Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu (The Lover’s Pledge)

盟三五大切

Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu (The Lover’s Pledge)

Loyalty vs. money: a tale of deception ending in gruesome murder. A piece exploring the depth of human emotions.

An honest young samurai becomes easy prey for a young geisha for whom he has fallen. It is only after he has handed over a fortune that he learns he has been duped. He goes mad and embarks on a course of murder, slashing five victims to death. When he discovers that the geisha has altered her tattoo to someone else’s name, he beheads her in a fit of rage and takes the severed head home for an outlandish act.

Synopsis

by Kaneda Eiichi

Passing ships

Late at night in Tsukuda Bay. The Fukagawa geisha Koman and her husband, the boatmen Sangoro, are enjoying a boat ride. Sangoro has been disinherited, but when his father comes seeking 100 ryo, the wife takes up work as a geisha to earn the money and his good graces. Koman has a passionate client named Satsuma Gengobei and, taking advantage of his infatuation, has repeatedly taken money from him. Sangoro urges her to take even more. A boat passes, and the emerging moon reveals that the customer on the boat is that very Gengobei.

[from left]Sasanoya Sangoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Koman(Nakamura Tokizo)、Satsuma Gengobei(Kataoka Nizaemon) November 2008 Kabukiza Theatre

 

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Actually Fuwa Kazuemon

Gengobei has sold his entire possessions for Koman, but he is in reality a samurai in the Enya household named Fuwa Kazuemon. He lost his position after money entrusted to him was stolen, and the Enya household itself was later terminated due to the incident involving his lord portrayed in Chushingura. He secretly seeks to raise money to join the vendetta against those responsible for his lord’s disgrace. Koman visits his house and shows him a tattoo reading “Godairiki”, a name symbolizing fidelity that also happens to feature one of the characters in his name. She says it is proof of her love for him. Just then, Gengobei’s uncle comes with 100 ryo for his nephew. When Sangoro hears about the money, he aims to get it for himself.

【Left】[from left]Hachiemon(Kataoka Ainosuke)、Satsuma Gengobei(Ichikawa Somegoro) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Center】[from left]Kikuno(Nakamura Baishi)、Kohachi(Bando Kametoshi)、Koman(Ichikawa Kamejiro) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Sasanoya Sangoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Hachiemon(Nakamura Kasho)、Satsuma Gengobei(Kataoka Nizaemon) November 2008 Kabukiza Theatre

 

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Gengobei deceived

Sangoro and Koman suggest to Gengobei that the geisha is about to be sold to another patron and can only be rescued by buying out her contract for 100 ryo. Gengobei resists, as the money is needed for the vendetta. Koman takes out a dagger and threatens to commit suicide, at which Gengobei agrees in a panic to hand her the money. Gengobei gives up the idea of the revenge in order to marry the woman he loves, and convinces himself that he has done the right thing. As Gengobei is about to take Koman home, Sangoro reveals that Koman is his wife. Gengobei realizes that the entire act was a trick to take his money.

[from left]Sasanoya Sangoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Satsuma Gengobei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Koman(Nakamura Tokizo) November 2008 Kabukiza Theatre

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Five people murdered in their sleep

A number of gangsters gather upon the theft of the 100 ryo. Sangoro, delighted at his success, changes Koman’s tattoo subtly to reflect his own name. Later, when the group is asleep, the enraged Gengobei breaks through the window and slashes at them randomly in the darkness, killing five people. Sangoro and Koman manage to get away.

【Left】Satsuma Gengobei(Ichikawa Somegoro) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Sasanoya Sangoro(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Koman(Ichikawa Kamejiro) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre

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Rage at the altered tattoo

Having barely escaped the slaughter, Sangoro and Koman race to the home of Koman’s older brother in Yotsuya. Sangoro’s father Tokuemon, who has become a traveling monk, visits and receives the 100 ryo from his son. Unbeknownst to them, Tokuemon serves Fuwa Kazuemon and is seeking the money to allow his master to join the vendetta. After the father leaves, Gengobei arrives. He is unexpectedly calm and, rather than drawing his sword, actually presents them with a bottle of sake and exits. Sangoro’s brother drinks the sake and soon dies, revealing that the drink has been poisoned. Sangoro hides in a barrel for safety and has himself taken to his father’s temple. Gengobei reappears and sees Koman’s altered tattoo. He explodes. He forces Koman to hold a sword and slit her own child’s throat, and he then beheads her.

【Left】[from left]Satsuma Gengobei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Sasanoya Sangoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Koman(Nakamura Tokizo) November 2008 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Satsuma Gengobei(Nakamura Kankuro)、Koman(Nakamura Fukusuke) September 1998 Theatre Cocoon

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Hidden reality

Gengobei takes Koman’s head and returns to a secret hideaway at a temple. He exhibits grotesque behavior, including eating alongside and feeding the severed head. He confesses to the monk that he can no longer join the vendetta and will commit suicide. A barrel in the room suddenly breaks apart, and Sangoro tumbles out with a knife in his stomach. He has stabbed himself after realizing the truth: the 100 ryo that he stole for his father was the money that his father sought for Gengobei. The good intentions of all, hiding their identities for the sake of the vendetta, resulted in tragedy. It begins to snow. Gengobei, as Fuwa Kazuemon, joins his fellow servants from the Enya household to pursue the vendetta.

【Left】[from left]Koman(Nakamura Tokizo)、Satsuma Gengobei(Kataoka Nizaemon) November 2008 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Ryoshin(Sawamura Tanosuke)、Sasanoya Sangoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Satsuma Gengobei(Kataoka Nizaemon) November 2008 Kabukiza Theatre

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