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Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura

at : Hakataza
2009.10.02 - 2009.10.26
      Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura first appeared in Osaka for the January program in 1742 by Ichikawa Danjuro II (1688 – 1758) as a showcase for Edo acting and the acting style of the Ichikawa family. It features the play Narukami that was created by Ichikawa Danjuro I (1660 – 1704) that is an archetypical play for the bombastic aragoto style of acting. Aragoto is a style that combines exaggerated movements, make-up and costume to show superhuman characters. Narukami shows how betrayal causes a holy man to become a violent Shinto thunder god. The play also features Kenuki, which was written for Danjuro II and shows how the techniques and plot devices of aragoto could also be used to show a human character.
Stage Announcement
      The play begins with a stage announcement to greet the audience and to explain the play. It is set in the time of Emperor Yozei. Before he was born, Abe no Kiyoyuki, the head astrologer to the imperial court, foretold that the baby would be a girl, but if the emperor's older son Imperial Prince Hayakumo were to succeed, this would bring disaster to the land. The imperial court asked the holy man Narukami to conduct magical ceremonies to transform the baby in the womb from a girl to a boy and promised him a temple in the capital if he was successful. Yozei was born a boy and is now emperor, but Hayakumo burns with resentment. He wants to find a way to become emperor and also wants his revenge on Abe no Kiyoyuki, whose prophecies robbed him of the throne. He also plans to use Narukami to advance his plans. In the course of things, Hayakumo's evil plans are foiled by the detective work of Kumedera Danjo and finally, the god Fudo, who watches and judges all things.
Prologue: The Imperial Capital – The Temple to the God Fudo
ebizoNarukami,high priest
      The court official Yamakami Kanzo, a henchman of Imperial Prince Hayakumo, has come to see Narukami, but Narukami's disciples White Cloud and Black Cloud say their master is praying and can't be disturbed. Kanzo says that Narukami's request for a temple has been refused and he is to be driven from the capital for black magic, like the ceremony that changed the emperor from a girl into a boy in the womb. Kanzo refuses to listen to their protests that this was done on the orders of the imperial court and turns down Narukami himself. Finally, Kanzo orders Narukami's temple to be torn down and Narukami vows revenge. As a result, Narukami imprisons all the dragon gods that bring rain in a waterfall, bringing a terrible drought to the land. He does not realize that this drought will be used by Hayakumo as an opportunity to seize power.
Act I, Scene 1: The Imperial Palace
ebizoImperial Prince Hayakumo
      Some farmers come to beg the imperial court to save them from the drought. At first they are turned away and the farmers start to beg for Imperial Prince Hayakumo to save them. They are met by Mototsune, the kampaku or regent, who is governing in place of the child emperor and the high officials Bunya no Toyohide and Ono no Harumichi. They say they are doing all they can and also urge the farmers to pray themselves. At this point, Imperial Prince Hayakumo appears, dressed as a farmer, to show his sympathy for their plight. He becomes very popular with the farmers, who say that he should be emperor instead of Yozei. Toyohide suggests that Narukami be asked to pray for rain, but Hayakumo says that he has been expelled from the capital for performing black magic. Finally, Harumichi says that his ancestor, the famous poetess Ono no Komachi wrote a poem that brought rain. This poem card is a great family treasure and they should use it now to bring rain. Toyohide says that they should consult the court astrologer Abe no Kiyoyuki about the true cause of the drought and then, they should know how to deal with it. Hayakumo is alarmed by both of these plans, but hides his feelings. At this point, news comes of many peasants who have died from the drought and Hayakumo goes to investigate the situation and comfort the survivors, again making him very popular with the farmers.
Act I, Scene 2: A pine forest by Ohara Village
ebizoAbe no Kiyoyuki,chief court astrologer
      Hata no Sadayoshi, a retainer of the court astrologer Abe no Kiyoyuki encounters the farmers who are happy that Imperial Prince Hayakumo will take care of the drought. Sadayoshi has been trying to get his master to go to the imperial palace to find out the cause of the drought. Kiyoyuki looks young, but is actually over a hundred years old. Nevertheless, he can't be restrained when he whiffs the scent of a woman. Sadayoshi goes ahead to the imperial palace while Kiyoyuki pursues a woman. Kiyoyuki tries to seduce the woman with a long speech full of word plays, tongue twisters and puns.
