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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Romeo and Juliet in ancinet Japan

●Imoseyama-onna-teikin(妹背山婦女庭訓)
When a mother struck off her daughter's head, it caused a scream from the French audience. Bunraku performers including puppeteer Yoshida Minosuke considered whether they should cut its scene. However, Jean-Louis Barrault told them, "Half-hearted compromise disgraces the tradition of Bunraku, so do it the way you've always done it."

reference cited:
Yoshida Minosuke Ⅲ, Zukin-Kabutte-50nen (Tokyo:TANKOSHA PUBLISHING CO., LTD.,1991),P.157.
三代目吉田蓑助著,頭巾かぶって五十年,(東京:淡交社,1991年),P.157.

Kuganosuke(久我之助) and Hinadori(雛鳥), whose parents were enemies, fell in love without knowing each other's true identity like Romeo and Juliet. Suspecting their parents' conspiracy because of their love, Soga no Iruka(蘇我入鹿), a man of power, demands to hand over Hinadori as a bride and Kuganosuke as a retainer from their parents. if they refuse Iruka's request, their clans will be destroyed. So they have to turn over their children's heads unless the young couple accepts the terms.

However, Kuganosuke commits seppuku(suicide by disembowelment) because it came to him that Iruka means to kill Kuganosuke in the first place. On the other hand, Hinadori dies for love with her mother's assistance. If either commits suicide, the other would also do it. So they hide the couple's death from each other.

The cherry blossoms in full bloom. Both of two families live beside the same river, so each parent throws a branch of a blooming cherry tree into the river to let know the other about the agreement of each other's child.

Knowing their death, both parents mourn their tragic fates and enter into a settlement.
It's also the season for the Dolls' Festival in the lunar calendar. Hinadori's mother throws dolls' miniature furniture as marriage one into the river and takes Hinadori's head across the river to her lover. The marriage after the couple's death, so death can't do them part any more.


Imoseyama-onna-teikin is a bunraku play written by Chikamatsu Hanji(近松半二), Matsuda Baku(松田ばく), Sakai Zenpei(栄善平), Chikamatus Tounan(近松東南) and Miyoshi Syouraku(三好松洛). It was premiered in 1771.
The title means "textbook for women", so this story depicts an ideal woman of that time. Todat we never sympathize with their way of thinking.

brief description of the plot:
Soga no Iruka(蘇我入鹿) had physical idiosyncrasy and superhuman ability because his father gave her mother the warm blood of a white deer. Father Fujiwara no Kamatari(藤原鎌足) and son Fujiwara no Tankai(藤原淡海) defeated him, a rebel.

This play has other highlight scenes.
I introduced a part of the story.

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