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Title: Chushingura - The Treasury of Loyal Retainers
Author: Takeda, Namiki, Miyoshi
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Woodblock print: The
frontispiece image is a large wood-block fold-out by
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川 國芳) attached to the inside
cover of the book. The Japanese text is ‘The Treasury of
Loyal Retainers: The Faithful Ronin Withdraw to Takanawa
(忠臣蔵義士高輪引取之図). It has no English caption]


Seventeen years ago appeared a translation of the
_Chushingura_, in which I omitted three acts of the play
with the object of making the thread of the story
continuous. The edition, which was a small one, was soon
exhausted. I was lately asked by Messrs. Nakanishiya to
touch up my old translation for republication. I have,
however, taken this opportunity to make a new and complete
translation of the play; and I may say that the omissions in
the present translation do not exceed ten lines, if so many,
such omissions being unavoidable as where the passages
convey no coherent meaning or where, notably in the
bantering of Yuranosuke with Okaru in the seventh act, they
are too indelicate for translation. In spite of its numerous
defects, I trust the present work will at least give the
reader some idea of the most popular version of the most
famous vendetta in Japanese history.

With a view to assist the reader to understand the spirit of
the play, I have prefaced it with a lengthy introduction, in
the preparation of which I received valuable assistance from
Mr. Sosaku Nomura, of the Meiji Gakuin, Tokyo, to whom my
best thanks are due.


Tokyo, Japan,

September, 1910.



INTRODUCTION................................ i.


ACT I....................................  1

ACT II................................... 15

ACT III.................................. 33

ACT IV................................... 65

ACT V.................................... 87

ACT VI.................................. 105

ACT VII................................. 135

ACT VIII (The Bridal Journey)........... 171

ACT IX.................................. 179

ACT X................................... 215

ACT XI.................................. 251

[Illustration: Spear]



Language, the vehicle of thought as it is, conveys not
unfrequently different impressions to different persons;
especially is this the case when that language is not the
hearer’s mother tongue. We may take in the general drift of
what is said to us in a foreign tongue, but fail to
understand the meaning which lies hidden beneath the
surface. In reading a novel we may be unable to discriminate
between a national characteristic and a personal
idiosyncrasy; the rhythm and cadence of poetry may appeal to
us in vain; and we may take too seriously humourous language
and mistake the vulgar and coarse for the refined and

The Japanese language, which comes of a stock totally
different to the Indo-European languages, has grown in a
state of almost complete isolation, and in course of time,
developed characteristics of its own. One of these is the
abundance of vowel-sounds, for the consonants are almost
invariably accompanied by vowels. Another is the frequency
with which connective enclitics occur in a sentence. The
Japanese is an agglutinative language, and the repetition of
meaningless form-words naturally deprives the language of
force and allows of little change in the order, of speech.
Although there are other characteristics, the frequency of
enclitics and form-words and abundance of vowels in
individual words are the most important.

It is hardly necessary to dwell here upon the difficulty of
translating a _joruri_, or semi-lyrical drama, like the
_Chushingura_, especially as it abounds in word-plays. In
the phonetic system of the Japanese language, which has a
comparatively few consonantal sounds, such sounds being, as
has already been stated, seldom unaccompanied by vowels, the
variety of syllables is small and so, accordingly, is the
number of their combinations, with the result that there is
an abundance of homonymous words. The identity or similarity
of sound is utilised to produce words that may be taken in
more senses than one. Often, also, sentences that sound
sweet and graceful are taken wholesale from literature of a
former age and inserted so skilfully that one fails to
detect any incongruity in the mosaic so formed; and yet,
unless one is versed in the literature which has been drawn
upon, it would be difficult to make out the drift of the
passages in which they occur. These peculiarities are not,
it is true, confined to _joruri_, for they may be found in
all other works of lyrical nature; but they give a
characteristic charm to _joruri_, and make it a very
difficult task to translate a _joruri_ into a European
language. Thus, the eighth act of the _Chushingura_, which
is made up of sentences and phrases of this description,
fails to convey much meaning when translated into English.


In spite of these linguistic difficulties, an attempt has
been made, it is to be hoped not altogether without success,
to give in the present work the plot and spirit of the
_Chushingura_; but for the full comprehension of the play
and its _motif_, the reader should possess some acquaintance
with the social condition, manners, and ideas of the time to
which it refers.

The vendetta of the retainers of Ako, which forms the
subject of the play, took place early in 1703; and the play
saw the light forty-five years later, in 1748. It was a
production of the golden age of Tokugawa literature. During
the little more than a century and a half that have since
elapsed, remarkable changes have come over society. The
peace which had lasted under the Tokugawa Shogunate for two
centuries and a half was rudely broken by the cannon’s roar
off the coast of Uraga; and soon after, with the Restoration
of the Imperial authority, the nation began to introduce the
civilisation of the West. Our wars with China and Russia
have greatly influenced the whole society, and our customs
and manners undergone marked changes. In these days it is
difficult to form a clear idea of the state of society under
the feudal régime. Few of those people to-day who leave
Shimbashi by the night express to awake next morning at Kobe
have a definite conception of the _daimyo’s_ procession that
used to be borne on the shoulders of coolies across the
River Oi which they pass in their sleep. The postal
halting-places have become railway stations, and express
couriers have been replaced by telegraph. And we can hardly
imagine how cheap life was held in the old times when, for
the loss of their lord’s treasured article, retainers who
had faithfully served him and his fathers had to surrender
their lives and family estates; and we can hardly bring
ourselves into sympathy with those lovers who, taking their
lives into their own hands, have become subjects of songs
for their suicide. When even we Japanese at the present time
are thus out of touch with much that was of common
occurrence in our forefathers’ days two centuries ago, it is
only to be expected that Old Japan should appear almost
incomprehensible to the Western peoples whose manners,
customs, and ways of life are totally different to ours. It
is therefore believed that it would not be an altogether
needless task to make a few remarks here on the condition,
manners, and thought of society at that time.


Before treating, however, of the Genroku age in which the
vendetta of the Ako retainers took place, which has left
such a mark upon the history of this country, we must glance
at the period of the Tokuwaga Shogunate. That period lasted
two hundred and sixty-four years from the appointment to the
Shogunate of Tokugawa Iyeyasu in 1603 to the surrender of
political power to the Emperor by Tokugawa Yoshinobu in
1867. Towards the close of the Ashikaga Shogunate
(1338-1573), the country was torn by factions and plunged in
civil war. But the great hero Toyotomi Hideyoshi, better
known as the Taiko, gave the country a brief respite from
war. The predominance of his house, however, lasted only for
two generations; and on the defeat of his son by Iyeyasu in
1600 at Sekigahara, supreme power fell into Iyeyasu’s hands,
and the campaigns of Osaka in 1614 and 1615 put an end to
the Toyotomi line. The nation now bowed to Iyeyasu’s
authority, and his house ruled over it for more than two
centuries and a half.


Society during the Tokugawa period may be generally divided
into four classes, the _kuge_, the samurai, the common
people, and the lowest classes. The Emperor reigned over the
country at Kyoto; and around him were the Imperial princes,
some of whom were qualified to succeed to the Throne in case
of failure of Imperial issue. The _kuge_, or Court nobles,
numbered about one hundred and thirty; their titles and
offices were hereditary. They were jealous of their social
position. They attended daily at the Imperial Court; but
their duties mostly concerned the grant and deprivation of
Court rank, various ceremonies, and Court etiquette.
Administrative affairs were entirely in the hands of the
feudal government. All business between it and the Imperial
Court was transacted by a few high officials.

The political authority over the whole nation was held by
the feudal government. The feudal system was first
established by Minamoto no Yoritomo towards the close of the
twelfth century; at first there was no intention of
replacing the Imperial Court in the government of the
country; but from various causes the political and military
power fell into the Shogun’s hands. The Emperor merely
watched over the sacred treasures of his House and delegated
political power to the feudal government. During the civil
wars the fortunes of Imperial Court seriously declined; but
Ota and Toyotomi, who were loyal to the Throne, presented
landed estate to the Court when they had brought the country
into peace. Tokugawa frequently built Imperial palaces and
presented funds for household expenses; and the Imperial
House was placed in easier circumstances. But it was the
policy of the Tokugawa family to hold the real power over
the nation. In 1614, Iyeyasu established regulations for the
control of the _kuge_, by which although the real power of
the Imperial House was diminished the principle of loyalty
to the Throne and distinction of lord and subject were
strictly maintained, and Tokugawa himself set the example to
the nation by his reverent treatment of the Imperial Family.
Although this attitude towards the Throne was a policy of
Iyeyasu, it was also an expression of the innate loyalty and
patriotism of the people. Thus, the dignity of the Imperial
Family remained unimpaired; and it may be seen from the
original cause of the Ako revenge how high the importance
was attached to the reception of Imperial envoys.


The samurai were all under the control of the feudal
government. Those whose annual stipends were not less than
ten thousand _koku_ of rice were called _daimyo_, those
below them were _hatamoto_, and the lowest were _kenin_. The
_daimyo_ were of three classes, lords of provinces, lords of
castles, and lords of domains without castles. They ruled
over their domains. Asano Takumi-no-Kami, the vengeance for
whose death forms the subject of the _Chushingura_, was the
lord of the castle of Ako in the province of Harima; his
annual income was 50,000 _koku_; he belonged to the second
category of _daimyo_. The _daimyo_ came in turn to Yedo for
a short stay; and among their retainers, some remained
permanently in Yedo, while others accompanied their lords on
their journeys to and from the Shogun’s city. The samurai
who left their clans and drifted about, or for some reason,
lost their stipends, were known as _ronin_. Such were the
retainers of Ako who lost their stipends through the fall of
their lord’s house.


By common people were meant the merchant and agricultural
classes. They were not permitted to wear swords or have
family names; and they were known only by their individual
names. Thus, merchants and artisans were called by their
trades and farmers by their villages.

Besides the above-mentioned _kuge_, samurai, and the common
people were the lowest classes. Although there were in this
way four grades of society, such grades did not regulate the
material circumstances of the people belonging to them; but
as a whole the _kuge_ were poor and the _daimyo_ wealthy.
With the samurai wealth was considered contrary to the
principles of Bushido; and while they made it their pride
that they possessed no more than a hat to shelter them from
wind and rain, few tried to accumulate wealth; but as the
samurai spirit began to decline, there were many who sought
for wealth. The most wealthy were to be found among the
common people, for, debarred from the rights and privileges
enjoyed by the samurai, they directed all their energies to
money-making; it must, however, be added that many of them
also lived in abject poverty.


The vendetta of the retainers of Ako was an outward
expression of the spirit of Bushido. A few words must be
here added regarding Bushido, a peculiar product of our
country, which reached its highest development under the
Tokugawa régime.

The people of the Eastern Provinces, the centre of which was
Yedo, were from the oldest times noted for their fearless
courage. Moreover, when Yedo became the seat of the feudal
government, the samurai who had been engaged in rapine and
slaughter during the wars preceding the Shogunate of
Tokugawa, flocked to the city and made it their place of
residence. The city became the second home of the simple and
intrepid samurai of Mikawa, the province, of which Tokugawa
Iyeyasu was originally _daimyo_; and the retainers of other
clans also repaired thither in great numbers. In fact, Yedo
was the centre of neither commerce nor industry; it had been
established solely for the residence of samurai; and there
hundreds of thousands of samurai gathered to practise
military arts. In short, in Yedo, Bushido was in greatest
vigour. The principal elements of Bushido were three in

The first of these was the high esteem for military valour
and practice of military arts. It was the most important of
the samurai’s accomplishments. In remote antiquity, the two
families of Mononobe and Otomo took to the profession of
arms and guarded the Imperial Court. It became their
hereditary office to act as the Imperial bodyguard. All
their descendants were trained in military arts and grew up
to be men of high resolution and integrity. They were taught
to refrain from all acts likely to bring dishonour upon
their family name. When, however, the Fujiwara family came
into possession of the political power, military affairs
began to decline and give place to civil affairs which were
then held in high esteem. The military profession was
regarded with contempt and looked upon as fit only for
barbarians. This slighting of the military calling was due
to communication at this period with China, whose
civilisation so dazzled the Japanese that they caught the
literary effeminacy which then afflicted that country. The
samurai of Kyoto the capital gradually lost their former
military spirit. But Bushido was not seriously affected by
its decline in Kyoto; for this effeminacy was confined to
the capital and its immediate neighbourhood. Those, for
whose ambition Kyoto was too small, mostly migrated into the
country where they strengthened their position. And Bushido
found its home in the country and there it developed without
obstruction. These ambitious men lived in different
provinces; and when their families grew too bulky, the
members established themselves in other places. Most of them
became powerful men with large domains. They had many
followers, who became their private soldiers. The relations
between these local magnates and their adherents continued
unchanged for ages. The lord took care of his adherents and
instructed and encouraged them so that they might prove of
service to him in an emergency, and they, on their part,
trained themselves in military arts so that they might be
able to show their loyalty to their lord. Thus, Bushido was
driven out of the political centre of the land by the
introduction of Chinese civilisation and grew up in the
country, especially in the Eastern Provinces, because those
provinces were lower in the degree of civilisation and at
the same time retained a spirit peculiar to them. Military
training was pursued to the highest pitch in the East; the
samurai, whether leader or follower, considered it cowardly
to show the back to the enemy, and always feared to bring
dishonour upon their family name. They looked upon it as
shame to themselves not to die when their lord was hard
pressed and not to help another in his difficulty. Their own
shame was the shame upon their parents, their family, their
house, and their whole clan; and with this idea deeply
impressed upon their minds, the samurai, no matter of what
rank, held their lives light as feather when compared with
the weight they attached to the maintenance of a spotless
name. In their breasts was always present the thought that
an unstained reputation was of highest value to those whose
profession was of arms, and it was disgrace upon a samurai
to be spoken of as having fled for fear of the enemy.
Especially, when the Minamoto and Taira clans became the two
great military families in the eleventh century, was this
spirit carefully instilled into the hearts of their
followers; and the characteristics of the samurai became
more highly developed and the path of conduct of the subject
towards his lord, of the soldier towards his commander, and
of samurai towards each other became clearly defined to a
degree unparalleled in any other age or country of the
world. This path was called the path of loyalty, which was
the second essential element of Bushido Thus, by failure to
follow this path, the samurai forfeited the name, he was
despised and held up to scorn as a leper and a man of no
spirit. Such contempt, once a man was exposed to it, was
heaped upon him to the end, and he himself felt it keenly
until death; and however wealthy he might subsequently
become, he was too ashamed to hold up his face in public.
If, on the other hand, he strictly followed the path of
loyalty, he was constantly praised by friend and foe alike;
and consequently, if a man was born of an unexceptionable
lineage and had any military prowess of his ancestors to
boast of, he would, in the battle-field even when a question
of a few minutes was of vital importance, stand up before
the enemy and make boast of it to them. The third essential
element of Bushido to be mentioned is the high estimation of
honesty and integrity and disregard of pecuniary profit. It
was considered most despicable to change one’s mind for
lucre. Even when he was offered a thousand pieces of gold,
the true samurai should not for a moment alter his original
intention. The samurai gave money, but did not lend it; and
he received money, but did not borrow it. To borrow money
with a promise of repayment was to rely upon one’s life
continuing till the morrow, which was unworthy of a samurai.
At the time of the invasion of Korea towards the close of
the sixteenth century, Hineno Hirotsugu, before he set out
on his mission to that country, borrowed a hundred pieces of
silver from Kuroda Josui, and upon his return he went to
Kuroda to repay the money; but the latter told him that he
had not lent it in hope of its being repaid, and in the end
he absolutely refused to take it back.

The essential elements of Bushido may appear, when only
these three are mentioned, to be very simple; but that is
far from being the case, for there are many other minor
elements which go to its making. But one that deserves
special mention, and may indeed be deduced from the elements
above described, was the keeping of one’s word. Once
anything was undertaken, it was dishonourable not to carry
it out even at the sacrifice of life, property, and all that
one possessed. Thus, in a bond of debt often appeared the
words “in case of failure to repay this money, I shall be no
longer looked upon as a man,” or “if I should by any chance
neglect to repay this money, I should not utter a word of
protest even if you laughed at me before company.” From
these words the honesty and simplicity of the samurai may be
readily inferred. The contempt for money and money-making
which they expressed at all times had no doubt been handed
down from the period of civil wars, when the whole country
being overrun by soldiery, those who possessed wealth were
in constant danger of attack and robbery. To the warriors
whose lives could never be called their own, money was only
a means of temporary gratification of their senses; for if
they fell into straits, they merely robbed, and in war time
money was of less value to them than a mouthful of food or a
sword, and it was only natural that they should be utterly
indifferent to its acquisition. Kono Moronao is made in the
_Chushingura_ to take bribes, because the authors wished to
exhibit him as a man utterly bereft of the Bushido spirit
and so contrast him with the loyal retainers who are the
mirror of chivalry and single-heartedness; for the same
reason he is shown up as a poltroon. The qualities above
referred to are the characteristics of Bushido; and that
they composed the spirit peculiar to our country will be
patent to all who study the history of Japan from the oldest
times. But Bushido underwent slight changes with the
progress of the times, and coming under the influence of
Buddhism and Confucianism, it was brought to perfection
under the Tokugawa régime, especially in the Genroku era in
which the Ako vendetta took place.


It would be tedious to describe one by one the customs of
the samurai, which may be taken as the outward expressions
of Bushido in its most developed form; but perhaps the most
conspicuous among them was the vendetta, to which, on
account of the important part it plays in the _Chushingura_,
we will refer later on. Another custom was the _seppuku_ (or
_harakiri_), or self-disembowelment. It was an act inspired
by the spirit of Bushido which urges loyalty and considers
life light as compared with the preservation of one’s
honour. Death was looked upon as an atonement for all faults
and errors. One who had acted contrary to the principles of
Bushido did not wait for others to lay their hands upon him,
but slew himself without hesitation; and he who showed fear
or irresolution on such occasion was looked upon as bringing
dishonour upon the samurai’s name. The death of Kanpei in
the sixth act of the _Chushingura_ is an instance in point.
A samurai guilty of a serious offence which deserved capital
punishment was sentenced to commit _seppuku_. In such case
the order to commit _seppuku_, instead of being beheaded
like a common criminal, was looked upon as an honour, as may
be seen in the fourth act of the _Chushingura_ where Enya
Hangwan is condemned to death. A curious form of _seppuku_
was the _junshi_, the suicide of a retainer upon the death
of his lord in order to serve him still in the other world.
This custom, which was in great vogue in the early years of
the Tokugawa régime, was founded upon the principle of
Bushido that it was dishonourable for a samurai to serve a
second master. Some went so far as to look upon it as a
stain upon their honour to serve the heir of their dead
master and so followed him to the grave. The feudal
government, however, prohibited this practice by law and
threatened with severe punishment all who violated it; and
by the Genroku era the _junshi_ was entirely discontinued.


We may now proceed to touch upon the custom of vendetta.
Among the most marked social products of the Tokugawa period
must be mentioned vendetta. It was the favourite subject for
the novels, ballads, and plays of the period and was treated
so frequently that it seemed to be the peculiar product of
that period. But the vendetta was not peculiar to that age.
It made its first appearance some fifteen centuries ago and
was known in every period of our national history. The
revenge of the Soga Brothers, for instance, who killed their
enemy in 1193 seventeen years after their father’s murder,
is the most famous of our vendettas and was sung in songs,
played on the stage, and treated in novels, of the Tokugawa
period. There were many vendettas before the Tokugawa age;
and what made them appear peculiar to that age was the
strong contrast they presented to the idle, luxurious life
which was resulting from the long-continued peace under the
Tokugawa rule; and for that reason they attracted the
greatest attention of the nation.

A vendetta is the wreaking of vengeance upon a man’s
murderer by his relations, friends, or retainers. It took
place not only when the murderer killed his victim with his
own hand, but also when he incited another to the act, or
even when one struck and killed a man without intent to
murder. Strictly-speaking, it was of course the duty of the
state to punish a murder and not to leave it to private
vengeance; a vendetta was, in fact, an act done in defiance
of the punitive right of the state and subversive of the
social order. In the Yedo period, society was, it is true,
kept in strict order, and the relations between lord and
retainer and between father and child were rigorously
observed; but it was also a period in which an intimate
connection subsisted between morality and law, and the
vendetta was recognised as an unavoidable act originating in
the intense feelings of loyalty and filial piety. It was
permitted on moral grounds as the result of the teachings of
Bushido and Confucianism. It may here be added that although
the vendetta of the Ako retainers was a subject of
discussion among contemporary and later scholars, the
question turned upon whether the retainers were justified in
looking upon Kira Yoshinaka as their true enemy; no doubt
was ever expressed upon the legitimacy of vendetta itself.

The formal procedure for carrying out a vendetta in the
Tokugawa period was first for the avenger to apply for
permission, if he lived in Kyoto, to the deputy-governor, if
in Yedo, to the city magistrate, and if in the provinces, to
the local lord; and these reported it to the central
government, which then entered it in the official register
and gave the required permission. Now, the murderer seldom
remained quietly in the locality where the act was
committed, but almost invariably fled to other territories;
and therefore it was probable that if the avenger killed him
as he always did regardless of time or place immediately he
discovered him, he would cause a disturbance there and might
be brought to account for it. If, however, his vendetta was
entered in the official register, he was permitted to kill
his enemy anywhere. In such case, the local officials came
as soon as they heard that a vendetta had taken place, and
if they were satisfied that it had been officially
registered, they took no further note of the matter.
However, even when it had not been registered, they usually
let the avenger go if it was shown that he had not been
actuated by malice, but had done the deed from loyalty or
filial piety.

If, after the official permission had been obtained, the
enemy died before the revenge could be taken, it had to be
reported with satisfactory proofs of his death. Such
procedure was considered necessary, because after the
official registration, the avenger took leave of his lord,
who assisted him in every way and made him parting presents,
and the avenger naturally set out full of hope; but it
sometimes happened that when he was unable to find his enemy
after a long search and at the same time his purse became
lighter every day, he longed for home and with his first
resolution now gone, he grew anxious to give up the
fruitless search. In such cases he might come home,
pretending that his enemy was dead. And it was to prevent
such fraud that satisfactory proofs of the enemy’s death
were required to free the avenger from the duty which he had
voluntarily undertaken.

The avenger was usually the murdered man’s inferior,
although sometimes he was his superior in position. He was
in most cases his son, younger brother, relative, servant,
pupil, or intimate friend.

The person upon whom vengeance was to be wreaked was not
necessarily a bad man. In the early years of the Tokugawa
régime, duels were of frequent occurrence among the samurai;
they seldom discussed which were right and which wrong in a
dispute. If there was a difference, one would exclaim,
“Come, let us fight it out;” to which the other would as
lightly express his willingness, and they drew their swords
on the spot. Thus, a duel was an appeal to arms made by
mutual agreement; and the vanquished had no cause of
resentment against the victor. Yet his surviving family
often took up his cause and revenged themselves upon his
adversary. Sometimes justice was on the enemy’s side and the
avenger was entirely in the wrong. Such cases were
unavoidable when vendetta had the moral sanction of the
nation and was practically a duty imposed upon the nearest
relative of the murdered man.

Although the vendetta may be said to have been concluded
when the avenger had killed his man, yet the avenger himself
was sometimes looked upon as the enemy by his victim’s
family, who, thereupon, commenced a vendetta against him.
Next, the first avenger’s family would upon his death take
revenge upon the second avenger, and so on, so that the feud
would become as interminable as a Corsican vendetta. To put
a stop to such endless vendettas, the Tokugawa Government
strictly prohibited secondary vendettas.

Again, in a duel between the avenger and his enemy, the
former was not unfrequently killed. Hence, the avenger
sometimes was accompanied by his second. The second usually
fought the enemy when the principal was in danger of being
beaten; but in some cases he fought side by side with the
principal. That was mostly the case when the avenger was a
child or a woman, who had no chance against the adversary.
It may be mentioned that when the government was reorganised
upon the accession of the present Emperor, a law was issued
in 1873 strictly prohibiting vendettas.


In the early years of the Tokugawa period, the samurai still
retained the rough and violent manners of the period of
civil wars; they despised gentleness as characteristic of
the effeminate people of Kyoto and luxurious living as
peculiar to the merchant class, while they trained
themselves in military arts and fostered military spirit.
Such was the turbulence of those times that even merchants
wore swords when they walked the streets. They had indeed
need of them; for innocent men were cut down in the streets
at night to try the temper of swords. Servants who were
guilty of theft, had failed to accompany their master as he
came home on horseback, or eloped with female
fellow-servants, were punished at the will of their master,
who tested the edge of a new sword upon their necks. The
feudal government frequently issued laws to put an end to
these violent acts.


This prevalence of strong military spirit gave rise to a
peculiar class of men, known by many names, the most common
of which was _otokodate_. In all classes of society in the
beginning of the Tokugawa rule, rough manners and turbulent
spirit prevailed; but more especially among the _hatamoto_,
or immediate feudatories of the Shogun, was it the case.
They were samurai of Mikawa, the native province of Tokugawa
Iyeyasu, and retained the simple manners and intrepid spirit
of their country home; they prided themselves upon the fact
that small as their stipends were, they were under the
direct command of the Shogun, and in their pride, they
lorded it over the streets of Yedo. Among the merchant class
were some who were indignant at the arrogance of the samurai
and their contemptuous treatment of the merchant and
agricultural classes; they also trained themselves in
military arts and opposed the tyranny of the military class;
and they formed a special class under the name of
_otokodate_. These _otokodate_ mostly lived by gambling;
they made it their business to take up other people’s
quarrels or to mediate in them; and they spent their lives
to a large extent in the pleasure-quarters. Yet their ideal
was not inconsistent with the principles of Bushido; for
they took pleasure in helping the weak and crushing the
strong, they kept their word with the most scrupulous care,
and if a mere stranger respectfully begged for their
assistance, they would help him even at the risk of their
lives. They refused to be beaten in anything by others, a
word of insult was enough to draw their sword out of the
scabbard, and the least grudge was repaid; they hated to
work for profit and thought it undignified to count money.
They went to eating-houses and ate their full; and if they
had no money, they went away without paying. If they were
pressed for payment, they used their fists; but if they were
treated with respect and allowed to leave without payment,
they came again when they had money and repaid more than
their debt. These _otokodate_ infested every part of the
city in the early years of the Tokugawa period and so much
damage was caused by their quarrels that they were
suppressed in the Genroku era. They were punished with such
severity that their number gradually diminished; but their
customs did not altogether disappear. Among the ordinary
citizens of Yedo were many who esteemed the samurai spirit
of the first years of Tokugawa and the manners of the
_otokodate_. In what is called the Yedo spirit is to be
detected much which originated with the _otokodate_; for the
true-born natives of Yedo show to this day the same hatred
of being beaten by others, love of quarrel, contempt for
skin-flints, and inability to keep the day’s earnings until
the next day. Amakawaya Gihei, in the tenth act of the
_Chushingura_, is a good sample of a chivalrous-spirited
merchant after the manner of the _otokodate_.


Some eighty years after the establishment of the Tokugawa
Shogunate began the Genroku period. The Shogun at the time
was the fourth of Iyeyasu’s line. No insurrection was feared
at home and there was as little danger of the country’s
isolation being disturbed by foreign invasion, for no
foreigner was allowed to trade in Japan with the exception
of the Dutch and Chinese, whose trade was confined to
Nagasaki. The country, in short, enjoyed absolute peace and
grew in wealth and prosperity. Such was the condition of the
land in the Genroku period, which takes its name from the
Genroku era (1689-1701) and extended over some fifty years
beginning with the Tenna era in 1681 and ending with the
Kyoho era in about 1735. It was a period of great importance
in the history of Japanese manners, institutions, and
literature. The first years of the Tokugawa régime were a
period of turbulent militarism and its last years that of
indolence and immorality; in the Genroku period, however,
the rough militaristic spirit was nearly gone, but the
people had not yet fallen into weak and effeminate ways;
luxury and extravagance had commenced their sway, but the
brave military spirit had not yet vanished. It marked, like
the Heian period of the ninth and tenth centuries, the
highest stage of Japanese civilisation; and with the dark
age of internecine wars intervening between these two
periods, it was, indeed, our age of renaissance.

During this period, Bushido, in spite of some evils that
attached to it, reached its highest level. This peculiar
spirit of Japan had been influenced in the earlier ages by
the doctrines of Buddhism; but coming under the influence of
Confucianism when the Tokugawa family came into power, it
became a cult of complete growth and took its final form
early under the Tokugawa rule. But Bushido, like all other
institutions, was bound to undergo changes as time went on.
Under Shogun Iyetsuna (1650-1680), the fourth of the
Tokugawa line, the old sturdy military spirit began to
decline in Yedo; and under his successor Tsunayoshi
(1680-1709), the Genroku period came in with its love for
luxurious living, display, and immorality, with the result
that Bushido which had been developed to the highest degree
among the warriors of the Eastern Provinces left Yedo, the
centre of those provinces, and sought refuge in the country,
where it remained unimpaired among the simple samurai of the
daimiates. The Ako vendetta was a striking instance of its
hold upon the country samurai.

The changes of manners under the Tokugawa Shogunate spread
as a rule from Yedo to the provinces. But in the early years
of that Shogunate Yedo was not yet the centre of Japanese
civilisation; for though it held the foremost position in
military arts, it was in literature, art, and other things
inferior to Kyoto and Osaka which were as cities far older.
The Eastern Provinces changed their manners by imitating
those of these two western cities. But the manners and
customs of the latter cities were at the time almost
directly opposite to those of Yedo. They were soft,
frivolous, and elegant to effeminacy; Kyoto had, since it
became the capital of the country in 794, been the centre of
Japanese civilisation, while Osaka which had been from the
oldest times an important port for vessels sailing to and
from the western provinces, became especially prosperous
from the days of Hideyoshi the Taiko (1536-97); and while
they had long lost the simplicity and straightforwardness of
more primitive districts, they were less moved by a sense of
honour, more impelled by desire for wealth, and became more
and more luxurious as they advanced in civilisation, and
naturally grew more fond of ostentation.

The characteristics of the Genroku period were then
represented by the manners and tastes of Kyoto and Osaka. In
that period, though Yedo was firmly established as the
political centre of the country, it had to import from Kyoto
and Osaka their literature and customs, which were thereupon
acclimatised in Yedo. The true Yedo spirit and manners did
not come into being until a century later, that is, the
beginning of the nineteenth century.


The centre of the literature and customs of Kyoto and Osaka
was not, as in Yedo, the samurai, but the merchant. The
merchant who had, until a generation or two previously, been
oppressed by class distinctions, came in the long period of
peace to acquire wealth and extravagant habits as the
standard of living rose. For as the means of transportation
and communication developed, many of them made large
fortunes by engaging in building and public works. There
were not a few of these noted men of wealth in Osaka and
Kyoto. In Osaka the world was the merchants’; and the
samurai, however high he might hold up his head, had to
yield in actual power to the common people.

As there were many wealthy men among the merchants who spent
money freely, they were the best customers in theatres and
in pleasure-quarters. The samurai, too, grew in time to envy
the merchant’s popularity and began finally to imitate his
ways. The manner in which Yuranosuke is drawn as a man about
town in the seventh act of the _Chushingura_, may be due
partly to the fact that the authors were all of the merchant
class; but it also serves to show the general behaviour of
samurai in pleasure-quarters.


But a merchant could only be a merchant; the strict social
distinctions could no more than the hereditary character of
family occupations be set aside. And the only place where
the merchants could spend money lavishly without fear of the
samurai and without distinction of classes, was the
pleasure-quarters. The attitude of the people of that time
towards those quarters was different to the attitude of men
of the present time. Love between the sexes was condemned by
the moral teaching of the time; and it was not to be thought
of that men and women should exchange love of their own free
will. Not only women, but men, usually left entirely to
their parents the arrangements for their marriages; and when
the husband and wife lived together, they appeared to the
world somewhat in the relations of master and servant,
however much they might really love each other. Some of
Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s plays depict men and women freed from
all trammels and indulging in unfettered love. These plays
won the admiration and sympathy of the world because they
were written with peculiar skill by their great author. But
otherwise, the people of the period regarded such characters
as being immoral and licentious; and while they pitied them
for their sufferings, they condemned no less their lack of
chastity. In the pleasure-quarters was to be found a world
free from social restraint and from fetters of morality,
where could be seen women in their natural mood,
untrammelled by restraints of any kind. These quarters were
outlets for the depressed spirits caused by the pressure of
the negative policy of the Tokugawa government, where all
ranks and grades of society could associate freely and on
equal terms. The quarters in Yedo, Kyoto, and Osaka were
frequent subjects of plays and novels of the time; indeed,
it may be said that more than half the literature of the
Genroku period was devoted to these quarters and their


The revenge of the Ako retainers took place in the twelfth
month of the fifteenth year of Genroku (January, 1703); and
few months later, a play founded on it was already on the
stage. In 1706, the Takemotoza, the great puppet-theatre of
Osaka, put up a ballad drama by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, called
_Kenkohoshi-Monomiguruma_, upon the same subject, which the
same great dramatist followed up with another, entitled
_Goban-Taiheiki_, in which the story was carried back to the
time of the first Shogun of the Ashikaga line in the middle
of the fourteenth century. In this play occur for the first
time the names of Kono Moronao and Enya Hangwan, noted
warriors of that period, as those of the two enemies whose
fatal quarrel gave rise to the great vendetta, and also the
loyal chief councillor of Asano appears as Oboshi Yuranosuke
and the humblest of the loyal retainers, Terasaka Kichiemon,
is disguised under the name of Teraoka Heiyemon. After this,
several plays of more or less merit were performed in Yedo,
Kyoto, and Osaka. A noted actor of the time, Sawamura
Sojuro, made a great hit with one of these plays in Osaka in
1746 and in Kyoto in the following year; and a famous writer
of puppet-plays named Takeda Izumo, who saw these successes
of Sojuro, produced in collaboration with Namiki Scnryu and
Miyoshi Shoraku in 1748 the play, _Kanadehon-Chushingura_,
which is translated in the following pages. It was put up,
as originally intended, at a puppet theatre and afterward at
an ordinary theatre. It became not only the most celebrated
version of the vendetta, but also the most popular of all
plays; and other plays upon the subject of the loyal
retainers of Ako were entirely dropped. So great is even at
the present time the fame of the play that the revenge of
Ako retainers is better known as _Chushingura_ and its hero
Oishi Kuranosuke sounds less familiar to the ears of the
common people than his play-name of Oboshi Yuranosuke. For
the latter name which first appeared in Chikamatsu’s
_Goban-Taiheiki_ is adopted in the _Chushingura_, as also
the names of Enya Hangwan, Kono Moronao, and Teraoka
Heiyemon. The play still retains its popularity and it is
even now, as it used formerly to be, in many theatres the
stock play for the last month of the year since it is sure
to draw large houses, just as the plays founded on the
vendetta of the Soga brothers are the most commonly
performed in the first month.

We will now proceed to discuss the plot of the play and
compare it with the true story of the famous vendetta.


It was the established custom under the Tokugawa rule for
the feudal government to offer to the Imperial Court a large
sum of money and other articles as presents when a messenger
was sent there to tender the New Year’s greetings in the
first month of every year; and the Imperial Court, too,
despatched envoys to Yedo to inquire after the Shogun’s
health. On such occasion the Shogun’s government specially
appointed from among the _daimyo_ officers to attend upon
the Imperial envoys. On the day on which the Shogun received
the envoys took place a great ceremony at which the Shogun
himself received the Imperial message direct from the
envoys; on the following day a performance of _No _was given
in their honour, after which a grand banquet was held. On
the third day the Shogun himself presented his reply to the
Imperial message. Throughout these ceremonies the _daimyo_
immediately connected with the Shogun and others then
staying in the city presented themselves at the Palace in
full Court dress.

In the second month of the fourteenth year of Genroku
(1701), when it was announced that the envoys of the Emperor
Higashiyama and the Ex-Emperor Reigen were coming to Yedo,
Asano Takumi-no-Kami Naganori, Lord of Ako, in the province
of Harima, and Date Sakyo-no-suke Muneharu, Lord of Yoshida,
in the province of Iyo, were appointed officers to entertain
the envoys, and the _Kōke_,[1] Kira Kozuke-no-Suke Yoshinaka
and Otomo Omi-no-Kami Yoshitaka, were ordered to receive
them. At first Takumi-no-Kami declined the appointment, for
though it was a great honour to him and his family, he was,
he pleaded, unused to Court etiquette; but one of
the Court Councillors replied that there was not one
_daimyo_ who was used to such office, but as Kira
Kozuke-no-Suke was well versed in these matters from having
for many years taken part in the reception of the envoys, he
could perform his duties by consulting him. And
Takumi-no-Kami was obliged to accept the appointment.

Date Sakyo-no-Suke being still young, his councillors
managed all his affairs; and knowing Kozuke-no-Suke’s
character, they made him valuable presents when they asked
him to instruct their lord in the ceremonies which he was to
attend. Takumi-no-Kami’s councillors on duty in Yedo were
Yasui Hikozayemon and Fujii Matazayemon; and though he told
them to send presents to Kozuke-no-Suke, they, being unused
to the world’s ways, made presents which were far smaller
than Date’s and thereby aroused Kozuke-no-Suke’s anger.
Kozuke-no-Suke then determined, when Takumi-no-Kami asked
for instruction, to make him commit blunders and fall into
disgrace. On the 11th day of the third month (April 6th,
1701), the Imperial envoys arrived in Yedo; and on the
following day they proceeded to the Shogun’s castle and
presented the Imperial messages; and on the 14th they were
entertained at a banquet. All these ceremonies were
concluded without a hitch. The 15th was the day on which the
Shogun was to present a reply to the Imperial messages.
Early in the morning, the Shogun’s near relatives and other
_daimyo_ and lower lords were awaiting the arrival of the
envoys in the Pine Corridor (so called from pictures of
pine-trees on the doors), when Kozuke-no-Suke began to abuse
Takumi-no-Kami for his ignorance of Court etiquette. The
latter, who had hitherto borne his insults in silence, now
lost his temper and struck the other’s forehead with his
sword. As Kozuke-no-Suke sank on the floor, he cut at him on
the shoulder. As Kozuke-no-Suke then rose and fled
stumbling, his enemy pursued him, but was prevented from
striking him again by being caught from behind by Kajikawa
Yosobei, an attendant of the Shogun’s mother.
Kozuke-no-Suke’s wounds were slight and were immediately
attended to by Court physicians. The Shogun, who had
intended to show every respect to the envoys, was highly
incensed when he heard of this attack and ordered an inquiry
to be made into the matter. He appointed on the spot a
_daimyo_ to take Takumi-no-Kami’s place, and concluded
without further accident the ceremony of presenting a reply
to the Imperial messages. When the inquiry was held,
Kozuke-no-Suke averred that he had given no cause for the
attack, which Takumi-no-Kami had made in a fit of insanity,
while Takumi-no-Kami asserted that Kozuke-no-Suke’s frequent
insults were such that he could no longer bear them in
silence and so had drawn his sword.

The above incidents afford the material for the attack scene
in the third act of the _Chushingura_, and are the true
cause of the vendetta of the Ako retainers. The story of
Moronao’s love for Kaoyo is taken from the twenty-first book
of the _Taiheiki_, which gives a romantic history of the
wars and other events during fifty years from 1318 to 1367.
The names of Kono Moronao and Enya Hangwan, which were first
used by Chikamatsu in his play, were taken from that book.
The story told in that work is briefly as follows:— The
daughter of Prince Hayata, a connection by marriage of the
Emperor Godaigo, was considered one of the most beautiful
women of her time. She was given in marriage to Enya Hangwan
Takasada in the province of Izumo; but Kono Musashi-no-Kami
Moronao was also deeply in love with her. He made love to
her, but was rejected. Piqued at her refusal, he pretended
to the Shogun that Enya was plotting against him. The Shogun
believed his words, and Enya was compelled to fly for his
life to his province. He revolted in self-defence, but was
attacked by the Shogun’s forces, and finally put an end to

The first act of the play treats only of the collision
between Moronao and Wakasanosuke; it is merely a byplay to
prepare the spectator for an exhibition of the respective
characters of Moronao, Enya, and Wakasanosuke.

The second act presents Honzo in his lord’s house and makes
Wakasanosuke an indirect cause of Enya’s ruin. As
Wakasanosuke corresponds to Sakyo-no-Suke, Honzo is made to
act as the latter’s councillors did and offer valuable
presents to Moronao. And to economise the characters of the
play, Honzo takes Kajikawa Yosobei’s place and stops Enya
when he pursues Moronao, and his daughter Konami is promised
in marriage to Oboshi’s son Rikiya, all which leads to the
tragedy in the ninth act.


Takumi-no-Kami had caused a disturbance in the Palace by
giving vent to private resentment although he was on duty as
officer for the entertainment of the Imperial envoys, and
thereby shown great disrespect to the Imperial House; and on
those grounds he was given in charge to Tamura Sakyo-dayu,
Lord of Ichinoseki, in Mutsu, and ordered to commit
_seppuku_ on the same day. The inspectors and others to be
present at the self-immolation were appointed on the spot.
At Lord Tamura’s mansion, mattings were spread on the ground
in front of a small reception-room, and upon them were laid
mats, which were then covered with a rug, and curtains were
hung all around. Takumi-no-Kami’s head-page, Kataoka
Gengoemon, who had attended his lord to the Palace and
waited for his return at the gate, ran back immediately to
his lord’s mansion when he heard of the attack in the
Palace; and after reporting it there, he went to Lord
Tamura’s mansion and was permitted to be present at his
lord’s death. Takumi-no-Kami composed an ode which ran:—

“Frailer far than the tender flowers That are soon scattered
by the wind, Must I now bid a last farewell And leave the
genial spring behind?”

And calmly he put an end to himself. He was in his
thirty-fifth year.

In the scene of Hangwan’s death in the fourth act of the
_Chushingura_, Hangwan is made to wait impatiently for
Oboshi’s arrival and to see him when he had just thrust the
dirk into his body; but as a matter of fact, Yuranosuke and
his son were at the time at Ako, in the province of Harima.
The lamentations of Kaoyo in the same scene are equally
fictitious. For Takumi-no-Kami’s wife was in his mansion at
Teppozu near the River Sumida, and upon hearing of his
death, she shaved her head at once and became a nun under
the name of Yosen-in, and spent the rest of her life in
prayers for her husband. The mansion in Yedo was

Takumi-no-Kami’s domain was also to be forfeited. When his
death became known at Ako on the nineteenth of the third
month, that is, four days after the attack, Oishi
Kuranosuke, who was in charge of the castle, convoked a
meeting of all the retainers of Ako and informed them of the
whole affair. From sympathy for his lord’s feelings at the
time of his death, he said to them that as it was the loyal
subject’s duty to die if disgrace fell upon his lord, they
must discuss how they should put an end to themselves. Some
of the loyal retainers exclaimed with indignation that they
should proceed at once to Yedo and cut off Kozuke-no-Suke’s
head to appease their lord’s angry spirit, while others as
firmly urged that they should not surrender the castle, but
hold it to the last against the government officers until
they were killed to a man. After heated discussion, it was
finally decided to surrender the castle. And when, on the
eighteenth of the following month, the officers came to take
possession of it, the retainers remained quiet, and after
putting their account-books in order and making an
inventory, they formally made over the castle to the
officers on the nineteenth in the grand hall of the castle.
The retainers then all dispersed and became _ronin_.

It will be seen that the incidents in the fourth act of the
play have no foundation in fact beyond the suicide of
Takumi-no-Kami. It is only important as introducing
Yuranosuke, the hero of the play, and showing the great
confidence placed in him by both his lord and his


Thus, the retainers of the clan lost their stipends upon the
ruin of their lord’s house and became _ronin_. Oishi
Kuranosuke began to make preparations for the revenge, and
at the same time made every effort to bring about the
restoration of his lord’s house. When he found all his
efforts were unavailing and the Government refused to
restore the forfeited domain and title to Takumi-no-Kami’s
younger brother, he decided definitely to take revenge upon
Kozuke-no-Suke. Such of the late retainers as were filled
with great loyalty gradually formed a league; and Kira
Kozuke-no-Suke, too, took strict measures to provide against
sudden attacks and sent spies and detectives to watch the
movements of the loyal retainers. The retainers, also,
underwent untold hardships in their efforts to inform
themselves of their enemy's condition. Many of them
separated from their families and engaged themselves to
tradesmen or became artisans, and so disguising themselves,
obtained entry into Kira’s mansion. In the meantime, several
of the retainers lukewarm in their loyalty left the league
one by one until the forty-seven men of matchless fidelity
were left behind to carry out their plot amid almost
insuperable difficulties.

Oishi placed under the care of his maternal uncle, Ishizuka,
at Toyooka, in Tajima Province, his wife and four children,
the eldest of whom was Matsunojo, afterwards known as
Chikara Yoshikane (called Rikiya in the play), then in his
fourteenth year. For a while he lay concealed in a
neighbouring village; but towards the close of the sixth
month, he left his native province and arrived in the
following month at Yamashina, a village lying east of Kyoto,
to which he brought his wife and children, and made it look
as if he intended to settle permanently in that place. He
received offers to take him into service from great _daimyo_
like Nabeshima of Hizen and Hosokawa of Higo, and from other
lords; but he declined them, one and all. And to show that
he had no intention of re-entering service, he purchased a
house and land at Yamashina, and brought carpenters and
plasterers from Kyoto to build a retreat within the grounds,
while he himself took pleasure in rearing tree-peonies in
his garden. It looked quite as if he would in course of time
make over the headship of the house to his son Matsunojo and
retire into his retreat, there to pass the remainder of his
life in admiring the beauties of nature. He was all the
while waiting for the opportunity to carry out his plot.

Meanwhile, Kira still kept strict guard. No one was taken
into service in his mansion without careful inquiry into his
antecedents; and from retainers and sandal-carriers even to
common servants, no one but a native of Kira’s domain was
engaged except in unavoidable cases. Tradesmen were strictly
forbidden to enter the premises and the gate-keepers were
required to examine carefully all who came to the mansion.
And at the same time Oishi’s movements at Yamashina were
carefully watched.

Now, Oishi determined to throw the enemy completely off the
scent by leading a dissolute life and pretending that he had
given up the revenge in despair. He took to pleasures
against his inclination; he became a noted profligate. He
frequented the pleasures-quarters of Kyoto and Fushimi and
then, those of Osaka. _Ronin_ as he was, he had been the
chief retainer of Ako; and he seemed to have inexhaustible
supply of money, which he spent with lavish liberality and
became notorious for his dissipation in Kyoto and elsewhere.
His confederates, too, decided to show to the world how
dissolute they had grown in their despair, and vied with
their chief in profligacy. And while these loyal retainers
pretended to the world that they had given themselves up
utterly to debauchery, their leaders held consultations in
these pleasure-quarters and matured their plan amid the
revelry of their comrades.

The dissolute life, which Oishi was now leading, exposed him
to the abuse of the world, which condemned him for
apparently sinking into dissipation, forgetful of his lord’s
death. Next, Oishi sent away his family with whom he had
lived in great affection. He did this, partly to show that
he had no thought beyond his pleasures and partly to prepare
for the revenge. According to the law in those days, for a
serious crime not only the offender himself, but also his
family, were punished; and he feared that his wife and
children might suffer from his act. He, therefore, divorced
his wife, who went away with their three youngest children.
He became more dissolute than ever. He brought to his house
a woman named Okaru, who was noted throughout Kyoto for her
beauty and made her his mistress. Kira’s spies grew weary of
watching him and became less vigilant. Meanwhile, the
retainers’ plan matured, and finally Oishi left Yamashina in
the tenth month for Yedo, where he arrived early in the
following month.

The above furnishes the material for the seventh and ninth
acts of the play.	Oishi’s mistress, Okaru, appears in the
play as Hayano Kanpei’s wife and Teraoka Heiyemon’s sister,
and so connects her story with the death of Kanpei in the
sixth act and with the night-attack in the eleventh. It
makes her of more interest than if she only remained a
mistress whom Oishi brought home to conceal his true
designs. The seventh act also reveals Oishi as a man of
great loyalty, who conceals his plot under cover of
dissipation. It is an act which shows him in his true
character and one that calls for fine acting on the part of
the player who assumes the role of the hero.


All the loyal retainers, after their great hardships and
perseverance, succeeded in carrying out their object at
last; but there was one who died before the revenge was
taken. His name was Kayano Sanpei Shigezane, who appears in
the play as Hayano Kanpei. He was the second son of Kayano
Shigetoshi, a retainer of Oshima Dewa-no-Kami; and when he
was twelve years old, he was, at Dewa-no-Kami’s
recommendation, taken into Takumi-no-Kami’s service as page.
When Takumi-no-Kami was condemned to death for the attack in
the Palace, Sanpei was in the mansion in Yedo; and
immediately the sentence was passed, he left with another
retainer for Ako, where he arrived in four days and a half
and reported to Oishi. After the surrender of the castle and
dispersal of the retainers, Sanpei returned to his native
village to mourn for his mother who had lately died. As his
village was only about thirty miles from Yamashina, he went
often to see Oishi and consulted him on the revenge. In the
following winter, he ashed his father’s permission to
proceed to Yedo and seek a new situation; but his father
refused as he was sure, he said, that Sanpei was going to
take revenge upon his lord’s enemy, and added that such an
act on Sanpei’s part might implicate not only his own
family, but even bring trouble upon Oshima Dewa-no-Kami,
which he could not allow as he was no less loyal to his lord
than Sanpei was to his. Then, Sanpei asked him to sever
their relation of father and son; but this also his father
refused, saying that nothing worthy could be done by one who
cut off natural ties. Sanpei could do nothing; and seeing
that he could not revenge his lord’s death, he resolved to
die and apologise to his lord in the other world. On the
fourteenth of the first month in the following year, he sent
a letter to Oishi and before daybreak next day, he killed
himself while the family were asleep. His father, fearing
that the Ako retainers’ plot would be discovered if his
son’s death became known, had his body secretly buried in a
neighbouring hill. Sanpei was twenty-six years old at the
time of his death. He was perhaps over-hasty in rushing to
his death; but the principles of Bushido left him no choice;
a man of knightly spirit could do nothing but die under the

In their eagerness to enlist the sympathy of their audience,
the authors of the play have brought love-interest into his
story and weakened his character by attributing to him an
act of disloyalty. Still, his failure in duty in the third
act for the love of a woman was necessary for showing his
deep repentance in the fifth act and its incidental
consequences, the sale of his wife and his tragic end in the
sixth, which lend peculiar pathos to Okaru’s story in the
seventh act.


Amanoya Rihei was a merchant of Osaka, whose family had for
generations enjoyed the patronage of the lord of Ako. When
the loyal retainers held council after their lord’s death,
Rihei hied to Ako to offer his services. And when they had
formed the plan for the revenge, they kept it strictly
secret from all except Rihei; and later Oishi secretly asked
Rihei to procure all the weapons and other implements that
were needed for the night-attack. The retainers lay
concealed in Kyoto, Osaka, and Yedo; and Rihei in Osaka,
went himself, without the knowledge of his family and
servants, to different shops and works to have the necessary
weapons made, and as soon as they were ready, he forwarded
them to Yedo. One of the smiths reported to the authorities
that he had received an order for a special description of
weapons; and Rihei was soon after arrested and examined.
Rihei replied that the weapons of the special make had been
invented by a certain samurai; and other smiths, upon
hearing of Rihei’s arrest, also reported that they had
received orders from him. Rihei was, then, put to the
torture; but still he would not tell the truth. His wife and
children were also tortured; but they all answered that they
knew nothing. Rihei told the prison officers that his family
knew nothing of his purchases and begged them to torture him
instead of his family. He was then put to such tortures that
he was more than once on the point of death. He told the
officers that he had from the first been prepared for death
when he entered upon the undertaking, but that when the new
year came, he would confess all or submit to any punishment
they might inflict. He spoke with such composure that they
took his word and refrained from further tortures. When the
new year came, the revenge of the Ako retainers was
everywhere talked of; and when Rihei heard of it in prison,
he went up to the officers and confessed that as his family
had for generations enjoyed the patronage of the lord of
Ako, he had been asked by Oishi to procure the weapons for
their night-attack upon Kira’s mansion, and it was for that
revenge that he had ordered the smiths to make weapons for
him, and now that the revenge had been successfully carried
out, the time had come for him to receive his just
punishment; and he added that from fear of the plot being
discovered and of the punishment for his offence being
extended to innocent persons, he had concealed it from his
family, and he therefore begged that his family might be
spared while he himself would willingly submit to the
severest punishment. The officers were greatly struck by his
manly spirit and released him. They restored to his son
Rihei’s property which they had confiscated and made him
follow his father’s trade. Rihei himself renounced the world
and peacefully ended his days in a temple closely connected
with the Asano family.

All the other incidents of the play, such as the story of
Kanpei and Okaru, the marriage of Konami and Rikiya, and the
death of Honzo, are more or less connected with the main
plot of the play; but the story of Amanoya Rihei, who
appears in the play under the name of Amakawaya Gihei, is
the least connected. The tenth act was written to exhibit
the manly spirit of a merchant and to show that even among
the mercantile class were men who could help the retainers
in their great undertaking. Amanoya Rihei was, in fact, a
fine example of the _otokodate_, to whom reference has been
made in a former page, and his character, as it appears in
the play, has been the boast of his class. It is a
vindication of the commoners by writers who belonged to that


The loyal retainers willingly submitted to every hardship
and privation in their efforts to carry out their
long-cherished plan of revenge. The league which was
originally composed of more than a hundred persons,
gradually dwindled by defection to less than half the
number, and made more onerous the labours of the loyal men.
Some of them became doctors, others taught fencing and
similar arts, and others again turned rice-dealers and
merchants; but they devoted all their energies, so far as
they could do so without arousing suspicion, to watching the
enemy’s movements and keeping in communication with one
another. The labour and trouble they took to obtain
information regarding the interior of Kira’s mansion was
such as would hardly be believed in these days. One of them
who was versed in the art of tea-making, obtained news from
time to time of the goings-on in the enemy’s mansion from a
professor of that art who was patronised by Kira. He
ascertained from him that there was to be a tea-party at the
mansion on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month of the
fifteenth year of Genroku (which corresponded to the 20th
January, 1703), On that night, then, their enemy was sure to
be at home; and the retainers decided to carry out their
long-planned scheme early the following morning. From about
two o’clock they began to gather at their trysting-place;
and at about four o’clock they all arrived in the snow under
a clear moonlight in front of Kira’s mansion. Here they
divided into two companies; one under Oishi made for the
front gate and the other under Yoshida Chuzaemon for the
back gate on the west side. They entered the mansion and
making the capture of their enemy Kira their sole object,
they only cut down those who offered resistance. They
searched the whole mansion for him, but apparently without
success. They feared that he had escaped them; but one of
them, hearing a man’s voice in a shed near the kitchen, went
in and dragged him out and found he was the enemy they had
undergone so many hardships to seize. They cut off his head.
Then, they marched out in order without losing a single man.
It was about six o’clock, so that the fight had lasted two

The eleventh act merely serves to bring the story to a
conclusion. The true climax would have been the suicide of
the loyal retainers; but it was doubtless felt by the
authors that they would give the greatest satisfaction to
the sympathetic audience by ending the play when the loyal
men were at the height of their joy after accomplishing
their long-cherished object.