      But the "woman" turns out to be Hayakumo's henchman Yamakami Kanzo in disguise. Hayakumo wants to get rid of Kiyoyuki both to get his revenge for having been taken from the imperial succession and also to prevent him from finding out the real cause of the drought. At the same time, a woman named Koiso appears, pursued by Hayakumo's footman Ishihara Sehei. Koiso is a lady-in-waiting in the Ono household. She is the secret lover of Ono no Harukaze, the son of the lord, and has become pregnant. Harukaze gave her the precious poem card with the rain making poem of Ono no Komachi as a charm to protect her so that she can give birth safely. Because Kiyoyuki will soon be dead, Kanzo reveals the Hayakumo has fooled Narukami into causing the drought so that he can use it to become emperor. Kanzo manages to bury Kiyoyuki alive and Hayakumo himself steps in to kill Koiso. He wants the poem card both as a way of destroying the Ono household and to prevent it being used to end the drought. Ishihara Sehei has also killed Koiso's brother Manbei and will now go to the Ono household disguised as Manbei to try to extort them.
Act II: The mansion of Ono no Harumichi (“Kenuki" or “The Whiskers Tweezers”)
ebizoKumedera Danjo,Toyohede's retainer
      The missing poem card is not the only problem in the Ono clan. Ono Harumichi's daughter Princess Nishiki is supposed to marry the court noble Bunya Yasuhide, but the wedding has long been delayed because she has a strange illness. There is also division in the clan between the senior retainers, the wise Hata Minbu and the villainous Yatsurugi Gemba. As the act opens, this rivalry is reflected between Minbu's younger brother, Hata Hidetaro and Genba's son, Yatsurugi Kazuma.
      Suddenly Kumedera Danjo arrives as an emissary from Bunya Toyohide. He is received by Minbu and Gemba. Danjo has been sent to see why the wedding has been delayed and asks the nature of Princess Nishiki's illness. They show that unless her hair is held down with a robe, her hair goes flying in the air. Danjo is mystified by this illness and asks to see Harumichi, the lord of the clan, directly. Everyone withdraws and, as Danjo waits, Hidetaro is sent to keep him company. Danjo tries to fondle the pretty young boy, under guise of teaching him to ride a horse, but is angrily rejected and Danjo good-humoredly apologizes to the audience for this unseemly sight. Then the lady-in-waiting Makiginu brings in some tea and Danjo tries to seduce her as well, and is also angrily rejected. Now alone, Danjo plucks his beard with some whiskers tweezers and finds that it mysteriously floats in air. He tries his silver pipe, which doesn't move, and then his dagger, which also floats in air. With a handsome pose he gazes at the mysterious sight and then at the ceiling.
      At this point, a farmer named Manbei appears and demands to see Harukaze, the son of the lord. Minbu and Gemba appear as well as Harukaze himself. Manbei says that Harukaze was in love with his sister, a lady-in-waiting named Koiso. Manbei accuses Harukaze of killing Koiso, since he dismissed her from service when she got pregnant and then she died in childbirth. Manbei demands that they give him back his beloved sister. To show his grief, Manbei puts some water on his face to look like tears. Gemba is sympathetic and is appalled at the villainy of the lord and Minbu tries to give a small gift of money to settle matters. But Danjo suddenly joins in and says that he will give Manbei his sister back. The king of hell is a good friend of his and he writes a letter for Manbei to take with him to the underworld to get his sister back. The terrified Manbei tries to flee, but Danjo kills him with a tossed dagger. As it turns out, Danjo knows the real Manbei, who was seriously wounded but is now taking refuge at his mansion. He guesses that Koiso was probably killed to get the treasured poem card, which Harukaze had given her to ensure a safe childbirth. Danjo proves that this "Manbei" is a villainous imposter by showing that he is carrying the precious poem card, which he returns to the grateful Harukaze.
      Finally Danjo says that he will cure the princess. The princess and the lord Harumichi emerge. Danjo explains the mysterious behavior of his whiskers tweezers and pulls out some hair ornaments and the princess's hair returns to normal. Then he takes a long spear and after the nonsense call of "yattoka totcha untoku na" which aragoto heroes shout out before doing anything, he thrusts his spear into the ceiling and a spy with a magnet appears. The magnet acted with the hair ornaments to make her hair rise. Danjo demands to know who ordered the spy to do this and the spy looks at Gemba, tries to run away and Gemba kills him. Danjo doesn't seem to be disturbed by this but simply congratulates the lord and prepares to leave. The lord gives him a treasured sword to reward him and Danjo says that he has one remaining gift. He quickly beheads Gemba and says that he was the one behind all the plots threatening the clan. As the play ends, the actor playing Danjo thanks the audience for their support and leaves triumphantly.
