Play title Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi  In Japanese
Traveling Alone to the Fifty-three Stations [1]
Author Tsuruya Nanboku IV

"Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi" was premiered in the 6th lunar month of 1827 at the Kawarasakiza [casting]. In 1827, when audiences went to see "Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi" (Traveling Alone to the Fifty-three Stations), by the famous playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~1829) they expected a Kabuki version of the bestselling comic novel about the adventures of Yaji and Kita on the road. What they got instead was a spectacular series of scenes scary, sexy and comic reworking all Nanboku's favorite themes including a monstrous cat and changing one of the most famous mother and son couples in Kabuki, keeping the names but changing what they do drastically, transforming them into a pair of adult lovers. The play was a long-running hit and inspired many plays with spectacular scenic effects" (Source: Earphone Guide website). This exciting and entertaining drama full of keren mixed several different sekai: the world of "Katsuragawa", the world of "Kuwanaya Tokuz˘", the world of "Koi Ny˘b˘ Somewake Tazuna", the world of "Hizakurige", the world of "Kameyama", the world of Banzui Ch˘bŕ/Shirai Gonpachi and the world of Kitahachi/Yajirobŕ.

The opening day was the 6th day of the 6th lunar month of the 10th year of the Bunsei era (1827), which was the 29th of June 1827 in the western calendar.

In modern times, the play was revived by Ichikawa Ennosuke III, with a new script written by Nagawa Sh˘suke, in July 1981 at the Kabukiza [casting]. They changed some names (for example Fujikawa Mizuemon became Akabori Mizuemon), they got rid of a few sekai ("Kuwanaya Tokuz˘", Banzui Ch˘bŕ/Shirai Gonpachi) and added the sekai of Benten Koz˘ Kikunosuke and the sekai of Kimon no Kihŕ/Dote no Oroku. The new script was loaded with a lot of keren (hayagawari, chűnori) and Ichikawa Ennosuke III played 19 roles! It was a huge hit and became a classic for the Omodakaya guild. It was included in the Ennosuke Jűhachiban collection of dramas and was produced 10 times between 1981 and 2011.

The highlight of this play is the scene with the giant cat-spirit of Okazaki. It gave the whole play the nickname of "Okazaki no Neko" ("The Cat of Okazaki" in English). This part of the story was based on a local legend that the houses along the road in Okazaki were haunted by a cat-spirit.


The structure of "Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi" may change depending on the production. Here is for example the structure in 3 acts (34 scenes) of "Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi" when it was staged at the Kabukiza in July 1996:

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 京都三條大橋 Ky˘to Sanj˘ ďhashi
At the Sanj˘ Bridge in Ky˘to
I 2 同橋下河原 (D˘) Hashishita Kawara
(Same) At the Riverbank under the Bridge
I 3 京都粟田口 Ky˘to Awataguchi
In Awataguchi near Ky˘to
I 4 大津石山寺 ďtsu Ishiyamadera
At the Ishiyama Temple in ďtsu
I 5 草津野路の玉川 Kusatsu Noji no Tamagawa
A Path in a Field along the Tamagawa River near Kusatsu
I 6 石部宿 Ishibe-juku
At Ishibe Post Station
I 7 水口宿 Minakuchi-juku
At Minakuchi Post Station
I 8 土山宿 Tsuchiyama-juku
At Tsuchiyama Post Station
I 9 関宿 Seki-juku
At Seki Post Station
I 10 亀山城下 Kameyama J˘ka
In the Castle Town of Kameyama
I 11 庄野宿 Sh˘no-juku
At Sh˘no Post Station
I 12 石薬師 Ishiyakushi
In Ishiyakushi
I 13 四日市追分 Yokkaichi Oiwake
At the Forked Road in Yokkaichi
I 14 桑名七里の渡口 Kuwana Shichiri no Watashiguchi
At the Landing of the Shichiri Ferry near Kuwana
I 15 七里の渡し海上 Shichiri no Watashi Kaij˘
On the Sea in the Shichiri Ferry
I 16 同海中 (D˘) Kaichű
(Same) In the Sea
I 17 宮沖 Miya Oki
The Offing near Miya
I 18 池鯉鮒知立神社社前 Chiryű Chiryű Jinja Shazen
In Front of the Chiryű Shrine in Chiryű
I 19 岡崎無量寺 Okazaki Mury˘ji
At the Mury˘ji Temple in Okazaki
II 1 金谷宿大井川 Kanaya-juku ďigawa
The ďigawa River near the Post Station of Kanaya
II 2 箱根山道 Hakone Sand˘
On the Mountain Road near Hakone
II 3 箱根賽の河原逸平内 Hakone Sai no Kawara Ippei Uchi
At Ippei's House in Sai-no-Kawara near Hakone
II 4 箱根山中大滝 Hakone Sanchű yori ďtaki
Hakone Mountains and the Great Waterfall
III 1 小田原宿 Odawara-juku
At Odawara Post Station
III 2 大磯鴫立沢 ďiso Shigitatsusawa
In ďiso at the Swamp of Shigitatsu
III 3 平塚花水橋 Hiratsuka Hanamizubashi
In Hiratsuka at the Bridge of Hanamizubashi
III 4 藤沢遊行寺と弁財天鳥居前 Fujisawa Yugy˘ji to Benzaiten Torii Mae
In Fujisawa near the Yugy˘ji Temple and in front of the Benzaiten Gate
III 5 戸塚山中 Totsuka Sanchű
In the Mountains of Totsuka
III 6 程ヶ谷さかい木 Hodogaya Sakaigi
In Hodogaya at Sakaigi
III 7 神奈川の空 Kanagawa no Sora
In the Sky above Kanagawa
III 8 川崎六郷の渡し Kawasaki Rokug˘ no Watashi
At the Rokug˘ Ferry near Kawasaki
III 9 矢口の渡し Yaguchi no Watashi
At the Yaguchi Ferry
III 10 品川宿 Shinagawa-juku
At Shinagawa Post Station
III 11 江戸日本橋 Edo Nihonbashi
In Edo at the Bridge of Nihonbashi
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Adauchi
Chiryű Jinja
Ennosuke Jűhachiban
Ennosuke Shijűhassen
Fukkatsu T˘shi Ky˘gen Jűhachiban
Jippensha Ikku
Nippon Daemon
T˘kaid˘chű Hizakurige
Yaguchi no Watashi


