Datemusume koi no higanoko: hinomiyagura no dan

Datemusume koi no higanoko: hinomiyagura no dan

Datemusume koi no higanoko: hinomiyagura no dan

Background

This play was written by Suga Sensuke, Matsuda Wakichi, and Wakatake Fuemi and premiered in 1773 at a theater along a moat of Kita-Horie-ichi, Osaka. The play is based on a real incident that became a scandal.

In 1682, Oshichi, the daughter of the owner of a vegetable store in Edo was temporarily staying at a temple, because her house had been burned down in a big fire. She fell in love with a page boy of the temple but had to go back home when the house was rebuilt. In order to see her lover again, she set her house on fire again. She was caught and sentenced to death. She was burnt at the stake.

The young girl’s strong attachment to her lover and the resulting catastrophe of being burnt at the stake, stimulated people’s imagination and various literary works, including “Kôshoku gonin onna (Love Stories about Five Women)” by Ihara Saikaku, were created.

For jôruri works on the puppet stage, “Yaoya Oshichi” (written by Kino Kaion) and its variation “Junshoku Edomurasaki” (written by Tamenaga Tarobê, et al.) were written and “Datemusume koi no higanoko” was completed by Suga Sensuke and others based on the preceding two works. The whole play consisted of 8 sections but only the 6th section is performed today. One of the most famous scenes of the this section is when Oshichi climbs up a fire lookout tower to ring a bell to open border gates of Edo city, unmindful that she may be punished by death.

Synopsis

A young samurai Wakatono Samonnosuke of Oumi province lost an important treasure sword ‘Amakuni no tsurugi’, which was supposed to have been a present to the emperor. Yasumori Genjibê, Samonnosuke ‘s supervisor, took responsibility for this loss by committing hara-kiri suicide in place of Samonnosuke. Genjibê’s son Kichisaburô became a page boy at Kichijô-in temple in Edo in hopes to find the missing sword. Homeless by a fire, Oshichi moves into the same temple for a while and falls in love with Kichisaburô. However, she is supposed to marry Yorozuya Buhei who lent Oshichi’s father money to reconstruct his vegetable store.

Oshichi happens to find, on the last day of the investigation of the missing sword, that Buhei is the person who had stolen the sword. Kichisaburô will be put to death, unless she can bring the sword to him before dawn. But border gates of Edo city are closed at a midnight chime and no one can go in and out after that. Desperate to open the gate, she figured out that if she rang the fire alarm bell, the gate would open, without thinking of her own safety. Knowing full well that she might be burnt at the stake, she climbs up the frozen, slippery ladder and fiercely swings the hammer to ring the bell.