Although the story of the famous vendetta in the play
concludes with the departure of the retainers from the
mansion with their enemy’s head, we may, to complete the
story, here give a brief account of the subsequent events.

The loyal retainers of Ako marched in order through the city
and arrived at the temple of Sengakuji, their lord’s
burial-place, in the south of Yedo. There they washed Kira’s
bloody head and placing it in front of their lord’s grave,
reported as to a living person all the circumstances of the
revenge. Oishi sent two of his men to the Chief Censor,
Sengoku Hoki-no-Kami, to report their late attack, while a
similar report was made by the superior of the temple to Abe
Hida-no-Kami, the Commissioner of Temples and Shrines; and
both these officers went to the Shogun’s palace to report
the matter. Officers were then sent to inspect Kira’s
mansion to verify the report. Universal sympathy was
expressed for the retainers; and pending the decision of
their case, they were given in charge, seventeen to Hosokawa
Etchu-no-Kami, Lord of Higo, ten each to Mori Kai-no-Kami,
Lord of Chofu and Hisamatsu Oki-no-Kami, Lord of Matsuyama,
and nine to Mizuno Kenmotsu, Lord of Okazaki. All these
_daimyo_ received them into their mansions with willingness
and treated them with great consideration. It will be seen
that the number of retainers taken charge of by these
_daimyo_ was forty-six, because one of them, Terasaka
Kichiemon, the Teraoka Heiyemon of the play, was sent
immediately after the attack to report to Takumi-no-Kami’s
widow, and his name did not appear in the report made by
Oishi to the Chief Censor.

The fate of the brave retainers became the burning question
of the day. Opinion was divided among the scholars and
government officials on the way they should be treated. Some
were for pardoning them as vendetta was permitted by the
state, while others advocated that as they had broken the
law of the land from private motives, they should be
condemned to death and that an order to commit suicide would
show that their great loyalty was duly appreciated since
they were not to be beheaded like common criminals. Finally,
on the fourth of the second month of the following year
(10th March, 1703), they committed _seppuku_ by order in the
mansions of the respective _daimyo_ who had them in charge,
and were buried at Sengakuji beside the tomb of their lord
whom they had served so well.

  [1] A high officer versed in Court etiquette. The office was







Though there may be delicate food, we cannot relish it
unless we taste it, and so, when peace has been restored,
the loyalty and valour of gallant warriors remain
unrevealed, like the stars which are hidden from view by
day, but appear at night scattered through the heavens. And
here is an instance in point.

Now peace reigns over the land. It is the latter part of the
second month of the first year of the Era Ryaku-o.[1] The Lord
Shogun Ashikaga Takauji[2] has overthrown
Nitta Yoshisada[3] and has built a palace in Kyoto. His
virtuous rule has spread in all directions and the whole
nation bows before his might as

[Illustration: Feudal Lord on dais surrounded by three
kneeling people]

the grass before the wind. In the glory of his power, he has
raised a Shrine to Hachiman at Tsurugaoka, which being
completed, his younger brother, Lord Ashikaga Sahyoe-no-Kami
Tadayoshi, has arrived at Kamakura as his deputy to
celebrate its opening. Kono Musashi-no-Kami Moronao,
Governor of Kamakura, haughty and overweening, and the
officers appointed to receive the noble
guest, Wakasanosuke Yasuchika, the younger brother of
Momonoi Harima-no-Kami, and Enya Hangwan Takasada, Lord of
Hakushu, they all sit in state in the curtained front of the

YOSHITADA. How now, Moronao? In this box is laid the helmet
bestowed by the Emperor Godaigo[4] upon Nitta Yoshisada, who
was lately overthrown by my brother Takauji. Enemy as he
was, still Yoshisada was a lineal descendant of the Seiwa
Genji[5]; and the helmet, though it was thrown away, cannot be
left unheeded. And my brother commands us to place it in the
treasure-house of this Shrine.

MORONAO. I am surprised at my lord’s words. If we must
respect Nitta’s helmet because he was a descendant of the
Emperor Seiwa, there are many _daimyo_ and _shomyo_[6]
under my lord’s standard who are of the Seiwa Genji line. I
think it not well to treasure the helmet.

WAKASANOSUKE. Nay, I do not agree with you. It seems to me
that this is a stratagem of my Lord Takauji to strike those
adherents of Nitta who have escaped death with admiration at
His Highness’s benevolent virtue and make them surrender of
their own accord. You are overhasty in opposing it.

MORONAO. You are presumptuous to call me overhasty. When
Yoshisada died in battle, forty-seven helmets lay scattered
around his corse. We do not know which of them was his; and
if we treasure what we believe to have been his and
afterwards find that it was the wrong one, great will be our
shame. We have no need for the opinion of a stripling like
you; keep your distance.

RECITATIVE. Secure in his lord’s favour, he speaks with
arrogance, and Wakasanosuke glares at him with angry eyes.
Enya sees his look.

HANGWAN. Though there is truth in my Lord Moronao’s words,
still what Lord Momonoi says is a stratagem which we should
employ in time of peace. We submit, then, to the wise
decision of my Lord Tadayoshi, who is great both in war and

RECITATIVE. Tadayoshi looks pleased.

TADAYOSHI. As I thought you would say so, I have summoned
for the purpose Enya’s wife. Call her forth.

RECITATIVE. Soon after the order is given, appears Kaoyo,
the wife of Lord Enya, bare-footed on the sand of the
approach to the Shrine; the skirt of her over-dress sweeps
the ground like the sacred broom of the Shrine; lightly
powdered and beautiful as a jewel, she bows to the ground at
a distance. Moronao, a lover of women, calls out to her.

MORONAO. My Lord Enya’s consort, Lady Kaoyo, you must be
fatigued with waiting so long. His Highness has summoned
you; pray, come nearer.

TADAYOSHI. I have summoned you for this. As the Emperor
Godaigo bestowed on Yoshisada the helmet His Majesty wore in
the capital during the war of the Genko Era[7], we have
no doubt that Nitta donned it in his last hour. But no one
here can identify it. You, I have heard, were at the time
one of the twelve maids of honour and were in charge of the
armoury. You, surely, must know the helmet; and if you
remember it, come, identify it.

RECITATIVE. To a woman he gives his order gently; and softly
she answers.

KAOYO. Gracious is my lord’s command. His Majesty’s helmet
have I held in my hands many a night and morning. It was
bestowed upon Yoshisada, together with a rare incense called
_Ranjatai_. It was I, Kaoyo, who handed it to him. Upon
receiving the gift, he said, “Man lives for only one
generation, but his name endures for ever. When I go forth
to die in battle, I will, before I put on the helmet, burn
all this incense in its inside so that it may leave its
perfume on my hair. If, then, Your Majesty hears that the
enemy has taken a rare-scented head, know that Yoshisada has
fought his last.” And I do not think he has belied his word.

RECITATIVE. Hanging upon her words, Moronao who has designs
upon her, listens with dilated nostrils.

TADAYOSHI. Clear indeed is Kaoyo’s answer. As I thought such
would be the case, I have had the forty-seven helmets that
lay scattered put in this box. Now examine them.

RECITATIVE. At these words the attendants bend their hips
and unlock the box. Impatient to see the helmets, Kaoyo
approaches boldly and without fear. She sees many a noted
Kamakura helmet of divers shapes. The helmet-signs differ
with the fashion of the

[Illustration: Kaoyo standing, Tadayoshi seated]

families. Some are plain, and others are without camail for
ease in bending the bow. Among these many which vary with
the tastes of their wearers appears at last a five-plated
helmet with a dragon-head. Before Kaoyo can say that this is
the one they seek, the scent of the rare incense pervades
all around.

KAOYO. This is Yoshisada’s helmet which I have often held in
my hands.

RECITATIVE. She brings it forward, and her word is taken.

TADAYOSHI. Let Enya and Momonoi place it in the
treasure-house. Come this way.

RECITATIVE. He rises, and dismissing Kaoyo, passes by the
steps. Enya and Momonoi follow within. Instantly Kaoyo,
also, prepares to go.

KAOYO. Lord Moronao, you will remain a little longer, and
when your arduous duties are over, you will go home; but I,
who have been dismissed, must not stay longer. I take my

RECITATIVE. But as she rises, Moronao approaches and holds
her by the sleeve.

MORONAO. Nay, wait; I pray you, wait. I meant, as soon as my
duties are over to-day, to call at your house, for I have
something to show you. But Lord Tadayoshi who happily
summoned you here to-day, is as a god who has brought us
together. As you know, I take pleasure in composing poetry,
and have asked Yoshida no Kenko[8] to be my teacher. We
exchange letters daily. Here is a letter which I was going
to ask him to send to you; I would gladly hear your answer
from your lips.

RECITATIVE. He slips from his sleeve to hers a letter tied
in a knot. She starts when she sees it is a love-letter
which is out of keeping with his aged face. But if she
openly puts him to shame, her husband’s name will become
common talk. Shall she take it home and show it to her
husband? No, no; if Lord Enya feels resentment, a quarrel or
other evil consequences may follow. So, without a word, she
drops the letter on the ground. Loth to let it be seen by
others, Moronao takes it up.

 “Since her dear hand has touched it,
     I cannot leave alone
 This note she has rejected,
     E’en though it is mine own.”

Until you give me a definite answer and a
favourable, I will never cease to press my suit. Here am I,
Moronao, in whose power it is to make the whole country rise
or fall; and whether I kill Enya or let him live, it depends
only upon Kaoyo’s will. Am I not right?

RECITATIVE. Kaoyo can answer with naught but tears. At this
moment Wakasanosuke chances to enter, and perceives at once
that Moronao is, as is his wont, behaving outrageously.

WAKASANOSUKE. Lady Kaoyo, are you not yet gone? By remaining
after you have been dismissed, you are disobeying His
Highness. You had better go home at once.

RECITATIVE. When she is thus urged to go home, Moronao sees
that Wakasanosuke has guessed what he has been doing; still,
he shows a brazen front and answers back.

MORONAO. You are again presumptuous. When she may go, I will
tell her so myself. Kaoyo, Enya’s wife, has besought me to
see that her husband performs his duties without any mishap.
That is as it should be. Even a _daimyo_’s wife acts thus.
You, of low position as you are, to whom do you owe your
pittance of a stipend? So precarious is your fortune that a
word of mine could reduce you to beggary. And still do you
call your-self a samurai?

[Illustration: Box of helmets with two on floor in front]

RECITATIVE. He abuses him in revenge for his interference.
Bursting with anger, Wakasanosuke grasps the hilt of his
sword with such fierce force as threatens to crush it; but
he recollects that he is in front of the Shrine and in His
Highness’s train, and he restrains himself; and yet, one
word more, and he will cut him down. Attendants enter
announcing His Highness’s return and clear the way. He is
compelled to forgo his revenge for the moment; but he is
bursting with indignation. Lucky in his evil course, Moronao
escapes death; and Enya, who little dreams that he will be
his enemy on the morrow, brings up the rear of the
procession. Lord Tadayoshi walks with quiet dignity; and his
stately bearing is like the dragon frontlet of the helmet
which has been placed in the treasure-house of the Shrine.

[Illustration: Circle image]

  [1] The first year corresponds roughly to 1338.

  [2] The first Shogun of the Ashikaga line, which lasted from
      1338 to 1573. Born in 1305 and died in 1358.

  [3] A celebrated loyalist, born in 1301 and died in the Battle of
      Fujishima in 1338.

  [4] Emperor Godaigo reigned from 1319 to 1338.

  [5] Seiwa Genji: the name Minamoto, or Genji, was first bestowed
      upon Prince Tsunemoto, a grandson of Emperor Seiwa (856-877),
      when he suppressed Masakado’s rebellion in 940. The Seiwa Genji
      were the direct descendants of the prince, while the collateral
      lines were known as the Yamato, Settsu, and Kai Genji.

  [6] Daimyo, or great names, were the great territorial lords; and
      Shomyo, or small names, were those immediately below them in

  [7] In this era (1331-3), the Emperor made war upon Hojo Takatoki,
      the last of the Kamakura Regents, who defeated and exiled him
      to the Island of Oki.

  [8] One of the most noted poets of his day (1282–1350).




It is an evening in the month of growing plants.[1] They are
sweeping the grounds in the mansion of Momonoi Wakasanosuke
Yasuchika. The Councillor, Kakogawa Honzo Yukikuni, who, in
the mature manhood of fifty years, guards the mansion as the
aged pine overlooks the garden, comes along outside the
reception-room in formal dress. The servants on the ground,
unaware of his presence, talk on.

FIRST SERVANT. Why, Bekunai, our lord has for the last few
days been making great preparations. The guest from the
Capital visited the Shrine of Hachiman at Tsurugaoka
yesterday. That meant tremendous expenses. Ah, I wish I had
that lot of money; for if I

[Illustration: Honzo overseeing two manual laborers]

had it, I would change my name Bekusuke[2] and enjoy myself.

SECOND SERVANT. What, change your name and enjoy yourself?
that is strange! And what would you change it to?

FIRST SERVANT. Why, I would change it to Kakusuke and have a

SECOND SERVANT. Oh, you fool! Don’t you know? Our Lord
Wakasanosuke, I hear, came to grief yesterday at Tsurugaoka.
I don’t know the particulars; but it was talked
about in the servants’ room that Lord Moronao put him to
great shame. I suppose he said something unreasonable and
humiliated our lord.

HONZO. Hi, what are you chattering so noisily about? You are
talking of our lord, and that, too, when my lady is ill. If
there is anything likely to bring shame upon the house, I
shall not let it pass unheeded. Calamities arise from below;
and servants should be discreet of tongue. When you have
done sweeping, go away all of you.

RECITATIVE. He speaks to them gently. A maid-servant brings
him tobacco, which he inhales and sends up rings and clouds
of smoke. In the passage he hears the rustling of a dress
and scents its perfume; and softly comes out Honzo’s darling
only daughter, Mistress Konami, with her mother Tonase.

HONZO. What, you two here? It is most unmannerly of you to
be amusing yourselves, instead of waiting upon my lady.

KONAMI. Nay, father. My lady is in especially good spirits
to-day and is just now fast asleep. Is it not so, mother?

TONASE. Ah, Honzo, my lady was saying something a little
while ago. There appears to be a rumour that, at the time
Konami went yesterday to Tsurugaoka in my lady’s place, high
words passed between our lord and Lord Moronao. Somehow or
other, it came to my lady’s ears and made her very uneasy.
She asked if my husband Honzo, who must know all the
particulars, meant to conceal it from her; and so I asked
Konami, but she knew no more about it than I. If it is
likely to aggravate her illness and bring shame upon the

HONZO. Come, come, Tonami. Why did you not make up an
answer? Our lord is naturally of a hasty temper; and as to
high words, they are common enough among women and children.
It is the duty of our swords to put an end to our lives if
this little tongue of ours makes a slip of one or half a
word. Are you not a samurai’s wife? Could you not recollect
yourself in such a trivial matter? Be more careful. But,
daughter, when you went to worship in my lady’s place, was
there not such a rumour? Or was there? What, there was not?
I thought so. Why, it is nothing to speak of. Very well, I
will go at once and see my lady and set her mind at ease.

RECITATIVE. And as he rises to go, the officer on duty

OFFICER. Master Oboshi Yuranosuke’s son, Master Oboshi
Rikiya, has come.

HONZO. Ha, I suppose he comes as a messenger from Lord
Hangwan to make arrangements for the entertainment of the
guests. Show him in. Receive the message, Tonase, and
deliver it to our lord. The messenger is Rikiya, our
daughter Konami’s betrothed husband. Entertain him. I will
see my lady.

RECITATIVE. With these words he goes in; and Tonami comes
close to her daughter.

TONASE. Dear Konami, your father is always stiff-mannered;
but I thought he would tell you to receive the message.
Instead of that, he says I am to receive it; in that he is
of quite a different mind from me. You would like, I am
sure, to see Rikiya and speak to him. Go and meet him in my
place. What do you say, eh?

RECITATION. Her mother repeats her question; but her only
answer is the maiden blush that suffuses her face, and her
mother surmises its meaning.

TONASE. Oh, how it hurts! My daughter, please, rub down my

RECITATION. Konami is bewildered and assists her.

TONASE. Well, you see, my anxiety since the morning has
brought on my old complaint. I do not think I can in this
state meet the messenger. Oh, how it pains me! I am sorry to
trouble you; but you will hear the message and entertain the
messenger. There is no getting round our lord and ailments.

RECITATIVE. She slowly gets up.

TONASE. Receive him well, daughter, but not too well, for
fear you should forget the important message. I should like
to see my future son-in-law; but.........

RECITATIVE. But the lady, knowing her daughter’s feeling,
goes within. Konami bows to her with gratitude.

KONAMI. How grateful I am, mother! How I have longed to see
my betrothed!

RECITATIVE. But when she sees him, what shall she say? And
her maiden heart palpitates

[Illustration: Sitting male facing away]

with joy and expectation. Presently enters Oboshi Rikiya.
Even in walking on the mat, he observes the etiquette. He is
yet in his seventeenth year; his forelock stands erect; with
his family crest of _double-tomoe_ and his two swords, he
looks fine and dignified. In his appearance he is worthy of
his father Oboshi Yuranosuke. He sits down quietly.

RIKIYA. I beg to deliver my message.

RECITATIVE. He speaks with courtesy; and Konami suddenly
lays her hands on the mat before her. They look at each
other; each loves the other, but remains speechless. Their
blushing faces are as one the plum-blossom and the other the
cherry-flower. At last, Konami recollects herself.

KONAMI. Ah, you are welcome. I am ordered to hear your
message; and will you give it to me direct from your lips to

RECITATIVE. And she approaches him, but he turns aside.

RIKIYA. Nay, that would be discourteous. In delivering and
receiving messages, etiquette is always of the first

RECITATIVE. He shuffles backward and lays his hands before
him on the mat.

RIKIYA. This is the message my master Enya Hangwan presents
to Lord Wakasanosuke: “As we are to attend at the Palace of
the Governor-General Lord Tadayoshi before daybreak
to-morrow, it is believed that the guests also will arrive
early. Lord Moronao has therefore ordered that Hangwan and
Wakasanosuke should present themselves at the Palace without
fail at the seventh hour[3]. And to
provide against all chance of a mistake arising, my master
Hangwan has sent me with the message. You will please, then,
report to this effect to my Lord Wakasanosuke.”