Akabori Kandayű, a power-hungry retainer in the Yurugi household of the Tanba province, had a secret love affair with Lord Yurugi's wife lady Ozasa years ago. As a consequence of this affair, Ozasa gave birth to a child, who was named Daigaku and was considered as the lord's eldest son although the lord was aware of the truth. On his death bed, the lord decided that his real son, Daigaku's younger brother Shirabenosuke, should be the rightful heir instead of Daigaku.

For this purpose the Yurugi kar˘ Tanba Yosobei was dispatched to take the Kaminarimaru [2] sword and the Kokonoe seal, the two family treasures and symbols of the lordship, to Shirabenosuke. Without these two items, Kandayű's plot to usurp the lordship through Daigaku would be foiled. Kandayű schemes to steal both the sword and the seal from Yosobei as he passes by at night the Sanj˘ Bridge in Ky˘to, which is the end of the famous T˘kaid˘ road.

Act I, Scene 1: Ky˘to Sanj˘ ďhashi
At the Sanj˘ Bridge in Ky˘to

The scene opens at the Sanj˘ Bridge. Akabori Kandayű is gloating over the marvelous Kaminarimaru sword, which his son Akabori Mizuemon managed to steal after attacking Yosobei. Akabori Gengo, another son of Kandayű, is throwing off the dead body of one of Yosobei's yakko. The two now run to help Mizuemon, who has pursued Yosobei to the foot of the bridge.

Act I, Scene 2: (D˘) Hashishita Kawara
(Same) At the Riverbank under the Bridge

Akabori Mizuemon overpowers Yosobei and easily kills him when Kandayű and Gengo arrive at the scene of the crime. Kandayű takes the seal from the dead man, and declares that now he can take over the Yurugi estate, through Daigaku's instatement as the new daimy˘. He has a letter signed by Daigaku appointing him regent in the event of Daigaku succeeding to the lordship.

Kandayű then orders Gengo to go to Ishiyama Temple where Daigaku's fiancÚe Shigenoi has gone to become a nun as a means of evading marriage with him. Kandayű says he and Mizuemon will head for Edo, taking the sword with him but burying the seal under a bush-clover plant by the Tamagawa River so that Gengo can retrieve it later.

Gengo exits and Kandayű and Mizuemon quickly take cover when they realize someone is approaching. Yosobei's yakko Ippei is looking for his master. Kandayű comes out to strike Ippei's lantern out, but unwittingly drops Daigaku's letter. As Kandayű and Mizuemon move away, Ippei bumps against Yosobei's body and finds the letter that Kandayű has dropped.

Act I, Scene 3: Ky˘to Awataguchi
In Awataguchi near Ky˘to

The umakata Sankichi comes down the road leading a horse with a wicker basket (tsuzura) on its back. Although he is now a humble umakata, Sankichi is in reality Tanba Yohachir˘, the son of Tanba Yosobei and a former retainer of The Yurugi clan. He had an affair with Princess Shigenoi and they made a child together. He should have been put to death for this kind of love affair was strictly forbidden. Thanks to the intervention of his uncle Ishii Sanai, Yohachir˘ was disowned by his father (kand˘) and banished from the Yurugi household but his life had been spared through.

