Play title Kinmon Gosan no Kiri  In Japanese
Sanmon Gosan no Kiri  In Japanese
Author Namiki Gohŕ

The drama "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri" was written directly for the Kabuki by the playwright Namiki Gohŕ and was produced for the first time in the 4th lunar month of 1778 by the zamoto Ogawa Kichitar˘ I in ďsaka at the Kado no Shibai [casting]. It was staged for the first time in Edo, at the Ichimuraza in a somewhat different version entitled "Sanmon Gosan no Kiri" instead of "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri" [casting]. This title stayed in Edo while the drama kept its original title "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri" in Kamigata theaters.

In modern times, the drama "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri" was successfully revived at the National Theatre in 1976 [casting]. The star Ichikawa Ennosuke III worked on it as part of his Shunjűkai study group and deviced a more spectacular version, which used the Edo title "Sanmon Gosan no Kiri" and was staged for the first time in September 1967 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘, starring Ichikawa Ennosuke III and Ichimura Takenoj˘ VI in the roles of Ishikawa Goemon and Mashiba Hisayoshi.


The play "Sanmon Gosan no Kiri" was originally in 5 acts. The "Nanzenji Sanmon" scene, commonly called "Sanmon", was part of the second act.

Key words Chűnori
Ennosuke Jűhachiban
Ennosuke Shijűhassen
Fukkatsu T˘shi Ky˘gen Jűhachiban
Ishikawa Goemon
Mashiba Hisaaki
Mashiba Hisatsugu
Mashiba Hisayoshi
Toyotomi Hidetsugu
Toyotomi Hideyori
Toyotomi Hideyoshi

The five-act play's central character is, of course, Ishikawa Goemon, rendered as a son of one S˘ Sokei, a Chinese general, but as a child brought up by Takechi Mitsuhide, a warlord crushed by Mashiba Hisayoshi, an adversary of Hisayoshi (as Hideyoshi is renamed here). Goemon appears first as a Zen priest named Reizan from the Nanzenji Temple in Ky˘to, who steals a treasure belonging to the Mashiba family and kills a retainer named Tsutsui Junkei who tries to stop him.

Meanwhile, Hisayoshi has two sons Ś the older, Mashiba Hisatsugu, whom he disowns due to his disreputable character, and Mashiba Hisaaki, yet another dissolute whom he chooses as his heir. Hisaaki is involved with a courtesan named Kokonoe, and he and his brother fight over her.

Sonoo, Hisayoshi's wife, then appears with Kishida Minbu (modeled after Ishida Mitsunari, Hideyoshi's favorite retainer) and tells her two sons about Hisayoshi nominating Hisaaki as his heir. Enraged, Mashiba Hisatsugu tries to kill his brother but, rather than him being summarily killed for this assault, Konomura ďinosuke, his chief retainer and guardian, persuades Sonoo to let him keep Mashiba Hisatsugu in custody for 50 days so he may correct his behavior.

Unknown to Sonoo, though, ďinosuke is S˘ Sokei in disguise, a former warlord of the 12th Ming emperor who is scheming against Hisayoshi in order to overthrow the country because the latter has confiscated his territory.

Nonetheless, even after 50 days confined in ďinosuke's charge, Mashiba Hisatsugu has not mended his ways even though he Ś and Hisaaki and Kokonoe, who are also staying at ďinosuke's place Ś are informed that Hayakawa Takakage, Hisayoshi's regent, is expected to visit soon.

Consequently, ďinosuke decides to have Mashiba Hisatsugu killed and Ś surrounded by Hisayoshi's soldiers Ś he writes a letter to this effect to his son, S˘ Soyű, before entrusting it for delivery to a white eagle that comes to life from its image painted on a hanging scroll Ś and then himself committing harakiri in front of Takakage.

The fatal encounter between Ishikawa Goemon and Mashiba Hisayoshi at the main gate of the Nanzenji Temple is featured in Act III. This finds Goemon, gorgeously dressed and coiffed, sitting on the balcony of the gate, holding a pipe. He then opens the letter just delivered by the white eagle and realizes not only that ďinosuke has failed in his plot against Hisayoshi, but that he was also his long-lost father. Goemon swears that he will avenge his father's death. The splendid, two-story red building is then raised slowly from under the stage Ś with a standing figure of Hisayoshi, dressed as a pilgrim, in front of it. Goemon greets the pilgrim by throwing a knife at him, which Hisayoshi catches.

Then, as the multilayered yarn progresses, Goemon, disguised as a courtier, drops in one day at S˘emon's house on his way back from paying homage to the great Buddha image at the Hokoji Temple. S˘emon is a wealthy merchant and Goemon is married to Oritsu, S˘emon's adopted daughter. S˘emon, though, was originally a samurai named Kaida Shingo, a retainer to Takechi Mitsuhide who was killed by Hisayoshi. In order to avenge the death of his master, S˘emon has had a tunnel dug from under his house to Hisayoshi's palace at Momoyama. But as chance would have it, Hayakawa Takakage, Hisayoshi's regent, drops in one day seeking the white-eagle messenger. He immediately suspects that S˘emon is actually Kaida Shingo, a former retainer of Takechi Misuhide, but as this scene unfolds the white eagle flies off and back into the hanging scroll.

Takakage then comes out with his soldiers and confronts S˘emon by calling him Kaida Shingo, and orders him to bring out S˘ Soyű. When S˘emon is struck and falls, Oritsu hurries to his side. Then, after S˘emon tells Oritsu his real name, just before he expires he tells her he must yet settle old scores for his master Takechi Mitsuhide, who was destroyed by Mashiba Hisayoshi, and asks for Goemon to avenge his master's death. He then points her to the tunnel leading to an empty well in the Momoyama Palace to make her escape.

Next, when Goemon reappears he finds Takakage ready to attack him Ś at which point he quickly practices magic by hiding S˘emon's body in a wicker basket and then disappearing with it Ś only to emerge up through an opening in the stage's hanamichi (runway) as if from a well in the palace grounds before soaring high above the heads of the audience, bursting out of the basket and flying away with it and the body of his father-in-law it holds inside.

Still bent on revenge, though, Goemon goes to the Momoyama Palace one night, steals into Hisayoshi's bedroom and is about to stab him when he is apprehended by guards. Hisayoshi then throws a knife at Goemon, but he catches it and thereupon recalls their first encounter at the Nanzenji Temple gate and realizes they are both thieves alike.

In the final act, Goemon Ś who disappeared after catching the knife Ś is surrounded in the palace garden by Hisayoshi, members of his family and his retainers. However, Hisayoshi tells Goemon that he respects his character and so, instead of killing him, he will send home to China the Ming Prince Junnan whom Goemon's wife, Oritsu, had been looking after. Goemon, in return, promises to return to Hisayoshi a precious incense-burner he had taken. The play then concludes as Goemon and Hisayoshi part Ś promising to meet again, in battle.

Source: Sasaguchi Rei

The poster of the production of "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri", which was staged in April 1976 at the National Theatre

"Sanmon Gosan no Kiri" staged at the Ichimuraza in the 3rd lunar month of 1828
More details about Ishikawa Goemon
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