RECITATIVE. His words flow so smoothly that Konami gazes at
his face in fascination and gives no answer.

WAKASANOSUKE. I have heard your message; and I am obliged to

RECITATIVE. And with these words Wakasanosuke comes in.

WAKASANOSUKE. Since we parted yesterday, I have not been
able to see Lord Hangwan. Yes, I will present myself
punctually at the seventh hour. I thank Lord Hangwan for his
message; and please present to him my compliments. I am also
obliged to you.

RIKIYA. Then I will take my leave, my lord. I am grateful to
you, lady, for receiving my message.

RECITATIVE. He stands up quietly, and without once looking
back, adjusts his dress, and goes away. Immediately Honzo
comes in from another room.

HONZO. Ha, are you here, my lord? I hear you must be present
at the seventh hour to-morrow morning. It is close upon the
ninth hour[4], and I beg you will take a rest.

WAKASANOSUKE. Yes, yes. But Honzo, I have something to say
to you in private. Send away Konami.

HONZO. Ah, daughter, we will clap our hands when we want
you. And so go in.

RECITATIVE. He sends away his daughter. And wondering at his
lord’s strange look, he comes close to him.

HONZO. I have been wanting to ask you, my lord, for some
time; now I beg you to tell me all.

RECITATIVE. As he comes still closer, his lord also shuffles
towards him.

WAKASANOSUKE. Honzo, now let me hear your solemn oath that
you will absolutely submit to what I am going to tell you.

HONZO. Your words are indeed solemn, my lord. Well, I will
submit; but..........

WAKASANOSUKE. Do you say that you cannot swear the samurai’s

HONZO. No, I do not say so; but I will first hear you.

WAKASANOSUKE. And after hearing me, you will remonstrate, I

HONZO. No, that.........

WAKASANOSUKE. You disobey me? What do you say?

RECITATIVE. Honzo bends down his head and remains speechless
for a while; but presently he comes to a determination. He
draws his dirk, and then partly unsheathing his sword with
the other hand, he strikes it with the dirk.[5]

[Illustration: Honzo kneeling holding outstretched sheathed
sword with two hands]

HONZO. You see now Honzo’s spirit. I will neither stop you
nor divulge your secret. I beg you to say what you wish to
tell me without hurry, so that I may understand it completely.

WAKASANOSUKE. I will tell you. The Governor-General, Lord
Ashikaga Sahyoe-no-Kami Tadayoshi, has come to Kamakura to
celebrate the completion of the Shrine at Tsurugaoka, and
Enya Hangwan and I have been appointed to entertain him. The
Shogun Takauji has also ordered that, making Kono Moronao
our adviser, we should act under his instruction in all
things, as he is a samurai of mature age and wide
experience. Inflated with the high favour he enjoys, he has
become now ten times more arrogant than before. And in the
presence of the samurai from the Capital, he took advantage
of my youth to abuse and revile me. Often I thought to cut
him in two; but as often I bethought me of the Shogun’s
order and restrained myself. But to-morrow I will bear it no
longer; I will put him to shame in His Highness’s presence
and then cut him down. Be sure not to stop me. Both my wife
and you have oftentimes remonstrated with me for my hasty
temper; and I know well my defect. But think of my spirit,
often as I have been humiliated. I am not unmindful that my
act will ruin my house and plunge my wife into deepest
grief; but it is the duty of my sword which I cannot shirk
without punishment from the God of War. Even if I cannot die
fighting in battle, for the benefit I shall confer upon the
country by slaying Moronao I will bear the shame upon my
house. I tell you all this because I know the world will
surely think of me as one who lost his life by his hasty
temper, and as a reckless fellow readily wrought upon by

RECITATIVE. He weeps with deep despair, and he is rent to
his heart’s core. Honzo claps his hands with admiration.

HONZO. Well done, well done. I thank you, my lord, for your
words. You have borne with great patience. If I had been in
your place, I should not have borne so long.

WAKASANOSUKE. What do you say, Honzo? That I have borne so
long, that I have been patient? Are you jeering at me?

HONZO. I did not think to hear that from my lord. It is a
saying among townspeople that if we keep to the shade in
winter and to sunshine in summer, we shall not run the risk
of a quarrel or a fight in the streets; but the samurai
walks straight on, and though I may be wrong, I should say
that if once we gave up the road to another, there would be
no end to his arrogance. I will show you that I have no
intention of remonstrating with you.

RECITATIVE. He draws a dirk, and slipping a foot into a
sandal, he swiftly cuts off at a stroke a branch of a pine
in front of the verandah. Quickly he sheathes the blade.

HONZO. There, my lord. Cut him down as surely as I have cut

WAKASANOSUKE. Yes, I will; but we may be overheard.

RECITATIVE. They look around.

HONZO. It is still the ninth hour. Take a full rest; and I
will set the alarm-clock. Go at once, my lord.

WAKASANOSUKE. I am pleased with the way you have listened to
me. I will now go to my wife and see her without letting her
know it is my last farewell. Then I shall never see you

HONZO. Farewell, my lord.

RECITATIVE. With these words Wakasanosuke goes within.
All-powerful is the samurai’s spirit. Honzo looks at him as
he goes in, and then runs to the servants’ entrance, and
calls out.

HONZO. Let my servants bring here my horse this minute.

RECITATIVE. Immediately the horse, bravely arrayed, is
brought into the ground and Honzo leaps upon it from the

HONZO. To Moronao’s mansion. Let my servants follow me.

RECITATIVE. As he rides out, Tonase and Konami rush in and
catch hold of the bridle.

TONASE. Where are you going? Tell us. We have heard it all.
You, Honzo, old as you are, did not remonstrate with our
lord. We cannot understand it and will stop you.

RECITATIVE. The mother and daughter hang on to the bridle
and stop him.

HONZO. You are too meddlesome. It is because I hold precious
our master’s life and house that I do this. Be sure you say
nothing to him; for if he hears of it from you, my daughter
I will disown and Tonase I will divorce. Now, servants, I
will give you orders on the road. Get out of my way, both of

[Illustration: Honzu on horseback with drawn sword]

TONASE AND KONAMI. No, no, we will not.

HONZO. How troublesome you are!

RECITATIVE. He kicks them both with his stirrups, and
fainting, they fall on their backs. He does not look at
them; but telling his servants to follow, he urges his horse
and gallops out of sight.

  [1] Refers to the third month of the lunar year, which corresponds
      roughly to April.

  [2] A common servant’s name, which the man wishes to change for a
      better-sounding one.

  [3] About four o’clock.

  [4] Twelve o’clock.

  [5] The samurai’s manner of taking an oath.




Magnificent is the Palace which Lord Ashikaga Sahyoe-no-Kami
Tadayoshi has newly built upon becoming the Governor-General
of the Eight Eastern Provinces; the _daimyo_ and the
_shomyo_ in their fine court dresses are arrayed as brightly
as the stars at night on the hills of Kamakura. For the
entertainment the _no_-performers[1] enter by the back-gate
and the guests by the front. The officers for serving the
banquet come to the palace at the seventh hour. Dazzling is
the glory of the military families.

Now towards the West Gate, preceded by servants lighting his
way with a lantern, comes Musashi-no-Kami Kono Moronao with
a dignified gait. His air is haughty and overbearing;
dressed in a blue garment with
large crests, he wears an _eboshi_[2] which stands up as proud
as himself. He has left his attendants at the offices on the
way; and only a few servants walk before him. Behind him,
with perked-up shoulders, struts Sagisaka Bannai, aping his
master’s haughty demeanour.

BANNAI. Please your lordship. You are in high favour to-day.
Men like Enya and Momonoi may be proud enough at other
times; but when it comes to etiquette and ceremony, they
look as foolish as a puppy thrown upon a roof. Why, it makes
my sides ache with laughter to see them. By the bye, I hear
that Enya’s wife, Lady Kaoyo, has not yet given an answer to
my lord. Do not take it to heart. She is fair, but I do not
fancy her. What, between a fellow like Enya and the most
powerful Lord Moronao..........

MORONAO. Hush, do not talk so loud. Kaoyo remains faithful,
and although I have often, on the pretence of teaching her
poetry, pressed my suit, she will not consent. I hear that
among her serving-women is a new maid,
Karu by name; and I mean to coax her into taking my part.
Oh, there is still hope. If Kaoyo really dislikes me, she
would tell everything to Enya. But she has not, and I do not

RECITATIVE. While the master and servant are nodding and
talking to each other in the shadow of the four-legged gate,
a samurai on guard at the gate rushes in.

SAMURAI. We were sitting on the bench at the gate when
Kakogawa Honzo, a retainer of Momonoi Wakasanosuke, came and
said that as he desired to see Lord Moronao personally, he
had gone to his mansion on horseback; but he found my lord
had already left for the Palace. He has come with many
servants and desires most earnestly to see my lord. What
answer shall I give?

BANNAI. It is presumptuous of him to desire a personal
interview with Lord Moronao who is so busy to-day. I will
see him.

MORONAO. Wait, wait, Bannai. I see it all. In revenge for
what I did to him the day before yesterday at Tsurugaoka,
Wakasanosuke has, while keeping himself in the background,
sent this fellow Honzo to humiliate me. Ha, ha, ha. Take
care, Bannai. It is still before the seventh hour. Call him
here. I will settle him.

BANNAI. Yes, I see. Now, servants, be prepared.

RECITATIVE. Bannai and the servants wet the rivets of their
swords to prepare for a fight. At a word from Moronao,
Kakogawa Honzo quietly enters. He makes his servants lay
before Moronao the presents which they have brought; and
retiring afar, he crouches on the ground.

[Illustration: Presents are laid before Moronai]

HONZO. I take the liberty to address Lord Moronao. My master
Wakasanosuke counts it a knightly honour beyond his desert
that he should be appointed to a great office by the Shogun
Takauji. We are anxious as Wakasanosuke, being still young,
knows nothing of etiquette; but since Lord Moronao has
condescended to instruct and guide him in all things, he has
been able to discharge his duties without mishap. This is
due to no merit on the part of my master, but is entirely
owing to Lord Moronao’s kindness; and it has given
unspeakable joy to my master, his wife, and the whole house.
If, therefore, my lord will, as a slight token of our
gratitude, deign to accept a few presents from our house, we
shall feel most highly honoured. Pray, present the list to
my lord.

RECITATIVE. As he hands the list, Bannai takes it shyly and
opens it with a perplexed look.

BANNAI. (reads). “List of presents. Thirty rolls of cloth
and thirty pieces of gold, from the wife of Wakasanosuke;
twenty pieces of gold, from Kakogawa Honzo; ten pieces of
gold, from the samurai of the house.”

RECITATIVE. When Bannai has read out the list, Moronao
remains open-mouthed and entranced. The two exchange glances
and stare blankly around them; they look as foolish and
awkward as disappointed merrymakers when the summer
festivals have been postponed. Suddenly, Moronao speaks out.

MORONAO. This is really most kind of you. What had we better
do, Bannai?

BANNAI. Well, if we were to decline the presents, we should
be acting against their wishes, and above all, it would be a
great breach of manners.

MORONAO. Ah, though I teach etiquette, I do not know what to
do in a case like this. Oh, what was I going to say? Well,
Master Honzo, there is nothing really to teach. Besides,
Lord Wakasanosuke is so clever that I, his teacher, am left
far behind. Hi, Bannai, put away the presents. It is
impolite of me, but on the road I cannot even offer you a
cup of tea.

RECITATIVE. Seeing this sudden change of front, Honzo feels
that his plan has succeeded; but still he keeps his hands on
the ground.

HONZO. It is now the seventh hour, and I will take my leave.
To-day, the most important ceremony takes place in the
Palace; and I humbly entreat my lord to honour my master
with his guidance.

RECITATIVE. As he rises, Moronao holds him by the sleeve.

MORONAO. Do not go. Would you not like to see the nobles
sitting around in the hall to-day?

HONZO. But it would be most disrespectful to His Highness
for one of my low rank to.......

MORONAO. No matter, no matter. When I go with you, no one
shall say a word against you. Besides, Lord Wakasanosuke may
also have something or other for you to do. Come, come.

HONZO. I will follow you, for it would be rude to decline.
Nay, after you, my lord.

RECITATIVE. With gold he has bought his lord’s life, and a
crafty servant is he whose calculation has hit the mark; but
the path of loyalty and filial duty is straight and
undeviating; and straight they all go in through the gate.

Soon after, enters Enya Hangwan Takasada. He, too, has left
his attendants behind and keeps his palanquin standing on
the road. His retainer, Hayano Kanpei, whose family has for
many generations served his house, goes up to the gate
rustling in his new _hakama_[3] figured with sere leaves. He
calls out.

[Illustration: Takasada and Kanpei]

KANPEI. Enya Hangwan Takasada presents himself at the

RECITATIVE. The gate-guard comes out.

GUARD. A while ago, Lord Momonoi came to the Palace and
asked for my lord; and just now Lord Moronao arrived and
also asked for him. They have both gone in.

ENYA. What, Kanpei, have they all gone in? I am grieved to
find that I am late.

RECITATIVE. With only Kanpei in his train, he hurries into
the Palace. From within the Palace is heard the song for the
entertainment; it runs, “They have arrived at the coast of
Harima, at the beach of Takasago.” While the sound is wafted
by the wind to the willow-tree outside the gate, even more
shapely than the willow is the maiden of some eighteen
summers, with arched eyebrows, her face covered with a hood
and her _obi_ tied behind, evidently serving in a strict
family, who comes along attended by a servant with a lantern
adorned with Enya’s family crest. She stops to rest before
the gate.

OKARU. The day will soon break, and you are not allowed to
enter the gate. You will now go home and rest yourself.

RECITATIVE. The servant obeys and goes home. She peeps

OKARU. What is Kanpei doing? I want to see him as I have a

RECITATIVE. As she looks around, Kanpei sees her from

KANPEI. Are you not Okaru?

OKARU. Master Kanpei, I wanted to see you. I am glad that
you have come.

KANPEI. H’m, I cannot understand why you are here, alone and
unattended at this time of night.

OKARU. Why, I sent back the servant who came with me, and I
remained here alone, because I came on an errand from my
lady. I was to see you and tell you to hand this letter-case
to our lord and beg him to give it direct to Lord Moronao.
But, she added, as he must be very busy, it might not reach
my lord’s hand, and she had better not send it to-night. But
I wanted to see you, and so I said to her that however busy
our lord might be, he would surely have time to hand an ode
or two to Lord Moronao. And so I hurried here, and I am
quite out of breath.

KANPEI. Then, all that is needed is that our lord should
himself hand this letter-case to Lord Moronao. Well, I will
go and give it to our lord, and so wait for me.

RECITATIVE. Suddenly, a voice is heard calling out within
the gate.

A VOICE. Kanpei, Kanpei! Lord Hangwan is calling you.
Kanpei, Kanpei!

KANPEI. Here, sir. I am coming. Oh, how impatient!

RECITATIVE. As Kanpei parts from Okaru and goes in, out
comes Sagisaka Bannai with stealthy steps.

BANNAI. What do you say, Okaru? Deep is love’s stratagem. As
I saw you whispering with Kanpei, I called him away by
pretending that his lord wanted him; was not that finely
done? Lord Moronao says he has something to ask of you; and
as for me, I want......O darling, darling.

RECITATIVE. As he tries to embrace her, she pushes him away.

OKARU. Come, don’t be so improper. You serve in a house
noted for etiquette, and you can be so boorish. How vulgar,
how unmannerly of you!

BANNAI. That is too cruel.

RECITATIVE. In the dark he makes several attempts to catch
hold of her hand. Voices are heard.

VOICES. Master Bannai, Master Bannai! Lord Moronao wants you
this minute. Master Bannai, Master Bannai!

RECITATIVE. Two servants come out and stare vacantly around.

SERVANTS. Here you are, Master Bannai. Lord Moronao has long
been asking for you. What, you, who serve in a house noted
for etiquette, run after a woman! How vulgar, how unmannerly
of you!

BANNAI. Hang it, they say the same thing as she did.

RECITATIVE. He accompanies the servants with a sulky face;
and immediately after, Kanpei comes in.

KANPEI. Did you see what I did? That fellow Bannai hoaxed me
just now; and if I came and told him that he was wanted, he
would have said, “Shut up, it is an old trick”; and so I
gave drink to the servants and played the trick that he
could not see through. Ha, ha, I had him there beautifully.
Now that I have got rid of him, come with me.

RECITATIVE. And he takes her by the hand.

OKARU. Oh, how impatient you are! Please, wait a moment.

KANPEI. What do you say? There is no need to wait, and the
day will break before long. Come at once.

RECITATIVE. He presses her; and to love inclined, she is
nothing loth.

OKARU. But here are people about.

RECITATIVE. From within the palace is heard the song of
Takasago :—“They sit on the root of the pine-tree.”

KANPEI. That song reminds me; let us sit on the bench.

RECITATIVE. And they go out hand in hand.

RECITATIVE. The prelude is sung, and in the orchestra are
heard the sounds of the _tsuzumi_[4] and the drum. They
celebrate the long-continued peace and prosperity of the
land. Lord Tadayoshi is highly pleased with the

[Illustration: Seated musicians]

Wakasanosuke is impatiently waiting for Moronao and glances
into the interior of the Palace. He tightens the cords of
his long _hakama_ and grasps with all his strength the
hilt of his sword, ready to draw it and cut down Moronao.
Moronao and his servant Bannai, unaware that he is waiting,
come out and see him from afar.

MORONAO. Why, Lord Wakasanosuke, you are come betimes. Well,
I am quite crest-fallen; you have beaten me. By the bye,
there is something that I must explain to you, that I must
apologise to you for.

RECITATIVE. He throws down his sword and dirk before him.

MORONAO. Lord Wakasanosuke, hear me while I explain it all.
The violent language I used the other day at Tsurugaoka, how

[Illustration: Moronao on knees with Wakasanosuke standing
in front]

must have aroused your anger! And your anger was natural,
and that is why I wish to apologise. What I said then from
some misunderstanding I look upon as the greatest blunder of
my life. See how a samurai bows to the floor and begs your
pardon! I can do so now because you are a man of the world;
but if it had been some excitable bungler, why, he would
have cut me down on the spot. Oh, it gives me the shivers to
think of it. Do you know, when I saw you turn away, I
clasped my hands and bowed to you with gratitude for your
magnanimity. Ha, ha, ha, when we age, we turn cowards. Think
of my years and I am sure you are not a man to refuse when
you see a samurai throw down his sword and beg your pardon
with clasped hands. I entreat you again and again. Bannai,
come and ask pardon with me.

