The Fight of the Megumi Fire Brigade


Megumi no Kenka – Kami no Megumi Wago no Torikumi

Fights and fires are called “the flowers of Edo”. A showdown between firemen and sumo wrestlers is replete with the ambience of old Edo.

Tatsugoro, the chief fireman of the Megumi fire brigade, faces numerous provocations from bullying sumo wrestlers but is forced to suppress his anger in deference to others. Finally, unable to hold back, he gathers his troupe on the final day of the big sumo tournament and goes off to fight. A popular drama based on an actual incident in Edo.


by Komiya Akiko

Sumo cheer

Shimazaki Inn at Shinagawa. The sumo wrestler Yotsuguruma and his fellow wrestlers are drinking in a room next to the Megumi (me-group) fire brigade, led by Tatsugoro. One wrestler is dancing to a sumo cheer and accidentally falls through the screen, tumbling into the next room. A short-tempered fireman challenges him to a fight, but Tatsugoro calms him down. A samurai patron of Yotsuguruma reminds Tatsugoro insultingly that sumo wrestlers have samurai rank and are superior to firefighters. Tatsugoro is incensed, but not wanting to cause trouble to the inn, holds his men back while silently vowing revenge.

【Left】[from left]Onami(Ichimura Manjiro)、Osaki(Onoe Matsuya)、Yotsuguruma Daihachi(Ichikawa Danjuro)、Hayama kurouji(Ichimura Kakitsu)、Miike Hachiemon(Ichikawa Unosuke) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Center】Fujimatsu(Onoe Shoroku) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Yotsuguruma Daihachi(Ichikawa Sadanji) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Scene in the dark

Tatsugoro waits for Yotsuguruma in the dark at nearby Yatsuyama to take revenge for the earlier affront. As they grapple with each other, they knock the light out, and the fight continues in the dark, encompassing the mistress of a shop and a timekeeper as well as a local boss Kisaburo who happens to be passing by in a palanquin. The fight breaks up, but Kisaburo finds a tobacco pouch, which he identifies as belonging to Tatsugoro. He immediately realizes what is going on.

【Left】[from left]Takidashi Kisaburo(Nakamura Baigyoku)、Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Yotsuguruma Daihachi(Ichikawa Danjuro)、Okura(Sawamura Tanosuke) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Center】Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】Takidashi Kisaburo(Nakamura Baigyoku) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Play at Shinmei Shrine

Shiba Shinmei Shrine is in a territory controlled by the Megumi brigade. A playhouse within the shrine is presently full as audiences watch a performance of a popular play. A drunken customer makes a scene and is ejected by a fireman. Several sumo wrestlers try to stop him, and a fight is about to break out when the theater manager intervenes. Tatsugoro again suppresses his anger and withdraws.

【Left】[from left]Omocha no Bunji(Nakamura Kanjaku)、Matahachi(Nakamura Toranosuke)、Onaka(Nakamura Tokizo) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Center】[from left]Kame-emon(Ichikawa Danzo)、Kuryuzan Namiemon(Nakamura Matagoro)、Chojiro(Kawarasaki Gonjuro) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Edoza Kitaro(Bando Hikosaburo)、Yotsuguruma Daihachi(Ichikawa Sadanji) January 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Divorce notice

Tatsugoro is determined to take revenge on the sumo wrestlers. He asks his boss for leave. He returns home, pretending to be drunk, and does not seem to be preparing for a fight. His wife accuses him of cowardice and threatens to leave him. Tatsugoro has already prepared a divorce notice. He asks for an exchange of cups of water, the traditional sign of separation. In fact, he has planned the divorce in order to keep his wife and child out of trouble. He then leaves bravely for the fight.

【Left】[from left]Onaka(Nakamura Tokizo)、Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Final shared cup of water

The Megumi members gather at the shrine and exchange farewell water using the ladle from a water bucket, implying their readiness to die. They leave to the cheers of a wood carver.

[from left]Take(Kataoka Ichizo)、Wakatarou(Nakamura Mantaro)、Santa(Sawamura Sonosuke)、Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre


Fight scene

A brawl between the sumo wrestlers and fireman breaks out in front of the sumo stable. It becomes a major fight in the form of a shinuki dance, whereby individuals successively move center stage and perform various fight scenes. In the end, the local boss Kisaburo jumps into the middle with a ladder and stops both sides. Kisaburo wears two happi jackets: one representing his authority over the shrine (sumo wrestler territory) and the other his authority over the town (firemen territory). He thus succeeds in quelling the battle.

【Left】[from left]Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Yotsuguruma Daihachi(Ichikawa Danjuro) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Center】[from left]Takidashi Kisaburo(Nakamura Baigyoku) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Tatsugoro(Onoe Kikugoro)、Takidashi Kisaburo(Nakamura Baigyoku)、Yotsuguruma Daihachi(Ichikawa Danjuro) May 2007 Kabukiza Theatre