Genroku Chushingura


Genroku Chushingura

Kabuki Plus

by Kaneda Eiichi

Honjo Matsuzaka Town

The Kira residence is said to be in Honjo Matsuzaka, a name that did not exist at the time of the incident. The area has been known by different names. The name Matsuzaka was given shortly after the incident and resulting repossession of the Kira home by the government. It is believed that Kira Kozukenosuke moved here the year before the vendetta, meaning he was there only a short while.

Sengakuji Temple

The masterless samurai of Ako are associated with Edo’s Sengakuji Temple, the Asano family temple. The temple today has worshippers coming all year to pray for the souls of the warriors. It contains the graves of Asano Takumi-no-Kami and the 47 retainers, starting with Oishi Kuranosuke. Strictly speaking, there are 45 tombstones and two grave makers for samurai who do not have ashes. There is also a grave marker for Kayano Sampei, the model for the play’s Hayano Kampei, who committed suicide before the incident. The temple grounds also house a statue of Oishi, a well where Kira Kozukenosuke’s severed head was supposedly washed, and a memorial museum for the samurai.

Seasonality of lunar calendar

The vendetta took place on 14 December 1702. At that time, days were believed to start from the dawn, so the date under the present system would be early on 15 December. Under the Gregorian Calendar, the date was 30 January 1703, the coldest period of the year. This was approximately 100 years after the establishment of the Edo government and the height of the peaceful Genroku Period.

Full production of Genroku Chushingura


Theatrical performances in Edo ran from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, i.e., from sunrise to sunset. Even the modern system of matinee and evening shows does not truly correspond to the old days. Kanadehon Chushingura and Genroku Chushingura are among the few shows that are regularly performed in full. In traditional Kabuki, indoor scenes were alternated with outdoor scenes to provide a change of atmosphere for restless audiences. Genroku, however, is a modern piece written on the basis of Western theory. The storyline is focused and contains continual indoor themes. Moreover, the outdoor scenes that do exist are often left out due to time restrictions, giving audiences a different feeling and experience from the classic Kanadehon version.

“Our master’s enemy”


This phrase was part of a letter signed by the retainers and posted at the entrance of the Kira house at the time of the actual revenge. Taken from a Chinese document called The Book of Rights, it means, “We do not wish to be present under the same sky as our father’s enemy.” It is the source of numerous sayings. It also appears in the nagauta dance Goro in the Rain. The phrase in the play substitutes the word “master” for the word “father”. It is touched upon in the drama by the character Arai Hakuseki.