Keisei Awa no Naruto: Junrei-uta no dan

Keisei Awa no Naruto: Junrei-uta no dan

Keisei Awa no Naruto: Junrei-uta no dan

Background

‘My father’s name is Jûrobê, my mother is Oyumi….’. This is a famous line from a girl on a pilgrimage found in the play “Keisei Awa no Naruto” written by Chikamatsu Hanji (1725-1783). The play was based on the preceding “Yuugiri Awa no Naruto” written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725), a well-known script writer of the Edo period. “Keisei Awa no Naruto” is a love story of Yuugiri (a licensed prostitute) and Fujiya Izaemon (a son of a rich merchant). It involves also a domestic trouble in the home of the feudal lord Hachisuka (Tamaki) in Tokushima. The play, consisting of 10 sections, was premiered in 1768 at Takemoto-za theater in Osaka. Today, only the 8th section called ‘Jûrobê Sumika: Junrei-uta no dan (a section of ‘pilgrimage song’)’ is played.

Now involved in a gang of thieves, Oyumi happens to see her daughter whom she had left at home as a little girl. But she cannot announce herself as her mother and send her home, because she would lose face. Oyumi’s emotional turmoil moves the audience to tears.

Synopsis

1st part:

Jûrobê and his wife Oyumi are originally from a samurai clan in Tokushima. Jûrobê had been sent to find the missing treasure sword ‘Kunitsugu no katana’ of his lord Tamaki. He moved into Tamatsukuri village in Osaka with Oyumi, changed his name to Ginjûrô, and joined a gang of thieves to find the sword. A letter arrived to Oyumi when she was alone in their house, telling that the crimes of the gang had been uncovered and they had to escape.

When Oyumi prayed for her husband’s safety and discovery of the missing sword, a girl on a pilgrimage happened to visit the house asking for a donation. The girl said that she came all the way from Tokushima, looking for her parents. Oyumi asked the girl her parents’ name and it turned out that the girl was her own daughter, Otsuru. Though she wanted to hold the girl tight in her arms, she restrained herself from doing so and tried to persuade her to go back home so as not to involve her into their criminal situation. The girl asked her to let her stay, but she had to send the girl away. When the girl’s pilgrimage song sounds far enough away, she burst into tears. However, she thought they would not see each other forever again if she let her go now, and she rushed out to find her.

2nd part:

In turn, Jûrobê came home with Otsuru, though he did not realize she was his own daughter. As Otsuru was carrying much money, Jûrobê asked her to lend it to him. Otsuru felt scared and screamed. While he tried to make her silent, he strangled her to death by accident. Then, Oyumi came back, found daughter dead, and cried for the girl’s poor fortune. Her father also shed tears of regret for what he had done. After a while, their pursuers came close, so they set a fire to the house and ran away.