Ôshû Hidehira uhatsu no hanamuko: Kuramayama no dan

Ôshû Hidehira uhatsu no hanamuko: Kuramayama no dan

Ôshû Hidehira uhatsu no hanamuko: Kuramayama no dan

Background

The play “Ôshû Hidehira uhatsu no hanamuko”, consisting of 5 sections written by Namiki Sousuke, is one of the historical plays called jidaimono. It was premiered in 1739 at Toyotake-za theater, Osaka, but has never been staged again there. However, it has been kept in the Awaji tradition. Our current presentation of the section “Kuramayama no dan” was revived based on the sound recording of the performance by Toyozawa Machitarô (1902-1987), a narrator in Awaji. This play is based on the historical battle between Genji and Heike clans in the late 12th century. This section depicts that Fujiwara Hidehira, a local lord who governs Ôshû (northern Japan), sends his vassal to help a boy Ushiwakamaru of Genji clan to escape from Kuramayama mountain in Kyoto. Hidehira invites and supports Ushiwaka to get ready for the fight with Heike. Later, Ushiwaka will become a great warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Synopsis

One day, a Heike warrior Nanba Jûrô came to the foot of Kuramayama mountain in Kyoto. He stopped at a teahouse, which served dengaku (skewered tofu glazed with miso). He came here because he heard that Ushiwakamaru of Genji clan had hidden himself in the mountain. Suddenly, a shout of victory came from the rear mountain. Nanba Jûrô confirmed that Ushiwaka had collected his allies as he suspected and went back to let Heike party know the fact.

Ushiwaka appeared from the rear mountain and easily defeated 5 monk-soldiers of the Kuramayama temple. Viewing this fight, the teahouse manager laughed at defeated poor monks. The monks got angry with the manager and tried to beat him, but they were defeated again this time by the teahouse manager and chased away.

When Ushiwaka tried to fight with the manager, the manager suddenly kneed in front of him and said ‘You are truly a lord Minamoto no Ushiwaka’. In fact, the manager named Kaneuri Kichiji was a servant of the lord Hidehira in Ôshû. He showed Ushiwaka a letter from his lord, which tells that Hidehira wanted to invite Ushiwaka to Ôshû to prepare for a war against Heike. Ushiwaka accepted the proposal and left for Ôshû, disguising himself as a mean road-horse man.

In the meantime, Nanba Jûrô came back bringing Heike soldiers with him. Kichiji wore a mask of Tengu (a long-nosed mountain goblin) and tried to threaten and chase them away. But he was discovered as human and he fought with them. Finally, Kichiji destroyed all Heike warriors and hurried for Ôshû, following Ushiwaka.