Tsubosaka reigenki: Yama no dan

Tsubosaka reigenki: Yama no dan

Tsubosaka reigenki: Yama no dan

Background

In the early Meiji period, an impresario Matsumoto Kisaburo made a great hit in an event to display real-sized humanlike dolls (‘iki-ningyo’), which represent scenes of the tale “Saigoku sanjûsansho Kwannon reigenki” (literally meaning ‘Miracles of Kwannon (Avarokitesvara) in 33 temples of the western countries’) in Tokyo and Osaka. Expecting a same popularity, a puppet play version “Saigoku sanjûsansho Kwannon reigenki” was staged in 1879 October at Oebashi-theater in Osaka. The puppet play was an omnibus of various miracle stories related to Kwannon bodhisattva, in which an episode of Tsubosaka temple(1), residence of Sawaichi was included. Several years later, it was revised as “Kwannon reigenki: sanjûsansho hananoyama” and staged in 1887 February at Hikoroku-za theater, Osaka. The current “Tsubosaka reigenki” was developed from a scene of the house of Sawaichi (a main character, blind man) in “Kwannon reigenki: sanjusansho hananoyama”. Thanks to the marvelous music composed by a talented shamisen player Toyozawa Danpei II (1828-1898), the play has become popular and been repeatedly performed until today. The story focuses on a tender affection of a couple, Sawaichi and his wife Osato, that is quite easy to understand for audience. The play has been realized also in kabuki.

(1) Tsubosaka temple in Nara is the sixth temple of the ‘Sacred pilgrimage of 33 temples in the western region’.

Synopsis

A blind man Sawaichi lived with his wife Osato in Tubosaka village in Yamato (Nara prefecture). He managed to survive with a support of his wife. Recently, he was wondering that his wife might have an affaire outside, because she went out after dark every day. However it turned out that she visited Tsubosaka temple to ask Kwannon bodhisattva to make Sawaichi’s blind eyes cured. He apologized to her for the misunderstanding and went to Tsubosaka temple with Osato to pray as she suggested him to do so. He let his wife back home saying that he would remain there alone to pray intensively without taking any food for three days. But he actually in despair threw himself to death from a cliff behind the temple thinking that she would not be happy to be a wife of this hopeless blind man. She came back to the temple and found he had thrown himself. She felt so sad and jumped from the cliff too to follow her husband. However, a miracle happened. The mercy of Kwannon saved their lives and in addition Sawaichi’s eyes became open. The couple rejoiced at this miraculous happening and return to the temple to offer thanks to Kwannon by dancing auspicious manzai dance.