The Zen Substitute


Migawari Zazen

A husband’s scheme for an illicit rendezvous is discovered by his jealous wife in a popular comedy

A henpecked husband’s infidelity and his vengeful wife – a comic setup that has proven a surefire success across the years. The show was an instant success and has kept audiences laughing on frequent performances at home and abroad.


by Iizuka Misa

Letter from Hanago

Ukyo receives a letter from the courtesan Hanago, with whom he has had a dalliance, and is desperate to go meet her, but there is a big problem: his jealous wife Tamanoi. Thinking fast, Ukyo tells her that he wants to go on a religious pilgrimage of one or two years, but she rejects this plan flat out. After much pleading, she agrees to let him stay alone in their home temple doing Zen meditation for one night.

[from left]Saeda(Onoe Ukon)、Yamakage Ukyo(Onoe Kikugoro)、Chieda(Nakamura Kazutaro)、Tamanoi(Nakamura Kichiemon) March 2014 Kabukiza Theatre


A substitution plan

Ukyo tells the wife that women are not allowed into the temple during the meditation period. Just in case, he orders his trusted servant Taro Kaja to sit in meditation in his place and covers him with a prayer robe to disguise him. He then skips off to meet Hanago.

[from left]Yamakage Ukyo(Nakamura Kanzaburo)、Taro Kaja(Ichikawa Somegoro) December 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


The substitution

Taro Kaja nervously sits in Ukyo’s place. As he fears, the wife brings in tea and sweets to check on him. He tries to put her off, which only makes her more suspicious, and his identity is soon revealed. Livid, Tamanoi shoves Taro aside and puts the robe over herself, then awaits her husband’s return.

【Left】[from left]Taro Kaja(Nakamura Matagoro)、Tamanoi(Nakamura Kichiemon) March 2014 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】Tamanoi(Bando Mitsugoro) December 2009 Kabukiza Theatre


Ukyo gives away the game

Ukyo comes home in the early morning feeling tipsy, having no clue what’s been happening back home. Thinking that it’s Taro under the cloth, he boasts animatedly about his one-night adventure, including how he bad-mouthed his wife to the courtesan. Then he lifts the meditation robe…

【Left】Yamakage Ukyo(Onoe Kikugoro) March 2014 Kabukiza Theatre 【Right】[from left]Yamakage Ukyo(Onoe Kikugoro)、Tamanoi(Nakamura Kichiemon) March 2014 Kabukiza Theatre