Ichinotani futaba gunki: Suma-no-ura kumiuchi no dan

Ichinotani futaba gunki: Suma-no-ura kumiuchi no dan

Ichinotani futaba gunki: Suma-no-ura kumiuchi no dan

Background

There are many historic sites associated with ancient battles between Heike and Genji clans in the western regions of Japan. In Awaji-shima island, one can find such places related to Heike clan as Kemuri-jima island and Tsurushima castle, since Awaji is close to Suma coast just across the sea and some Heike warriors were believed to flee to Awaji after the battle of Suma-no-ura. Kemuri-jima island and Tsurushima castle are in the vicinity of Awaji ningyo-za theater in Fukura bay area. Kemuri-jima, literally meaning ‘smoke island’, is believed to be a place where a young Heike warrior Atsumori (a nephew of prime-minister Taira no Kiyomori) was cremated. A Tale of Heike, which begins with a famous phrase ‘The temple-bell proclaims the vanity of earthly things’, is a cradle of many works of literature and performing arts. For ningyo-joruri puppet play, a variety of works dealing with the battles of Heike and Genji were created, among which “Ichinotani futaba gunki (Chronicle of the battle of Ichinotani)” is a representative. The piece, consisting of five acts, was first premiered in 1751 at Toyotake-za theater in Osaka. The first three acts were written by Namiki Sôsuke and the rest complemented by Asada Icchô and others after the death of Namiki. The last scene of Act 3 is the famous ‘Kumagai-jinya no dan (Scene of a warrior Kumagai Naozane’s camp)’ and the scene of ‘Suma-no-ura kumiuchi’ is in the middle scene of preceding Act 2, in which old Kumagai of Genji side defeats a Heike scion Atsumori who is still young as his own son. In this scene, Kumagai’s painful complex emotion to see Atsumori superimposed on his own son is focused. Later section reveals that Atsumori is actually an illegitimate son of a retired Emperor Goshirakawa and Kumagai killed his own son as a substitute to save Atsumori, as he was indebted to Emperor Goshirakawa.

Synopsis

As a war situation was getting worse, battle ships of Heike were about to retreat toward Yashima island (in Shikoku). When young Atsumori on horseback was heading back to a boat, Kumagai called him and challenged a duel. Atsumori accepted it and returned to him. They scuffled with each other and fell down from horses until finally Kumagai held Atumori down on a ground. But when Kumagai found that Atsumori was so young as his own son, he tried to let him go. A warrior of Genji, Hirayama no Mushadokoro, however, watched their fight and condemned Kumagai’s deed as a betray to Genji company. Quiet prepared to die, Atsumori asked Kumagai to perform a memorial service after his death. As there was no other choice, Kumagai hesitatingly killed him praying that they would be reborn in a same peaceful world in the next life. Deeply grieving at this young lad’s death, Kumagai went back to his camp carrying the body on a horseback.