Full Moon Over the Hachiman Festival


Meigetsu Hachiman Matsuri

A tragic tale of a capricious Edo geisha and a naïve country textile salesman

Shinsuke, a country merchant, sells his home and belongings on a promise of marriage with the beautiful geisha Miyokichi, only to be jilted when she no longer needs him. He goes mad and ultimately murders her against the jarringly joyous sounds of a famous summer festival.


by Komiya Akiko

Popular geisha and bad leg

A midsummer day just before the festival at Fukagawa Hachiman Shrine, which is being held for the first time in years. A high-ranking geisha Miyokichi is entertaining her patron, the samurai Fujioka. Suddenly Sanji, a boatman, bursts in to ask for money. Miyokichi gets rid of him by handing him a hair ornament. Fujioka immediately understands that they are lovers but refrains from commenting. He passes her a small amount of money when he leaves. Miyokuchi immediately takes the money to go out drinking with Sanji.

【Left】[from left]Sanji(Nakamura Kasho)、Miyokichi(Nakamura Fukusuke) July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

【Right】Fujioka Keijuro(Nakamura Karoku)July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


“I won’t let you go without seeing the festival”

Shinsuke, a textile salesman from Echigo, is visiting a client in Fukagawa before returning to the countryside. The client has ordered a new red festival costume as a 60th birthday gift. In high spirits, he coerces Shinsuke into staying for the festival. At that moment, Miyokichi passes along the river in a boat and casually gives a seductive smile. Shinsuke, captivated, watches her longingly as she drifts away.

【Left】Uoso(Ichikawa Danshiro) July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

【Center】[from left]Miyokichi(Nakamura Shibajaku)、Shinsuke(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Otake(Nakamura Kamenojo)、Uoso(Nakamura Karoku) June 2014 Kabukiza Theatre

【Right】Shinsuke(Bando Mitsugoro) July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


“I have no money to spend the night”

The evening, two days before the festival. Miyokichi is short of funds and cannot pay for the new kimono she has had made for the festival. She is drinking to forget her frustrations. Shinsuke appears and is invited by her to come in. Sanji catches them and lashes out at her. The frustrated and somewhat tipsy Miyokichi tells him she is no longer in love with him and sends him off.

[from left]Miyokichi(Nakamura Shibajaku)、Shinsuke(Nakamura Kichiemon) June 2014 Kabukiza Theatre


“You’re not trying to deceive me, right?”

Miyokichi tells Shinsuke of her predicament. He confesses his love for her and says he will help. Miyokichi, surprised, promises to marry him if he brings the considerable sum of 100 ryo. He rushes out excitedly to gather the money. Just then, a message arrives from Fujioka. He is breaking off their relationship and encloses 100 ryo as final compensation. Despite the loss of a patron, the geisha is relieved and overjoyed. Sanji comes for revenge but, learning of the new circumstances, makes up with her. They begin drinking.

Shinsuke(Nakamura Kichiemon) June 2014 Kabukiza Theatre


“I have no home to return to”

Shinsuke, returning with the money, is shocked to find Miyokichi back with Sanji. She treats him dismissively, telling him she no longer needs the money. He accuses her of deceiving him. He reveals that he sold his family land and home for the money and thus has no home to return to. He has lost everything. As he stands dejectedly, his worried client comes looking for him and takes him away.

[from left]Shinsuke(Bando Mitsugoro)、Uoso(Ichikawa Danshiro) July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


“You there, Miyokichi”

The festival day. Shinsuke, who has gone mad, mixes in with the crowd looking for Miyokichi. She appears, standing out for her seductive beauty even amid the lively procession and bright dancing. Suddenly someone screams that a bridge has collapsed under the weight of the crowd, triggering a panic among the people. As it begins to rain, Shinsuke spots Miyokichi. He chases her in the downpour and stabs her to death. A crowd of young men capture him and carry him away as he laughs madly. When the rain stops, a full moon looms large over them.

【Left】Miyokichi(Nakamura Fukusuke) July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

【Center】[from left]Shinsuke(Bando Yasosuke)、Miyokichi(Nakamura Kotaro) August 1990 Kabukiza Theatre

【Right】Shinsuke(Bando Mitsugoro) July 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre