Play title Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma  In Japanese
Everyone's Favorite Tethered Horse [1]
Imay˘ Sugata no Sh˘j˘  In Japanese
Mata Bakeru Uwasa no Kuzu-no-Ha  In Japanese
Mitsu Kurenai Neya no Sekimori  In Japanese
Kubeki Yoi Kumo no Itosuji  In Japanese
Author Tsuruya Nanboku IV [2]

The kaomise drama "Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma" was premiered in the 11th lunar month of 1813 at the Moritaza [more details]. Within this kaomise program, 3 dance-dramas were staged: "Imay˘ Sugata no Sh˘j˘" (Nagauta), "Mata Bakeru Uwasa no Kuzu-no-Ha" (Tomimoto/Gidayű) and "Mitsu Kurenai Neya no Sekimori" (Tomimoto/Gidayű). "Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma" fell into oblivion and was revived by the star Ichikawa Ennosuke III in April 1984 at the Meijiza [more details]. It was also staged in September 1986 at the Meijiza and in October 1993 at the Kabukiza. The new version was very far from the original script as the focus in the 1813 "Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma" was the story of Kuzu-no-Ha, not the story about Taira no Masakado and his legendary son Yoshikado. Moreover, Ichikawa Ennosuke III decided to add at the end of the play, as an ˘giri shosagoto, the dance-drama "Kubeki Yoi Kumo no Itosuji" which was staged with Tokiwazu and Nagauta ensembles.


The current version of "Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma" (1993) is made up of 3 acts.

Key words Asakusa
Ennosuke Jűhachiban
Ennosuke Shijűhassen
Fujiwara Sumitomo
Fukkatsu T˘shi Ky˘gen Jűhachiban
Heian Jidai
Hirai Yasumasa
Kumo no Sei
Taira Masakado
Minamoto Raik˘
Minamoto Yorimitsu
Rash˘mon Kashi
Sakata Kintoki
Shuten D˘ji
S˘ma Yoshikado
Taiko Mochi
Taira Masakado
Taira Masamori
Taira Yoshikado
Tsunagi Uma
Urabe Suetake
Usui Sadamitsu
Watanabe Tsuna
Yamato Katsuragisan

Act I, scene 1: Sajiki-ga-Dake Fumoto Koma-ga-Hora
In the Pony Cave at the Foot of Mount Sajiki

Taira no Masamori, a power-hungry warlord, has ambitions of taking over the country. He hopes to ride to power by using as a proxy S˘ma Tar˘ Yoshikado, son of the late warlord Taira no Masakado. Masamori's faithful retainer Sakato Kur˘ Kumohaya has managed to steal a magical scroll, an heirloom belonging to the rival Genji clan. A legend has said that the scroll will bring the dead back to life when blood from a thousand-year-old silk spider (jor˘-gumo) living in a cave at the foot of Mount Sajiki is poured on it. Moreover, when it is used by someone born in the year of the dragon (tatsu), it allows the scroll caster to practice black magic.

Taira no Masamori loses no time in capturing the spider and pours its blood onto the scroll. As soon as he does so, however, he and Kumohaya lose consciousness. Kumade no Otsume, a beggar woman, appears carrying a box that holds a small golden Buddhist statue. She picks up the magical scroll, revives Masamori and Kumohaya, and shows them the statue, which has been stolen from the estate of Minamoto no Raik˘. Masamori tries to kill Otsume but an earth spider (tsuchi-gumo) appears and allows the woman to flee, clutching the magical scroll in her hands.

Act I, scene 2: Ichiharano
At Ichihara Moor

Princess Takiyasha, the daughter of late Taira no Masakado, arrives at Ichihara Moor in a temple to cremate the remains and belongings of her brother S˘ma Tar˘ Yoshikado. There, she meets Kumade no Otsume, who has thrown off her pursuers. Otsume exhibits the magical scroll that can bring the dead back to life, prompting Takiyasha to try to steal it from her. After a quick fight, Takiyasha wrests the scroll away and immediately uses it to revive her brother Yoshikado, who promptly kills Otsume on the spot and leaves the scene.

Kiky˘-no-Mae, who has been engaged to Yoshikado, arrives at Ichihara Moor. She coincidentally finds the golden crown worn by the late warlord Taira no Masakado and the magical scroll. She walks away with them.

S˘ma Rokur˘ Kimitsura, a trusted retainer of Taira no Masakado, comes in search of his former master's son. He finds a skull and carries it off with him, not knowing it is actually the skull of his late master.

An ominous rumor is spreading quickly throughout the Imperial capital Ky˘to: S˘ma Tar˘ Yoshikado has been successfully brought back to life!

