Play title Kanadehon Chűshingura  In Japanese
Common title Shiro Akewatashi  In Japanese
Authors Takeda Izumo II
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Namiki Senryű I

The play "Kanadehon Chűshingura" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 8th lunar month of 1748 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki the same year and staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1748 in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai [casting]. The "Yodanme" act (4th act) was performed with the actors Ichinokawa Hikoshir˘ II, Arashi Sanjűr˘ II, Anegawa Shinshir˘ I, Kataoka Nizaemon IV and Tamiya Jűzabur˘ II in the roles of Hen'ya Hangan, ďboshi Yuranosuke, Ishid˘ Umanoj˘, Ono Kudayű and Yakushiji Jirozaemon.


The "Yodanme" act, the fourth act of "Kanadehon Chűshingura", is made up of 2 scenes commonly called "Hangan Seppuku" (literally "Hangan's seppuku") and "Shiro Akewatashi" (literally "Vacating the Castle"). Scene 1 and 2 are always performed for a t˘shi ky˘gen production of this drama and are never staged independently of the others acts.

Key words Gidayű Ky˘gen

Previous scene: "Hangan Seppuku"

Act IV, Scene 2: Shiro Akewatashi
Handing Over the Castle

Yuranosuke and men manage to persuade the rest not to resist the Sh˘gun's orders and to withdraw. This leaves Yuranosuke alone on stage before the front gate of what used to be Hangan's mansion. This is a short scene but a very important one because for the first time in the play, we get to concentrate on the drama's main hero, Yuranosuke... on his intense grief at the loss of his lord and on his rock-hard conviction to avenge his death. As he stands alone outside the gate it is a dark night and the cawing of crows fills the air. Yuranosuke clutches the dagger which Hangan used and which is still smeared withhis blood. He licks it, and pledges to fulfill Hangan's final wish.

Among famous roles for leading actors of male characters Yuranosuke is classed as one of the heaviest and most difficult. The character is intelligent and though certainly very loyal, he exhibits none of the impulsive and over-passionate dedication of many of the other retainers. Yuranosuke is calm and collected on the outside and all his actions are carefully planned. He is just as determined and just as committed as any of the others but he waits for the right time to express this. He also feels the sad loss of his lord as painfully as anyone and here at the end of this scene the audience finally gets to see this private hurt seep out.

Courtesy of Paul M. Griffith

Next act: "Ochiudo"

Sawamura Gennosuke I and Iwai Hanshir˘ V playing the roles of ďboshi Yuranosuke and ďboshi Rikiya in the "Shiro Akewatashi" scene of the drama "Kanadehon Chűshingura" in a print made by Katsukawa Shuntei in 1810

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