RECITATIVE. Wakasanosuke, who does not dream that his money
was the cause of all this fawning, finds his energy gone and
cannot now unsheathe his sword. With the weapon beside him
that he was ready to draw, he hangs down his head in deep
thought. From behind the low hedge, Honzo watches without
once blinking.

MORONAO. Ah, Bannai, why is Enya late? He is quite different
to Lord Wakasanosuke. He is an unmannerly man. He does not
yet show his face here. As such is the master, so there is
not one among his councillors who gives careful attention to
things. Come, Lord Wakasanosuke, let us go to His Highness.
Now, rise; you have seen me apologise, and you surely are

WAKASANOSUKE. No, I do not feel well. Pray, go before me.

MORONAO. What is the matter? A stomach-ache? Quick, Bannai,
rub down his back. Shall I give you some medicine?

WAKASANOSUKE. No, I am not so ill as that.

MORONAO. Then, rest awhile. I will go and explain to His
Highness. Show him into another room, Bannai.

RECITATIVE. Both master and servant force their attentions
upon him; and though he is annoyed, he submits and is taken
into a room in the interior of the Palace.

HONZO. Ah, now a heavy load is off my mind.

RECITATIVE. Honzo bows to Heaven and earth in gratitude, and
then retires into a neighbouring room. Soon after, Enya
Hangwan comes to the long passage which leads to His
Highness’s presence. Moronao sees him and calls out.

MORONAO. Late, late. What think you? Did I not tell you to
be here by the seventh hour to-day?

HANGWAN. Yes, I am to blame for my lateness; but I think
there is still time ere we appear before His Highness.

RECITATIVE. He takes a letter-case out of his sleeve.

Hangwan. A servant of mine has brought this to be handed to
you; it is from my wife Kaoyo.

RECITATIVE. He hands it to Moronao.

MORONAO. Yes, yes. Your wife is a very accomplished lady.
Hearing that I take to the composition of poetry, she has
asked me to correct her odes. No doubt, she has written on
the matter.

RECITATIVE. He opens the letter-case and reads out.


“Heavy the burden love doth lay,
    E’en when ’tis free from sin; Let not thy heart, then,
go astray
    Unlawful love to win.”[5]

Why, this is an ode from the “New Collection of Odes,
Ancient and Modern.” Does she wish me to correct an old ode?

RECITATIVE. He is wrapped in thought. Then his love is
rejected, and has she confessed to her husband? He conceals
his chagrin as he turns to Enya.

MORONAO. Lord Hangwan, did you see this ode?

HANGWAN. I see it now for the first time.

MORONAO. H’m, when I was reading it? Ah, your wife is a very
chaste lady. Even an ode that she sends me is of this kind,
“Let not thy heart go astray unlawful love to win.” Most
chaste, most chaste. You are a lucky man. No wonder you come
late to the Palace. As you are always sticking close to your
wife, you give no thought to your duties here.

RECITATIVE. Hangwan does not know that this insult is heaped
upon him in return for Moronao’s having taken back his abuse
from Wakasanosuke. He checks his rising passions.

ENYA. Ha, ha. Are you merry with wine, my lord? You have
been drinking, no doubt.

MORONAO. When did you pour me wine? Nay, when did I drink?
Even when I am given wine and drink, I do not fail in my
duty. And you, why are you late? Have you been drinking? Or
have you been keeping close at home? Lord Wakasanosuke, he
is so different to you; he is most diligent. Oh, your wife
is chaste, beautiful, and writes a fine hand. Be proud of
her. Now keep your temper. I am telling the truth. To-day
when His Highness is so busy and I too am no less, you can
come and say to me with a proud look, “This is my wife’s
ode!” If your wife is so precious, no need for you to come
here. A fellow who always remains at home like you is often
compared to a carp in a well. Now listen to me. This carp
thinks that there is no place in heaven or on earth like the
well of three or four feet width that he lives in, for he
has no opportunity of seeing other places. Then when the
well is cleaned, he comes up in a bucket and is thrown into
the river. He who knew only his narrow home is delighted to
find himself in the river; but he loses his way and knocks
his nose against a bridge-pier, which sends his body
a-trembling till he gives up the ghost. You are just such
another carp. Ha, ha, ha!

RECITATIVE. As he talks at random, Hangwan can endure it no

HANGWAN. Are you out of your senses that you talk in this
way? Are you mad, Moronao?

MORONAO. What, how dare you call a samurai a madman, ay, me,
Kono Moronao, the first of all the nobles?

HANGWAN. Then, you insult me deliberately?

MORONAO. You are tiresome. What will you do if I say, yes?

HANGWAN. Why, this.

RECITATIVE. Quick as thought, he draws his sword and strikes
him, inflicting a serious wound on his forehead. He strikes

[Illustration: Hangwan striking Moronao with a sword]

but as Moronao lowers his body, only his _eboshi_ is cut in
two. Again, Enya rushes upon him, but Moronao dodges his
blow; and as Moronao flees from him, Honzo rushes in from
the adjoining room and catches Enya from behind.

HONZO. You are too rash, Lord Hangwan.

RECITATIVE. And while Honzo holds Enya, Moronao escapes
towards the banquet-hall, stumbling at every step.

HANGWAN. I will cut you in two, Moronao. Let go, Honzo, let

RECITATIVE. While he struggles to get free, the whole palace
is in a commotion. The officers of the palace, the _daimyo_
and _shomyo_, rush in; and some surround Enya and snatch
away his sword, and others attend to Moronao. Great indeed
is the uproar and confusion.

(_Here the stage revolves_).

RECITATIVE. Great noises are heard in the Palace with both
the front and back gates shut; and all is bustle with
lanterns swinging in all directions. Kanpei, with a startled
look, runs back and beats the back-gate almost enough to
break it. He calls out in a loud voice.

KANPEI. Enya Hangwan’s servant, Hayano Kanpei, is uneasy on
his master’s account. He begs the gate to be opened

RECITATIVE. A loud voice is heard in reply from within the

A VOICE. If you have any business, go round to the front.
This is the back gate.

KANPEI. I know this is the back gate; but the front gate is
so crowded with retainers on horseback hurrying about that I
cannot approach it. Tell me how the quarrel has ended.

A VOICE. The quarrel has been settled. For his attack upon
Lord Moronao, the first of the nobles, Enya Hangwan has been

[Illustration: Wicker-palanquin is carried by workers]

to be confined in his own house and has just been sent home
in a wicker-palanquin.

KANPEI. Great Heavens!

RECITATIVE. He starts to run to the mansion.

KANPEI. No, no. If my lord is to be confined in his own
house, I can still less return to the mansion.

RECITATIVE. As he walks to and fro in bewilderment, the
waiting-woman Okaru, whom he lost on the way, appears.

OKARU. Oh, Master Kanpei, I have heard it all; and what must
we do?

RECITATIVE. As she rushes up to him, he pushes her away.

KANPEI. What are you crying for? Kanpei can no longer be a
samurai. This shall be the end.

RECITATIVE. And he puts his hand on the hilt of his sword.

OKARU. No, please, wait. Have you lost your senses, Kanpei?

KANPEI. Yes, I have lost them. And how can I help losing
them? I was not with my master in his hour of sorest need.
Besides, he has been sent home like a felon in a
wicker-palanquin; and the gate of his mansion has closed
upon him; and all this time his servant, lost in love, did
not follow him. How can I go before men with my swords on?
Let go your hand.

OKARU. Please, wait a moment. What you say is true and
reasonable. And who made such a faithless samurai of you?
Why, it was I, and I alone; and if one of us must die, it is
I who should die before you. But if you die now, who will
ever praise your samurai spirit? Now think well over this.
First, come with me to my father’s home. Both my father and
mother are country-people, but they are a worthy couple. Now
that things have come to this pass, look upon it as your
fate and please, listen to your wife’s advice, Master

RECITATIVE. She bursts out crying and is soon sunk in tears.

KANPEI. You are right. Of course you are but newly come into
service and probably do not know all about our lord’s house.
The chief councillor of the house, Master Oboshi Yuranosuke,
has not yet returned from the country; and when he comes
back, I will ask pardon through him. Come, let us go as
quickly as we can.

RECITATIVE. As they prepare to go, Sagisaka Bannai rushes
out with his servants.

BANNAI. Ah, Kanpei. For attacking Lord Moronao and
inflicting a slight wound upon him, your master Hangwan is
confined in his house, and his head is sure to be chopped
off before long. Now wrench his arms. We are going to take
you home and torture you to death. So prepare yourself for
your fate.

KANPEI. We are well met, Sagisaka Bannai. It will not be
enough for me to kill a fellow like you; but you shall see
how neatly this arm of mine can cut you up.

BANNAI. Don’t let him speak, fellows.

SERVANTS. Very well, sir.

RECITATIVE. Two of them attack him from both sides; but he
dodges them and wrenches their arms with his hands and kicks
them down. In their place two more cut at him, but he
receives their blows with his sword-scabbard; and as they
turn round and come again, he strikes aside their swords
with the hilt and scabbard-end of his own. And when the four
men attack him together, he sends them flying at once to the
right and left; they fall down and then rise and run away in
all directions. In hot anger, Bannai strikes at him; but
Kanpei dodges and catches him by the neck; he throws him
down on the ground and sets his foot upon him.

KANPEI. Now I can do as I please with you. Shall I run you
through, cut you in pieces, or kill you by inches?

RECITATIVE. But Okaru clings to his uplifted sword.

OKARU. No, no, if you kill this fellow, it will spoil your
chance of a pardon. That is enough; let him go.

RECITATIVE. As she stops him, Sagisaka wriggles out from
under his foot and runs away for very life.

KANPEI. Oh, what a pity I let him go! But if I killed him,
it would have been a most disloyal deed. We will, we two,
live in hiding for the present, and when the time comes, we
will beg for pardon.

[Illustration: Kanpei and Okaru side by side]

RECITATIVE. It is already the sixth hour[6]; and across the
streaks of cloud in the whitening east, the crows are flying
from out their nests. The lovers hurry on their way; but
their hearts are held back by their anxiety for their lord’s
fate. Such, alas, is the way of the world.

[Illustration: Cloth and fan on ground]

  [1] The No-performance is a dramatic posture-dance accompanied by
      song and music.

  [2] The ceremonial court hat.

  [3] A kind of divided skirts, worn by men.

  [4] A drum with a slender body, beaten by hand.

  [5] One of the ten precepts in verse, by Jakunen, a noted priest
      and poet (died in 1137).

  [6] About six o'clock.




Enya Hangwan being confined in his house, the town-mansion
at Ogigayatsu has its gates closed with large bamboo poles,
and none but the members of the household is allowed to go
in or out; strictly is the house guarded. Even in such a
plight, gay are the waiting-women as they amuse themselves
in the inner rooms. Lady Kaoyo sits with Oboshi Rikiya at
her side. To enliven her lord’s spirits, she has laid before
her a basket of cherry-blossoms, double and treble flowered,
from the hills of Kamakura; but far more beautiful than the
flowers is the lady who is arranging them. Along the passage
of the Willow Chamber comes Hara Goemon, a chief of troops,
followed by Ono Kudayu.

GOEMON. Ah, Master Chikara, you have come early.

CHIKARA. No; until my father arrives from the country, I
attend here day and night.

GOEMON. That is very dutiful of you.

RECITATIVE. Goemon lays both his hands on the mat.

[Illustration: Kaoyo kneeling, arranging cherry blossoms]

GOEMON. How does my lord feel, this morning?

KAOYO. Thank you for coming, both of you. I feared much lest
my lord should sink into low spirits and fall ill; but he
looks cheerful and gazes from morning till evening at the
flowers in the garden. And so, for his diversion, I have had
these famous cherry-blossoms brought and am arranging them
as you see.

GOEMON. Yes, it is as you say, my lady. Your idea is that as
the flowers open, they presage that the gates will be opened
and our lord released from confinement. I thought, too, of
bringing something of the sort; only I am a poor hand in
devising emblems. But I have forgotten to speak of an
important matter. I hear that the Shogun’s envoys will be
here to-day, and I have no doubt they will come to release
our lord from confinement. Do you not think so, Master

KUDAYU. Ha, ha, ha! Why, Master Goemon, these flowers
gladden men’s eyes only for a while, and then are scattered
by the wind. Your words are like them. To give others
pleasure, you pay in a way unworthy of a samurai
compliments, from which the gilt comes off as readily as
from the New Year’s wishes. Ask me why I say so. Our lord,
whose duty it was to entertain the guests, wounded one who
is the head of the government and caused a great uproar in
the Palace; the penalty for his offence is at the lightest
banishment and at the heaviest _seppuku_. It was, in fact, a
great mistake of our lord to make an enemy of Lord Moronao.

GOEMON. What, do you, then, wish for our lord’s banishment
or death?

KUDAYU. No, I do not wish for it; but I only speak the plain
truth. It all arose from your stinginess, Master Goemon. If
you had thrown gold to Moronao, it would not have happened.

RECITATIVE. From his own greed he judges of others.

GOEMON. No, it is unworthy of a knight to fawn upon others.
Do you not think so, Master Rikiya?

KAOYO. Do not quarrel, you two. My husband’s trouble arose
entirely from me. The other day, when there was an
entertainment at Tsurugaoka, that lawless Moronao urged his
insolent love to me who have a lord. I wished to punish him
by humiliating him; and so, without telling my lord, I sent
him an old ode on chastity on the pretence of asking his
criticism of my own composition. Put to shame, he abused
Lord Hangwan in revenge for my rejection of his love. Was it
not natural that my lord, who is hasty of temper, could ill
brook his insults?

RECITATIVE. When she has spoken, both Goemon and Rikiya show
in their looks their deep sympathy for their lord in his
anger. The envoys’ arrival is announced at the porch and in
the reception-room, and is also reported in the inner rooms;
Lady Kaoyo sits back, and the three men have hardly gone
forward to meet them before the envoys enter. They are
Ishido Umanojo and Moronao’s intimate friend, Yakushiji
Jirozaemon. As they have come on duty, they pass without
ceremony and take seats in the upper part of the chamber.
From another room quietly comes in Enya Hangwan.

HANGWAN. Ha, my Lord Ishido, I thank you for coming as the
Shogun’s Envoy. Tell them to prepare wine. When I have heard
His Highness’s will, I will partake of wine with you all and
cheer my spirits.

YAKUSHIJI. Yes, that is a bright idea, and I, too, will
drink with you. But I fancy, when you have heard His
Highness’s order, the wine will hardly go down your throat.

ISHIDO. Now, listen carefully to the order which we have
brought to you to-day.

RECITATIVE. He draws the written order from his breast and
opens it; and Hangwan sits with reverence.

ISHIDO. These are the words: “Where-as Enya Hangwan Takasada
did, out of private hate and malice, attack and wound the
Governor Kono Moronao and cause a great disturbance in the
Palace, his domain is confiscated and he is ordered to
commit _seppuku_.”

RECITATIVE. On hearing this, Lady Kaoyo is amazed; and the
retainers in the chamber exchange glances, and are
dumbfounded. Hangwan remains calm and composed.

HANGWAN. I humbly submit to His Highness’s will. Now, you
will rest yourselves after your arduous duty is done and
take a cup of wine.

YAKUSHIJI. Now, Hangwan, be silent. You ought to be thankful
that for your crime, for which the penalty should be death
by strangling, you are ordered by His Highness’s clemency to
commit _seppuku_; and you should at once prepare for death.
Besides, there is the etiquette for committing _seppuku_.
What do you mean by dressing yourself up in a long _haori_[1]
of the present fashion? Have you been drinking, or have you
run mad? You are wanting in courtesy to Lord Ishido and me,
Yakushiji, who are here by His Highness’s command.

RECITATIVE. As he rebukes him, Hangwan smiles.

HANGWAN. I am neither merry with wine, nor am I mad. When I
heard that the envoys were coming to-day, I expected to
receive this sentence. I will show you how I am prepared.

RECITATIVE. He puts down his swords and takes off his
_haori_ and upper garment; and he appears in the white,
uncrested robe of death. All are astonished at the sight;
and Yakushiji, disappointed, sinks into sulky silence.
Umanojo approaches Hangwan.

ISHIDO. I heartily sympathise with you. I am here to see the
sentence carried out. You will calmly prepare yourself.

HANGWAN. I thank you for your kind words. When I drew my
sword, I was prepared for the sentence. My only regret is
that I was held back by Kakogawa Honzo in the Palace and
prevented from slaying Moronao. I am mortified beyond
expression and can never forget it. Like Kusunoki Masashige[2]
who declared at Minatogawa that he would lengthen his life
by the force of his iron will at the last moment, I will
return to life again and again until my vengeance is

RECITATIVE. While he utters these angry words, the
sliding-door of the adjoining room is rapped.

RETAINERS. We, the retainers of the house, beg to be
permitted to look once more upon our lord’s face. May we
present ourselves before him? Inquire for us, Master Goemon.

RECITATIVE. On hearing the retainers’ request, Goemon turns
to his lord.

GOEMON. How shall I answer them, my lord?

HANGWAN. Their request is natural; but I cannot permit them
until Yuranosuke comes.

RECITATIVE. Goemon turns to the sliding-door of the next

GOEMON. You have heard our lord’s will, and not one of you
may come in.

RECITATIVE. The retainers have not a word to say in reply,
and the whole room is deadly still. At the word from his
lord, Rikiya brings the dirk which he has ready for the
self-immolation and places it before his lord. Calmly
Hangwan doffs the _kataginu_[3] and sits more at ease.

HANGWAN. Now, my lords, see the sentence carried out.

RECITATIVE. He draws the wooden stand towards him and,
taking up the dirk, raises it to his head.

HANGWAN. Rikiya, Rikiya.

RIKIYA. My lord.

*A garment worn over the shoulders and tucked under the
_hakama_. (It is worn by the envoys in the double-page
illustration of this Act)

HANGWAN. Yuranosuke.......

RIKIYA. Has not yet come, my lord.

HANGWAN. H’m. I am sorry, I deeply regret, that I cannot see
him before I die. There is no help for it. I can wait no

[Illustration: Hangwan kneeling on raised platform with
dirk. Man with sword standing behind him]

RECITATIVE. He takes the dirk with the point towards him,
and driving it into his left side, drags it to the right.
Lady Kaoyo cannot bear to look on, but turns away, prayers
on her lips and tears in her eyes. The door of the passage
is suddenly pushed open, and in rushes Oboshi Yuranosuke. No
sooner does he see his master’s plight than he flings
himself down and bows to the floor. After him hurry in
Senzaki, Yazama, and the other retainers of the house.

