The Oil-Hell Murder


Onna Koroshi Abura no Jigoku

A money-hungry youth murders a young woman in a brutal scene of blood and oil

The dissolute Yohei, under pressure from heavy debt, commits a cruel murder in a dramatic blood- and oil-covered struggle. Based on a contemporary incident in the Edo Period.


by Komiya Akiko

Half-pleasure pilgrimage to Nozaki

A riverbank on the pilgrimage path to Nozaki Temple. It is crowded with pilgrims coming by boat and on foot. Yohei, the spoiled son of the owner of the oil shop Kawachiya, has a fight with a country bumpkin over the courtesan Kogiku. Yohei throws mud, which lands on a high-ranking samurai. The samurai’s retainer, Moriemon, turns out to be Yohei’s uncle. Mortified, he severely reprimands his nephew, but is convinced by the samurai to pardon him. Okichi, the beautiful mistress of another oil shop in Yohei’s town, happens to be in the area and offers to wash Yohei’s kimono, which was dirtied in the fight.

【Left】[from left]Osugi(Nakamura Utae)、Kogiku(Onoe Matsuya)、Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Ainosuke) May 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Center】[from left]Oguri Hachiya(Nakamura Kotaro)、Yamamoto Moriemon(Matsumoto Kingo)、Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Ainosuke) May 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Right】[from left]Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Okichi(Kataoka Takataro)、Omitsu(Kataoka Sennosuke) June 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


Stepfather/former head clerk

Yohei’s stepfather, a former servant who married the shop’s mistress after her husband died, has always been reluctant to discipline his stepson, which only encouraged the youth’s bad behavior. Yohei tricks his sister into feigning illness in an attempt to take the family fortune for himself, but his plan fails. He becomes violent not only against his stepfather but against his own mother, who ultimately throws him out.

【Left】[from left]Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Ainosuke)、Okachi(Nakamura Yonekichi)、Kawachiya Tokubei(Nakamura Karoku) May 2012 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre 【Right】[from left]Osawa(Kataoka Hidetaro)、Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Kawachiya Tokubei(Nakamura Karoku)、Okachi(Nakamura Baishi) June 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


Brutal crime in blood and oil

Yohei has secretly used his parents’ seal to borrow a large sum but is unable to repay the debt. He goes to Okichi for help. He secretly spots his mother and stepfather separately hand money to Okichi, telling her to pass the money to their son if he should come by. After they leave, Yohei enters the shop and receives the money, but it proves far less than what he owes. He becomes desperate and pleads with Okichi to lend him more even if she has to go against her husband’s wishes. Okichi refuses to consider it. He then slyly asks to borrow some oil. As she is drawing the oil, he pulls out a dagger and attacks. She fights back, and they slip and slide dramatically in the oil as she tries to escape. In the end, Okichi is murdered.

【Left】Kawachiya Yohei(Ichikawa Somegoro) February 2011 Le Theatre GINZA 【Center】[from left]Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Okichi(Kataoka Takataro) June 2009 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from above]Kawachiya Yohei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Okichi(Kataoka Takataro) June 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


Help from a mouse

Yohei wanders with the money stolen from Okichi. He is being sought by Moriemon. Yohei visits Okichi’s shop on her 35th-day memorial service pretending to be a mourner. At that moment, a rat runs across the ceiling, knocking a blood-stained letter to the floor. It is an IOU written in Yohei’s hand, revealing him to be the criminal. He is finally captured.