Kuzu-no-Ha: Abe no Yasuna, a court astrologer in disgrace, has married a beautiful
woman named Kuzu-no-Ha, not knowing that she is actually a fox that has taken human
form to repay his kindness in saving his life. The couple has a child and lives
happily together until the real woman whose form the fox borrowed appears.
Knowing that she can no longer stay, Kuzu-no-Ha writes a tearful farewell poem on
the paper screen and returns to the wilderness. Starring Nakamura Kaishun as Kuzu-no-Ha and Ichikawa Monnosuke as Yasuna.
Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all
Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta
carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship.
In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for
their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important
Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto
style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style
of Jűr˘. This month features a cast headed by Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as Kud˘
and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Gor˘ and
Onoe Kikunosuke as Jűr˘.
Kumagai Jin'ya: this play is a dramatization of the clash between the Genji general Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane
and the Heike warrior Taira no Atsumori at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani, one of the most famous passages of the epic
"Tales of the Heike". In the Kabuki version, on the cryptic orders of the Genji leader Yoshitsune,
Kumagai hides the enemy warrior Atsumori and has his own son take the warrior's place.
On the battlefield, Kumagai has to kill his own son in Atsumori's place.
Things become worse when his wife Sagami and Atsumori's mother Fuji-no-Kata arrive at his camp.
In the highlight of the play, he tells them the story of his mortal battle with Atsumori, keeping Atsumori's well-being and his own sacrifice a secret.
He then shows the head of Atsumori for inspection by his leader to see if he has interpreted his orders correctly.
This performance stars Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Kumagai,
with Nakamura Shikan as Kumagai's wife Sagami,
Nakamura Kaishun as Fuji-no-Kata,
Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as Yoshitsune and
Ichikawa Danshir˘ as Midaroku.
Omatsuri: Kataoka Nizaemon as a gallant fireman boss at a festival telling a rueful
tale of failure in love and showing the vigorous work songs of firefighters.
Tepp˘ Watashi/Futatsudama/Kanpei Harakiri:
this section of the classic "Kanadehon Chűshingura" is about
Hayano Kanpei (Kataoka Nizaemon) and his wife Okaru (Onoe Kikunosuke). Kanpei survives as a hunter and is desperate
for the money that will allow him to become a samurai again. He encounters two
former retainers of Lord En'ya Hangan who offer to allow him to participate in
a vendetta to avenge Lord En'ya Hangan's death by attacking K˘ no Moron˘.
Unknown to him, though, Okaru's family has decided to raise the memory by
selling her into prostitution as a courtesan in the Gion district of Ky˘to.
Okaru's father travels on a dark mountain road, eager to bring the first half
of the money to Kanpei. But he is attacked and robbed by Sadakur˘ (Ichikawa Ebiz˘),
also a former retainer of Lord En'ya Hangan who has gone bad and become a thief.
At this point, Kanpei aims and fires at s wild boar and instead kills Sadakur˘.
He finds the purse with all the money and, thinking that is the gift of heaven,
rushes home. At home, the brothel keeper is already there to collect Okaru and
Kanpei wants to refuse to let her go, until he realizes where the money came
from and believes that he killed Okaru's father by mistake.
He urges Okaru to go to the pleasure quarters, not wanting her to know what has
happened. In one of the dramatic highlights of the play,
Kanpei commits suicide to atone for his multiple failures in duty.
Kamiyui Shinza: Shinza is a barber that goes from door to door, but at
the same time, he is a villain that kidnaps Okuma, the beautiful daughter of a
wealthy household, and even resists the efforts of Yatagor˘ Genshichi, the most
prestigious strongman in town, to get her release. Starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Shinza,
Ichikawa Komaz˘ as Okuma and Ichikawa Danshir˘ as Yatagor˘ Genshichi.
Source: Earphone Guide website