Hiragana Seisuiki


Hiragana Seisuiki

A tender love story and a heroic tale of loyalty against the background of the epic Genpei war

One of the play’s two key stories revolves around the internal struggles of the Kajiwara Kagetoki household. The eldest son Genda, one of the most desirable men in Kamakura, has been disowned after his loss in a battle and is living with his lover.
The other story tells of Kiso Yoshinaka’s children and retainers following his death at the hands of the enemy. The child of a boatman is mistaken for Yoshinaka’s son and brought home by mistake. Events reveal the child’s surprising identity.



by Mizuochi Kiyoshi

Heiji desires elder brother’s lover

A birthday celebration has been arranged at the Kajiwara mansion in Kamakura for the eldest son Genda, who is due to return from the Genpei War. The younger son Heiji is in love with Genda’s girlfriend, the servant Chidori. He did not join the battle, feigning illness, and has been persistently pursuing Chidori. Heiji’s underling Gunnai arrives from the battlefield and announces that Genda will soon be returning, having lost a major battle to Sasaki Takatsuna. He tells them that Kagetoki has left instruction with his wife to order Genda to commit suicide in repentance.

[from left]Chidori(Kataoka Takataro)、Kajiwara Heiji(Nakamura Kinnosuke) February 2016 Kabukiza Theatre



Why did Genda lose?

Genda, known as Kamakura’s handsomest man, returns in graceful dress. His mother greets him and reads him the letter from his father. Heiji appears and asks about the Uji River battle. Learning that Genda lost, Heiji says he will behead his own brother, but is beaten back by Genda and escapes hurriedly.

Kajiwara Genda(Nakamura Baigyoku) February 2016 Kabukiza Theatre


Beloved son disowned

Genda asks everyone to leave the room so that he may speak privately with his mother. He tells her that his father was once saved by Takatsuna after a wrongdoing in the past, and has intentionally allowed Takatsuna to win the battle to repay that debt. He is now prepared to commit suicide. The mother stops him, saying that it is a warrior’s mission to fulfill his loyalty to both his clan and his parents. She says she will disown him in order to save him, then dress him in rags and treat him like a fool. Heiji, overhearing the conversation, bursts in with a servant and tries to kill his older brother, but Genda beats his brother and kills the servant. The mother dismisses Chidori for the crime of disloyalty, allowing Genda and his lover to be together, and discreetly allows Genda to take the Genji clan’s treasured armor. Genda and Chidori are grateful for the mother’s compassion and leave the mansion.

【Left】[from left]Kajiwara Genda(Nakamura Baigyoku)、Enju(Kataoka Hidetaro) February 2016 Kabukiza Theatre

【Right】[from left]Chidori(Nakamura Shinobu)、Kajiwara Genda(Nakamura Kantaro)、Enju(Kataoka Hidetaro) April 2005 Kabukiza Theatre



Gonshiro’s lament for missing grandchild

The boatman Gonshiro in Settsu Province (current-day Osaka) is holding a third-year memorial service for his late son-in-law. The neighbors note that his grandson looks like a different person. Gonshiro tells them that an inn he was staying at on the way back from a pilgrimage was attacked by criminals. He escaped hurriedly, mistakenly grabbing the wrong child in the darkness. He has since been raising the boy while waiting until he can locate his own grandchild.

[from left]Oyoshi(Ichikawa Komazo)、Komawakamaru(Matsumoto Kintaro)、Gonshiro(Ichikawa Danshiro) November 2010 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


Matsuemon’s unexpected rise

Gonshiro’s daughter’s second husband returns from the Kajiwara mansion. Matsuemon tells Gonshiro excitedly that he has been promoted. General Yoshitsune has made him boat master because of his ability to row both backward and forward, a technique that Matsuemon learned from Gonshiro. The family is overjoyed, and Gonshiro brings out his favorite sake. Matsuemon drinks and takes a nap in back.

[from left]Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Gonshiro(Nakamura Karoku) September 2008 Kabukiza Theatre


Gonshiro’s fury

A young woman named Ofude comes to see Matsuemon. Gonshiro restrains his jealous daughter Oyoshi. He learns that this is the mother of the child that he took by mistake, and thinks jubilantly that she has brought back his own grandson. Unfortunately, he learns that the boy was mistakenly murdered by the criminals. Ofude reveals that the boy at Gonshiro’s house is in fact a young prince. Gonshiro and his daughter are stunned. Ofude asks them to return the prince. Gonshiro explodes, yelling, “I may be a commoner, but your grandson is my enemy. I’ll behead him first and then return him to you.”

