Friday, September 10, 2010

Yari no Gonza Kasane Katabira

After the typhoon passed, the lowest temperatures became below 25 degrees C for the first time in a month. I got a full night's sleep after so long. It's going to be a boiling hot day and sweltering night tomorrow.

"Yari no Gonza Kasane Katabira(鑓の権三重帷子)" is a bunraku play, which was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon(近松門左衛門) based on an actual incident that happened on the 17th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar (August 23th in the Gregorian calendar) in 1717.

It was premiered on the 22th day of the 8th month of the same year. 36-year-old Toyo(とよ) left her husband Masai Soumai(正井宗味), who is a tea master of the Matsue clan, and going off with a 24-year-old member of the Matsue clan, who is her daughter's fiance, to Osaka on the 8th day of the 6th month. Soumai and her brother killed them on a bridge on the 17th day of the 7th month. Samurai was allowed to kill his wife who committed adultery.

Yari no Gonza(鑓の権三) was a real person who was a former samurai and became a gangster. There was a popular song about him.

The heroine of the story is Osai(おさゐ). Her husband Asaka Ichinoshin(浅香市之進) is a lowly warrior of the Matsue clan, but he is given an important position as a tea master.

Although tea ceremony is regarded as one of accomplishments for women now, it is incorporated ideas from Zen Buddhism and used to be for members of the warrior or samurai class as a mental discipline.
Especially practicing tea ceremony was essential to survival for the feudal warlords during a period of provincial wars. Most dominant warlords appreciated and often held a tea ceremony.
The host and guests of tea ceremony cherish the encounter in the tea room as a once-in-a-lifetime one. The guests at that time might have met each other again as enemies.

A tea-ceremony house was often used for secret meetings between feudal warlords.
The house creates a closed space and its abnormally-small door prevents visitors wearing a sword from entering it. The guests of a tea ceremony pass around a bowl of tea, so it's impossible to administer poison with intent to kill a hostile warloard.

The house served as the meeting ground for cultural figures in the peaceful Edo Period. In this story, only one member of Asaka's family is initiated into tea master's mysteries. It causes the incident. Sasano Gonza(笹野権三), who is Ichinoshin's disciple, gets engaged to his daughter in order to become his successor although Gonza has a lover.
Gonza visits Osai secretly to read esoteric writing during her husband's absence late at night. She accuse him of infidelity. A man sees two alone together. I suppose her overblown anger shows a feeling of jealousy.

The 47 warriors of the Ako clan killed Kira Kozukenosuke in revenge for their lord's death in 1703. Otaka Tadao(大高 忠雄,1672-1703) was a lowly warrior of the Ako clan, but he was well known as a haiku poet.
Yamada Souhen(山田 宗徧), famous tea master, received Kira's patronage. Otaka Tadao apprenticed himself to Souhen by using his connections with
cultural figures and found out the dates of the tea ceremony at Kira's house.

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