Act I, scene 3: Ichij˘ Modoribashi Zutsumi
A River Bank near the Modoribashi Bridge at Ichij˘

The scene is set on a river embanment (tsutsumi) near the Modori Bridge on Ichij˘ in Ky˘to. Six hinin outside a hut appear to be relaying a message to someone inside. The person inside is Kiky˘-no-Mae, who has disguised herself as Komodare no Yasu, a male beggar, to escape from the witch-hunt against sympathizers of Taira no Masakado. Yasu is lost in thought as he gazes at a strip of paper on which there is a love poem, which has been written by Yoshikado and which has been addressed to Kiky˘-no-Mae. He carries the strip around with him as an amulet. Yasu is interrupted when Tetsumon Kihŕ enters the hut, saying that he has come to fix Yasu's broken sandals. Kihŕ is in reality Masakado's retainer S˘ma Rokur˘ Kimitsura.

Act I, scene 4: ďeyama D˘ji Nagaya
At the Boy Rowhouse in ďeyama

Tetsumon Kihŕ now manages a house of assignation called the D˘ji Nagaya [3], literally the boy (d˘ji) rowhouse (nagaya) in mountainous ďeyama, a legendary home of oni, as a cover to conceal his true identity. There is always a steady stream of rumors floating around the establishment among the women who work there and the clientele, mostly soldiers. The latest involves guesses as to the real identity of Yasu, the young man whom Kihŕ brought with him from the valley.

Urabe Kageyu Suetake, one of the four shitenn˘ [4] at the service of Minamoto no Yorimitsu, the leader of the Genji clan, enters the house saying that he has a message for Kihŕ. Urabe, suspects that the young man from the valley is none other than S˘ma Tar˘ Yoshikado in disguise, and he wants Kihŕ to take the life of Masakado's son. Kihŕ talks Suetake out of having Yasu beheaded but knows he is not out of danger yet, for the house of assignation is full of suspicious characters. There is the maidservant Ohyaku, who claims to be looking for someone. There is also the zat˘ Kayű, who has come as a paying customer. Another suspicious fellow is the daiya Shir˘ji [5]. Ohyaku is in reality Princess Chiharu, daughter of Minamoto no Raik˘. The zat˘ Kayű is actually the resurrected Yoshikado in disguise. Shir˘ji is in reality Kanaya Shir˘, a retainer of Ikasu Tar˘ Masazumi.

Shir˘ji and his friend Inokuma enter Kihŕ's house of assignation together. Shir˘ji is holding a cask. Inokuma is in reality the nyűd˘ Inokuma Raiun, another retainer of Ikasu. They have received from their master the order to murder all the soldiers in Kihŕ's house. They plan to do so by mixing poison into everyone's sake. Ohyaku overhears their conversation and tries to thwart the plan. She manages to wrest the cask containing the poison away from Inokuma and dumps it into the basin of a waterfall. Inokuma falls into the basin and is immediately killed.

Ohyaku returns to her room and is playing with an object she has received from Kihŕ. The zat˘ Kayű walks in and tries to steal it from her, but Ohyaku resists, and after a struggle both fall into a ravine.

Act I, scene 5: ďeyama Tani-zoko Kakushiya
In a Hiding Hut at the Bottom of the Ravine in ďeyama

The zat˘ Kayű and Ohyaku have been saved by Komodare no Yasu (in reality Yoshikado's sweetheart Kiky˘-no-Mae), who lives in a hut at the bottom of the ravine. While Kayű is massaging Yasu, a strip of paper kept as an amulet falls from Yasu's kimono. Ohyaku, who is drinking sake nearby, steals a glance at the strip and recognizes the author of the poem written on it.

Kihŕ enters the hut with some food for Yasu. Noticing Kayű and Ohyaku there, he chases the two away. Kihŕ mistakenly believes that Yasu is the guise adopted by S˘ma Tar˘ Yoshikado and implores him to reveal his real identity. Suddenly, two men come into the hut and announce that Kihŕ and Yasu are under arrest. The two have no other option than fleeing the hut.

Act I, scene 6: ďeyama Tani-zoko
At the Bottom of the Ravine in ďeyama

Yasu manages to shake off his pursuers and eventually runs into Kayű, who now drops his blind man's guise. Believing Yasu to be in league with Kihŕ, Kayű tries to kill Yasu. However, he soon realizes that Yasu does not move like a man. Yasu has guessed that Kayű was in fact S˘ma Tar˘ Yoshikado and intentionally drops the magical scroll and the gold crown worn by Yoshikado's father so that Yoshikado may take possession of them. Yasu then drops his guise and reveals a women's kimono underneath. Kayű (in reality Yoshikado) realizes for the first time that Yasu is in fact Kiky˘-no-Mae, the woman to whom he has been engaged.