【Left】[from left]Ofude(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Oyoshi(Ichikawa Komazo) January 2013 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre

【Right】Gonshiro(Bando Yajuro) August 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Matsuemon is actually loyal Kiso retainer

The sliding door opens to reveal Matsuemon sitting calmly and holding the prince. Gonshiro holds back Ofude and shouts, “Kill that boy!” Matsuemon shockingly tells Gonshiro that he is out of line. He says he knows the prince’s identity and reveals himself to be in actuality Kiso Yoshinaka’s retainer Higuchi Kanematsu. Gonshiro and Oyoshi are at a loss for words. Higuchi tells them that while he was serving in Kawachi, his master Yoshinaka was killed in battle, and his wife soon followed. In order to take revenge on Yoshitsune, Matsuemon married into this family and has now become Yoshitsune’s boatman.

[from left]Gonshiro(Ichikawa Danshiro)、Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Matsumoto Koshiro)、Komawakamaru(Matsumoto Kintaro) November 2010 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


Higuchi’s agony as he maintains his duty

Higuchi says he is pleased to encounter the young prince, and that his stepson saved the prince by being murdered on his behalf, therefore fulfilling a kind of duty. He is thankful to Gonshiro. He says that he cannot kill the child of his master and asks Gonshiro to forgive him.

Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Nakamura Hashinosuke) August 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Gonshiro accepts son-in-law’s plight

Gonshiro, taken by Higuchi’s honesty, says that the grandfather of a samurai must also be a samurai. He accepts Higuchi’s plea. Ofude asks Higuchi to look after the child and exits. Gonshiro thinks to throw away his late grandson’s belongings, but Higuchi suggests that they be presented as offerings before a shrine. Gonshiro tearfully says prayers in memory of his grandson.

[from left]Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Nakamura Hashinosuke)、Gonshiro(Bando Yajuro)、Ofude(Nakamura Senjaku) August 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Attack disguised as rowing exercise

Three boatmen arrive on Kajiwara’s orders to learn the reverse rowing technique. Higuchi demonstrates the technique, rowing to shore and then reversing course. Suddenly the boatmen take oars and attack him. Kajiwara has gleaned that Matsuemon is actually Higuchi and has ordered his men to attack. Higuchi laughs loudly and tells them that they have no chance against him. He kills them all, just as a big wave comes rolling in from the sea.

[from left]Mataroku(Ichikawa Somegoro)、Kurosaku(Nakamura Kinnosuke)、Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Tomizo(Nakamura Kasho) September 2008 Kabukiza Theatre


Torches are spied from pine tree

Higuchi climbs a pine tree to get a look. He sees torches of soldiers chasing him from every direction. He asks Oyoshi where Gonshiro went, she gives an evasive answer. Higuchi says angrily that Gonshiro must have reported his whereabouts, saying it’s like being bitten by one’s own dog.

Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Matsumoto Koshiro) January 2013 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre



Hatakeyama Shigetada

Hatayakema Shigetada, known as a wise and brave warrior, is brought to Gonshiro. Gonshiro convinces him that the child is the son of his daughter’s previous husband and not Higuchi’s. Shigetada knows the truth but is impressed with Gonshiro’s passion and allows himself to be deceived. He agrees to spare the child’s life. Higuchi is relieved that the prince will be saved and thanks Gonshiro. He voluntarily gives himself up to the compassionate Shigetada. Shigetada tells the boy to run away and not to follow his father.

【Left】[from left]Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Matsumoto Koshiro)、Hatakeyama Shigetada(Nakamura Baigyoku) January 2013 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre

【Right】[from left]Matsuemon, actually Higuchi Kanemitsu(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Gonshiro(Nakamura Karoku)、Oyoshi(Nakamura Tozo)、Hatakeyama Shigetada(Nakamura Tomijuro) September 2008 Kabukiza Theatre



Retrieving the pawned armor

Act IV depicts the subsequent life of the disinherited Genda and Chidori. Chidori is working at a pleasure house to support her husband and has taken the name Umegae. The Battle of Ichinotani breaks out, and Genda comes to collect the armor he left with Umegae. However, she has pawned the armor in order to get money for her lover to visit her. With no further solutions, Umegae remembers the legend of a famous bell in Shizuoka that is supposed to generate a fortune. Pretending that the water basin in the garden is a bell, she strikes it with a wooden stick. Suddenly 300 ryo worth of gold falls from upstairs. This is enough to buy the armor back. This was actually an unexpected gift of compassion from Genda’s mother, who had disguised herself as a guest.

[from left]Umegae.(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Kajiwara Genda(Nakamura Shinjiro) September 2003 Kabukiza Theatre