Soga brothers (曾我兄弟) (genre )



"The [12th century] vendetta of the Soga brothers, Jūrō and Gorō, carried out against the man who slew their father, is known to almost every Japanese, but from later versions of the tale or from the many adaptations for the stage, rather than from the original Tale of the Soga Brothers. Kabuki dramatists were traditionally expected to produce a new play each year about the brothers, each with a novel twist or change of emphasis that distinguished it from the previous versions, and the theater season in Tokyo regularly opened with one of these plays. The personalities of the brothers lent themselves to dramatization: Jūrō, the older, is fair-complexioned, prudent, and susceptible to feminine charms; whereas his brother Gorō is ruddy-faced, impetuous, and powerful rather than sensitive. Again and again the brothers, faced with the same predicament, behave quite differently, in accordance with the inborn nature of each"

Quoted from: Seeds in the Heart by Donald Keene, pp. 888-889.


Soga brothers revenge plays

In 'Surprise comparisons in Kunisada's print series Mitate sanjūrokkusen' by Herwig, Vos and Griffith in Andon 96 from May, 2014, on page 57 it says:

"In Edo it was a longstanding tradition to stage Kabuki plays related to the revenge story of the Soga brothers as part of the New Year's programme. A Soga play was considered an auspicious omen for the new season, and the revenge of the Soga brothers was dramatized over and over again. In Kabuki alone, over 300 Soga plays are known. Most of these plays are now forgotten."