Act III, Scene 1: The Kinoshima Myojin Shrine
ebizoAbe no Kiyoyuki
      It has been three months since court astrologer Abe no Kiyoyuki went missing and his retainer Hata no Sadayoshi has been searching everywhere for him. He comes to the shrine as Bunya no Toyohide has ordered sacred dances to be performed by the shrine maidens to pray for rain. The presence of the women magically attracts Kiyoyuki who has wandered underground all this time, protected by his own magical powers and the god of this shrine. Kiyoyuki explains that Narukami has caused the drought due to the plotting of Imperial Prince Hayakumo. He says that the imperial court should send Princess Taema to Narukami and seduce him so that she can cut the rope holding in the dragon gods that bring rain and end this devastating drought.
Act III, Scene 2: The Kitayama hermitage of Narukami (“Narukami”)
      After the imperial court refused his request for a temple, despite the great services he performed, Narukami took refuge deep in the mountains and has used his magic to imprison all the dragon gods that bring rain inside a waterfall. As the scene begins, Narukami's two disciples White Cloud and Black Cloud have brought fish and sake (forbidden to priests) to pass the time, but when Narukami calls to them, they hide the food and sake. At this point a beautiful woman, Princess Taema appears. She carries a prayer bell and a kimono. She says that she prays for the soul of her dead husband and that the kimono is her only keepsake of him. She wanted to wash the kimono, but the only water in the land is in this waterfall, so she has come to pray here. In fact, she is a spy sent by the imperial court to try to release the dragon gods by seducing Narukami. She tells the story of how she met her husband. She recalls the poetry they exchanged, but coyly says that she does not remember the reply. Narukami correctly guesses what it is and is eager to hear more. Narukami becomes so absorbed in the story that he falls down from his altar. Princess Taema revives him by passing water from her mouth to his and then rubbing his chest. Narukami revives, but when he learns what she has done, is immediately suspicious. Princess Taema protests that she is innocent and begs to be allowed to become Narukami's disciple, as a Buddhist nun. He finally agrees and sends his disciples to the foot of the mountain for the implements necessary to make her a nun.
      Princess Taema suddenly claims to have sharp pains in her chest from her grief at losing her beautiful hair. Narukami says that he has healing powers in his hands and begins to massage her, but he is shocked by the feel of her breasts. He continues to massage, exploring deeper and deeper and finally is completely seduced by her beauty. He wants to sleep with her immediately, but she insists that they exchange a toast of sake to seal their marriage. They use the sake that his disciples brought earlier, but Narukami hesitates before drinking because he gets drunk very easily. Princess Taema screams when she sees a serpent reflected in the sake, but Narukami says that it is the sacred rope imprisoning the rain gods in the waterfall. They go to bed in his hermitage, but after he is asleep, Princess Taema slips out, begs forgiveness for having to betray him and then cuts the rope in front of the waterfall, releasing the dragon gods.
      Narukami's disciples return and they tell him that Taema was a spy sent by the imperial court to release the rain. Fury transforms Narukami into a thunder god. He rips up his sutras to show his rejection of the religion he had previously devoted himself to and shows his transformation to an angry god through a series of poses.  Finally, he rushes down the hanamichi with the jumping step called a tobi roppo, to pursue Princess Taema wherever she may go.
Act IV, Scene 1: Outside the walls of the Imperial Palace
      At the imperial palace they are overjoyed at the rain and Bunya no Toyohide tells Mototsune that it was all due to Princess Taema's good work in seducing Narukami and releasing the dragon gods. But Yamakami Kanzo comes and says that in fact, he killed Narukami on the orders of Imperial Prince Hayakumo and this is what brought the rain. However, Toyohide produces a letter which is the testimony of Abe no Kiyoyuki proving that everything has been the result of Hayakumo's plots. Kanzo flees.
Act IV, Scene 2: The Suzaku Gate of the Imperial Capital – The death of the imperial prince
      Imperial Prince Hayakumo calmly looks out at the capital ready to take on all opposition. He appreciates the view in a poetic speech. Men come to try to capture him, but he fights them off. But just as it seems that he is victorious, a mysterious power pulls him back.
Act IV, Scene 3: The appearance of the God Fudo
ebizoThe God Fudo
      Hayakumo has been stopped by the power of the God Fudo who says that he has stilled Hayakumo's evil heart and calmed the bitter spirit of Narukami with his sacred sword. This will show all the way to truth and righteousness.

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