The Women’s Chushingura

加賀見山旧錦絵

Kagamiyama Kokyo no Nishikie

Jealousy and intrigue in the ladies chamber

Two ladies-in-waiting face off: the young and faithful Onoe and the long-serving head Iwafuji. Iwafuji plans treason against the household and mistreats Onoe, jealous that she is the princess’s favorite. But Onoe is protected by her servant Ohatsu. This was the template of historical ladies-chamber dramas based on the succession troubles of the Kaga clan and the incident of the straw slipper.

Synopsis

by Hashimoto Hiroki

The competition

The princess asks the young cheerful medium-ranked lady-in-waiting Onoe to look after an important Buddhist statue, passing over the head servant Iwafuji. The evil Iwafuji plots with Danjo to usurp the household and doesn’t take kindly to the fact that the princess has chosen Onoe for an important task. She challenges Onoe to a swordfight, hoping to embarrass her since Onoe is of commoner stock and not good at swords. But Onoe’s servant Ohatsu steps forward to fight in her place and defeats Iwafuji. This deepens Iwafuji’s hatred for Onoe.

【Left】Iwafuji(Onoe Kikugoro) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Iwafuji(Onoe Kikugoro)、Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre

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The beating with the sandal

Onoe has been entrusted with a scented wood that is a family treasure. But when she opens the box, she finds nothing but one of Iwafuji’s straw sandals. When it appears that Iwafuji will be caught in suspicion of the loss, news comes that the other sandal was found in Onoe’s room. Iwafuji angrily accuses Onoe of stealing the wood and putting Iwafuji’s sandal in instead to pin her for the crime. She beats Onoe with the sandal. Onoe is utterly humiliated and leaves the palace with sandal in hand.

【Left】Onoe(Bando Tamasaburo) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre
【Center】[from left]Onoe(Bando Tamasaburo)、Iwafuji(Onoe Kikugoro)、Tsurugisawa Danjo(Ichikawa Sadanji) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】Onoe(Bando Tamasaburo) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre

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Onoe’s room

Seeing Onoe’s pale face, Ohatsu realizes that something wrong must have happened. Worried, she urges her mistress not to take rash action. However, Onoe secretly puts her last will in a box with a sandal and orders it delivered it to her parents. Ohatsu, not aware of the contents, has no choice but to obey.

【Left】[from left]Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Onoe(Bando Tamasaburo) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Onoe(Bando Tamasaburo) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre

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Crow’s ominous cry

A crow’s cry is heard at evening, said to be a bad omen. After leaving the palace, Ohatsu is caught in a swordfight, during which the box pops open to reveal the will and sandal. Ohatsu rushes back to the palace in a panic.

[from left]Datehei(Kawarasaki Gonjuro)、Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Ushijima Chikara(Bando Shinsya) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre

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Onoe’s former room

Onoe has stabbed herself with a dagger. Iwafuji sneaks into the room of the dying Onoe and steals the Buddhist statue. Ohatsu races back and cradles Onoe in her arms. Onoe says that Iwafuji has humiliated her and has now stolen the statue, then passes away. Ohatsu, mortified by her mistress’s fate, grabs the will, which tells of Iwafuji’s plot, and the sandal. She goes to meet the evil Iwafuji.

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Revenge in the inner garden

Iwafuji, standing in the rainy night, is delighted at having removed the troublesome Onoe and gained hold of the Buddhist statue. Then Ohatsu appears. Iwafuji pretends to have a headache. Ohatsu offers an effective medicine and places the sandal on Iwafuji’s head. Iwafuji lunges at Ohatsu with a sword, and they fight fiercely. In the end, Ohatsu triumphs. The incident is settled, and Ohatsu is promoted as Onoe’s successor.

【Left】[from left]Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Iwafuji(Onoe Kikugoro) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre
【Center】[from left]Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Iwafuji(Onoe Kikugoro) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Ohatsu(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Iozaki Motome(Onoe Matsuya) October , 2005  Kabukiza Theatre

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