Yoritomo no Shi (Death of Yoritomo)


Yoritomo no Shi (Death of Yoritomo)

A son seeks the truth of his father’s death

The third anniversary of the death of Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura dynasty. His son is convinced that a young warrior knows the mysterious circumstances behind his father’s death and questions him closely. It seems, however, that on this secret hangs the very survival of the shogun’s family. The son’s torment deepens when the tale involves a young girl in his service.



by Terada Shima

Third-year memorial of Yoritomo’s death

13 January 1201. A ceremony commemorating the third anniversary of Shogun Yoritomo’s death is being held in Kamakura. The current shogun, Yoriie, is not present. A young woman, her head covered, appears at the gate along with a servant carrying a stupa. They seek to visit the shogun’s grave. The guard becomes suspicious.

Kozuo(Nakamura Fukusuke) April 2007 Kabukiza Theatre


Appearance of Shigeyasu

A young warrior intervenes. This is Hatakeyama Shigeyasu, and the woman turns out to be Kozuo, a servant in the imperial palace. She had been asked by Yoritomo’s wife to bring the stupa to Yoritomo’s grave. Shigeyasu forces her to leave. He then crumbles to the ground crying, “Master, please forgive me!”

[from left]Hatakeyama Shigeyasu(Nakamura Kinnosuke)、Kozuo(Kataoka Takataro)、Otowa(Nakamura Utae)、Nakano Goro(Ichikawa Unosuke) October 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Truth behind Yorimoto’s death

Oe Hiromoto, a government servant, enters and berates Shigeyasu for crying. Deep in the night precisely two year earlier, Yoritomo had disguised himself as a woman and crawled over the fence of the palace in hopes of realizing a secret meeting with Kozuo. Shigeyasu, who was on duty, asked the intruder’s identity. Receiving no reply, he killed the intruder, realizing only then what he had done. Only three people – Shigeyasu, Hiromoto and the shogun’s wife – know the truth. It was announced officially that the shogun died after falling from a horse, a lie seeking to protect both the wife’s and Shigeyasu’s honor. Hiromoto tells Shigeyasu to live and serve the shogun’s family. Shigeyasu dispiritedly attends the memorial service.

[from left]Hatakeyama Shigeyasu(Nakamura Kasho)、Oe Hiromoto(Nakamura Karoku) April 2007 Kabukiza Theatre


Kozuo learns the secret

After the visit to the grave, Kozuo waits for Shigeyasu at the gate. He rushes out. He confesses the truth about the shogun’s death and tells her that their love cannot be fulfilled. Kozuo, shocked, cries dejectedly.

[from left]Hatakeyama Shigeyasu(Kataoka Ainosuke)、Kozuo(Kataoka Takataro) June 2011 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Shogun by birth

The Ishitsubo residence in Kamakura. Shogun Yoriie is having a drink in his late father’s home. Having learned that Shigeyasu dashed out of the memorial service, the shogun is convinced that Shigeyasu knows the truth of his father’s death. At that time, a territorial dispute between two monks is brought up. Yoriie spreads out a map and draws a line in the middle, saying that the monks should not fight over their territories. They complain that even the former shogun paid them heed, but Yoriie says that he is a shogun by birth and will not bend the rules for some country monks.

【Left】Minamoto Yoriie(Nakamura Baigyoku) April 2007 Kabukiza Theatre

【Right】[from left]Ogasawara Yataro(Bando Shucho)、Jienbo(Nakamura Kikaku)、Minamoto Yoriie(Nakamura Baigyoku)、Teikai(Ichikawa Omezo) October 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Yoriie accuses Shigeyasu

Shigeyasu arrives and asks permission to leave his service and become a monk. Yoriie orders Shigeyasu to tell him why. Yoriie’s mother, now a nun, and Hiromoto intervene. They tell the shogun that his short temper is not good behavior as a ruler. Yoriie pressures the nun, asking why he alone cannot know the secret.

【Left】[from left]Hatakeyama Shigeyasu(Kataoka Ainosuke)、Minamoto Yoriie(Ichikawa Somegoro)、Kozuo(Kataoka Takataro) June 2011 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

【Center】Amamidai(Nakamura Shikan) April 2007 Kabukiza Theatre

【Right】Minamoto Yoriie(Ichikawa Somegoro) June 2011 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre


Kozuo’s tragedy

Yoriie summons Kozuo and says he wants to make her his concubine. His mother is surprised and cries that this will send him to hell. Nevertheless, she is not ready to reveal the truth. The shogun tells Kozuo of his sorrow since the loss of his father. He tells her that if she reveals what she knows, he will allow her to marry as she pleases. Kozuo is distressed. Shigeyasu suddenly murders her, saying that despite his deep love for her, he cannot risk revealing the secret for the sake of the household. Yoriie furiously attacks Shigeyasu, but the mother, brandishing a dagger, holds him back. She declares that an individual is only one life, but a house is forever. She threatens to kill him, her own child, in order to protect the clan.

[from left]Amamidai(Nakamura Kaishun)、Minamoto Yoriie(Nakamura Baigyoku) October 2010 Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre