Play title Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami  In Japanese
Common title ďuchi Tenpen  In Japanese
Cataclysm at the Imperial Palace
Authors Takeda Izumo I
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Namiki Senryű I
Takeda Koizumo I (Takeda Izumo II)

The play "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 8th lunar month of 1746 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was adapted for Kabuki the following month and staged for the first time in Ky˘to at the Kitagawa no Shibai, produced by Nakamura Kiyosabur˘ I [casting]. It was also performed for the first time in Edo, at the Ichimuraza, in the 3rd lunar month of 1747 [casting].

This great play is based on the life of Sugawara no Michizane (845~903), a renowned scholar who was promoted up to the prestigious rank of udaijin ("Right Minister", one of the 2 close advisors of the Emperor). Falsely accused by Fujiwara no Shihei, the "Left Minister" (sadaijin), of trying to hatch a plot with Prince Tokiyo to seize the power, Sugawara no Michizane was exiled to Kyűshű. He dedicated his last years in writing poems, expressing both his homesickness and his innocence. After his death, the Emperor's residence was often struck by lightning and people thought it was done by the vengeful spirit of Sugawara no Michizane. A shrine was built in Ky˘to to appease the spirit, the Kitano Tenmangű, and Sugawara no Michizane was revered as a the God of calligraphy. In the play Sugawara no Michizane is called Kan Sh˘j˘.

The "ďuchi Tenpen" scene is rarely-staged nowadays. Only two records during the 2nd half of the 20th century:

Date Theater Casting
Dec 1981 National Theatre Band˘ Hikosabur˘ VIII (Fujiwara no Shihei)
Ichikawa Unosuke III (Terukuni)
Ichimura Yoshigor˘ II (H˘sh˘b˘ Ajari)
Dec 1966 National Theatre Band˘ Mitsugor˘ VIII (Fujiwara no Shihei)
Band˘ Minosuke VII (Terukuni)
Nakamura Shikaku II (H˘sh˘b˘ Ajari)

"Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" is made up of 5 acts. "ďuchi Tenpen" was the sole scene of the fifth act.

Key words Aragoto
Daigo Tenn˘
Fujiwara Tokihira
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Hana Yoten
Heian Jidai
Kan Sh˘j˘
Sugawara Michizane

After Kan Sh˘j˘'s death, the capital city of Ky˘to has been subjected to repeated fierce thunder storms, throwing all the courtiers into a frenzy of fear. There are rumors that the lightning and thunder are caused by the avenging spirit of Kan Sh˘j˘, who has been unjustly exiled and died in distant province of Tsukushi.

The evil Fujiwara no Shihei, although he outwardly says that he does not believe in such a thing as Kan Sh˘j˘'s avenging spirit, has ordered the Buddhist priest H˘sh˘b˘ Ajari to offer special services for their safety from the frightful storms. In the meantime, his son Mareyo is hit by lightning and killed, striking Shihei's follower Miyoshi Kiyotsura with fear. Kiyotsura hurries to inform Shihei of Mareyo's death and ask him to remove the taint from Kan Sh˘j˘'s name, as well as reinstall Prince Tokiyo and Kan Sh˘j˘'s daughter Princess Kariya in their former positions. Shihei, in spite of his defiant attitude, orders that Tokiyo and Princess Kariya be found and brought back to the palace. Lightning strikes again, and Kiyotsura falls dead.

In the meantime the priest H˘sh˘b˘ Ajari in his incantations, comes in contact with the spirit of Kan Sh˘j˘ and learns from him about Shihei's plot to usurp the imperial throne. He accuses Shihei of treason, and hurries off to inform the emperor. Shihei tries to hold him back, but H˘sh˘b˘ Ajari thrusts him aside. Threatening thunder continues to rumble. Shihei strikes a menacing pose, but he too is affected by the angry spirit and falls unconscious.

Prince Tokiyo and Princess Kariya come, accompanied by the hangandai Terukuni. They accuse Fujiwara no Shihei of treason, and inform him that the house of Kan Sh˘j˘ has been restored by imperial order, with full posthumous honors for Kan Sh˘j˘. Kan Sh˘j˘'s son Kan Shűsai is to inherit his father's estate, and is also to be granted a high court rank. Shihei sees that his plot has failed, but calls out men to defend him (hana yoten). The curtain falls as he faces his adversaries defiantly.

Illustration for the "ďuchi Tenpen" scene from the ezukushi banzuke of the drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami", which was staged in the 7th lunar month of 1763 at the Naka no Shibai with the actors Arashi Sangor˘ II, Band˘ Iwagor˘ (Fujiwara no Shihei), Nakamura Tomijűr˘ I, Somekawa Konohŕ (Mareyo) and Mimasu Kanz˘ I (Miyoshi Kiyotsura)

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