The yakko Ippei comes running by and bumps into him. As Ippei apologizes, he recognizes the umakata as the son of his lord Yosobei. He excitedly tells him that his father Yosobei has been killed, and that he is on his way to relay the terrible piece of news to Yosobei's younger brother Ishii Sanai, who is at Ishiyama Temple with Princess Shigenoi.

When Sankichi (in reality Yohachir˘) learns of Shigenoi's intention to become a nun, he realizes that the situation requires immediate action. He takes the letter which was found by Ippei found near Yosobei's body and rushes to Ishiyama Temple, leaving the dumbfounded yakko to look after the abandoned horse.

Act I, Scene 4: ďtsu Ishiyamadera
At the Ishiyama Temple in ďtsu

Ishii Sanai realizes that Shigenoi does not want to marry Yurugi Daigaku and is sympathetic toward her desire to take vows at Ishiyama Temple, near the ďtsu-juku station on the T˘kaid˘. Shigenoi expresses gratitude for his solicitous attitude. When a commotion is heard in the temple yard, Shigenoi and her koshimoto retire to an inner room. The cause of the commotion is the arrival of Yohachir˘, who has come to meet Sanai with the news of Yosobei's death. He is also in a hurry to prevent Shigenoi from becoming a nun because he considers her his wife and the mother of his child.

Sanai recognizes his nephew in spite of his humble appearance as an umakata. Yohachir˘ tells him of Yosobei's murder and hands over the letter. Sanai finds that it was written by Akabori Kandayű to Yurugi Daigaku and it outlines a plot to take over the Yurugi clan. Yohachir˘ is eager to seek out the culprit and kill him in revenge for the murder of his father. But Sanai reminds him that he had been disowned by his family so he can't rightfully claim such revenge.

Yohachir˘ clings to his uncle and humbly asks him to let him lead the vendetta. Sanai is secretly sympathetic but can't openly express it. He frees himself from Yohachir˘'s hold and walks off. Sanai's sword, to which Yohachir˘ had been clinging, is left in Yohachir˘'s hands.

Yohachir˘ in despair tries to kill himself with the sword, but Shigenoi comes running out. She has overheard all and tells him that she had decided to become a nun in order to remain faithful to Yohachir˘ and avoid having to marry Daigaku. Yohachir˘ rakes up the sword again, this time to commit a lovers' suicide (shinjű). Fortunately for the couple, Ishii Sanai steps out to stop his nephew before it is too late.

Without actually saying things literally, he gives enough hints through the expression of a strong vow to let Yohachir˘ understand that he is asked to do all he can to avenge his father's death and retrieve the two treasures of the Yurugi clan. Yohachir˘ also understand that if Sanai's vow is fulfilled, Yohachir˘ will be admitted back into his household and will return to his former service with the Yurugi clan. This also means that Yohachir˘ and Shigenoi will be duly united in marriage.

After Yohachir˘ and Shigenoi go off together. Sanai starts to walk off, planning to use the incriminating letter as evidence against Kandayű. Just then Akabori Gengo appears threatening to take Sanai's life. Sanai easily defeats Gengo, who runs off with Sanai chasing after him.

Act I, Scene 5: Kusatsu Noji no Tamagawa
A Path in a Field along the Tamagawa River near Kusatsu

Shigenoi and Yohachir˘, who are on the run, are now approaching the station of Kusatsu-juku on the T˘kaid˘. Yohachir˘ carries her lover on his back. Shigenoi is dressed in an elaborate court robe. They are accosted along the Tamagawa river by pursuers from the Ishiyama Temple. Yohachir˘ chases them off but has to leave Shigenoi alone for a while. Fortunately the yakko Ippei comes by, bringing with him Yohachir˘'s horse. He finds Shigenoi and recognizes her. The princess explains that she has left the temple with her lover after being unexpectedly reunited with him. Ippei assumes that she is referring to Yohachir˘. They suddenly both hear sounds of approaching footsteps. Ippei quickly hides Shigenoi in the wicker basket on the horse's back after having her remove the bulky silken outer garment that she is wearing. He himself hides behind some nearby bushes.

Along come two intrepid comic travelers, Kitahachi and Yajirobŕ, commonly called Kita and Yaji. They are on their way back to Edo from a trip to Ky˘to. They are now penniless. Yaji finds Shigenoi's kimono and Kita comes up with a plan to sell it. Hearing someone approaching, they hide.

