The Love Story of Izayoi & Seishin


Isayoi Seishin

A monk’s love for a courtesan sets him on the path of evil

The monk Seishin has impregnated the courtesan Izayoi, and they resolve to drown themselves in repentance. In the end, she is rescued, while he loses his nerve and swims to shore. Both grieve, unaware that the other is alive. Seishin impulsively kills a young page, setting him on the path to evil. An unexpected reunion with Izayoi reveals further surprises in a turbulent life.


by Kaneda Eiichi

Harsh choice for pure-hearted lovers

Seishin, a monk at Kamakura’s Gokuraku Temple, is expelled on suspicion of stealing a large sum donated by the shogun and for consorting with a courtesan named Izayoi. He hopes to recover his honor by going to Kyoto. On the way, he encounters Izayoi, who has escaped from the pleasure house in pursuit of him. He learns that she is pregnant with his child and not allowed to return to the pleasure house. They choose to die together and throw themselves into the river.


Izayoi’s rescue

The poet Hakuren, floating down the river on a fishing boat, finds something caught in the fishing net. This proves to be his childhood friend Izayoi. She insists that she must die, bemoaning her severe life in the pleasure quarters. Hakuren promises to look after her by buying out her contract. Izayoi resolves to live at least until her child is born.

【Left】[from left]Seishin(Onoe Kikugoro)、Izayoi(Nakamura Tokizo) January 2009 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Sanji(Nakamura Kasho)、Izayoi(Nakamura Tokizo)、Hakuren(Nakamura Kichiemon) January 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


A life saved, a life lost

Meanwhile, Seishin loses his nerve and swims to the riverbank. He agonizes over Izayoi and their child, who he presumes dead. There, a passing monk called Motome suddenly collapses due to stomach pain. When Seishin rushes to massage him, he finds a large amount of money. He desperately begs the monk to lend this to him. As they scuffle, he accidentally kills Motome. Seishin, initially shocked at his unintended action, reasons, “But wait. Whether I kill one person or a thousand, I only have one head to lose…” He promptly takes on a new attitude and escapes. What he does not know is that the victim was Izayoi’s brother.

【Left】[from left]Seishin(Ichikawa Shinnosuke)、Koizuka Motome(Nakamura Baishi) January 2004 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】Seishin(Onoe Kikugoro) January 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


Izayoi takes a pilgrimage

Izayoi lives as Hakuren’s mistress in Kamakura under her real name Osayo along with her father. But she confesses to her lover that she has become a nun to pray for Seishin’s dead soul and asks his permission to go on a pilgrimage. Impressed by her purity, Hakuren grants her request. Osayo immediately shaves her head and leaves with her father, who has shaved his own head to pray for his deceased son Motome. The father has not yet told anyone about the son’s death.

[from left]Mokusuke(Kataoka Kamezo)、Sagobei later the monk Saishin(Bando Yajuro)、Osayo(Bando Tamasaburo)、Ofuji(Kataoka Hidetaro)、Hakuren(Ichikawa Sadanji) March 2002 Kabukiza Theatre


Drastically altered appearance of young couple

Hakuren’s home in snow-filled Kamakura. Hakuren is surprised as Osayo comes in with unkempt hair, along with an infant and her former lover Seishin, who has taken the name Seikichi. They explain that Osayo had been abducted by a gang in Hakone, where she bore her child, but was rescued by Seikichi. When Hakuren brings out a large sum of money, Seikichi notices the seal of Gokuraku Temple, where a major robbery had recently occurred. He realizes that the seemingly gentle Hakuren is actually the great thief Odera Shobei – and, in fact, his older brother. He tries to blackmail him. But the household servant proves to be a spy who had been sent to investigate. The three people all escape.

【Left】[from left]Seikichi(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Osayo(Bando Tamasaburo) March 2002 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Osayo(Bando Tamasaburo)、Seikichi(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Ofuji(Kataoka Hidetaro)、Hakuren actually Odera Shobei(Ichikawa Sadanji) March 2002 Kabukiza Theatre


Grim fate of young couple

Seikichi and Osayo, bringing their child, reunite joyously with their father at a temple. Osayo learns for the first time that her brother was murdered, and Seikichi realizes that this was the man he killed. He admits his guilt and asks Osayo to kill him. In the subsequent struggle, Osayo is mortally wounded. Seikichi then plunges the knife into his own breast. Hakuren emerges from the shadows and is eventually captured.