The Castle Tower

天守物語

Tenshu Monogatari

Once-in-a-millennium love of a fairy princess living in a castle tower

A drama about a fairy princess living in the tower of the imposing Himeji Castle. Playwright Izumi Kyoka failed to see the play staged during his lifetime, but it has proven one of his most popular works. It is full of his unique sense of beauty in a mysterious and fantastical world.

Synopsis

by Abe Satomi

Princess Tomi: beautiful protector of castle keep

The setting is the five-tiered tower of Himeji Castle. The top level is said to house various creatures, and humans are prohibited from entry. In the center is a magnificent statue of a lion’s head. One autumn evening at sunset, Princess Tomi, the mistress of the castle tower, arrives on a cloud. Her dear friend Princess Kame is supposed to fly in soon. Princess Tomi notices that Lord Harima, head of the castle, is leading a falcon-hunting party and firing shots into the air. Worried about her friend, she calls on the snow goddess to bring heavy rains in order to dispel the hunters.

[from left]Susuki(Kamimura Kichiya)、Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo) July 2006 Kabukiza Theatre

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Affectionate sisters

With the skies safely cleared, Princess Kame arrives with her attendants. The two princesses greet each other warmly. Princess Kame has brought a gift: the severed head of Takeda Emonosuke, lord of Inawashiro Castle and Harima-no-kami’s brother. Princess Tomi is delighted with the gift. She is embarrassed that her own present, a warrior’s helmet from the Harima family, is not comparable in quality and says she will look for something else. Princess Kame notices a group of hunters and says she likes their white falcon. Princess Tomi captures the hawk and presents it to her friend.

【Left】[from left]Shu no Bambo(Ichikawa Enya)、Princess Kame(Onoe Ukon)、Shitanaga Uba(Ichikawa Monnosuke)、Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo)、Susuki(Kamimura Kichiya) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre
【Center】[from left]Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo)、Princess Kame(Nakamura Kantaro)、Shitanaga Uba(Ichikawa Monnosuke) July 2009 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre

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Honorable warrior Zushonosuke

The castle tower is quiet, and Princess Tomi sits alone in the dim light. A young warrior named Zushonosuke climbs the long stairs to the tower. He is asked by the surprised princess why he has come here, where no human has been for the past 100 years. He responds that he has been blamed for the falcon’s loss and has been ordered to find it on pain of death. Princess Tomi is moved by his situation. She tells him that normally no human is allowed to leave here alive, but she will allow him an exception just this once.

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Souls drawn together

Zushonosuke leaves, but monsters attack him and extinguish his light. He goes back to the tower. Princess Tomi accuses him of breaking his promise not to return. He says that he would rather die at her hands than be humiliated by falling down the stairs in the dark. The princess is deeply moved and begins to fall in love. She confesses that she was the one who snatched the hawk. She urges him to stay with her rather than return to the fickle human world. He hesitates but cannot give up his attachment to the real world. The princess understands and gives him the helmet to use as proof that he was here.

【Left】[from left]Himekawa Zushonosuke(Ichikawa Ebizo)、Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre

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Darkness and light

When Zushonosuke returns to the lord and presents the helmet, he is accused of stealing the family’s treasured heirloom. The lord orders his soldiers to kill him. Zushonosuke escapes by running to the tower for a third time. He tells the princess that he would rather be killed by her than the soldiers. She suggests that they live together and hides with him inside the lion’s head under a robe. The soldiers arrive and pierce the lion’s eyes, blinding the princess and Zushonosuke. Princess Tomi staggers out with the severed head of Harima-no-kami’s brother. As the head closely resembles Lord Harima, the shocked soldiers think their master is dead and flee. Just as the couple decide to commit suicide, the sculptor Ominojo Toroku, who carved the lion’s head, suddenly appears. He repairs the eyes with his chisel, and the lovers magically regain their sight. They embrace. Toroku laughs aloud as he observes the blissful couple.

[from left]Ominojo Toroku(Kataoka Gato)、Himekawa Zushonosuke(Ichikawa Ebizo)、Princess Tomi(Bando Tamasaburo) July 2009 Kabukiza Theatre

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