The Oil-Hell Murder


Onna Koroshi Abura no Jigoku

Kabuki Plus

by Komiya Akiko

Nozaki Kannon Temple

A ceremony at Nozaki Kannon Temple originating in the late 17th century offered prayers for everyone without discrimination, which proved highly popular among the public. This ceremony is still performed from May 1-10 each year.



Settlement period, the crucial time when merchants collect their debt. Related tales of joy and sorrow on the part of both lenders and borrowers are rife in Kabuki and also frequently appear in rakugo storytelling. Depending on the era, sekki came once, twice or four times a year. The incident in this show occurred the day before the settlement date of May 5.

“Lend me money even if you have be disloyal”

Yohei says this line to Okichi when she refuses to give him money. The glare in his eyes is weighted with danger. Okichi, the mistress of a rival oil shop, remains attractive even after bearing three children and is always kind to Yohei. She sees his spoiled nature as childish and somehow endearing. A latent subtle feeling between the two is evident.

Currency in Edo Period


There were three types of currency during the Edo Period: gold, silver and copper. Gold was the standard in Edo, but silver was the main currency in Osaka. In the mid 17th century, one gold coin was officially worth 60 silver coins and 4,000 copper coins, but the actual exchange rate fluctuated widely over the years. By the early 18th century, one silver coin was thought to be worth 96 copper coins. Yohei’s debt was 200 silver coins, so his parents’ total contribution of 800 copper coins represented less than one-twentieth of the amount needed. In other words, it was like paying ¥100,000 on a ¥2,000,000 debt. He was moved by his parents’ compassion, but pressed at the same time by his huge debt.