Toribeyama Shinju (Love Suicide at Mt. Toribe)


Toribeyama Shinju (Love Suicide at Mt. Toribe)

The fate between an obstinate youth and an innocent Kyoto courtesan. A New Kabuki masterpiece strongly redolent of the romantic early 20th-century Taisho Era.

Kikuchi Hankuro, a young samurai, comes to Kyoto and falls in love with a courtesan named Osome. He unintentionally kills the brother of a close friend after a small argument. He resolves to kill himself in atonement in accordance with the samurai code, but is persuaded by Osome to carry out a joint lovers’ suicide instead.


by Hashimoto Hiroki

Debut kimono

Osome, a courtesan who has just begun work in Kyoto’s Gion district, was ordered to accompany a samurai from Edo named Kikuchi Hankuro in her debut assignment. Hankuro, a serious youngster, fell in love with her and now visits her so often that she has no time for other customers. One night just before New Year’s, Osome secretly meets her father, who gives her a kimono for herself and Hankuro. She tells her father how much she appreciates Hankuro. After her father leaves, Hankuro appears and tells her that the shogun has decided to return unexpectedly to Edo, meaning that he must go as well.

Osome(Ichikawa Shun’en) April 2013 Kanamaruza Theatre


Nightingale in Kyoto

Hankuro’s fellow samurai Sakata Ichinosuke appears with his favorite courtesan Ohana and others and throws a party. Hankuro asks Ichinosuke to buy Hankuro’s treasured family sword for 200 ryo, saying he wants to buy a “nightingale” in Kyoto. The surprised Ichinosuke asks him if he plans to take this nightingale to Edo. Hankuro says he just wants to release her from her cage and that she will probably fly back to her own home. The worldly Ichinosuke dismisses this, telling him that for a samurai, selling a sword is like selling his soul.

[from left]Sakata Genzaburo(Ichikawa Danshiro)、Ohana(Sawamura Tanosuke)、Sakata Ichinosuke(Bando Minosuke)、Kikuchi Hankuro(Ichikawa Ebizo)、Osome(Bando Tamasaburo) September 1970 Kabukiza Theatre


Arrival of Gensaburo

Ichinosuke’s younger brother Genzaburo arrives on the scene. He has come to collect his brother, who has asked him to prepare for the return to Edo. Ichinosuke does not seriously respond and exits. Genzaburo accuses Hankuro of being behind his brother’s dissolute behavior and berates him. Hankuro shrugs this off at first, but gradually becomes angry under the influence of the alcohol. When Genzaburo calls him the shame of samurai, the two take swords and rush out of the restaurant for a duel.

Sakata Genzaburo(Nakamura Matsue) December 2010 Kyoto Minamiza Theatre


The road to suicide

The sound of a swordfight can be heard along the moonlit banks of Kamo River. Osome chases them and finds Hankuro, but Genzaburo is already dead. Because he has killed his best friend’s brother, Hankuro prepares to commit suicide on the spot. Osome says she wants to die alongside him, because she is practically dead without him. He hesitates because of a samurai’s honor, but is deeply moved by the purity of her emotion and agrees. Under the moonlight, they put on the kimono they had prepared for New Year’s as their death robes. Hand in hand, they walk toward Mt. Toribe.

【Left】[from left]Osome(Nakamura Tokizo)、Kikuchi Hankuro(Matsumoto Koshiro) March 2001 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Osome(Nakamura Tokizo)、Kikuchi Hankuro(Matsumoto Koshiro) March 2001 Kabukiza Theatre474