Akabori Gengo appears on stage, looking for the Kokonoe seal that Kandayű's is supposed to have buried among the bushes. He hopes to find it before dawn approaches and start to dig the soil with his sword. He unearths the seal. Ippei comes out of hiding, carrying the wicker basket on his back. He demands that Gengo hand over what he has just dug up; the two men start to fight and Gengo discovers that Shigenoi is hiding inside the basket.

Now one after the other, Akabori Mizuemon, Tanba Yohachir˘, Akabori Kandayű, Yaji and Kita make their appearance on stage. Moving around in the dark, they all do a spectacular danmari, a slow-moving pantomime with lots of elaborately posed mie. The sign post denoting location is flipped over to show that the setting is now ... a different shukueki!

Act I, from Scene 6 to Scene 12

The characters continue their danmari, feeling each other, trying to discover the identity of each other or pushing off against one another as they travel down the T˘kaid˘. They come past the post station of Ishibe-juku, and then move on to the station of minakuchi-juku. The group keeps up the chase and moves on to the post station of Tsuchiyama-juku. As the group approaches the bridge at Tsuchiyama it starts to rain and the chase continues to post station of Seki-juku. Mizuemon, Yohachir˘, Kandayű, Gengo and Ippei enter in a running chase with Yaji and Kita tangling with them. By this time the sword is in the possession of Mizuemon, the seal is with Kandayű and Shigenoi's kimono is still in the hands of the travelers Kita and Yaji. As the others move off, Gengo and Yohachir˘ remain on stage and the scene shift to the post station and castle town of Kameyama. Yohachir˘ catches up with Gengo and tries to avenge his father's murder but he fails. The pursuit continues to the stations of Sh˘no-juku and Ishiyakushi-juku, where Gengo finally makes good his escape.

Act I, Scene 13: Yokkaichi Oiwake
At the Forked Road in Yokkaichi

The yakko Ippei arrives on stage, still carrying on his back the wicker basket with Shigenoi hidden inside. He is comforting her, promising to help her seek out her lover Yohachir˘ who is somewhere on the T˘kaid˘, chasing his father's killer.

Act I, from Scene 14 to Scene 17

Akabori Kandayű and his son Mizuemon are at the Landing of the Shichiri Ferry near the post station of Kuwana-juku. Yohachir˘ unexpectedly appears on stage and ask them to give back the stolen treasures of the Yurugi clan. Mizuemon draws the sword and tries to attack his enemy. A storm suddenly breaks out and the three men fall into the sea. Among fishes and octopuses, Mizuemon, holding the sword tightly in the mouth, and Kandayű with the seal in his hand, swim off in opposite direction. Yohachir˘ can't catch any of his two opponents. He reaches the surface of the sea and goes aboard a drifting unmanned boat. He is exhausted but manages to row towards the coast and the post station of Miya-juku as the same time as the rising of the sun above the sea.

Act I, Scene 18: Chiryű Chiryű Jinja Shazen
In Front of the Chiryű Shrine in Chiryű

Yaji and Kita have taken the ferry across the bay and are now absolutely penniless in the post station of Chiryű-juku after having paid for the ride. Edo is still a long way off and they will have to travel without any food.

A woman named Okura, who had been watching the pair, approaches them and ask about the woman's robe Yaji is wearing around his waist. She says she trades in used clothing and offers to buy the garment from them. Grateful, Yaji hands over Shigenoi's robe, but Okura only offers them a little amount of money. Unfortunately, they are not in a position to negotiate any better price. They reluctantly agree to sell the kimono. They now have the price of a meal and they enter a teahouse in front of the Chiryű Shrine to eat. Meanwhile, Okura is very happy to have purchased such a beautiful garment for such a little price.

Yui Minbunosuke, a retainer to late Tanba Yosobei, appears on stage with his wife Osode, who is carrying a child. Minbunosuke, who is posted in Edo, is traveling to Ky˘to after learning of Yosobei's murder. Osode had pleaded with Minbunosuke to take her along and she has given birth to their child during the journey. She is very exhausted and the little family stops off at the teahouse to take a rest.

They happen to meet at the teahouse Fujinami, who is a koshimoto at the service of Shigenoi. She tells Minbunosuke that Yohachir˘ is heading for Edo and she believes Shigenoi is also on her way to Edo. Minbunosuke therefore decides to return to Edo as quickly as possible to meet Yohachir˘ and help him in his vendetta. Nozaki Shuzen, an old acquaintance, will take care of Osode and her child. Inquiring Okura, who happens to be to be passing by, Minbunosuke learns that an old lady, the sole surviving member of the Nozaki household, lives in a deserted temple called the Mury˘ji. She might know the whereabouts of Nozaki Shuzen. Okura offers to take Minbunosuke and Osode there as she herself is on her way to the Mury˘ji to bring some lamp oil to the old lady.

