Play title Nemuru-ga-Rakuda Monogatari  In Japanese
Common titles Rakuda Monogatari  In Japanese | In Japanese
Rakuda  In Japanese | In Japanese
Authors Oka Onitar˘

Oka Onitar˘'s drama "Nemuru-ga-Rakuda Monogatari" was premiered in March 1928 at the Hong˘za [casting]. The story of "Rakuda" was based on an ďsaka rakugo, which became famous thanks to the art of Katsura Bungo IV. This rakugo was successfully imported in T˘ky˘ by Yanagiya Kosan III during the Taish˘ era.


"Rakuda" is a 1-act play (3 scenes):

Act Scene In Japanese In English
I 1 駱駝住居 Rakuda Sumai
At Rakuda's House
  2 家主佐兵衛内 Yanushi Sahŕ Uchi
At the Landlord Sahŕ's Home
  3 元の駱駝内 Moto no Rakuda Uchi
Back to Rakuda's Home
You need a Japanese Language Kit installed within your system in order to be able to read the characters
Key words Decchi

Act I, scene 1: Rakuda Sumai
At Rakuda's House

The yűjin Ch˘name no Hanji [1], a real no do-gooder, comes to look in on his old-time drinking friend, the loafer Rakuda no Umatar˘ [2], who is such a jerk that no one else will have anything to do with him. Hanji met Rakuda the day before but he has declined Rakuda's invitation to share some fugu with him, knowing that although fugu is considered a delicacy in Edo, it can be a deadly poisonous fish if not cooked properly. He steps into Rakuda's room in his nagaya and finds Rakuda's dead body (shigai) lying inert on the floor, apparently dead from fugu poisoning.

Hanji is irritated by the sound of shamisen music coming from the neighboring house of a shamisen teacher. Why should they be playing music when there has been a death next door? Then he hears the voice of the kamikuzu-kai Kyűroku, who is passing by the nagaya. Hanji calls him inside. Kyűroku is reluctant to enter Rakuda's room because he has never made any good business with Rakuda. He has always been somehow forced to pick up some worthless piece of scrap in order to leave the nagaya of Rakuda. Hanji informs Kyűroku that Rakuda is now dead. Kyűroku expresses somewhat insincere regrets and sits down to offer a brief prayer. Meanwhile, Hanji seizes the opportunity to surreptitiously grab Kyűroku's basket, an indispensable tool of trade for a kamikuzuya. He then asks Kyűroku to make the customary donation (k˘den) for the coming wake (tsuya). Kyűroku protests, bringing up his losses in all his previous business deals with Rakuda, but Hanji keeps a tight hold on Kyűroku's basket so that Kyűroku is led to make a small donation in hope of retrieving his basket. Then, Hanji orders Kyűroku to go out and collect donations for the wake (tsuya) from the neighbors. Kyűroku tells Hanji that Rakuda was so despised and hated that nobody would be inclined to give any condolatory money for such a worthless man. In fact, most of them would probably rejoice at the news of his passing away and celebrate the event. Nonetheless Hanji forces him out on the errand.

Presently Kyűroku returns, bringing with him the nagaya tenants representative, an old woman named Ogin, who brings small donations and expresses, not really sincere condolences but rather frank relief at Rakuda's passing away. Once again, Kyűroku, his errand done, is anxious to be on his way, but once again Hanji forces on him still another errand, this time to Rakuda's yanushi to demand food and drinks for the wake. Hanji tells Kyűroku to tell the yanushi that, if he refuses to cooperate, they will bring in the corpse of Rakuda and make it dance.

Hanji's sister Oyasu arrives and tells her brother that their parents are currently involved in a quarrel in their neighborhood. She has come to pick Hanji up to go to the rescue of the family, but Hanji, focused on the Rakuda case, can't really care about it and he sends her sister away.

Kyűroku returns to Rakuda's room. As expected, the yanushi Sahŕ has not been impressed by Hanji's threat that he will bring in the corpse of Rakuda. Sahŕ has told Kyűroku that, indeed, he would like to see a corpse dance. Taking the yanushi's remark seriously, Hanji hoists Rakuda's body on the back of the unwilling Kyűroku and accompanies him to the yanushi's house.

Act I, scene 2: Yanushi Sahŕ Uchi
At the Landlord Sahŕ's Home

Together with his wife Oiku, the stingy yanushi Sahŕ is speaking ill of Rakuda who has died without paying his rent and his friends who dare to request sake and foods for Rakuda's wake (tsuya), while counting rent collected from other tenants. Ch˘name no Hanji comes in and humbly asks for sake and food for Rakuda's wake, but the yanushi does not pay even the slightest attention to him.

Hanji calls in Kyűroku who is waiting outside with Rakuda's corpse on his back and manipulates Rakuda's arms so that the corpse may appear to be dancing to the shamisen music heard from the next-door house. Sahŕ and Oiku sneer at Hanji's strategy at first but they are both very scarred and, as a quick way to get rid of the frightening dancing corpse, they reluctantly accept to give Hanji several bottles of sake and a few dishes of fish.

Act I, scene 3: Moto no Rakuda Uchi
Back to Rakuda's Home

Just as Ch˘name no Hanji and the kamikuzu-kai Kyűroku have placed Rakuda's corpse back to the place where it was before, Santa, the sakaya decchi comes with bottles of sake, which have been offered by Sahŕ and Oiku.

The sake is not of high quality but Hanji starts drinking it. He urges Kyűroku to drink with him. Kyűroku at first declines Hanji's offer on the ground that he still has work to do, but persuaded tenaciously by Hanji, Kyűroku, who is fond of sake, brings out a tea cup and starts drinking.

Emboldened by the influence of the sake, Hanji proposes to take the other end of a pole on his shoulder to carry a casket. Now the tables are turned. It is Kyűroku that orders Hanji go and buy a casket (kan'oke). Thinking it is a waste of money to purchase an expensive casket for Rakuda, they decide to get a barrel instead of a casket. By hoisting the corpse on the back of unwilling Hanji, Kyűroku takes Hanji to the local yaoya to borrow a barrel (taru) for making pickles (tsukemono). There, they put Rakuda's corpse into the barrel and start for the crematorium (kas˘ba) while dancing to the music. Kyűroku dances in high spirits in sharp contrast to Hanji who feels miserable and dances while sobbing.


[1] Literally Hanji the Hatchet Trace. A ch˘na was an ancient Japanese hand ax.

[2] Literally Umatar˘ the Camel (rakuda). Rakuda was the nickname of the dead guy. In March 1928 at the Hong˘za, the corpse was named Rakuda no Umakichi. later, it became Rakuda no Umatar˘. Also called Rakuda no Uma. By the way, Uma means also horse (uma).

The actors Nakamura Shichisabur˘ V, Nakamura Kichiemon I and Morita Kan'ya XIII playing the roles of the corpse of Umakichi, the kamikuzu-kai Kyűroku and Ch˘name no Hanji in the drama "Nemuru-ga-Rakuda Monogatari", which was staged in March 1928 at the Hong˘za

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