HANGWAN. I have long been waiting for you, Yuranosuke.

YURANOSUKE. To be able to look upon my lord while he is
living, it is to me............

HANGWAN. It is to me, too, a pleasure, a great pleasure. You
have no doubt heard it all. I am truly mortified.

YURANOSUKE. I have heard it all. Now that things have come
to this pass, I know not what to say to my lord. I only beg
that you will die bravely.

HANGWAN. Oh, little need you to say so.

RECITATIVE. With both hands he draws the dirk from side to
side, and panting with pain, he takes a long breath.

HANGWAN. This dirk I bequeath to you, Yuranosuke; and with
it you will revenge my death.

RECITATIVE. With the point of the dirk, he cuts his
wind-pipe, and throwing down the bloody weapon, he falls
forward; and his breath is gone. While his lady and the
retainers present wait with closed eyes, bated breath, and
clenched teeth, Yuranosuke shuffles close to his lord, and
taking up the dirk, bows to it. He gazes at the bloodstained
point, and clenching his fist, he weeps with despair. The
last words of Hangwan have penetrated to his heart’s core.
And at this moment he forms that resolution which will hand
down Oboshi’s name for faith and loyalty to the remotest
posterity. Yakushiji suddenly rises to his feet.

YAKUSHIJI. Now that Hangwan is dead and gone, deliver this
mansion at once.

ISHIDO. Nay, do not be peremptory, Yakushiji. Enya was the
lord of a province and a castle. You gentlemen, when you
have performed the funeral ceremony, you will quietly leave
this mansion. I, who have come to carry out the sentence,
will now go and report that I have seen your lord slay
himself. I sympathise with you in your sorrow, Yuranosuke;
and if you have anything to say to me, I will hear it, and
do not scruple to tell me.

RECITATIVE. He bows silently to the retainers present and
calmly goes out.

YAKUSHIJI. I, too, will rest in another room till this dead
body is got rid of. Let my servants come. Now, throw out of
the gate these retainers’ rubbish. And don’t let these new
_ronin_ make off with Hangwan’s personal property.

RECITATIVE. He glares all around the chamber and enters
another room. Lady Kaoyo bursts out crying.

KAOYO. Ah me, is there anything more sorrowful than the
samurai’s life? There was many a thing I longed to say to my
lord at his last moment; but I bore my grief in silence
because I feared the envoys would despise me as a
faint-hearted woman. Alas, my poor, poor lord!

RECITATIVE. She throws herself upon the body and let loose
her sorrows, regardless of all around her.

YURANOSUKE. Come, Rikiya. Escort at once our lord’s remains
together with our lady, to the family temple of Komyoji. I
will overtake you and perform the funeral ceremony. Hori,
Yazama, Odera, Hazama, and others, guard them on the way.

RECITATIVE. Immediately, the palanquin is brought in and set
on a stand. The door is opened; and they all come forward
and, with tears, place the remains within and silently lift
up the palanquin. They comfort their lady who is lamenting
piteously. The retainers escort the palanquin and hurry to
the family temple. A few see it to the door and, returning,
resume their seats. Out speaks Ono Kudayu.

KUDAYU. Master Oboshi, you succeeded your father, Master
Yawata Rokuro, as Chief Councillor. Though I am next to you
in rank, I and all of us are from to-day _ronin_. We have no
means of supporting wife and children. Let us, then, divide
among ourselves the money which our lord kept for military
use, and deliver this mansion at once, or we shall be
wanting in respect to Yakushiji.

YAGORO. No; in my opinion, since it arouses our anger to see
our enemy Kono Moronao still alive, we should prepare for
the attack of our enemy and make our last stand in this

SADAKURO. Ah, wait. It is a bad idea, that of dying in
fight. The best plan is, as my father Kudayu says, to hand
over the mansion and divide the money.

RECITATIVE. During this discussion, Yuranosuke has remained
silent; but now he speaks out.

YURANOSUKE. The proposal that Yagoro has made in this
council agrees with my plan. We should really die and follow
our lord; but I have decided that, instead of our slaying
ourselves to no purpose, we should wait for the troops of
Ashikaga and die in battle.

KUDAYU. Eh, what do you say? I thought you would give us
good counsel; but no, with a _ronin_’s fatuous obstinacy,
you would take up arms against Lord Ashikaga. That is
recklessness. I cannot agree to it.

SADAKURO. Yes, you are right, father. I will not agree,
either. We would be left out of this consultation. It is
useless to remain here any longer. Let us go home.

KUDAYU. Yes, we will do so. I take my leave; but pray, do
not go yet, gentlemen.

RECITATIVE. And father and son, they go home together.

YAGORO. Ha, the avaricious Ono and his son! What cowards, to
be filled with fear when they hear that we are going to die
fighting, and then to run away. Do not mind them, Master
Oboshi, but let us prepare to meet the enemy.

YURANOSUKE. No, no, Yagoro. What cause of anger have we
against Lord Ashikaga that we should take up arms against
him? It was only my plot to test the spirit of those two,
father and son. Let us deliver the mansion to Yakushiji and
go each his way. We will meet again at Yamashina, near the
Capital, and there open our minds to one another and consult
upon our future plans.

RECITATIVE. No sooner has he spoken than Jirozaemon comes
out of a room.

YAKUSHIJI. What, still consulting? When you have got rid of
the body, make over the house at once.

[Photograph: ICHIKAWA DANJURO as _Yuranosuke_]

GOEMON. Yes, we have kept you waiting. Examine well before
you take over our lord’s furniture and his arms and
equipages. Come, let us go, Master Yuranosuke.

YURANOSUKE. Yes, we will go.

RECITATIVE. They quietly rise; and as the thought comes to
them that they are looking for the last time to-day at the
mansion where their families for generations served day and
night their lord’s house, they linger and gaze back, loth to
leave it.

(Here the stage revolves).

RECITATIVE. As they stand outside the gate, Rikiya, Yazama,
Hori, Odera, and others, who escorted their lord, return

RIKIYA AND OTHERS. Have you, then, given up the mansion? We
will now wait for Tadayoshi’s troops and die fighting.

YURANOSUKE. No, no. Now is not the time to die. See this,
all of you.

RECITATIVE. He draws and holds up his lord’s bequest.

YURANOSUKE. This is the dirk, with its tip stained with our
lord’s blood, on which his soul still rests thirsting for
vengeance. And with this dirk we must cut off Moronao’s head
and so accomplish our object.

RECITATIVE. The retainers are stirred by his words. Within
the mansion Yakushiji is having the gate-doors clamped.

YAKUSHIJI. They are punished by Heaven for the attack on
Lord Moronao. It serves them right.

RECITATIVE. His servants clap their hands and laugh long and
loud. The younger samurai run back to the gate, crying:—

SAMURAI. Do you hear that?

YURANOSUKE. Have you no wish to avenge our late lord’s

RECITATIVE. Hearing his words, they all go out together,
looking back with anger at the mansion.

[Illustration: Box with leaf limb]

  [1] An outer coat worn by men.

  [2] Considered the most perfect mirror of loyalty in all Japanese
      history. He died fighting for the Emperor at Minatogawa in 1336.

  [3] A garment worn over the shoulders and tucked under the hakama.
      (It is worn by the envoys in the double-page illustration of
      this Act)




The hawk, even when it is on the verge of starvation, does
not pick rice-ears contrary to its nature. For many days has
Hayano Kanpei dwelt in his temporary home near Yamazaki; and
for the fault committed in the flush of youth, he makes his
living now by hunting deer and monkeys on these hills. He is
caught with his gun in a summer shower, and takes shelter
under a pine-tree until it ceases. Yonder comes a traveller
with a little lantern stretched out with a bow, which he
covers with the skirt of his rain-coat to keep the light
burning. He hurries along the dark road in the heavy rain.
Kanpei goes up to him.

KANPEI. If you please, will you kindly give me a light?

RECITATIVE. The traveller stops short and stands on the

TRAVELLER. Humph, I travel alone, fully knowing that this
road is unsafe. I see you have a gun and I certainly cannot
give you a light. Come another time.

RECITATIVE. He watches him, ready to cut him down if he
moves an inch.

KANPEI. Well, I do not wonder at your mistaking me for a
robber; but I am a hunter of the neighbourhood. I am in a
great trouble as I have got my tinder drenched in the heavy
rain. Come, I will hand you my gun and get the light myself.

RECITATIVE. Hearing his straightforward reply, the traveller
looks fixedly at his face.

TRAVELLER. Are you not Hayano Kanpei?

KANPEI. And you are Senzaki Yagoro?

YAGORO. I am glad to see you well.

KANPEI. And you, too, are in sound health.

RECITATIVE. It is long since they last met. They cannot
forget the fall of their master’s house, and as they think
of it with resentment, they both clench their fists. Kanpei
bows down his head and remains speechless for a while; and
then he speaks out.

KANPEI. I am truly ashamed of myself, and cannot even show
my face to an old fellow-retainer like you. Has my samurai’s
fortune come to an end? It was my fated ill-luck that when I
was in attendance upon my lord, the great calamity should
have fallen upon his house. I was not present on the spot at
the time, and I could not go back to the mansion; and I
thought I could only wait till the fit occasion came to
entreat his pardon. But, to my amazement, he was condemned
to death. Great Heavens, I cried, this is all Moronao’s
doing and I will at least follow my lord to the other world.
And I put my hand on my sword; yet, thought I again, what
worthy deed have I done that I could appear before my lord
and escort him on the lonely road of death? I wore my heart
out in pondering over what I should do in atonement. I have
secretly heard it rumoured that Master Yuranosuke, his son,
and Master Goemon, and others are plotting to avenge our
lord’s death. Unhappy as I am, I was not driven out of
service; and if I could, by some means, obtain an interview
with Master Yuranosuke and be allowed to sign my name in the
leaguers’ covenant, it would be an honour to me and my house
for ever. Since it is my fortune to meet you, let me avail
myself of this rare opportunity and beg you to make me
worthy of a samurai. I appeal to our old friendship, to your
knightly compassion.

RECITATIVE. He lays both his hands before him on the ground,
and filled with remorse for his former ill-deed, he weeps
manly tears. Pitiful is his plight. Yagoro, though he thinks
his old comrade’s repentance but natural, cannot here
recklessly reveal the great plot.

YAGORO. Now, now, Kanpei, in your confession, you mix up
with it something about a plot and a covenant. That is
nonsense. There has never been such a rumour. I am taking an
urgent message from Master Yuranosuke to Master Goemon. We
intend to raise a monument in our late lord’s burial-place.
But we, being but _ronin_, are poor, and the monument is a
thing which will be pointed out as Lord Enya Hangwan’s to
the latest posterity. And so I am going on an errand to
collect the money for the purpose and seeking out those who
are still grateful for our late lord’s favours. And if you
yet feel grateful.........do you understand?

RECITATIVE. To make Oboshi’s plot covertly known while
speaking of the monument, it is, indeed, an act of true

KANPEI. I thank you, Master Yagoro. Yes, I heard long ago
that you were collecting money, it was said, for the
monument. I, too, have made every effort to offer some
money, and hoped, on the strength of the contribution, to
obtain pardon. But Master Yagoro, how ashamed I am! See my
present condition; it is a punishment for my disloyalty to
my lord, and I have none to turn to for help. But Karu’s
father, Yoichibei, is a worthy man. He and his wife lament
the unfaithfulness with which we, husband and wife, served
Lord Hangwan, and are most anxious that I should find means
to become a samurai again. I will seize this occasion to
tell them of my meeting you and, after giving an account of
our talk, let them know how I may be restored to my former
position. Then they will not, I am sure, hesitate to sell
for their children’s sake the little land they possess. I
beg, when I have brought the money, you will present it to
Master Goemon.

[Illustration: Yagoro takes leave of kneeling Kanpei]

YAGORO. Yes, I will now go and tell Master Goemon what you
have said to me and through him ask pardon of Master
Yuranosuke. I will give you an answer without fail the day
after to-morrow. This is the address at which Master Goemon
has put up.

RECITATIVE. As he gives him the address, Kanpei receives it
with gratitude.

KANPEI. I am thankful for your manifold kindness. I will
immediately find the money and wait upon you the day after
to-morrow. If you wish to come to my house, you will turn to
the left from the ferry at Yamazaki, and you will soon find
Yoichibei’s house by inquiring in the neighbourhood. You had
better go quickly before the night grows late. The road is
still more unsafe further on, and so take great care of

YAGORO. No fear. Until the monument is raised, not a flea
shall bite this body of mine. You, too, keep yourself in
good health. I shall look forward to hearing of your
contribution. Fare you well.

RECITATIVE. They part, and each hurries on his way. The rain
again comes down. Feeble footsteps are heard. Though he has
not lost his way in the dark, he is a simple, honest old man
who comes hanging on his staff, drawn hither by a blind love
of his child. He hears a voice calling to him from behind.

A VOICE. Hi, hi, old man. You are a good road-companion.

RECITATIVE. The speaker is Ono Kudayu’s son, Sadakuro, who,
having no place to go to, has turned a highwayman and
nightly plies his trade on this road. He has a flat sword at
his side.

SADAKURO. I have been calling you a long time; could you not
hear me? It is bold of you at your age to travel alone on
this unsafe road. I will bear you company.

RECITATIVE. As he comes in front of him and looks at him
with over-curious eyes, Yoichibei shrinks with fear; but he
conceals it with an old man’s tact.

YOICHIBEI. Now this is a kindness I should not have expected
of one so young. Being an old man, I do not care to travel
alone; but wherever we go, there is nothing so precious as
money. As I could not pay last year’s tax, I went to ask for
help to my relations; but not a single cash could I get from
them, and as I could not stay long where I could obtain no
assistance, I am going home alone, heavy at heart.

RECITATIVE. Before he has done speaking, the other cries

SADAKURO. Hold your tongue. I did not come to hear that you
have not paid your tax. Look here, old man. Listen carefully
to what I am going to say. It is this. I saw long ago that
you have in your bosom a purse of striped cloth with forty
or fifty _ryo_ in it, if it is gold; and I have followed
you. Lend it to me. See, I entreat you with clasped hands. I
dare say, you got the money to rescue your child from some
foolish trouble. Now that I have set my eyes upon it, why,
there is no getting away. So make up your mind to it.
Please, lend it to me, do.

[Illustration: Saduko with umbrella standing over fallen

RECITATIVE. He puts his hand into Yoichibei’s bosom and
pulls out a purse of striped cloth.

YOICHIBEI. Oh, please, sir, that......

SADAKURO. What of that? When you have so much money.........

RECITATIVE. As he snatches it, Yoichibei clings to his hand.

YOICHIBEI. No, no, sir. I took some small coin out of this
pouch, it is true, to buy straw-sandals a while ago; but
there is now in it only a few lumps of rice for luncheon and
medicines my daughter gave me for bilious attacks. Please,
let me go, sir.

RECITATIVE. And he snatches back the pouch and tries to
escape; but Sadakuro runs before him and intercepts him.

SADAKURO. What an obstinate fellow, to be sure! I speak you
fair, because I do not wish to do anything cruel; and you
take advantage of it. Come, fork out the money. If you
hesitate, I will kill you at one blow.

RECITATIVE. He draws his sword and raises it for a downward
stroke; and before Yoichibei can cry out, he strikes at him
as at a dry bamboo-pole. Did the sword deflect or the hands
err? He misses his mark, and Yoichibei grasps the naked
blade with both his hands.

YOICHIBEI. Do you, then, really mean to kill me?

SADAKURO. Of course I do. I kill you because I saw your
money; and so give up the ghost without more complaint.

RECITATIVE. He points the sword at his breast.

YOICHIBEI. Please, just wait, sir. There is no help for it.
Yes, this is money. But I have an only daughter; and she has
a husband who is more dear to her than life itself. That
husband is in want of money. He is, for certain reasons, a
_ronin_ at present. It was through her, says my daughter,
that he became a _ronin_, and she has asked me and my wife
to help him to return to his former samurai’s position. But
as we are poor, we could do nothing. At last, after long
consultation with my wife, we hit upon a plan; we made our
daughter agree to it and have kept it absolutely secret from
our son-in-law. And this is the money we got after we three,
father, mother, and daughter, had truly wept tears of blood.
And if you take it away, what will become of my daughter?
See, I clasp my hands to you; please, let me go. You, too,
appear to have been a samurai; and the samurai should help
each other. Without this money, my daughter and her husband
cannot hold up their heads in the world. He is my only
daughter’s husband; and you will guess how I pity and love
him. Have compassion on me, sir, and let me go. You are
still young and I suppose you are childless; but when the
time comes and a child is born to you, you will know how
natural are the words I have spoken to you. So, please, let
me leave this place in safety. Only a _ri_[1] from here is my
home. You may kill me when I have handed the money to my
son-in-law. Please, sir, I should like to die after I have
seen my daughter’s face light up with joy. Please, please,
sir. Oh, help, help!

RECITATIVE. But his cries only resound with piteous echoes
in the hills around.

SADAKURO. Oh, that is indeed sad. Cry on. Hear me, old
dotard. If I rise in the world with that money of yours, the
blessing of this act of charity will raise your son too. For charity
never makes an evil return to the donor. Poor fellow!

RECITATIVE. He thrusts his sword; and as Yoichibei writhes
with pain, he kicks him round with his foot.

SADAKURO. Oh, how pitiful! Though, no doubt, it hurts you,
do not bear me spite for it. I kill you because you have
money; for if you had no money, what should I do to you?
Your money is your enemy, old man. Oh, save us, Amida
Buddha!* Oh, save us, Wondrous Doctrine of the Lotus Sutra![2]
Go wherever you please.

RECITATIVE. Without drawing out his sword, he turns it round
and round. The grass is dyed crimson with blood; and the old
man, in the excess of his pain, breathes his last. Sadakuro,
now that he is dead, takes the pouch and in the darkness
counts the money in it.

SADAKURO. Ha, fifty _ryo_. ’Tis long since we last met,
gentlemen; and I thank you for your coming.

RECITATIVE. He hangs the pouch around his neck, and pushes
and kicks the body into the valley below. The mud on the
corpse splashes upon himself; but all unwitting, he stands
up, and sees behind him a wounded wild boar rush headlong
towards him. In haste he steps aside. The wild boar runs
straight on, snorting, kicking roots of trees and corners of
rocks, and leaping through mud and shrubbery. And as
Sadakuro comes forward and looks after it, a gun-report is
heard, and two bullets pierce his spine and

[Illustration: Kanpei leaning over supine Sadakuro]

penetrate to his ribs. Without a cry or groan, he falls on his
back and dies; It does one’s heart good to see him die.
Thinking that he has killed the wild boar, Kanpei comes out
with his gun in his hand and gropes here and there for the game.
When he touches and raises the body, he finds that it is not the
wild boar.

