Dan no Ura Kabuto Gunki

壇浦兜軍記~阿古屋

Dan no Ura Kabuto Gunki

The courtesan Akoya, dressed proudly in her full gorgeous attire, refuses to divulge the whereabouts of her fugitive husband despite intense pressure from authorities. She is forced to play three instruments in a psychological test of wills.

Akoya, subtly shaken inside, faces down the intense pressure of her interrogators by playing three instruments with perfect skill. A psychological battle of wills.

Synopsis

by Iizuka Misa

“Confess the whereabouts of your fugitive lover”

The victorious Genji clan is seeking the whereabouts of the enemy Kagekiyo, who is known for his bravery. The head of the imperial guards, Hatakeyama Shigetada, is preparing to interrogate courtesan Akoya, who is the fugitive’s lover and pregnant with his child.

[from left]Hatakeyama Shigetada(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Iwanaga Saemon(Bando Kamesaburo) October 2015 Kabukiza Theatre

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“I’m not afraid of water torture”

Akoya is brought in under police escort, proudly wearing a gorgeous wedding over-kimono in formal courtesan attire and hair. She has not been tied up, prompting the assistant examiner Iwanaga Saemon to complain that she is being treated leniently. He wants to submit her to water torture to force her to divulge information on her lover. Shigetada, however, realizes that a courtesan known for duty and compassion will not easily yield to torture. He tries to use persuasion instead. Akoya is moved by his words but insists that she cannot tell something she doesn’t know.

Akoya(Bando Tamasaburo) October 2015 Kabukiza Theatre

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Three torture instruments

Shigetada orders his men to bring in the torture instruments. The instruments that appear are in fact musical instruments: a koto (Japanese harp), shamisen (Japanese lute) and kokyu (Chinese cello). The implication is that Akoya will not be able to concentrate and play well if she is hiding something.

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Koto torture

Shigetada orders Akoya to play the koto. Akoya plays the instrument and sings a song punning on her lover’s name as a way of indicating that she does not know where he is, noting that the moon brings shadow (kage) and purity (kiyoshi) but not Kagekiyo himself.

[from left]Akoya(Bando Tamasaburo)、Hatakeyama Shigetada(Nakamura Kichiemon) September 2007 Kabukiza Theatre

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Interrogators ask how lovers met

Shigetada presses Akoya to tell how she met Kagekiyo. She reveals that Kagekiyo used to pass by her home on his daily visits to Kiyomizu Temple. She explains that a casual encounter developed into a deep relationship: they gradually came to recognize each other, she mended a tear in his overcoat, offered him an umbrella in the rain, gave him a light for a cigarette on a snowy morning, and insisted he come in for some hot tea. However, she tells them the affair ended with the autumn wind as her lover sailed off for the battlefield. She says she hasn’t heard from him since.

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Shamisen torture

Shigetada now orders Akoya to play the shamisen. She complies with the request and plays a song from the Noh drama Hanjo of a court lady’s agony over the loss of her lover. The lyrics sing of a woman waiting in vain for her love, who had promised to come before the autumn, and bewailing the inconstant heart of man.

Akoya(Bando Tamasaburo) October 2015 Kabukiza Theatre

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Separation

Shigetada in convinced that Kagekiyo is hiding somewhere in the capital and accuses Akoya of meeting him. She replies that even at the height of Heike rule, they had to arrange secret rendezvous. When he became a wanted man, he left her, saying only, “Look after yourself”. She says sadly that the last time she saw him was when he passed by her shop, and laments that they were unable to speak more.

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Kokyu torture

Shigetada finally demands that she play the kokyu. She sings of the end of her love affair with Kagekiyo: “The cherry blossoms in Yoshino and autumn leaves in Tatsuta, the moon over Sarashina and snowfall on Echigo, all were but a dream, leaving nothing behind.” Shigetada is moved and orders the interrogation to stop. Iwanaga objects, but Shigetada answers that the purity of the music signals that she is telling the truth. He declares the interrogation finished and orders his retainer to look after Akoya.

【Left】Akoya(Bando Tamasaburo) October 2015 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Akoya(Bando Tamasaburo)、Hatakeyama Shigetada(Nakamura Baigyoku)、Iwanaga Saemon(Nakamura Kankuro) April 2002 Kabukiza Theatre

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