Play title Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘  In Japanese
Eight Battle Arrays to Protect Honj˘ Castle [1]
Authors Nakamura Gyokan
Sagawa T˘ta

The play "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 9th lunar month of 1807 in ďsaka. It was quickly adapted for Kabuki by the sakusha Nagawa Kunisuke, Nagawa Tokusuke I and Ichioka Washichi I and staged for the first time the following year, in the 3rd lunar month of 1808 in Ky˘to at the Kitagawa no Shibai [casting]. In order to avoid the Shogunate censorship, the identity of all historical characters were disguised (more or less lightly):

Real name Role
Kat˘ Kiyomasa Kat˘ Asakiyo in the first version, Sat˘ Masakiyo or Kat˘ Masakiyo later
Toyotomi Hideyoshi Oda Harunaga
Toyotomi Hideyori Oda Haruwaka
Tokugawa Ieyasu Kitabatake Haruo in the first version, H˘j˘ Tokimasa later
Ikeda Sanzaemon Hori Sanzaemon in the first version, Mori Sanzaemon later
Got˘ Mototsugu Kojima Masatsugu in the first version, Got˘ Masatsugu later

"Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘" was originally made up of 11 acts. 2 acts are still part of the current Kabuki repertoire, "Kosui Gozabune" (literally 'The Magnificent Boat on the Lake') which are the 4th act and "Honj˘ Tenshukaku" (literally 'In the Keep of the Inner Castle') which is the 8th act.

Key words Dokushu
Gidayű Ky˘gen
H˘j˘ Tokimasa
Kat˘ Kiyomasa
Tokugawa Ieyasu
Toyotomi Hideyori

In Front of the Gate

On the occasion of the visit of an Imperial messenger to the Oda clan's newly-built castle in Azuchi to announce the designation of Oda Haruwaka, the young heir to the late Oda Harunaga as Sh˘gun, two daimy˘, Kat˘ Masakiyo and Mori Sanzaemon, meet in front of the castle. They are respectively in the service of the Oda family and H˘j˘ Tokimasa, one of the most powerful warlords in Japan. Sanzaemon says that Tokimasa is already in the castle and asks Masakiyo about Haruwaka. Masakiyo says that Haruwaka has gone back to his home as he suddenly fell ill on his way to this mansion.

The Poisoned Sake

Before the arrival of the Imperial messenger, Marikawa Genba, one of Sanzaemon's retainers, makes amorous advances to Sanzaemon's daughter Hinaginu. He is interrupted by Hinaginu's mother Shigarami.

When Masakiyo's son Kazuenosuke arrives, Hinaginu passionately asks him to marry her. The jealous Genba comes to accuse them of having an illicit love affair. As a consequence, he demands that they either kill themselves or be executed. Their fathers, Masakiyo and Sanzaemon, feel obliged to consent to their execution. At this moment Tokimasa appears on stage. He has heard everything. He not only forgives the young lovers but also allows them to marry. Informed by Masakiyo that Haruwaka is absent because of his illness, Tokimasa tells Kazuenosuke to go to the Gion Shrine to pray for Haruwaka's recovery from illness. Tokimasa then goes away, saying he feels unwell and wishes to take a rest.

When the Imperial messenger, the chűnagon Yamakage, arrives, Masakiyo and Sanzaemon present themselves as legal representative respectively for Oda Haruwaka and H˘j˘ Tokimasa. The messenger announces Haruwaka's official promotion and suggests that Masakiyo and Sanzaemon exchange cups of sake in celebration. As soon as they finish drinking, the imperial messenger takes his leave.

Masakiyo leaves for his home, accompanied by Hinaginu. Then Sanzaemon feels a sudden pain. When Shigarami comes to help him, he says that he has deliberately sacrificed himself by order of his master. Tokimasa appears and says that he has arranged, with the Imperial messenger's connivance, to poison Masakiyo to death, making Sanzaemon drink a cup of poisoned sake first in order to make Masakiyo follow suit without suspicion. Tokimasa orders Hayabuchi Kyűma to go to the port of Naniwa to see what effect the poisoned sake had on Masakiyo. The poisoned Sanzaemon then disembowels himself to death in order to die of seppuku, not poisoning.

