Play title Shinshű Kawanakajima Kassen  In Japanese
Author Chikamatsu Monzaemon

The 5 acts puppet theater drama "Shinshű Kawanakajima Kassen" was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon and performed for the first time at the Takemotoza in the 8th lunar month of 1721. It was adapted for Kabuki for the first time in the 5th lunar month of 1742, by the sakusha Iwai J˘suke and Katsu S˘suke, and staged in Ky˘to at the Kitagawa no Shibai [casting].


"Shinshű Kawanakajima Kassen" was a 5-act drama. The most famous scene, "Terutora Haizen" (literally "Terutora Sets the Table"), the only one which is still in the Kabuki repertoire, was the first scene of the third act. The scene "Naoe Yashiki" (literally "at the Naoe Mansion"), is no more part of the Kabuki repertoire. It was the last scene of the third act (kiri).

Key words Echigo
Gidayű Ky˘gen
Kawanakajima no Tatakai
Sengoku Jidai

Terutora Haizen
Terutora Sets the Table
--> A dedicated summary: "Terutora Haizen"

Having been defeated by Shingen in a battle in spite of the fact that his force considerably outnumbered the enemy, Nagao Terutora consults with his leading retainers including Naoe Yamashiro-no-Kami Sanetsuna [1], on how to cope with the situation. Sanetsuna tells Terutora that the enemy's victory is mostly due to a strategy cleverly worked out by Yamamoto Kansuke Haruyuki, who happens to be an elder brother of Karaginu, Sanetsuna's wife.

Terutora wishes to hire the strategist Kansuke, taking advantage of Sanetsuna's kinship with him. To prepare the ground for the accomplishment of his aim, Sanetsuna invites Kansuke's mother, Koshiji, and his wife, Okatsu, to Terutora's mansion. Karaginu thanks Okatsu for taking care of the old lady on their journey. Okatsu, who is a heavy stutterer, writes her response with a brush on a sheet of paper and delivers it to Karaginu. Sanetsuna then brings a wadded silk garment and, in the name of Nagao Terutora, hands it to Koshiji as his master's gift to Yamamoto Kansuke, saying that the garment is a cherished family treasure originally given by the Sh˘gun to Terutora. Koshiji refuses to accept it, calling it an insult to offer a used article as a gift.

Nagao Terutora himself then appears in a ceremonial dress, bringing a meal set on a portable table. When he reverently places it in front of Koshiji, she kicks the table to overturn it. Provoked beyond endurance, Terutora wants to kill Koshiji but reconsiders as Naoe Sanetsuna appeals to him to be patient, while Okatsu, who is handicapped in speech, begs for mercy, playing koto in order to be able to deliver her message. She asks for forgiveness and is ready to offer her own life in place of her mother-in-law's. Terutora finally decides to spare the life of Koshiji.

Naoe Yashiki
At the Naoe Mansion
This scene is no more part of the current Kabuki repertoire [2]

Informed in a letter from Karaginu that Koshiji is critically ill, Karaginu's husband Yamamoto Kansuke Haruyuki visits Naoe Sanetsuna's mansion (yashiki), where his mother is staying. He learns from the koshimoto who have received him, however, that Koshiji is in good health. So, he calls his wife, Okatsu, who is accompanying Koshiji, and, showing her the letter, asks why she has sent it to him. Okatsu denies any knowledge of the letter though it is apparently of her handwriting. Kansuke soon realizes that someone skillfully copied Okatsu's handwriting and tricked Kansuke into visiting the mansion by sending him a forged letter.

As the deception has come to light, soldiers appear with spears to arrest Kansuke. Though he is one-eyed and crippled, Yamamoto Kansuke Haruyuki puts up a valiant fight to repulse them. Naoe Sanetsuna then enters, declaring that he will never let Kansuke return home. Karaginu and Okatsu also enter, fighting each other with drawn swords. Koshiji throws herself on their crossed swords and suddenly suffers a fatal wound. Before she dies, she tells everybody that she has decided to kill herself in order to offer her apology for the insult she has given Terutora. She also pleads for Kansuke's life. Naoe Sanetsuna and Yamamoto Kansuke cut their hairs to offer them to Koshiji as a token of their prayer for the repose of her soul. Sanetsuna allows Kansuke and Okatsu to safely leave his mansion and promises to send salt to Takeda Shingen, enemy though he is, since his territory is suffering from salt shortage.


[1] Naoe Sanetsuna, kami of the Yamashiro Province.

[2] This scene might be revived in the future to come at the National Theatre.

"Shinshű Kawanakajima Kassen" in 1758 at the Kado no Shibai (ezukushi banzuke)

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