Kiky˘-no-Mae tells Yoshikado that not even Kihŕ has known her true identity. She has convinced both Kihŕ and the Genji messenger Urabe Suetake that she is in fact Taira no Yoshikado. She says that, by drawing their attention away from the real Yoshikado, she has hoped to give Yoshikado the opportunity to gather his troupes and regain control of the country.

Handing Yoshikado the magical scroll and Masakado's belongings, Kiky˘-no-Mae claims she can finally rest easy and she takes her own life. Stunned by Kiky˘-no-Mae's action, Yoshikado faints. Kihŕ (in reality S˘ma Kimitsura) and Urabe Kageyu Suetake come running and find Kiky˘-no-Mae's body. Rokur˘ quickly takes out his sword and decapitates it, claiming that he will bring the head to Minamoto no Raik˘ as a proof that Yoshikado has finally been killed. Yoshikado, who has by now regained consciousness, severely reproaches Rokur˘, but also realizes that his father's retainer, like Kiky˘-no-Mae, has acted so that Yoshikado could be free of scrutiny by the Genji clan and be able to strike back. Rokur˘ apologizes for his action and asks to be beheaded. Yoshikado is touched by the loyalty of both Kiky˘-no-Mae and Rokur˘. He reluctantly takes Rokur˘'s life and offers prayers for the repose of the two souls, vowing to fulfill their wishes by avenging his father's death and regaining total control of the empire of the rising sun.

Yoshikado is now surrounded by Urabe's soldiers. He notices among them Ohyaku, who is in reality Princess Chiharu, the daughter of his father's archenemy Minamoto no Raik˘. She is holding the skull of his Taira no Masakado, and she offers to hand over the skull to Yoshikado if he gives up the magical scroll in exchange. Yoshikado agrees, and the two vow to meet again later on the battlefield.

Act II, scene 1: Sumida Zutsumi
At a Bank of the Sumida River

The yakko Yoisuke, at the service of Sakato Kumohaya, who was killed in the previous act by the earth spider (tsuchi-gumo), enters Edo with the golden statue stolen from his master. He believed he would be safe in Edo, but he finds that the city is under a military clampdown. The forces of Ikasu Tar˘ Masazumi are reputed to be hiding there after being chased down by Minamoto no Raik˘'s army. Spearheading the hunt for soldiers loyal to Ikasu is Watanabe Genji Tsuna, one of the four shitenn˘ [4] at the service of Minamoto no Yorimitsu.

Yoisuke emerges from a tavern (meshiya) along the Sumida River pleasantly intoxicated. He is holding a box with great care. He is followed by Harihiji D˘an, a doctor who tries to snatch the box away. In the fight that follows, the box, its cover and Yoisuke fall into the river, but the golden statue drops into D˘an's hands. The box and cover float down the river. The box is eventually picked up by Ibaragiya Onishichi, the owner of a kirimise in Asakusa, and the cover by the sakanaya Ebizako-no-Jű. Onishichi's wife, Otsuna, is for some unexplained reason on the boat with Ebizako-no-Jű.

Act II, scene 2: Rash˘mon Kashi Kirimise
At a Cheap House of Assignation in Rash˘mon Kashi

The kedamonoya Gonsuke (in reality, the yakko Gonpei, who is a spy), chases after Ichibŕ, who has left Gonsuke's shop without paying. Ebizako-no-Jű is talking with Onishichi's wife Otsuna about the Mikazuki Osen, a jor˘ working at a cheap house of assignation (kirimise) in Rash˘mon Kashi, a neighborhood in Asakusa, who has just returned from the public bath. Ebizako-no-Jű notices the amulet (omamori) worn around Osen's neck, and asks where it comes from. Startled by the question, Osen quickly hides the omamori into her kimono. Ebizako-no-Jű, who is in reality Minamoto no Raik˘'s retainer Watanabe Genji Tsuna, grows increasingly suspicious of those working in this house of assignation.

Act II, scene 3: Ibaragiya Onishichi Uchi
At Ibaragiya Onishichi's Home

Otsuna urges Mikazuki Osen to wait on customers. The doctor Harihiji D˘an, whom Osen calls her uncle, drops in. Osen is sulking after a scolding she has received from Ebizako-no-Jű. Ibaragiya Onishichi learns that his wife was on Ebizako-no-Jű's boat, and presses Osen for an explanation. They retreat to a rear room, however, when the kedamonoya Gonsuke enters.

Osen tells Otsuna how Ebizako-no-Jű has spotted the omamori, but confirms that she still has it. This amulet reveals her identity as Princess Kokonoe, the daughter of Fujiwara no Sumitomo, an important and powerful ally of Taira no Masakado. Otsuna also reveals that she is the jijo Tomaya, who used to be at the service of Fujiwara no Sumitomo. D˘an, who was spying on them, learns their secret and tries to turn the two in to the authorities. Spotting the golden statue in D˘an's hands, Otsuna kills the doctor to get it.