Kosui Gozabune
The Magnificent Boat on the Lake
--> A dedicated summary: "Kosui Gozabune"

When a luxurious ship (gozabune) carrying Kat˘ Masakiyo and Hinaginu is preparing to leave for Masakiyo's home province, a boat carrying Hayabuchi Kyűma comes alongside. Kyűma asks Masakiyo how he feels. Masakiyo answers that he is fine, so Kyűma goes away, looking a little skeptical.

At Masakiyo's suggestion Hinaginu sings to her own koto accompaniment. Marikawa Genba then arrives on board of another boat and presents to Masakiyo a cask of sake as Tokimasa's gift. Masakiyo accepts it but begins to suspect that something bad has happened to Sanzaemon, judging by some strange remarks made by Kyűma and Genba. Hinaginu notices that Masakiyo looks unwell though he is pretending to feel fine.

Kazuenosuke Hayauchi
Kazuenosuke's Hurried Visit

On his return to his castle Masakiyo confines himself with Hinaginu to a room for a 1oo-day prayer, allowing no one else, not even his wife Hazue, to enter the room. On the last day of the prayer Marikawa Genba visits the castle with ďuchi Yoshihiro, the warlord of the neighboring province. Genba tells Hazue that he has come as Tokimasa's messenger and proceeds to Masakiyo's room, but Yoshihiro refrains from doing so. A giant boatman named Nadaemon comes to the castle with a sake cask to be presented to Masakiyo. He says he has heard that Masakiyo is ill, but Hazue tells him that Masakiyo is in good health. Kazuenosuke hurriedly comes from Ky˘to to see his father at Tokimasa's request. Hazue suggests that he meet Hinaginu first and through her try to get Masakiyo's permission to see him.

Honj˘ Tenshukaku
In the Keep of the Inner Castle
--> A dedicated summary: "Honj˘ Tenshukaku"

Kazuenosuke and Hinaginu meet outside Masakiyo's room. They are glad to see each other again and are worried about Masakiyo's physical condition.

Inside the room, Marikawa Genba and several of his retainers, who are disguised as rats, sneak in but are thrown out by Masakiyo.

Kazuenosuke enters his father's room. He has brought with him a letter from Tokimasa. Masakiyo angrily tears it up and declares that he has no intention of supporting Tokimasa's cause. He orders Kazuenosuke to return to Ky˘to immediately and protect Haruwaka from Tokimasa. Kazuenosuke takes his leave after handing a personal letter to Hinaginu.

Hinaginu's mother Shigarami, who has arrived from Ky˘to, tells her daughter that she cannot remain Kazuenosuke's wife. Tormented by the apparent doom of her marriage, Hinaginu turns to Kazuenosuke's letter for consolation only to find that it is a letter of divorce. The reason of the divorce is that she is the daughter of Sanzaemon, who is loyal to H˘j˘ Tokimasa, his father's enemy. Out of despair Hinaginu commits suicide by stabbing her throat with a dagger.

Masakiyo appears from his room in full martial regalia and displays a flag on which the names of Kazuenosuke and Hinaginu are written side by side. He knows that Kazuenosuke will die an honorable death in Ky˘to and that the flag shows his wish to see Kazuenosuke and Hinaginu live happily as husband and wife in the other world.

ďuchi Yoshihiro and Nadaemon, who is in reality Got˘ Masatsugu, come to see Masakiyo. They want to raise an army to fight against H˘j˘ Tokimasa in support of Oda Haruwaka. Got˘ Masatsugu, Hazue and Shigarami leave for Ky˘to, seen off by Masakiyo, who turns pale, showing the effect of the poisoned sake he took in Ky˘to.


[1] The title "Eight Battle Arrays to Protect Honj˘ Castle" came from osakaprints.com.

The actors Band˘ Tamasabur˘ I and Ichikawa Danz˘ V playing the roles of Sanzaemon's daughter Hinaginu and Sat˘ Masakiyo in the drama "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘", which was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1833 at the Ichimuraza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

Prints & Illustrations

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