to rescue the girl, but he manages to
extort a fair amount for himself.
Source: Earphone Guide website