Wadagassen Onna Maizuru (和田合戦女舞鶴)

Wadagassen Onna Maizuru (Wada Battle and Woman Flying-Crane) is a Kabuki play, but originally a ningyojoruri. Premiered at Toyotake-za Theater in Osaka on March 4, 1736. A ningyojoruri (puppet ballad-drama) of 5 acts. Written by Sosuke NAMIKI. Also introduced into Kabuki two months after the premiere. Presently the second half of Act 2 'FUJISAWA Nyudo Yakata' (Nyudo FUJISAWA's Mansion) remains as 'Hangaku no Mon yaburi no Ba' (Hangaku's Gate Breaking Scene).

Story line

Around the time of Sanetomo MINAMOTO, Third Shogun of the Kamakura period, deceived with a tactic of a gyakushin (rebellious subject), Nyudo FUJISAWA and his son, Shiro, friction between Yoshitoki HOJO and Tsunemori WADA who are both the Shogun's senior vassals is increasing. Under such a tumultuous circumstance, Heita EGARA killed Sanetomo's sister, Saihime, at Nyudo Yakata, and concealed himself. For investigation Yoichi ASARI rushes to the scene with his wife, Hangaku, but Nyudo does not allow them to enter the mansion for the reason that Hangaku is a younger female cousin of Heita. Heita divorces Hangaku on the spot. Getting angry at the attitude of Nyudo who still doubts, Hangaku breaks down the gate with her characteristic mighty strength and has her husband enter the mansion. After that she performs a large-scale stage fight with Nyudo's rotos (retainers) led by Shiro.


A creation based on the popular belief about a gate breaking by Yoshihide ASAHINA, who was a retainer of Yoshimori WADA, and on preceding works such as 'Egara-no-Heita' by Monzaemon CHIKAMATSU. In addition to the presently performed act, the known acts include the third act 'Ichiwaka Migawari' (Ichiwaka becoming a stand-in) in which Hangaku who has learned that Heita's son, Kugyo, is a Sanetomo's illegitimate child makes her child, Ichiwaka, a scapegoat, and the fourth act which has caused a fancy scene to be called 'Chari-Ba' (comical scene) due to the comical performance by Ajari, the Betto (Administrator) of Tsurugaoka Shrine.

Aragoto (Kabuki play featuring exaggerated posture, makeup, and costume) by an actor of female roles

The main object is that such aragoto as breaking the gate is performed by an actor of female roles.
The heroin, Hangaku, is one of few foremost powerful women in Kabuki as described in the original joruri that 'she is not so ugly, but looks so strong as a sekitori (sumo wrestler), which is only her redeeming feature.'

It is perceived by the audience that, after being divorced, uttering the lines of '…the abandoned woman has no home of her own in the three worlds, and, if no home, then no master. There is nobody to show a reserved attitude.' and the joruri expression of 'Even if this gate is fortified with large stones, the force of my will arising from my devotion to my husband shall force through the gate.', Hangaku gives a nod to her husband, rubs her hands together, gets to the front of the gate, and then touches the gate with the kaishi (paper folded and tucked inside the front of kimono) to push it. The difficulty of this role is to perform violently without losing the flavour of an actor of female roles. At one time there were more violent staging.

As it is special performance of a female impersonator, in many cases it was performed by such key players as Danjuro ICHIKAWA (9th), Chusha ICHIKAWA (7th) and Tamikura OGAMI (3rd). After the World War II, Utaemon NAKAMURA (6th), Sojiro SAWAMURA (9th) and others performed this as their speciality. An actor of female roles who performs bravely is called 'Onna Budo' (a woman of worrier rank, or a woman of warlike spirit, capable of fighting a man) and Hangaku is its representative role. Danjuro was absorbed in Katsureki-mono (real history things), so dressed up with a sagegami (a wig for an actor of female roles) and a yellowish green haramaki (belly band) and carried a naginata (a long pole with a sharp curving sword). Currently worn is a complete set of jidaimono (historical drama) dress-up consisting of katahazushi (female role of nyobo [a court lady] of samurai family or goten jochu [palace maid]) hair-style, a scarlet rinzu (a kind of silk kimono) with an uchikake (a kind of women's kimono) and a white hiraguke (a thin belt to be put on an obi, sash).


The karami (carrying nothing) supporting role needs to be a skillful person. Especially Shiro FUJISAWA, who is put down by Hangaku, sets the stage alight with his clownish ha-gataki (bit-part actor for enemy role) characteristics such as the dialog of 'mon dukushi' (filled with gates) in nori-ji (in a rhythmic manner) to the accompaniment of the stage-right music while leading the rotos (retainers) wearing hanayoten (constables in colorful uniform), even though he is shivering with fright caused by Hangaku's mighty strength.

Mon-dukushi (Filled with Gates) Dialog:
Yo! Yo, Hangaku.'
You look proud of your strength, treat an akazu-no-mon (gate that cannot be opened) as a haradaiko (patting on a paunch like a drum) and expect the Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate) to fall.'
If it is broken easily with rattling sound, whether Sujigane-mon (the Iron Girder Gate) or Kinmon (a golden gate), or Nekonomon (a cat gate) which does not meow, the romon (aged gate) is hopeless.'
If we let you go with nothing, a curse will be placed on our family and our clan. The one who has come as a killer does not consider it as a sanmon gate (temple gate), but handles it as ana-mon (hole gate) which is a nohozu mon (sloppy gate). If midomo (I) become the Nio-mon (Nio Gate, a gate to prevent devils), it is all right. Once I refuse it, my life will be a Torano-mon gate (Tiger Gate). Mon ga mogaite-mo mon kanawanu (No matter how hard I may struggle, I cannot attain my desire). Shall I give my head or take me up? Give an answer. Come on, come on....Nan-mon (South Gate), Nan-mon.'