Play Oniwaka Kongen Butai  In Japanese
Ukine no Tomodori
Authors Tsuruya Nanboku IV
Nishikawa Senzô IV (choreography)
Kiyomoto Saibê I (music)

The Kiyomoto-based michiyuki "Ukine no Tomodori", commonly called "Osome no Michiyuki" was premiered in the 11th lunar month of 1825 at the Nakamuraza, staged within Tsuruya Nanboku IV's drama "Oniwaka Kongen Butai"; the roles of Osome, Hisamatsu and the monkey showman were played by Iwai Shijaku I, Iwai Kumesaburô II and Ichikawa Danjûrô VII. "Oniwaka Kongen Butai" is no more performed nowadays but its michiyuki is still part of the current Kabuki repertoire.

Key words Chômeiji
Mimeguri Jinja

Osome, the daughter of the Aburaya, a famous money-lending house located in Edo in the district of Asakusa Kawara-chô, is in love with a young apprentice named Hisamatsu, who spent all his childhood with her, studying in the same temple. Unfortunately, Osome's parents decided to marry her to somebody else and she ran away from the Aburaya, followed by Hisamatsu. The latter finally rejoins the former on the embankment between the Sumida River and the Mimeguri Shrine.

Osome, trough a kudoki, expresses all her sadness because Hisamatsu does not want her to die with him. She is so eager to walk together the road to death. Hisamatsu asks her to go back home but Osome's resolution is too strong.

A monkey showman (or woman depending on the production) comes up to them and silently observes them. He understands that the couple are none others than Osome and Hisamatsu whose sad love affair is in all the town discussions. He also clearly understands that their presence at night in this remote place means that they are about to commit a love suicide (shinjû). He strikes his bamboo clappers (yottsutake), attracting the couple's attention and starts to let his monkey perform a dance while singing a ballad about … Osome and Hisamatsu and their famous love affair. The song tells them not to do anything too rash. Once the song and monkey dance are over, the monkey showman disappears into the darkness, hoping that his words will prevent them to commit suicide.

Osome and Hisamatsu stay silent, their mind sinking into dark thoughts. Suddenly a temple bell starts to ring in the distance. It comes from the Chômeiji Temple (literally "long-life temple"). The couple finally decides to continue their way.


This story is based on real events which happened in Ôsaka. Tsuruya Nanboku IV simply transposed the action and characters to Edo.

The actors Ichikawa Danjûrô VIII and Iwai Kumesaburô III playing the roles of Hisamatsu and Osome in the dance "Ukine no Tomodori", which was staged in the 1st lunar month of 1847 at the Nakamuraza (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni III)

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