The Sword and the Sumo Ring


Ippon Gatana Dohyoiri

A poor sumo wrestler is saved by a stranger’s compassion

A failed sumo wrestler, penniless and hungry, stops at an inn on his way to Edo. The proprietress takes pity and gives him help. Some years later, they meet again…


by Suzuki Tami

Inn in Toride

A ruffian has become violent on the streets of a quiet town. Mohei, a low-ranking sumo wrestler, happens to pass and scares him off with a head-butting move. He is spotted by an inn worker Otsuta, who calls him over. Mohei confesses that he was kicked out of his sumo stable and is now penniless and hungry. He tells her of his dream to pray at his mother’s grave as a yokozuna (top-ranking wrestler). Otsuta, reminded of her own faraway mother, gives him her wallet, comb and hairpin to help, encouraging him to achieve his dream. Moved by her gesture and a beautiful song that she sings, Mohei promises that he will become a yokozuna.

【Left】Komagata Mohei(Nakamura Kantaro) January , 2009  Asakusa Public Hall 【Center】Otsuta(Nakamura Fukusuke) September , 2004 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Komagata Mohei(Nakamura Kankuro)、Otsuta(Nakamura Fukusuke) September , 2004 Kabukiza Theatre


Boat passage at Tone River

On his way back to Edo, Mohei meets a nanny waiting for a boat and is surprised to learn that the baby is Otsuta’s. The ruffian returns with his fellow gang members, but Mohei easily chases them away.

Komagata Mohei(Nakamura Kankuro) September , 2004  Kabukiza Theatre


Riverbank at Fuse ten years later

Ten years later, Mohei has given up his dream of being a wrestler and has become a powerful but gentle gangster. Returning to the fateful inn to repay his debt, he asks local boatmen about Otsuta, but her whereabouts are unknown.


Otsuta’s house

Otsuta has been reunited with her husband, who she had thought was dead. Threatened by local gamblers, who accuse the husband of using loaded dice, they decide to run away to Otsuta’s hometown, leaving everything behind. Mohei then arrives, drawn by the song that the daughter is innocently singing. He wishes to thank Otsuta for the old favor, but she does not recognize him. When the ruffians return, Mohei beats them off with his signature head-butting tactics. That instantly triggers Otsuta’s memory.

Tatsusaburo(Onoe Matsuya) January , 2009  Asakusa Public Hall


Wild cherries on the roof

Mohei gives Otsuta the money he saved to repay the obligation, thus allowing her to escape. Seeing them off, he says to himself, “Otsuta, thanks to your money and encouragement ten years ago, this is my entry into the ring as a shabby yokozuna.”

Komagata Mohei(Nakamura Kantaro) September , 2011  Shinkabukiza Theatre