Hidaka-gawa shitto no uroko: Watashi-ba no dan

Hidaka-gawa shitto no uroko: Watashi-ba no dan

Hidaka-gawa shitto no uroko: Watashi-ba no dan

Background

A well known folktale of one-sided love of a girl Kiyohime and her beloved priest Anchin is associated with a temple-bell of Dôjôji in Kishû (Wakayama prefecture). The story is realized as play in the medieval times and many other forms of art in the Edo period. For the puppet theater, “Dôjôji genzai-uroko” (written by Asada Icchô and Namiki Sôsuke) was premiered in 1742 at Toyotake-za theater in Osaka, and a different version “Hidakagawa iriai-zakura” (written by Takeda Ko-izumo and Chikamatsu Hanji) was staged in 1759 at Takemoto-za also in Osaka. The scene of Watashi-ba crossing is based on a middle part of Act 4 titled ‘Kiyohime hidakagawa no dan’ of “Dôjôji genzai uroko”.

Awaji-ningyô troupes used to play through all the acts of “Hidakagawa iriai-zakura” except for Act 4, which was taken from “Dôjôji genzai-uroko”. As a title of whole play, either of the titles was employed. Now the Bunraku theater in Osaka usually takes the former title, while Awaji ningyo-za the latter, as the scene of Watashi-ba crossing is originally based on “Dôjôji genzai-uroko”.

Synopsis

Prince Sakuragi, who was in danger to be killed by rivals for the throne, evacuated himself from the court, disguised as a mountain priest, and stayed at a village chief’s house in Manago, Kishû region. His fiancé came to the chief’s house and they together left for Dôjôji temple across Hidakagawa river. A chief’s daughter Kiyohime, who deeply loved him without knowing that he was a noble prince, chased him and reached the riverside. She asked a ferryman to let her cross the river, but he coldly denied it, as he was told to do so by the Prince. Her love turned into a burning jealousy until finally she transformed into a fierce snake and went across the river.