Colorful Guises of the Six Immortal Poets


Rokkasen Sugata no Irodori

Dance drama with the poetess Ono no Komachi and her suitors

Several men try unsuccessfully to win the heart of Ono no Komachi, including a high-ranking monk, a playboy and a handsome youth. Meanwhile, another monk is rejected by a Gion courtesan, and Otomo Kuronushi, who plans to take control of the country, has his true intention revealed by Komachi.



Abbot Henjo appears in Komachi’s room in a beautiful scarlet robe. He unsuccessfully begs the maids to let him meet Komachi. He hears the tender voice of Komachi reciting a poem. When she appears, Henjo speaks sweetly to lure her, but she casually passes by. He laments, “The blossoming flower is covered by invisible thorns.” He sadly departs.

Sojo Henjo(Bando Mitsugoro) August 2009 Kabukiza Theatre



To a loud gong and lyrical kiyomoto tune, the playboy Bunya bounds onto the stage but is stopped by the stubborn maids. He reveals his thoughts through comical lyrics. He discusses his unfulfilled love with the maids, and dances his frustration to the words, “The smoke from Fuji and Asama is meaningless, and the flames of the guardians are but fireflies by the water, while my body burns like seaweed salts.” In the end, unable to meet Komachi, he kicks at the maids and runs off.

【Left】[from left]Court lady(Nakamura Sanzaemon)、Bunya Yasuhide(Bando Mitsugoro)、Court lady(Nakamura Chojuro) August 2009 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】Bunya Yasuhide(Nakamura Kanzaburo) April 1973 Kabukiza Theatre



Song performed to drums. When the blinds are raised, we see Komachi and Narihira standing side by side. Komachi is dressed in a formal 12-layered kimono with red skirt, and Narihira has a soldier’s outfit with headpiece and archer’s bow. Narihira, handling a fan, gently tries to woo Komachi, but she shakes her sleeves and goes back inside. Narihira disappointedly walks to the hanamichi and departs elegantly, saying, “With no one to read my verse, I take my leave.”

【Left】Ariwara Narihira(Nakamura Baigyoku) September 2006 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】Ono no Komachi(Nakamura Jakuemon) September 2006 Kabukiza Theatre



Suddenly it is spring in Gion, with cherry blossoms in full bloom. There is lively singing in both nagauta and kiyomoto. The monk Kisen appears on the hanamichi with a cherry tree branch and a gourd. The serving lady Okaji appears, and he tries to speak with her. She performs a dance with a tea towel, and Kisen follows with his own dance. A large number of attending monks appear and stand under a long umbrella, where they perform a lively dance. Kisen holds a tea cloth like a woman and performs a female dance called “wicked body”. They all dance together and return to their huts.

【Left】Kisen Hoshi(Bando Mitsugoro) December 2011 Minamiza Theatre 【Center1】[from left]Okaji(Bando Tamasaburo)、Kisen Hoshi(Nakamura Kanzaburo) January 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Center2】[from left]Kisen Hoshi(Nakamura Kanzaburo)、Okaji(Bando Tamasaburo) January 2007 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Monk(Nakamura Umemaru)、Monk(Bando Kokichi)、Monk(Ichikawa Omezo)、Monk(Bando Kametoshi)、Monk(Onoe Matsuya)、Monk(Nakamura Kikaku) May 2008 Kabukiza Theatre



The scene shifts to the imperial gardens. Kuronushi, hoping to entrap Komachi, writes a verse in a poem book after secretly hearing her read it, and accuses her of trying pass it off as her own. However, when she washes the poem book, the ink washes off, revealing it to be a fake. Kuronushi praises Komachi for having seen through him. He reveals his true identity and is immediately surrounded by the Four Guardians. He fights them, steps up on a platform and does a famous mie pose.

【Left】[from left]Ono no Komachi(Nakamura Shikan)、Otomo Kuronushi(Morita Kanya) April 1973 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Ono no Komachi(Nakamura Fukusuke)、Otomo Kuronushi(Bando Mitsugoro) August 2009 Kabukiza Theatre