The Scarlet Princess of Edo

桜姫東文章

Sakurahime Azuma Bunsho

Sweet child and monk, esteemed princess and thief. Two unusual couples whose fates are linked by karma.

A high-ranking monk is convinced that Princess Sakura is the reincarnation of his dead male lover and falls madly for her. Sakura, however, is obsessed with finding the unknown villain who raped her and left her pregnant. A story that still has the power to shock.

Synopsis

by Komiya Akiko

Incense box as joint pledge

The monk Seigen is in love with Shiragikumaru, a young male acolyte from another temple. Hoping to become a married couple in a future life, they abandon their temples and climb to a high cliff with the intent of committing joint suicide. Shiragikumaru takes the lid of an incense box while Seigen takes the box itself, each inscribed with the name of the other, as a token of their relationship. The young boy jumps into the sea with the lid in his left hand. The anguished Seigen, one step behind, calls out the boy’s name. Suddenly a white heron takes flight, and the frightened Seigen is unable to jump.

[from left]Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke)、Shiragikumaru(Nakamura Fukusuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

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Sign of reincarnation

Seventeen years later. Princess Sakura has grown to be a beautiful woman, but her left hand has remained in a fist since birth, a disgrace for a person of her rank. Her father and younger brother were both murdered by the professional killer Gonsuke, who also snuck into her chamber and raped her in the dark, leaving her with child. She could not see his face and remembers nothing but a tattoo in the shape of a bell. She becomes obsessed with the unknown rapist and gets the same tattoo. Because of her disability, she decides to become a nun. Seigen, now a high-ranking priest, comes and says a prayer for her. At this, her hand suddenly opens, releasing the incense box lid with Seigen’s name.

【Left】Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Nagaura(Ichimura Manjiro)、Yoshida Matsuwaka(Nakamura Kotaro)、Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

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“Who are you, Princess Sakura?”

Sakura comes across Gonsuke, neither of whom recognize the other. Upon glimpsing his tattoo, she realizes that this is the man for whom she has been obsessively pining. She abandons her desire to become a nun and clings to him. Her former fiancé comes in search of the rapist. Gonsuke escapes, and because of the name on the incense box, it is assumed that Seigen is the father of the child. He and Sakura are expelled for the crime of adultery. The two become criminals. Because Seigen believes the princess to be the reincarnation of his beloved, he accepts the baseless charges of adultery and proposes to Sakura. She rejects him. Through a series of circumstances, he ends up with her baby.

【Left】[from left]Tsurigane Gonsuke(Kataoka Takao)、Princess Sakura(Bando Tamasaburo) June 1975 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Center】[from left]Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

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The poisonous scorpion

Sakura’s servant Nagaura and Seigen’s fellow monk Zangetsu had been similarly driven out on an adultery charge and live a humble life. Seigen arrives at their place and becomes seriously ill. Aiming for his money, they pour the venom of a poisonous scorpion on him. His face is disfigured, and he suffocates to near death. Gonsuke, now a gravedigger, again runs into the princess. He goes out to sell the naive princess to a brothel. While she is waiting, a blast of thunder resurrects Seigen. He tries to lure the princess, but she stabs him with a knife, killing him. When Gonsuke returns, he has the same discoloration on his face as Seigen.

【Left】[from left]Nagaura(Ichimura Manjiro)、Katsushika no Oju(Ichikawa Emiya)、Zangetsu(Kataoka Ichizo)、Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

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Prostitute with noble speech

The villainous Gonsuke, who has married Sakura, sells her to a brothel. Sakura’s tattoo and noble speech gives her the nickname “the wind chime princess”, and she becomes popular. However, she is haunted by Seigen’s ghost, driving her clients away. She is finally sent back to Gonsuke. The ghost continues to follow her, and she speaks roughly using the cheap language that she learned in the brothel. Seigen’s ghost tells her that Gonsuke is the monk’s brother and a thief named Sota. Gonsuke gets drunk and reveals to Sakura that it was he who murdered her father and brother and stole the family treasure. Realizing that Gonsuke is the enemy, Sakura kills their child and, finally, Gonsuke himself.

【Left】[from left]Tsurigane Gonsuke(Ichikawa Ebizo)、Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Center】[from left]Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Seigen(Kataoka Ainosuke) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Tsurigane Gonsuke(Ichikawa Ebizo) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

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Sakura becomes princess again

The Sanja Festival at Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple. Sakura, having retrieved the family’s precious scroll, has achieved her wish of resurrecting the family and becomes princess again. She celebrates with the crowd.

[from left]Gunsuke(Ichikawa Kotaro)、Katsushika no Oju(Ichikawa Emiya)、Inanoya Hanbei(Kataoka Ainosuke)、Princess Sakura(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Ootomo Hitachinosuke(Ichikawa Ebizo)、Yoshida Matsuwaka(Nakamura Kotaro)、Awazu no sichiro(Ichikawa Ukon) August 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

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