Act I, Scene 19: Okazaki Mury˘ji
At the Mury˘ji Temple in Okazaki

As they approach the old Mury˘ji temple, Minbunosuke notices a cat emerging from a hole in a wall and performing a strange dance. They enter the temple and Okura calls out for Osan. The old lady comes out. Minbunosuke identifies himself as the son of Yui T˘bŕ and that they are returning from a pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine. He in turn asks her how she ended up living in this ruined temple. Osan explains that she was born into the Nozaki family of that area and that she had served in a different household since she was quite young. After retiring, she returned to become heir to the Nozaki estate with her husband Nozaki Shuzen. Her husband died and she now spends her days in this deserted temple. She has no fortune and is helped by the villagers.

She suggests that everyone spend the night at the temple. Okura agrees and shows her the kimono she has bought from Yaji and Kita. Osan is very impressed. She takes it and hangs it up.

The baby starts to cry but is quieted by Osan. Realizing that the baby must be tired, she ushers them into the rear room. Okura hands over the fish oil she bought, saying she could not find real lamp oil. Osan uses it to light the lantern.

Two cats come out and start playing with Shigenoi's kimono. They approach Osan, who is in reality the giant cat-spirit in human guise. They dance together, the two cats dancing on their two hind legs. Okura emerges from the rear room and screams in horror when she discovers the dancing cats. Osan turns around, saying there is nothing to be startled about. Osan asks Okura to put oil in the lamp in that room too. The two women discuss together and Osan learns to her satisfaction that Okura was born in the year of the rat. Then, Osan gives her the altar cloth and the memorial tablet of Shuzen. These objects will be Okura's blanket and pillow for this night. Okura accept them with mixed feelings and goes back to the inner room.

After all is still for the night, Osan slips over to the lamp and starts to sip the fish oil. Her shadow is reflected on the wall in the form of a giant demonic cat, revealing her true identity. Okura screams when she sees what is going on and starts to run away. Osan catches up with her, however, and glares at her, suddenly taking on the appearance of a giant evil cat-spirit.

The cat-spirit kills Okura and pulls her away to another room. A while later Osan returns to the room in her former appearance as Osan, but with blood on her face. She washes the blood off her face.

Suddenly, the baby starts to cry again. So Osode comes out with her baby and deeply apologizes to Osan for the noise. Osan is afraid for a moment that Osode may have seen her in her real form, but Osode acts normally. However, Osode does not show her real feeling as she is beginning to be suspicious of Osan. As the baby continues to cry, Osode is about to leave the room to fetch some medicine from another room when the baby is suddenly pulled away by some mysterious and powerful force. When Osode tries to retrieve the baby, a huge cat's paw appears and strikes her in the face.

Minbunosuke comes out at Osode's cry of horror. She has fainted and lies on the floor. Quickly recovering, she tells Minbunosuke about the disappearance of the baby. Then she abruptly dies, and a long thin paw reaches out and grabs her body, pulling it away. Minbunosuke runs into the room into which Osode had been pulled. He now faces the huge cat-spirit holding the baby and Osode's head. It glares menacingly at him and they engage in a ferocious merciless fight. The cat is eventually subdued by the miraculous power of Minbunosuke's sword. It says that he has long borne a grudge against the Yurugi clan. He was haunting a castle which was burned down in a siege staged by Lord Yurugi of Tanba. It has fled the burning castle and went to Okazaki. It has settled in the Mury˘ji temple, killed Osan and assumed her form. In order to take its revenge against the Yurugis, it has lured several travelers connected with the Yurugi clan to the Mury˘ji temple. Then, with a curse, the cat spits out flames and flies into the air (chűnori) wrapped in Shigenoi's kimono.

Act II, Scene 1: Kanaya-juku ďigawa
The ďigawa River near the Post Station of Kanaya

Yaji and Kita are unable to cross the ďigawa river at the post station of Kanaya-juku because they have no more money. They have therefore decided, with characteristic optimism, to capture the notorious highway thief Nippon Daemon, the head of the Shiranami [3] gang. They have heard that he is roaming the highways around the post station of Kanaya-juku. If they succeed, they will claim the hefty reward.

Ippei arrives on stage. He is running, still carrying on his back the basket with Princess Shigenoi inside. Some bandits belonging to the Shiranami gang set their sights on the basket and successfully attack Ippei. They make off with the tsuzura. Ippei runs in pursuit.

