Play title Shinjű Yoi G˘shin  In Japanese
Common titles Ochiyo Hanbŕ  In Japanese
Yoi G˘shin  In Japanese
Authors Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1722)
Kema Nanboku (1949)

"Shinjű Yoi G˘shin" was based on the real story of the greengrocer Hanbŕ and his wife Ochiyo, who committed their shinjű in ďsaka the 3rd (or the 5th day?) of the 4th lunar month of 1722 [1] on the eve of the K˘shin festival. There was a great stir in ďsaka because of this sad event and the playwright Ki-no-Kaion immediately adapted it to the puppet theater. His play was entitled "Shinjű Futatsu Haraobi" and it was staged from the 6th of 4th lunar month of 1722 [2] at the Toyotakeza. Ki-no-Kaion's rival Chikamatsu Monzaemon wrote his own version, which was entitled "Shinjű Yoi G˘shin" and was staged from the 22nd of the 4th lunar month of 1722 [3] at the Takemotoza. The first Kabuki adapatations were produced at the end of the 4th lunar month of 1722 in Ky˘to and in the 8th lunar month of 1722 in Edo. The play in Ky˘to was entitled "Yaoya Shinjű" and the roles of Ochiyo and Hanbŕ were played by Segawa Kikunoj˘ I and Iwai Hanshir˘ III. The play in Edo was entitled "Hana M˘sen Futatsu Haraobi" and the roles of Ochiyo and Hanbŕ were played by Arashi Wakano I and Nakamura Shichisabur˘ II.

According to the Ritsumeikan Univ. Performances Database, the title "Shinjű Yoi G˘shin" was reused in the 3rd lunar month of 1778 for a revival in Edo at the Moritaza. This production was not recorded in the 4th volume of "Kabuki Nenpy˘".

In modern times, the play was revived and revised by Kema Nanboku and staged in May 1949 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ with Band˘ Jusabur˘ III and Onoe Baik˘ VII in the roles of Yaoya Hanbŕ and Ochiyo.


The original drama "Shinjű Yoi G˘shin" was in 3 acts.

Key words Aburakake-ch˘
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Kamigata Ky˘gen
K˘shin Machi
Yoi G˘shin

Act I: Ueda-mura Shimada Heiemon no Ie
At the Home of Shimada Heiemon in the Village of Ueda

Shimada Heiemon, an ˘byakush˘ of Ueda village in the province of Yamashiro, lies bedridden, under the care of his eldest daughter, Okaru. One day, a palanquin (kago) from ďsaka arrives at their doorstep, and Okaru is taken aback as her younger sister, Ochiyo, disembarks from it. Okaru has not anticipated Ochiyo's visit, assuming she has come to check on their father, who's unwell. Yet, Okaru is bewildered by Ochiyo's somber and humble demeanor.

Ochiyo proceeds to share her recent misfortunes with her sister. Her first marriage ended in divorce, leading her back to her father's home. The second marriage resulted in her husband's death. In her third marriage, she wed Hanbŕ, the adopted son of the ďsaka yaoya Iemon. It was hoped that this union would finally bring Ochiyo happiness. Sadly, Hanbŕ's mother-in-law, Omine, developed a strong aversion to Ochiyo during Hanbŕ's absence on a journey. Omine, in her dislike, compelled Ochiyo to leave, instructing palanquin bearers (kagokaki) to transport her back to the Ueda village, a practice considered disgraceful for women in those times. As Ochiyo grapples with her desolation [4], Okaru, empathetic to her sister's plight, becomes concerned about how their ailing father might react. She advises Ochiyo against discussing the matter with him. Ochiyo explains that Hanbŕ himself has not informed her of their divorce. Instead, Omine forced her departure while Hanbŕ was away for a few days attending memorial services for his father, who had passed away seventeen years prior when Hanbŕ was a young boy.

Heiemon, who had presumably been eavesdropping from the next room, calls out to Ochiyo. Tearfully, she greets her father, and Heiemon kindly reassures her not to worry about being divorced again. He acknowledges that he may have been stricter in his younger years, but age has made him more tolerant of the circumstances. Okaru and Ochiyo are relieved by their father's lack of displeasure.

Unexpectedly, another visitor arrives at the household: Hanbŕ, who has stopped by on his way home from the memorial services. He is unaware of Heiemon's illness and Ochiyo's presence. When Hanbŕ encounters Ochiyo, her silence and departure from the room perplex him, making him sense the family's hostility towards him. Learning about Heiemon's sickness, Hanbŕ assumes that Ochiyo is at the house due to that reason, which somewhat eases his concerns.

