Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sonezaki Shinjuu

Sonezaki-shinjuu(曽根崎心中: Love Suicides at Sonezaki)

"Toku-sama can only die. Is he prepared to die?" She confirms his willingness by poking him with her foot while pretending to talk to herself. He expresses his intent to die by holding her ankle against his windpipe.

"I will die with Toku-sama no matter what." She conveys her decision to him by poking him with her foot. Under the porch floor, he sheds tears while enveloping her knees in his arms. She also weeps in sympathy. They communicate their feelings to each other without words.

"Sonezaki Shinjuu (曽根崎心中:The Love Suicides at Sonezaki)" is a bunraku play, which was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon(近松門左衛門) based on an actual incident that Tokubei(徳兵衛), then a 25-year-old sales clerk, and Ohatsu(お初), then a 21-year-old courtesan, commited suicide together in the forest of Sonezaki.

It happened on the 7th day of the 4th month in the lunar calendar (May 22th in the Gregorian calendar) in 1703, and the play was premiered on the 7th day of the 5th month in the lunar calendar in the same year.

A veranda-like(or wood deck-like) porch called engawa has the space under its floor. Ohatsu hides him under the porch floor.

He remains there while Kuheiji, who put Tokubei in the deep financial hole, is making advances to her sitting on the end of the floor.
"Toku-sama" is Tokubei's nickname.

In general female puppets have no legs, but it looks as if they have legs by foot puppeteer's handling.
Japanese women's legs were wrapped with kimono. So this play must have shocked audience with the scene he was holding her legs.

In the scene of the lovers' suicide trip, the following first sentence is proverbial one.
この世のなごり 夜もなごり 死にに行く身をたとふれば、
あだしが原の道の霜 一足づつに消えて行く 夢の夢こそあはれなれ
あれ数ふれば暁の 七つの時が六つ鳴りて 残る一つが今生の
鐘の響きの聞き納め 寂滅為楽と響くなり

In the forest of Sonezaki, Ohatsu is frightened to see will-o'-the-wisp. Tokubei tells her, "Two will-o'-the-wisp floating side by side are our souls." She says, "Then we've been already dead..."

Chikamatsu depicts gory details in his plays. I wondered why the killing scenes in his plays were so real.
Because there was a superstition that a person who die a painful death can get to heaven. I heard it in a study session. I guess the superstition partly comforted deceased family members.

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