Kusunokiryu Hanami no Makuhari (樟紀流花見幕張)

"Kusunokiryu Hanami no Makuhari" is a program of Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors). Its common name is "Keian Taiheiki." It was written by Mokuami KAWATAKE and consists of six acts. It was premiered at Tokyo Morita-za Theater in 1870.

Outline

It is based on the Keian Incident, the failed attempt to overthrow the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) made by Shosetsu YUI. Only the story of Chuya MARUBASHI is mainly performed now.

Story Line

Shosetsu YUI claimed to be a descendant of Masashige KUSUNOKI, got his comrades together and attempted to overthrow the bakufu.

Chuya MARUBASHI, one of his comrades, disguised himself as a drunken chugen (a rank below a common soldier) to measure the depth of the moat in preparing for the attack on Edo-jo Castle, but roju (member of shogun's council of elders) Nobutsuna MATSUDAIRA was passing by and questioned him (Edojo Horibata no Ba [a scene on the side of the Edo-jo Castle's moat]).

Chuya spent his days drunk on purpose to hide his true intention of rising in rebellion. Not knowing his true intention, his father-in-law and bow maker Tokuro pressed him to repay his debt and divorce his wife Osetsu. Chuya was perplexed and tried to persuade his father-in-law to understand him by telling the truth, but Tokuro was astounded and went to the police about him. Chuya was surrounded by a lot of torite (officials in charge of imprisoning offenders) and was arrested despite his resistance (Chuya Torimono no Ba [a scene when Chuya is caught]).

Casting at the Premiere

Shosetsu YUI: Shikan NAKAMURA the fourth
Chuya MARUBASHI: Sadanji ICHIKAWA the first
Matsudaira, Izu no kami (Governor of Izu Province): Takasuke SUKETAKAYA
Tokuro: Nakazo NAKAMURA the third

Highlights

The characters and the historical backdrop of this program at the premiere followed those in the Muromachi period. This seems to imply that Shinshichi KAWATAKE the second began to write for this program a few years before the premiere.
(In the Edo period, one could not write anti-bakufu scripts.)
Shortly after the premiere, the characters and the historical backdrop were revised just like those in a history text. Shinshichi wrote this script for Sadanji ICHIKAWA the first who was adopted by Shinshichi's best friend Kodanji ICHIKAWA the fourth. At that time, Osaka-born Sadanji had not hit it off with the Edo-born audience and had been in a slump for a long time. Although this program was aimed at bringing Sadanji to the fore for his revival, friction arose between the writer's part and the costars and the proprietor of the theater. The most contentious issue was "Edojo Horibata no Ba," a scene played only by Sadanji. For Shinshichi, too, this program absolutely had to succeed. Shinshichi burned his boats and at the hazard of his career, he taught Sadanji acting on a one-to-one basis even a few days after the premiere. Because Sadanji also made efforts, this program turned out to be extremely successful. Especially the "Horibata" and "Torimono" scenes were received well and brought Sadanji into prominence.

This established his name as a star in the Meiji period along with "Dangiku." The famous monologue of Chuya in the "Horibata" scene is as follows: "I know Umegaeda's Mugen no kane (bell of infinity) is an unusual story, but I will end up pawning my armor in a way similar to Genta because I cannot scrape together enough money for sake. I cannot help drinking sake even if I lose my shirt." He throws a pebble into the moat and listens carefully to the sound of water with kiseru (a (tobacco) pipe with metal tipped stem), and this pose is beautiful.

This scene is full of highlights including the dialogue between him and Izu no kami when they first met. The highlight in the "Torimono" scene is the scuffle in the final scene. In a sharp contrast with the calmness of Japanese dancing in the previous scenes, the performance is vigorous and realistic in this scene.

This staging is just like Kabuki in the Meiji period. The art of performing Chuya was passed on to Sadanji ICHIKAWA the second, the eldest son of Sadanji.