Ebizako-no-Jű enters Onishichi's house, saying he is willing to put up the money for Osen's freedom, adding that if Onishichi is unwilling to part with Osen, he should hand over his wife, Otsuna, instead. This unreasonable demand perplexes Onishichi, who suggests they talk things out over a cup of sake in a private room. Onishichi hoped to set Otsuna and Osen free in the meantime, but the house is surrounded by Watanabe Genji Tsuna's soldiers.

Ebizako-no-Jű now emerges in his true guise as Watanabe Genji Tsuna and declares that Onishichi, Otsuna and Osen are being taken in as part of the roundup of Ikasu's loyalists. Ibaragiya Onishichi, too, reveals his true identity as Ikasu Tar˘ Masazumi himself, a retainer of late Taira no Masakado. He has hopes of regrouping his forces in Edo after being defeated by the Genji forces, but he now prepares for what will be his final battle. He is unexpectedly allowed to leave freely, however, in exchange for the golden statue that Otsuna had managed to get from D˘an.

Act III, scene 1: Kubeki Yoi Kumo no Itosuji
Spider Webbing Tonight!

Ever since the golden statue and the magical scroll were returned to his estate, Minamoto no Raik˘ has been afflicted with a strange illness. He now spends most of his days confined to his private quarters.

An exorcist is summoned to locate the source of Raik˘'s affliction. The exorcist reveals that since the silk spider (jor˘-gumo) of Mount Sajiki was killed so that its blood could be poured on the magical scroll, the earth spider (tsuchi-gumo) of Mount Katsuragi has been casting a spell on the scroll's owner in the hopes of capturing the scroll.

Raik˘'s guards agree to keep a vigilant watch that night to prevent evil forces from reaching their master. But they are unable to keep their eyes open, and as they begin to doze off the keisei Usugumo appears. Usugumo has frequented Raik˘'s mansion when he lived in Ky˘to. Stirred by this presence, the guards spring to their feet and try to chase away what they now realize is an apparition. The tsuchi-gumo reappear repeatedly in various guises [6], however. Raik˘ awakes, and pulling out his sword, wounds the spider, forcing it to retreat to Mount Katsuragi. Raik˘, now free of the spell and his health restored, sets out on a mission to slay the spider. The tsuchi-gumo, which has schemes of dragging the entire country down into the world of evil, is finally subdued by Minamoto no Raik˘.


[1] The title "Everyone's Favorite Tethered Horse" comes from Samuel Leiter's "Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre". This was not a drama about horses. The tethered horse in the title was tsunagi uma, one of the family mon of the S˘ma Clan.

[2] The others sakusha working for Tsuruya Nanboku IV were Hon'ya S˘shichi, Tajima Konosuke I, Ichioka Washichi I, Masuyama Chűji, Narita Yasuke and Masuyama Ry˘suke.

[3] This is not really related to any boy but to Shuten D˘ji, the legendary ogre who used to live in ďeyama.

[4] Two shitenn˘ are important roles in "Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma": Urabe Kageyu Suetake and Watanabe Genji Tsuna. The two others, Sakata Shumenoj˘ Kintoki and Usui Yukienoj˘ Sadamitsu, appear as minor roles in the ˘giri shosagoto "Kubeki Yoi Kumo no Itosuji" at the end of the play. Same for Hirai Saemonnoj˘ Yasumasa, another classic character in any shitenn˘mono.

[5] The daiya Shir˘ji (in reality Kanaya Shir˘) was the daiya Tar˘ji (in reality Kanaya Tar˘) in 1984 and 1986.

[6] The spirit of the spider (kumo no sei) takes the following guises: the keisei Usugumo, the jod˘ Kinomi (Kino coming from Kinoshi, the family name of Ichikawa Ennosuke III), the kosh˘ Omodaka (Omodaka coming from Ichikawa Ennosuke III, the yag˘ of Ichikawa Ennosuke III), the taiko mochi Masahei (Masa coming from Masahiko, the first name of Ichikawa Ennosuke III) and the zat˘ En'ichi (En being the same ideogram as the one in Ennosuke).

Illustration from a ehon banzuke for the staging of the kaomise drama "Gohiiki Tsunagi Uma" in the 11th lunar month of 1813 at the Moritaza with the actors Ichikawa Omez˘ I (1st from left/bottom), Onoe Sh˘roku I (2nd from left/top), Nakamura Rik˘ II (2nd from right/bottom) and Ichikawa Tomoz˘ II (1st from right/bottom)

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