The next ones to appear on stage are the Akaboris, Akabori Kandayű and his two sons, Gengo and Mizuemon. They have heard that the seal which they lost when they were thrown into the sea (in act I, scene 16) has strangely found its way to a d˘guya in the post station of Mishima-juku. The person who informed them of this was Edobei, a former yakko of Tanba Yosobei. He was dismissed for misconduct and hates his former master. Immediately and hastily, Kandayű and his sons set off for the post station of Mishima-juku. The cunning Mizuemon has noticed that there is a certain physical resemblance between his enemy Yohachir˘ and the robber Nippon Daemon whose portrait is displayed all over town. It is likely that Yohachir˘ and Nippon Daemon are indeed the same man. Mizuemon decides to stop all crossings of the ďigawa river by calling forth a strong storm through the magical powers of the Kaminarimaru sword.

Mizuemon's assumption was correct. Yohachir˘, alias Nippon Daemon, leader of the Shiranami robber band, is in town. He is planning to cross the river that very night. To his astonished delight, he finds that the basket seized by his henchmen contains none other than his beloved Shigenoi. They swear to each other never to be parted again. Their path is blocked by torite looking for the gang. Yohachir˘ fights them off only to find that the river crossings have been stopped. He is suddenly hit in the leg by a bullet fired by Akabori Mizuemon and falls into the river. Hearing the cries of Shigenoi, Ippei comes rushing to her side and together they search for Yohachir˘. The curtain is drawn as Mizuemon emerges from his hiding spot and smiles triumphantly.

Act II, Scene 2: Hakone Sand˘
On the Mountain Road near Hakone

Still penniless, Yaji and Kita have at last reached the mountains near the post station of Hakone-juku after traveling for three months. They have failed to find the thief Nippon Daemon. Resting at a roadside tea shop is Akabaneya Jirosaku, proprietor of the d˘guya in the post station of Mishima-juku. According to one of Jirosaku's palanquin bearers, Ippei, who has recently become one of their number, made a deposit for the Kokonoe seal but has failed to produce the remaining 50 ry˘ needed to purchase it. Jirosaku can't wait anymore and is thinking of selling the seal to Mizuemon. Akabori Kandayű, Mizuemon's father, was informed of the whereabouts of the seal by Edobei. This Edobei, now in this tea shop, had provided Ippei with the 50 ry˘ deposit, purportedly for old times' sake but really with the idea of laying hands on Yohachir˘. Edobei suspects that Yohachir˘ is sheltered by Ippei at home. His aim is to kill two birds with one stone: handing over Yohachir˘ (alias Nippon Daemon) to the authorities and making Shigenoi his own. He persuades a man named Denkichi to help him in this scheme.

Act II, Scene 3: Hakone Sai no Kawara Ippei Uchi
At Ippei's House in Sai-no-Kawara near Hakone

Just as Edobei had suspected, Ippei is sheltering the wounded Yohachir˘ and Shigenoi in his house at a place called Sai-no-Kawara. Every evening Shigenoi pulls a cart carrying Yohachir˘ to a hot spring to cure his wound. She also douses herself with the cold water of the waterfall to pray for his recovery.

Ippei is not in his home when Edobei steals in and offers to pay the necessary sum if Shigenoi agrees to become his wife. If she refuses, he says he will hand over Yohachir˘, who is hiding under the floor, to the authorities. Ippei returns home at that moment. He takes out 50 ry˘ from a striped purse and throws it on the floor, saying he is returning the money that Edobei had lent him. The money had been left behind in his palanquin by a passenger, who now appears with Gonroku, his fellow palanquin bearer, to reclaim the purse. Not wishing to make an issue of Ippei's appropriation of the money, the passenger Omon, the proprietress of a brothel, thanks Ippei for taking care of the purse for her. When Gonroku discovers that the money is now in Edobei's hands, he calls Ippei a disgrace to his profession and threatens to turn him in to the authorities. Ippei explains that he thought the money to be a gift from heaven and relates his predicament concerning the fact that the d˘guya Akabaneya has given notice that the remaining 50 ry˘ must be paid by that evening. Then, Ippei asks Edobei to lend him the 50 ry˘ but Edobei rudely rebuffs him. Ippei can hardly control his anger, but Shigenoi asks the men to leave the room. She then asks Omon to buy her services for 100 ry˘ (miuri). She speaks in a low voice, as Yohachir˘ under the floor and she does not want him to hear her. Omon agrees. Ippei does not need to repay the 50 ry˘ he has stolen from her. She hands Shigenoi another 50 ry˘. Ippei receives the money and immediately hurries off to the Akabaneya shop.

