Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi (Keyamura)


Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi (Keyamura)

Kabuki Plus

by Hashimoto Hiroki

Mt. Hiko


Mt. Hiko, standing on the border of Fukuoka and Oita Prefectures, is worshipped as a holy entity. It is one of Japan’s three major religious training mountains (along with Yamagata’s Mt. Haguro and Nara’s Mt. Kumano-Omine). At its peak during the Edo Era, it was known to have some 3,000 trainees and 800 monasteries. A folk tale held that a long-nosed tengu monster lived in the mountain, and the drama has Ichimisai turning into a tengu and passing on the secrets of swordsmanship to Rokusuke. The Mt. Hiko Shrine in the heart of the mountain has long been called the Deity of Mt. Hiko.

Keyamura Rokusuke

Rokusuke is thought to have been modeled after the great sword master Miyamoto Musashi or another historical figure. There was a servant under the 16th-century lord Kato Kiyomasa called Keyamura Rokusuke, and a story of how he helped a woman achieve a vendetta was featured in an Edo Era military book. This was the basis for this show. Speculation that he joined Hideyoshi on the Korean invasion has not been confirmed. Graves for Rokusuke exist in both Fukuoka and Oita, but their authenticity is not verified.

Female martial artist


Osono is often depicted as a typical female martial artist. She attacks Rokusuke with a dagger, and lifts a rice grinder with ease to demonstrate strength matching a man. Once she realizes he is her fiancé, however, she suddenly turns feminine and starts to look after him with the cuteness and humbleness of a young unmarried woman. There are other supporting roles of this type, such as Ohatsu in Kagamiyama Kokkyo no Nishikie and Ofude in Hiragana Seisuiki, but Osono is the only one that is a leading player.

Itinerant monk

Itinerant monks originally belonged to a Zen Buddhist sect called Fu-ke. As part of their training, they played the shakuhachi flute and asked for donations. There were detailed rules governing their clothing during the Edo Era. Typically they would wear a deep straw hood called a tengai, carried a bag in front and hung a robe on their backs. As their costumes serve to hide their faces, Kabuki characters often disguise themselves as monks, such as the key role of Honzo in Act IX of Kanadehon Chushingura. When one wished to refuse the begging monk playing the flute for donations in front of one’s house, the custom was to say, “No need to show your palms.”