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The Arrow Sharpener (Ya no Ne)
The Kabuki Eighteen
The Arrow Sharpener (Ya no Ne)

It is New Year in Soga village, where Soga no Goro is sharpening a huge arrow on an equally over-sized grindstone. Goro lies down for a nap and in his dream he sees the spirit of his brother, Juro, who tells him that he is being held prisoner in the palace of their enemy and begs for help. Goro awakes and performs a series of mie poses in each of the four directions before riding off bareback on a passing horse, using a huge white radish instead of a whip.

The play is a bravura piece, packed with corny jokes and references to New Yearís customs, including one of the ozatsuma musicians leaving his on-stage dais and coming to pass on his New Year greetings to Goro. Goroís akutai speech where he pokes fun at the seven gods of good fortune is another highlight.

Premiere : First month, 1720
Original title : New Year Leaves & The Origin of the Soga (Yuzuriha Kongen Soga)
Actor : Danjuro II
Theatre : Morita-za, Edo
Text : Hattori Yukio, Ichikawa Danjuro Daidai. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2002.
Photographs : Fukuda Naotake
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