Keisei Kagamiyama (けいせい双鏡山) (kabuki )



"Keisei kagamiyama is an abbreviated title for Keisei Soga kuruwa Kagamiyama (Kaga Mountain and a courtesan's Soga in the pleasure quarters), a play about two courtesans in the Yoshiwara, Edo. Kagamiyama mono (Kaga Mountain plays) dramatized eighteenth-century rivalries within the Maeda clan in Kaga; many were adaptations of a ningyô jôruri (puppet play) called Kagamiyama kokyô no nishiki-e (1782, Edo). A slightly earlier Kyoto production was Kagamiyama kuruwa no kikigaku premiering in 1780.

The main plot line was based on an actual incident from 1724 when the maidservant Osatsu avenged the death of her mistress, Omichi, who had been driven to suicide after being struck by a sandal — considered a terrible insult — by a woman named Sawano. In typical fashion, theatrical adaptations changed the names of the protagonists. After the lady-in-waiting Onoe uncovers a plot to seize power from the shôgun by an court woman named Iwafuji, the latter insults Onoe by striking her with a sandal. Onoe commits suicide, but only after revealing the conspiracy to her maid, Ohatsu. The dutiful maid foils the intrigue and kills Iwafuji with a sword, then symbolically beats the corpse with Onoe’s blood-stained sandal."

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Kagamiyama is the core name to be researched when dealing with all of the variations of this bunraku/kabuki theme. In a Japan Times article by Rei Sasaguchi from May 14, 2003 it says: " “Kagamiyama” is an 11-act bunraku play, initially performed in Edo in 1782. Written by a physician with the pen name Yo Yotai, the play centers on some wicked people scheming to usurp the house of a provincial daimyo called Taga Tairyo. “Kagamiyama” was hugely popular among the Edo townsfolk because it was based on an actual incident that took place in the city in 1724, at the residence of Daimyo Matsudaira from Hamada in the western part of present-day Shimane Prefecture.

Out of this lengthy, complicated play, Acts VI and VII featuring the conflict of three remarkable women — Iwafuji, Onoe and Ohatsu — have survived. They are presented here alongside the tragic story of a minor samurai named Torii Matasuke, who dies for accidentally slaying his daimyo by mistake. Matasuke’s story is borrowed from another bunraku play titled “Kagamiyama Sato no Kikigaki (Stories Heard in the Pleasure Quarters of Kagamiyama),” presented in Osaka in 1796.

Iwafuji... is the chief lady-in-waiting, plotting against the house of Daimyo Taga with chief retainer Ikkaku and senior retainer Danjo. A splendid villain, Iwafuji is determined to destroy her rival Onoe... the second-rank lady-in-waiting, because the latter now possesses a secret message from Ikkaku to Danjo, lost by Iwafuji.

Onoe is an embodiment of patience, enduring slights provoked by her lowly origins in the merchant class. She withstands Iwafuji’s insults until one day, returning from a visit to the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura, Iwafuji torments her and viciously hits her with a slipper. After this public humiliation, Onoe collects herself and resumes her journey home in a palanquin, contemplating suicide.

Onoe’s maid, Ohatsu, the bright young daughter of an impoverished samurai, is worried about her mistress. Onoe writes a letter to her mother and Ohatsu delivers it, together with Iwafuji’s slipper. Disturbed by an ominous presentiment on her way, Ohatsu hurries back to her mistress only to find that she has stabbed herself to death.

Chagrined, Ohatsu swears to avenge Onoe’s death; she hastens away (exposing a pair of thin legs), carrying Onoe’s will, the secret letter, Iwafuji’s slipper and the dagger with which Onoe killed herself. After taking revenge on Iwafuji, Ohatsu is handsomely rewarded; she is promoted to the position held formerly by her beloved mistress.

In the scene between mistress and maid we are struck by Ohatsu’s touching devotion to Onoe, and Onoe’s deep love for Ohatsu..."