Zangirimono (cropped-hair plays) (散切物)

The term "Zangirimono" (cropped-hair plays) refers to kabuki kyogen plays (plays [programs] presented in Kabuki [traditional drama performed by male actors]) which are classified into Sewamono (plays dealing with the lives of ordinary people) and reflect the folkways after the Meiji Restoration. It is also referred to as Zangiri Kyogen (a series of works depicting people with zangiri atama [cropped heads] after their topknots were cut off, symbolizing the rapid changes in society).

The Japanese were encouraged to bob their hair in 1871. Changing one's hairstyle into a western one by cutting off a conventional Chonmage (a topknot) symbolized the new era.
They said, 'If you hit zangiri atama (cropped head), you can hear the sound of Bunmei kaika (civilization and enlightenment).'
Zangirimono described such a historical backdrop. Western words and products such as jinrikisha (a taxi-like vehicle pulled by a man), western clothes, blanket, train, newspaper, diamond, etc. were used in the plays. But the dramaturgy and staging of the plays did not go much beyond the conventional Kabuki. Therefore, they were not innovative plays.

Their first examples were "Kutsunaoshi Waranbe no Oshie" (literally, "Teachings by a Child Repairing Shoes") and "Sonoirodori Toki no Koeki" (literally, "The Color and the Trade of Earthenware") presented in Kyoto in 1872, and their original was "Saigoku Risshihen" (a translation from Self-Help written by Samuel Smiles) by Masanao NAKAMURA. The following year, 1873, "Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun" (Tokyo Daily Newspaper) written by Shinshichi KAWATAKE (later Mokuami KAWATAKE) was presented, starring Kikugoro ONOE the fifth. While Danjuro ICHIKAWA the ninth established Katsurekimono (variety of kabuki, based on historical events), Kikugoro gave high priority to Zangirimono, which was regarded as a new kind of Sewamono, to compete with him. Many of the plays remaining today were written by Mokuami, starring Kikugoro.

Main programs

As mentioned above, all plays of Zangirimono remaining today were written by Mokuami. Each play has a conventional plot featuring kanzen choaku (rewarding good and punishing evil). But plays such as "Onna Shosei" (The Woman Student) and "Oden TAKAHASHI" depicted women in the new era. The play called "Fudeya Kobe" (Brush Seller Kobe) focused on the misery of a fallen descendant of a Samurai. These plays are valuable materials for understanding the manners and customs of the early Meiji period.

"Fujibitai Tsukuba no Shigeyama"(The Widow's Peak Shaped Like Mt. Fuji) (also known as Onna Shosei) (1877)

"Ningen Banji Kane no Yononaka" (Money Is Everything in This World) (1879)

"Tojiawase Oden no Kanabumi" (Drama about Oden, a Female Murderer) (also known as Oden TAKAHASHI) (1879)

"Shimachidori Tsuki no Shiranami" (literally, "Plovers of the Island and Foaming Waves in the Moonlight") (also known as Shimachidori) (1881)

"Suitengu Megumi no Fukagawa"(By the Grace of Suiten-gu Shrine [a shrine sacred to the guardian deity of mariners] near the Fuka-gawa River) (also known as Fudeya Kobe) (1885)

"Tsuki no Umekaoru Oboroyo" (Misty and Moonlit Night with the Scent of Plum Blossoms) (also known as Oume HANAI) (1888)