Heiemon confronts Hanbŕ regarding his treatment of Ochiyo, reminding him of his promise to ensure her lifelong happiness. Although Hanbŕ is initially baffled by the situation, he firmly asserts his commitment to the promise. As the truth of the situation gradually unfolds, Hanbŕ resolves to take Ochiyo back to ďsaka with him, regardless of his stepmother's wishes. Ochiyo is overjoyed to reunite with her husband. However, Heiemon is aware that if the foster parents refuse to accept Ochiyo back into the household, Hanbŕ and Ochiyo might be compelled to commit suicide rather than face separation.

With this in mind, Heiemon orders sake for a farewell drink. Since there is no sake available in the house, he suggests using water [5]. As the couple departs, he lights a "sending-away" fire (kadobi) at the gateway [6].

Act II: Aburakake-ch˘ Yaoya Iemon no Ie
At the Home of the Greengrocer Iemon in Aburakake-ch˘

At the grocer shop in ďsaka, situated in the district of Aburakake-ch˘, Omine is orchestrating the day's tasks, giving out orders to everyone in her usual authoritative manner. Just as she is fervently scolding her nephew Tahŕ, Hanbŕ returns to the shop after running an errand. Hanbŕ steps in to mediate as Tahŕ continues to exchange heated words with Omine. After a few more confrontational remarks, Tahŕ departs on his errands but not before informing Hanbŕ that there is a message for him from someone at the Yamashiroya shop, eagerly awaiting his arrival. Yamashiroya, a shop managed by Hanbŕ's cousin, serves as a clandestine refuge for his wife, Ochiyo, as he could not bring her back home due to Omine's displeasure. Hanbŕ attempts to use the excuse of business at Yamashiroya to slip away, but Omine intervenes, revealing that she's well aware of his clandestine visits to meet Ochiyo.

Sainenb˘, an acolyte from the neighborhood temple arrives, informing Iemon and Omine that the neighbors have assembled for a service, urging their attendance. Today is k˘shin, an important day. Iemon suggests Omine accompany him, but she insists on staying home to prevent Hanbŕ from sneaking off to Yamashiroya to retrieve Ochiyo. Though sympathetic to Hanbŕ's plight, Iemon attends the service on his own.

Realizing the futility of the situation, Hanbŕ changes his approach. He points out that Ochiyo was driven out of the house by Omine's actions and this might lead neighbors to blame Omine. He suggests it would be more fitting for the husband to order his wife's departure, sparing the neighbors from having anything to criticize the parents about. Omine is flattered by Hanbŕ's consideration and becomes more cooperative. Hanbŕ then requests Omine to allow Ochiyo to return temporarily so he can proceed with divorcing her himself. Omine extracts a promise from him that he will ensure Ochiyo's departure afterward. Satisfied, she departs to join Iemon at the temple.

Meanwhile, Hanbŕ, determined to die alongside Ochiyo, sits down to write a farewell letter to his foster parents. To his surprise, Ochiyo herself arrives at the house, filled with joy. She reveals that Omine herself has just visited the Yamashiroya, being exceptionally pleasant and explaining that Ochiyo should return immediately to Hanbŕ. Hanbŕ takes Ochiyo's hands and clarifies that Omine's attitude is a facade. He explains the true circumstances, and the two reaffirm their commitment to face death together. Upon Omine's return, Hanbŕ enacts the divorce and banishes Ochiyo from the house. Afterward, he discreetly departs to reunite with Ochiyo, who waits outside.

Act III: Michiyuki Omoi no Mijikayo
A Brief Night of Travel brimming with Thoughts

Late at night, the couple makes their way to the fundraising office (kanjinsho) for the T˘daiji Temple in Ikutama. Hanbŕ unfurls a deep red carpet, carefully arranging a box that holds his last wishes. They reflect on the unfortunate destiny that awaits their family [7]. They leave behind two poignant farewell poems, a testimony to their deep love. Then, in a heart-wrenching moment, Hanbŕ takes a dagger and, with heavy hearts, he stabs Ochiyo and then himself, sealing their tragic fate.


[1] The 3rd day of the 4th lunar month of the 7th year of the Ky˘h˘ era was the 17th of May 1722 in the western calendar. The 5th day of the 4th lunar month of the 7th year of the Ky˘h˘ era was the 19th of May 1722 in the western calendar.

[2] The 6th day of the 4th lunar month of the 7th year of the Ky˘h˘ era was the 20th of May 1722 in the western calendar.

[3] The 22nd day of the 4th lunar month of the 7th year of the Ky˘h˘ era was the 5th of June 1722 in the western calendar.

[4] In the original drama, Ochiyo was also 4 month pregnant...

[5] A symbolic gesture indicating they expect never to meet each other alive again.

[6] Another ritual of parting often associated with death.

[7] In the original drama, Ochiyo, heavy with pregnancy, expressed sorrow for their unborn child.

The actors Nakamura Ganjir˘ I and Nakamura Fukusuke IV playing the roles of the yaoya Hanbŕ and his wife Ochiyo in the drama "Shinjű Yoi G˘shin", which was staged in March 1926 at the Kabukiza

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