|ICHIJÔ ÔKURA MONOGATARI|
|Play title||Kiichi Hôgen Sanryaku no Maki|
The play "Kiichi Hôgen Sanryaku no Maki" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 9th lunar month of 1731 in Ôsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki at the end of the same year and produced for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1731 at the Kado no Shibai. The zamoto was Arashi Kokuseki (unknown casting). It was produced by Arashi Koroku I in the first quarter of 1732 in Kyôto with the actors Mihogi Gizaemon I and Ichiyama Sukegorô I playing the roles of Yoshioka Kiichi Hôgen and Ichijô Ôkura Naganari. Arashi Kokuseki produced the play one more time in Ôsaka at the Kado no Shibai in March and 4th lunar month of 1732 [casting]. It was performed for the first time in Edo, at the Moritaza, in the 1st lunar month of 1757 [casting].
The play "Kiichi Hôgen Sanryaku no Maki" is in 5 acts. "Ichijô Ôkura Monogatari" is in fact "Ôkura Yakata Okuden" ("in the inner pavilion of the Ôkura's palace"), the last scene of the fourth act. It might be staged alone, or in a production which includes the two first scenes of act IV, "Higakijaya" and "Kusemai". It is also possible to stage "Ôkura Yakata Okuden" with either "Higakijaya" or "Kusemai" as a single opening scene.
Ichijô Ôkura (Fujiwara) Naganari is leading an abnormal life of feigned madness. Many people think that he is feebleminded and that his only matter of concern is performing Nô. But, in fact, he hates being involved in the war between the Genji (Minamoto) and Heike (Taira) clans--the two main powers in late 12th century Japan. Now the Heike are in power, but Taira Kiyomori [1118-1181], the leader of the Heike, is too arrogant and hardhearted. Ôkura was once, and still is deep in his heart, a strong supporter of the Genji clan and hopes for their return to power. He began to feign madness in order to avoid being listed by the Heike government as a suspected subversive. Kiyomori thinks Ôkura is now harmless to the Heike cause. So certain is he that Ôkura is completely innocuous that he orders him to marry Tokiwa Gozen, widow of the late Minamoto no Yoshitomo [1123-1160], the late leader of the Genji clan. She is the mother of three sons including Minamoto Yoshitsune [1159-1189]. Yoshitsune escaped from Heike pursuit after his father Yoshitomo was defeated in rebellion against the Heike clan during the Heiji Disturbance of 1160. Kiyomori declined to execute Yoshitsune and his half-brother Yoritomo [1147-1199] because of their youth. He demanded in exchange, however, that Yoshitomo's widow Tokiwa Gozen become his mistress. Soon after, when she lost her charm, he cast her off. That is how Tokiwa became Ôkura's wife.
In secret Ôkura keeps an important sword, the possession of which can strengthen the position of anyone with the ambition to rule Japan. Yoshitsune, now a respectable warrior, sends his retainer Yoshioka Kijirô to ask Tokiwa to obtain a secret tactic book from her husband which is being kept by Kiichi. Kijirô has a bad impression of Tokiwa because of her past deeds. He thinks that for a woman to become another man's concubine, even after her husband's death, is a shameful thing. Remarrying is also abominable. To Kijirô, Tokiwa is a woman with no scruples about saving her children even if it means becoming Kiyomori's object of pleasure. In addition, she is leading a comfortable life with Ôkura under the protection of the hated Heike family.
Kijirô and Okyô come to Ôkura's mansion quietly at night. They find Tokiwa enjoying some archery. His hatred for Tokiwa escalates. Kijirô is so filled with indignation that he intends to kill her. Accusing her of treachery, he is about to slay her when she reveals, with dignity, her true mind. Taking an arrow, she shoots it deep into the target and then reveals a picture of Kiyomori, which has been secretly set inside it. The picture has been pierced by many arrows. She explains that, with every shot she takes, she curses Kiyomori and prays for his death.
While she is talking, a man dashes into the room. He shouts, "Now that I have heard your treason, I must tell my lord Kiyomori." Yatsurugi Kageyu had been placed among Ôkura's followers as a spy for the Heike clan to keep an eye on Tokiwa. As Kijirô prevents him from leaving with this incriminating evidence, Ôkura appears before them with a sword case in his hand. The Nô dance which he then performs seems to illustrate his madness until his face abruptly changes expression. This reveals him to be the well-educated aristocrat that he truly is. He takes the precious sword out of its case and entrusts it to Kijirô so that he can offer it to Yoshitsune, who has gathered a band of followers to reorganize Genji resistance. Kijirô receives it with great joy and respect.
Yatsurugi has not yet perceived that Ôkura has been feigning insanity. He regards Ôkura's actions only as another facet of his lunacy. Thinking that Ôkura has capriciously given the sword to Kijirô, Yatsurugi has an additional reason to leave the room to inform Kiyomori--Tokiwa's treachery and Ôkura's outrageous actions. Finally it dawns on him that he is not witnessing the actions of a madman but rather a most serious act of treason. He belatedly realizes that Ôkura is a dangerous enemy to Kiyomori. He hurries for the door, but Ôkura stands before him holding a halberd and runs him through. Then he confesses that he has secretly vowed to kill Kiyomori some day and that Tokiwa too, with patience and fidelity, has been plotting the same. Although Tokiwa became his wife, she has continued to honor both her late husband and the Genji clan. Understanding and supporting her attitude, Ôkura shows his true colors and wisdom, stating that he has killed one spy, but there may be many others, so he will continue to play the half-wit. Having said this he resumes his masquerade playing with the spy's severed head.
This summary has been written by Watanabe Hisao and edited by Jeff Blair [website]
The actors Kawarasaki Kunitarô III, Arashi Rikan IV, Ichikawa Danjűrô IX, Ichikawa Sumizô V and Onoe Taganojô II playing the roles of Okyô, Yoshioka Kijirô, Ichijô Ôkura Naganari, Yatsurugi Kageyu and Tokiwa Gozen in the "Ichijô Ôkura Monogatari" scene of the play "Kiichi Hôgen Sanryaku no Maki", which was staged in June 1882 at the Ichimuraza (print made by Toyohara Kunichika)
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