Play title Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami  In Japanese
Common title Kitasaga  In Japanese
In North Saga
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˘.


"Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" is made up of 5 acts. "Kitasaga" was the 2nd scene of the 4th act. It fell into oblivion [1].

Key words Anshitsu
Daigo Tenn˘
Fujiwara Tokihira
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Heian Jidai
Kan Sh˘j˘
Naginata ďch˘mono
Sugawara Michizane

The setting unfolds in a secluded hideaway nestled in Kitasaga (North Sagano), near Ky˘to. Sonoo-no-Mae, Kan Sh˘j˘'s midaidokoro, resides here in exile, accompanied by Yae and Haru, evading the public eye. Today, a suspicious-looking and noisy mountain priest (yamabushi) roams outside Sonoo-no-Mae's cottage. Yae and Haru fret over the potential catastrophe if Kan Sh˘j˘'s nemesis, Fujiwara no Shihei, uncovers their sanctuary.

Sonoo-no-Mae tells Haru and Yae about her latest dream. She was at the Anrakuji Temple, where she met her husband Kan Sh˘j˘ and Ume˘maru. Unknown to the ladies, this dream was actually really close to what has happened in the previous scene ("Tenpaizan"). It has ended with Kan Sh˘j˘ becoming a revengeful spirit about to rush to Ky˘to.

Hearing that Kan Sh˘j˘'s mentor, the priest Ajari, lingers nearby in Shimosaga (Lower Sagano), Haru ventures out to implore him to help Sonoo-no-Mae and to tell if the dream is good or bad omen. She leaves Yae to tend to Sonoo-no-Mae alone.

Suddenly, Shihei's henchman, Hoshizaka Gengo, storms in with a sizable entourage to seize Sonoo-no-Mae. Yae valiantly wields a naginata in defense but succumbs swiftly to her injuries. As Hoshizaka moves to apprehend Sonoo-no-Mae, the enigmatic mountain priest emerges, flinging Hoshizaka aside effortlessly. Scooping up Sonoo-no-Mae, he dashes away as if borne aloft on wings.


[1] No record in ˘shibai between the end of WWII and 2024.

A picture from the ezukushi banzuke for the staging in the 8th lunar month of 1746 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza of the puppet play "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami"

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