Sesshu Gappo ga Tsuji (Gappo and His Daughter Tsuji)


Sesshu Gappo ga Tsuji

A woman’s seemingly illicit love for her stepson is not all it seems

Tamate Gozen professes more than motherly love for her stepson and ultimately takes her own life in what proves a scheme to prevent a coup d’état in her household. Her undying love miraculously saves her stepson from a critical illness.


by Komiya Akiko

One million prayers for the deceased

Gappo Doshin, the son of a prominent Kamakura samurai, lost his position due to slander and is now a monk leading a modest life. His daughter Otsuji was serving as a maid to Lord Takayasu and married the lord after his wife’s death, taking the name Tamate Gozen. Her parents heard that she had an affair with her stepson Shuntokumaru and was thus killed by her husband. They are praying for her soul with their neighbors.


The quiet darkness of the night

Shuntokumaru has lost his sight due to his stepmother’s illicit love. He is staying with his fiancée Princess Asaka at Gappo’s private quarters. The stepmother, very much alive, suddenly arrives in pursuit of her stepson. She had snuck out of her home and desperately chased him in bare feet through the darkness.


【Left】Tamate Gozen(Onoe Baiko) October 1994 National Theatre

【Right】[from left]Otoku(Nakamura Tozo)、Gappo Doshin(Nakamura Karoku) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Determined to be loved

Tamate is finally allowed into the home by her aged mother. She ignores the mother’s orders to shave her head and become a nun. Rather than reflect on her ills, she claims she will make her hair even more glamorous to lure many men. She tries to attract Shuntokumaru, raising the ire of Princess Asaka. She ultimately confesses that she was the one who blinded Shuntokumaru. Gappo, enraged, attacks his daughter, mortally wounding her.

[from left]Princess Asaka(Onoe Ukon)、Tamate Gozen(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Shuntokumaru(Nakamura Baishi) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre


Tiger month, tiger day, tiger hour

Tamate Gozen, dying, tells her tale. She reveals that the illegitimate older son Jiromaru, born of a concubine, was scheming to murder the legitimate son Shuntokumaru. She felt a duty to both her stepchildren, so to save both, she poisoned Shuntokumaru to blind him and pretended to love him so as to prompt him to escape. She tells them that Shuntokumaru can be cured by drinking the blood from the liver of a woman born in the month, day and hour of the tiger. She says that she is such a woman.

[from left]Gappo Doshin(Ichimura Uzaemon)、Tamate Gozen(Onoe Baiko)、Otoku(Onoe Taganojo)、Shuntokumaru(Nakamura Shikan)、Princess Asaka(Ichikawa Monnosuke) February 1972 Kabukiza Theatre


Drink from abalone shell

The blood must be served from the same abalone shell used for the poison. Tamate Gozen takes out the shell and offers the blood from her liver. Shuntokumaru drinks this and miraculously reemerges as a beautiful prince. Tamate Gozen dies in relief that her mission is achieved. Shuntokumaru gives praise to the true love of his stepmother and vows to build a temple in her honor.

[from left]Irihei(Bando Minosuke)、Gappo Doshin(Nakamura Karoku)、Tamate Gozen(Onoe Kikunosuke)、Otoku(Nakamura Tozo)、Shuntokumaru(Nakamura Baishi)、Princess Asaka(Onoe Ukon) May 2015 Kabukiza Theatre