After hearing what has happened, Edobei takes his leave but he has a plan in mind. Hoping that her prayers for Yohachir˘'s recovery will be answered, Shigenoi departs in a palanquin accompanied by Omon. Edobei appears to have made a deal with the kagokaki in charge of Shigenoi.

Later in the evening, Ippei is back at home. He failed. He arrived at the Akabaneya too late and the precious seal had already been sold to Akabori Mizuemon. Yohachir˘ and Ippei are in the depths of despair. Yohachir˘ has been unable to prevent Shigenoi from selling herself into prostitution and her self-sacrifice was useless. They are suddenly attacked by Gonroku and Denkichi, who were hiding in an inner room. The two villains receive the support of the bearers of Shigenoi's palanquin. These ruffians got rid of Omon en route and returned at Ippei's home after handing over Shigenoi to Edobei. At this critical moment, Yui Minbunosuke comes running to their aid. Gonroku and Denkichi run away, swearing to inform the authorities against them. At the urging of Minbunosuke, Ippei leaves the house carrying Yohachir˘ on a handcart.

Act II, Scene 4: Hakone Sanchű yori ďtaki
Hakone Mountains and the Great Waterfall

In the meantime, Kandayű and Gengo have accused Yohachir˘ and his associates of trying to usurp the Yurugi lordship, and have organized a man hunt to comb the Hakone mountains for them, with the additional aim of capturing the robber Nippon Daemon.

Shigenoi, who has been valiantly resisting Edobei's advances, learns from him that the man who shot Yohachir˘ and bought the seal for 200 ry˘ was Akabori Mizuemon. He also tells her that Yohachir˘ has been attacked by the palanquin bearers and is now probably dead. Edobei tries to violently seize her but she strikes him with a sword. She unfortunately slashes herself on the shoulder and falls unconscious. Edobei, thinking that she is half-dead, does not want to stay in Hakone and heads for Edo to join Akabori Mizuemon.

After a while Shigenoi regains consciousness and calls Yohachir˘'s name. Yohachir˘, Minbunosuke and Ippei happen to be passing, and hearing her voice, come to her aid. Shigenoi is determined to fulfill her vow to give her life in return. As she prays, the mountains rumble and the sky clouds over, and Yohachir˘ and his companions swoon away. With nobody to stop her, Shigenoi throws herself into the Hakone waterfall. Yohachir˘'s wound is immediately healed and he is able to stand on his two feet. Moreover, he easily overcomes Denkichi and Gonroku who come to attack him. Then, the evil Akaboris, the father and two sons, appear on stage and attack Yohachir˘, Minbunosuke and Ippei. After a fierce struggle under the waterfall, Kandayű and Gengo are killed but Mizuemon escapes. Yohachir˘, Minbunosuke and Ippei starts a new pursuit to catch the last of the Akaboris.

Act III, Scene 1: Odawara-juku
At Odawara Post Station

Yajirobŕ and Kitahachi have crossed the mountains of Hakone and are now in the post station of Odawara-juku. They are talking about the sword Kaminarimaru, which was left by Akabori Mizuemon in a d˘guya, the Shinanoya house, in Odawara. It was stolen by the decchi Ch˘kichi, who is the younger brother of Ch˘emon, a loyal retainer of the Yurugi clan. The daughter of the owner of the Shinanoya, Ohan, is in love with Ch˘kichi. When he disappeared with the sword, she ran away from home to follow him. Now the people of the Shinanoya are chasing them. Yajirobŕ and Kitahachi have been asked to join the chase. They have received the sword's identifying certificate but they did not take care of it and can't find it anymore. Yajirobŕ finds a piece of paper and takes it out, but it turns out to be the billing for a Kabuki play. The two sit facing the audience at the center of the stage and in the traditional stage manner start to read the announcement concerning the story to follow and the 12 different roles, which will be played by the leading actor!

Act I, from Scene 2 to Scene 3

Ch˘kichi, his face covered, comes by the Swamp of Shigitatsu near the post station of ďiso-juku with the sword Kaminarimaru. He hides amid the pines as a palanquin carrying Ohan passes by. She has been picked up by kagokaki in Shinanoya's employ and is being taken back home. She has been fooled into thinking they are taking her to find her lover. Ch˘kichi comes out and demands that Ohan be handed over to him. A fight ensues when the kagokaki refuse and they run off with the palanquin. Ch˘kichi gives chase.

At the Hanamizu Bridge in the post station of Hiratsuka-juku, the courtesan Yukino, Ch˘kichi's sister, comes hurrying after Ch˘kichi because she wants to hand him the Kokonoe seal, which she has managed to secure. She is chased by the local thief Akaboshi Jűzabur˘, who covets the treasure.

