Yamato Takeru


Yamato Takeru

A “flying heart” depicted on a grand scale

The first work in what became the Super Kabuki series. Ichikawa Ennosuke III, inspired by an original novel based on the legend of Yamato Takeru, created an unprecedented hit and a new Kabuki genre.


by Oshima Yukihisa

Prince Ousu conquers Kumaso and takes name Yamato Takeru

The province of Yamato (Nara Prefecture). The emperor has twin children. The mother died when they were boys. The younger is Prince Ousu. Now 19, he is a brave and gallant youth. He goes to Kyushu at his father’s behest to suppress the Kumaso tribe. He disguises himself as a dancer and slips into the palace, where he kills the ruler and his son. Highlights include a double portrayal of the prince and his brother by a single actor in a swift costume change, and the grand fight scene with the destruction of the palace wall. The younger brother of the ruler’s slain son offers his name, Takeru, and a sacred sword, which Prince Ousu accepts. He will now be known as Yamato Takeru.

【Left】Prince O-usu(Ichikawa Ennosuke) July 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Right】[from left]Kumaso Ototakeru(Ichikawa Enya)、Kumaso Etakeru(Bando Yajuro) June 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Takeru takes sacred sword and goes to conquer east

As soon as Yamato Takeru returns home, his father gives him challenging orders one after another. Takeru becomes engaged to Princess Etachibana, but is sent immediately east to quell the Ezo tribe. On his way, he stops at Ise Shrine to visit his aunt and his fiancée’s sister. He reveals his father’s intentions to his aunt, and tells her he has received a sacred sword. He heads east with a servant. In Sagami Province, the local ruler attacks him with fire. Takeru strikes the ground with the sword and reverses the flow of the fire, allowing him to escape. After this incident, the sword is called the Grass Ploughing Sword. The highlight in this scene is the dramatic battle with the red flags in the burning fields. Takeru seeks to escape by sea. His sister-in-law dives into the sea in a suicidal act in order to calm the god of the waters and allow Takeru to get away safely. The god of the sea accordingly rescues Takeru. The spectacle is enhanced by the use of 24 tatami mats and a large cloth.

【Left】[from left]Princess Etachibana(Ichikawa Emiya)、Yamato Takeru(Ichikawa Ennosuke)、Emperor(Ichikawa Thusha)、Empress(Ichikawa Monnosuke) July 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Center1】[from left]Princess Ototachibana(Ichikawa Shunen)、Yamato Takeru(Ichikawa Ennosuke)、Princess Yamato(Ichikawa Emisaburo) June 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Center2】[from left]Takehiko(Ichikawa Ukon)、Yamato Takeru(Ichikawa Ennosuke) June 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Right】[from left]Princess Ototachibana(Ichikawa Shunen)、Yamato Takeru(Ichikawa Ennosuke)、Hetarube(Ichikawa Kotaro)、Takehiko(Ichikawa Ukon) June 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Takeru’s death and transformation to white bird

The story approaches its climax. Having conquered the east region, Takeru marries Princess Miyazu. At the wedding reception, he receives a new order from the emperor to kill the gods of Mt. Ibuki. He leaves the sacred sword with his bride and heads to Mt. Ibuki. The mountain god is determined to kill Takeru after learning that the sacred sword has been left behind. Takeru is lured to Mt. Ibuki and has a desperate fight with a large boar, which proves to be the mountain god in disguise. Another god turns a blizzard into a hailstorm, which injures Takeru. The warrior manages to reach Ise Province, but ultimately dies. A huge funeral is organized in a small village. Takeru’s son with Etachibana is declared Crown Prince. At this, a white bird emerges from a deserted grave and takes flight. Could this be the soul of Takeru? A voice resonates through the theater in the moving finale, “I am the flying heart!”

【Left】[from left]Goddess of Mt. Ibuki(Ichikawa Monnosuke)、God of Mt. Ibuki(Bando Yajuro) June 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Center】[from left]Hetarube(Ichikawa Kotaro)、Yamato Takeru(Ichikawa Ennosuke)、Takehiko(Ichikawa Ukon) June 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Right】Yamato Takeru(Ichikawa Ennosuke) October 1998 Osaka Shochikuza Theatre