Act III, Scene 4: Fujisawa Yugy˘ji to Benzaiten Torii Mae
In Fujisawa near the Yugy˘ji Temple and in front of the Benzaiten Gate

Okinu, who is Ch˘kichi's betrothed, comes running in search of her missing fiancÚ at the post station of Fujisawa-juku. She is on the verge of losing her mind because of the situation and the love affaire between Ohan and Ch˘kichi. Yajirobŕ and Kitahachi come by and hear her wailing for Ch˘kichi. Now the thief Benten Koz˘ Kikunosuke comes running and bumps into the two travelers. He is dressed in the guise of a boy attendant and apologizes for bumping into them. But before he moves off, Yajirobŕ finds that his purse is missing. He grabs Kikunosuke, accusing him of having stolen it. Pulling up Kikunosuke's sleeve, he reveals the infamous tattoo made by Edo jailers to their prisoners. They start a fight and in the meantime a shabby character named Dote no D˘tetsu (literally D˘tetsu from the Embankment) comes out. Yajirobŕ and Kitahachi make a grab for Kikunosuke but find it is D˘tetsu they have on their hands. They throw him aside and chase off after Kikunosuke.

Act III, from Scene 5 to Scene 7

In the mountains near the post station of Totsuka-juku, a palanquin with a sword on top of it comes by with Oshige, Ohan's mother, inside. Oshige emerges and speaks with a Shinanoya tedai, who has been looking unsuccessfully for her daughter. Oshige wants to join in the search but is urged by the tedai to continue on the road by palanquin.

In the post station of Hodogaya-juku, the same palanquin is seen along the road. Yaji and Kita come by and see the sword on top of it. They think it might be the Kaminarimaru and are about to put their hands on it when the tobi boss Masakichi emerges from inside the palanquin. The two travelers quickly hide in the vicinity and it begins to rain. Masakichi runs off. Yaji and Kita come out of hiding in relief and go off dancing.

At the post station of Kanagawa-juku, we can see and hear thunder and lightning. The God of Thunder appears in the stormy sky. Voices can be heard calling for Ohan accompanied by chimes and drums in the traditional manner of the search for missing people. The God of Thunder dances to the music, slips, and falls from the cloud. It starts raining and an umbrella is flying by. The God of Thunder is hiding within the flying umbrella.

Act III, from Scene 8 to Scene 10

At the Rokug˘ ferry landing near the post station of Kawasaki-juku. Using the hayagawari technique, the God of Thunder becomes a ferryman who climbs out of his boat. Edobei comes out and hides behind the ferry shack. Ohan comes followed by Ch˘kichi. The two lovers are reunited but Edobei calls out from hiding and faces Ch˘kichi. He demands that Ch˘kichi hand over both the sword and the seal that been given him by his sister Yukino. A fight ensues, Someone hidden behind a stack of straw thrusts out a sword and kills Edobei. Dote no Oroku (literally Oroku from the Embankment) appears. She is Edobei's wife but has killed her husband to help Yohachir˘, who is the son of her former employer. She tells Ch˘kichi and Ohan to bring the seal and the sword to Edo as quickly as possible.

At the Yaguchi ferry landing, the ferryman tries to stop Oroku, who brandishes a sword and fights him.

At the post-station of Shinagawa-juku, Oroku fights off the ferryman and continues on her way.

Act III, Scene 11: Edo Nihonbashi
In Edo at the Bridge of Nihonbashi

Thanks to Ch˘kichi and Ohan, the three surviving heroes of this play, Minbunosuke, Ippei and Yohachir˘, have retrieved the two family treasures of the Yurugi clan. They can finally confront their arch enemy, the evil Akabori Mizuemon, at the bridge of Nihonbashi in Edo, the starting point of the T˘kaid˘. After a furious fight, Mizuemon is bested by the three men. The kanzen ch˘aku logic has prevailed!

This summary would have not been possible without the help of Jean Wilson!


[1] The title "Traveling Alone to the Fifty-three Stations" comes from Samuel Leiter's "Historical Dictionary of Japanese Traditional Theatre".

[2] Kaminarimaru is the thunderous sword as the word kaminari means thunder.

[3] Shiranami means literally the White Wave. The word shiranami refers to thieves in general.

The actors Onoe Kikugor˘ III (left print), Band˘ Hikozaemon II (left print/top-right), Kiriyama Monji III (right print/left) and Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VII (right print) playing the roles of the carpenter Konishi no Hachi, Yajirobŕ, Kitahachi and Botan Jishi no Hachi in the drama "Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi", which was staged in the 6th lunar month of 1827 at the Kawarasakiza (print made by Utagawa Kunisada I)

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