KANPEI. What, this is a man! Great Heavens, I have missed

RECITATIVE. As it is pitch-dark, he cannot in his fear ask
who his victim is. As he raises him in his arms to see if he
still breathes, his hands touch the pouch; and grasping it,
he perceives it holds forty or fifty _ryo_. He raises it
again and again to his head to thank Heaven for what,
doubtless, is its gift; and then he rushes away as if on
wings, even more swiftly than the wild boar.

[Illustration: drum]

  [1] About two miles and a half.
  [2] Buddhist prayers.




“The country dance is over;
 Come out, old man, come with your dame,
 Come, old man, come with your dame.”

So sing the country folk as they pound their barley. Here
stands the weather-beaten cottage of Yoichibei, a peasant in
the noted village of Yamazaki; and here now passes Hayano
Kanpei a _ronin_’s life. His wife Okaru has risen and, while
waiting for her husband who is not yet home this morning,
brings out her toilet-case to smooth her dishevelled hair.
With her thoughts bent upon her fate which she still keeps a
secret, she combs her hair with a comb of boxwood and
dresses it with neatness and elegance; her beauty is too
fair for a country-place. Her aged mother, hanging to her
staff, comes tottering home from the fields.

MOTHER. Oh, you have done up your hair, daughter! And it is
well done. Everywhere in the country they are now busy
harvesting barley; and just now, near the bamboo jungle, I
heard young men sing the barley-pounders’ song, “Come out,
old man, come with your dame.” That made me very anxious as
my old man is late coming home, and I went to the end of the
village; but not a shadow of him could I espy.

OKARU. Yes, mother, I wonder what makes him so late. I will
just run and see.

[Illustration: Two women]

MOTHER. No, it is not well for a young woman to walk alone.
You, especially, never liked from your childhood to walk
about in the country; and though we sent you for service to
Lord Enya’s, you apparently could not live away from the
lonely country and came back to us. While you are with
Kanpei, you never show any sign of discontent.

OKARU. Oh, mother, that is but natural. When I live with one
I love, I would put up willingly with poverty, to say
nothing of country life. When the Feast of Lanterns comes, I
mean to do as the song says, “Come out, old man, come with
your dame,” and go with Kanpei to see the dance. You, too,
did that sort of thing when you were young.

RECITATIVE. It is a light-tongued hussy, and her spirits,
too, appear restless.

MOTHER. Cheerfully as you may talk, in your heart........

OKARU. No, no. I am quite composed. I have been long
prepared to go to service in Gion-machi for our lord’s sake;
but for my aged father to take so much trouble.........

MOTHER. Do not say that. Low as his position is, your
brother, too, was a servant of Lord Enya; and it is not like
taking trouble on another person’s account.

RECITATIVE. As mother and daughter talk, hurriedly comes
along the road with a palanquin Ichimonjiya, of Gionmachi.
Stopping the palanquin, he calls out from outside the door.

ICHIMONJIYA. Is Master Yoichibei at home?

RECITATIVE. With these words, he enters at the door.

MOTHER. Why, you have kindly come all this way. Now, bring
the tobacco-tray, daughter, and offer tea.

RECITATIVE. As the mother and daughter welcome him,
Ichimonjiya speaks.

ICHIMONJIYA. Well, I thank your old man for coming last
night; I hope he came home safely.

MOTHER. What, have you not brought him with you? That is
strange. Since he has not........

ICHIMONJIYA. What, has he not come home? Strange! Perhaps,
as he was loitering before the shrine of Inari,[1] he was
bewitched by a fox. Now, just as we had agreed when I came
here the other day, we decided last night that your daughter
should serve for full five years only and her wages were to
be a hundred _ryo_. Then the old
man said that as he had some money to deliver last night, he
wanted to sign the bond of service and receive in advance
the whole sum of a hundred _ryo_. As he asked me with tears,
I gave him half the sum when the bond was signed and
promised to pay the remainder when the girl was delivered to
me. And when I handed him the fifty _ryo_, he was overjoyed
and raised the money to his head with rapture. It was about
the fourth hour[2] when he went away rejoicing. I told him
that he should not walk home alone with the money at night
and tried to stop him; but he would not listen to me, and so
he went home. It may be, on the road........

OKARU. No, no, nowhere would he stop on the way. Do you not
think so, mother?

MOTHER. Yes, certainly. Especially, as he would not lose a
moment if he could help it in hurrying home and making you
and me glad by showing us the money. I cannot understand it.

ICHIMONJIYA. Well, whether you understand
it or not, that is your business. I will hand you the
balance and take the girl home.

RECITATIVE. He takes the money from his bosom.

ICHIMONJIYA. Here is the remaining fifty _ryo_; and it makes
up the hundred ryo. I hand it to you, and so take it.

MOTHER. But before your father comes home, I cannot let you
go, can I, Karu?

ICHIMONJIYA. Why, dawdling like this, we shall never have
done. See, here is Yoichibei’s seal; you have not a word to
say now. This bond speaks for me. This girl’s service I have
bought with money to-day; and a day’s delay means so much
loss to me. I suppose I must use force.

RECITATIVE. He seizes Okaru by the hand and drags her.

MOTHER. Please, wait.

RECITATIVE. The mother clings to him; but he pushes her
away. He forces Okaru into the palanquin. But just as it is
lifted up, Kanpei returns, gun on his shoulder and with a
straw rain-coat and hat on. He enters the house.

KANPEI. My wife in the palanquin, where are you going?

MOTHER. I am glad you have come home at this moment.

RECITATIVE. He wonders at the mother’s joy.

KANPEI. There appears to be something at the bottom of this.
Mother, wife, let me hear it.

RECITATIVE. And he sits right in the middle of the room.

ICHIMONJIYA. Oh, are you the girl’s husband? Here is the
bond with the old man’s seal, in which he says no one
whatever, be he the girl’s husband, actual or affianced,
shall offer any obstruction. And I don’t care who you are,
and I am going to take away the girl at once.

MOTHER. Oh, you are no doubt puzzled, my son. We had heard
from our daughter that you were in want of money; and much
as we wished to get it for you, we had no prospect of
procuring a single _sen_. And so says my old man, “I do not
suppose our son is thinking of getting the money by selling
his wife; but it may be that he has such a wish and is
deterred from carrying it out only by the presence of her
parents. What if this old father sells her without his
knowledge? It is a custom with the samurai, when other means
are exhausted, to take her back by force. It is no shame to
sell one’s wife, and if I find for him in this way the money
he requires in his lord’s cause, I do not think he will be
very angry with me.” So yesterday he went to Gion-machi to
settle the matter, but he has not come home yet. While we, I
and my daughter, were feeling anxious at his absence, comes
this man and says that as he gave the old man half the sum
last night, he will pay the remaining fifty _ryo_ now and
take away my daughter this moment. I tell him I must see the
old man first, but he won’t listen to me, and insists upon
taking her away. What shall we do, Kanpei?

KANPEI. I am truly grateful for my father-in-law’s kindness.
But I, too, have had a piece of good fortune; of that,
however, I will speak later on. I do not think we should
hand over my wife before her father comes home.

[Image: Man seated with a wrapped bundle]


KANPEI. Well, the bond gives you the parent’s authority.
Though I do not doubt that you paid half the money last

ICHIMONJIYA. Here, I am Ichimonjiya who am known all over
Kyoto and Osaka and have in my employ girls enough to make
an island of Amazons. Do you think I would say that I had
paid the money when I hadn’t? There is still another thing
that I can tell you for certain. When I saw your old man
wrap the fifty _ryo_ in his towel and put it in his bosom, I
said to him it was risky, and gave him a pouch to put it in
and hang round his neck. The pouch was made of a piece of
cloth of the same pattern as this garment of mine; and no
doubt, he will presently come home with it round his neck.

KANPEI. What do you say? A pouch of the same pattern as the
dress you wear?


KANPEI. Of the same pattern?

ICHIMONJIYA. Is not that certain proof?

RECITATIVE. Upon hearing this, Kanpei is amazed. After
looking around him, he stealthily takes out the pouch from
his sleeve; as he gazes at it, he sees it is of silk and
cotton and does not differ a jot in pattern from the man’s
dress. Great Heavens! Was it then his father that he killed
with his gun last night? He feels a far greater pang than if
his own heart had been pierced by a bullet. Ignorant of his
feelings, his wife asks him.

OKARU. Come, my husband, do not look so restless; but decide
for us whether I am to go or not.

KANPEI. Oh, yes. Since he speaks so convincingly, I fear you
must go.

OKARU. What, without seeing father?

KANPEI. Yes. I saw your father for a moment this morning; I
do not know when he will come home.

OKARU. Did you then see father? Why did you not say so
before, instead of making mother and me anxious about him?

RECITATIVE. Ichimonjiya takes advantage of the position.

ICHIMONJIYA. Doubt a man, they say, only after inquiring
seven times. Since we know the old man’s whereabouts now, we
all feel at ease. If you still resist, we must appeal to
law. But it is now settled, I am glad to see. Mother and
husband, when you come to worship at Rokujo, pay me a visit.
Come, get into the palanquin.

OKARU. Yes, yes. I am going now, Kanpei. My two aged parents
you will have to support, and father, especially, for he is
always ailing, and you will please take great care of him.

RECITATIVE. Unaware of her father’s death, she, poor girl,
consigns him to her husband’s care. Had he not better,
thinks Kanpei, tell the whole truth? No, he cannot do it
before others, and he bears in silence the anguish of his

MOTHER. Your husband would like to have parting words with
you, but I suppose he fears it might upset you.

OKARU. No, no, though I part from him, I feel no sorrow
since I am selling myself for our lord. I go with a brave
heart. But, mother, I am sorry I cannot see father before I

MOTHER. Oh, when he returns, I am sure he will go and see
you. Use moxa so as not to fall ill, and come and show me
your bright face sometimes. You will be uncomfortable
without paper and a fan. Have you everything you want? Don’t
stumble and hurt yourself.

[Illustration: Crying woman carried in a palanquin]

RECITATIVE. She looks after her until she gets into the
palanquin. They bid each other farewell. By what ill-fate is
it that with such a fair daughter, this sorrow falls upon
her? The mother weeps with clenched teeth; and the daughter
clings to the side of the palanquin and chokes with tears in
her desire not to let her crying be seen or heard. The
palanquin is, alas, lifted up, and the bearers hurry away on
the road. The mother stands gazing after her.

MOTHER. Ah, how sad I must have made my daughter with my
foolish words! O my son, when even I, her mother, am
resigned to her going, I hope you will not keep thinking of
her and make yourself ill. How is it that father does not
come home? You said you saw him, did you not?

KANPEI. Ah, yes.

MOTHER. And where did you see him? And where did he go when
he left you?

KANPEI. Well, we parted at...... let me see...... was it at
Toba or Fushimi? Or Yodo or Takeda?

RECITATIVE. While he speaks at random, Meppo Yahachi,
Tanegashima no Roku, and Tanuki no Kakubei, three hunters of
the neighbourhood, come in without ceremony, bearing on a
shutter Yoichibei’s body, covered over with a straw

[Illustration: Three hunters carrying a body]

YAHACHI. As we were coming home from the night’s work, we
found your old man’s body, and so we have brought it here.

RECITATIVE. The mother is amazed.

MOTHER. Whose deed was it? Tell me, my son, who is the
murderer? Please, revenge his death. Oh, my husband, my

RECITATIVE. But her cries are in vain; there is naught but
tears for her.

HUNTERS. Oh, how grieved you must be, old mother! Appeal to
the Lord Deputy’s office and have the matter inquired into.
We are very sorry for you.

RECITATIVE. The hunters all leave her and go to their own
homes. The mother, amid her tears, comes close to Kanpei.

MOTHER. Now, my son, I thought my suspicions unjust; but
there is one thing I cannot understand. Though you were, it
is true, formerly a samurai, yet one would have expected you
to be amazed when you saw your father-in-law’s dead body.
When you met him on the road, did you not receive money from
him? What did he say to you? Now, tell me. Say it. Ah, you
cannot answer; and this is the reason why.

RECITATIVE. And she puts her hand into Kanpei’s bosom and
draws out the pouch.

MOTHER. A while ago I caught sight of this pouch. See, it is
stained with blood, and you must have killed the old man.

KANPEI. No, this........

MOTHER. What of it? You may try to hide it; but the
all-seeing Heaven reveals it. And the money for which you
killed the old man, for whom was it intended? Yes, I see.
You thought that your father-in-law, being poor, would keep
back a half of the money for which he sold his daughter, and
not give you the whole of it; and so you killed him and took
it all. How it galls me to think that until this very day we
were deceived and believed you to be an upright man, you
inhuman monster! I am so astonished that tears refuse to
flow. Oh, poor Yoichibei, you did not know what a brute your
son is; in your wish to restore him to the samurai’s rank,
you ran about, old man as you were, in Kyoto without taking
a night’s rest, and at expense to yourself, you helped him;
and all this has led to your own undoing, and you are bitten
by the dog that you have been feeding. How could you have
killed him in this cruel manner, you devil, you serpent?
Return me father, restore to life my old man.

RECITATIVE. In her fury, she seizes him by the hair, and
pulling him towards her, beats his head on the floor.

MOTHER. My anger would not be satisfied even if I tortured
you to death inch by inch.

RECITATIVE. With revengeful words, she lays her face on the
floor and gives way to tears. For his misdeed, Kanpei feels
his whole body covered with boiling sweat; he clings to the
mat, and he knows that the punishment of Heaven has come
upon him. At this moment arrive two samurai, wearing deep
wicker hats.

[Illustration: Two standing men wearing wicker hats]

SAMURAI. Is Hayano Kanpei at home? Hara Goemon and Senzaki
Yagoro beg to see him.

RECITATIVE. It is an inopportune moment; but Kanpei takes
his sword and with bent hips, goes forth to meet them.

KANPEI. You are welcome, gentlemen. I thank you for thus
honouring my humble home.

RECITATIVE. He bows to them.

GOEMON. I see there is some trouble in the house.

KANPEI. Nay, it is but a slight house-household matter.
Pray, do not mind it, but walk straight in.

GOEMON. Then, by your leave, we will do so.

RECITATIVE. They go straight in and take their seats; and
Kanpei lays both his hands on the mat in front of them.

KANPEI. It was a serious fault of mine that I failed to be
present when the great misfortune befell our lord; and for
it I have not a word to say in excuse. But I humbly beg you,
gentlemen, to intercede for me so that my offence may be
pardoned and I may be permitted to attend on the anniversary
of our lord’s demise, together with others of our clan.

RECITATIVE. He speaks in humble supplication.

GOEMON. Master Yuranosuke was first much pleased that you, a
_ronin_ without any means, should have offered so much money
towards the cost of the monument; but the monument is to be
placed in our lord’s burial-ground, and as it was felt that
it would not please our lord’s spirit to use for building
the monument the money of one who has been disloyal and
faithless to him, the money is returned to you unopened.

RECITATIVE. While Goemon is yet speaking, Yagoro takes the
money from his bosom and lays it before KANPEI. In his
confusion, he is almost out of his senses; and the mother
comes forward with tears.

MOTHER. You villain, do you not see it is the retribution
that has come this moment for your father’s death? Hear me,
sirs. My husband, old as he was, did not think of his own
future life, but sold his daughter for his son-in-law’s
sake; and as he was coming home with the money, he lay in
wait for him and killed him as you see. That was the money
he stole, and as long as there is a Heaven above us, such
money can surely be of no use. And there is neither God nor
Buddha if this robber and parricide escapes unpunished.
Strike this undutiful fellow with your swords and kill him
inch by inch, sirs. I cannot control my anger.

RECITATIVE. She throws herself on the floor and weeps.
Astonished at these words, the two men take their swords and
press upon either side of Kanpei.

YAGORO. Kanpei, I did not tell you to atone for your offence
with money got unjustly and with cruelty. It would be
useless to speak of the way of knighthood to an inhuman
fellow like you. The felon who murders his father-in-law
whom he should treat like his own father and robs him of his
money, deserves to be spitted with a spear. I will take the
duty upon myself.

RECITATIVE. And he glares upon him.

GOEMON. Righteous men are warned that even in thirst they
should not drink of the robber’s spring. Can the money you
stole by murdering your father-in-law be spent in our lord’s
cause? Marvellous is Yuranosuke’s penetration when he
rejected your money since he saw it was obtained by you who
are by nature disloyal and faithless. But what we most
deplore is that this matter will become known in the world;
and when it is reported that Hayano Kanpei, a retainer of
Enya Hangwan, did a most inhuman and cruel deed, it will not
only be a shame to yourself, but it will be a stain upon our
lord’s fair name. Fool that you are, did you not know as
much? You were not formerly so lacking in understanding;
what devil has now entered into your heart?

RECITATIVE. Tears float in his keen eyes. Kanpei can no
longer endure it when he is thus pressed with these clear
reasonings, and baring his shoulders, he draws his dirk and
instantly plunges it into his bowels.

KANPEI. Ah, I am ashamed to appear before you. I was
prepared to kill myself if my desire could not be attained.
Since the murder of my father-in-law will, you say, be a
stain upon our lord’s name, I will tell you all. Hear me,
gentlemen. Last night, on my way home after meeting Master
Yagoro, I came across a wild boar in the dark running on the
hill, and I sent two shots after it. I ran up to it and
groped for it, and found that I had killed, not a boar, but
a traveller. Great Heavens, thought I, I have made a
terrible mistake! I felt in his bosom for some medicine, and
caught hold of a pouch with this money in it. It was not
right, I knew, but I felt that Heaven had given me the
money; and so I ran off at once and handed it to Master
Yagoro. And when I came home, I found that it was my
father-in-law that I had killed and the money was the price
of my wife’s virtue. When everything I do thus goes awry
like the cross-bill’s beak, it shows that Kanpei’s knightly
fortune has come to an end. Oh, sympathise with me,

RECITATIVE. There are tears of mortification in his
blood-shot eyes. On hearing his account, Yagoro stands up,
and turning the dead body round, he examines the wound.

YAGORO. Master Goemon, look at this. Though it looks like a
gunshot wound, it is a cut made by scooping with a sword.
Ah, you have acted rashly, Kanpei.

RECITATIVE. The wounded man looks up with a start, and the
mother, too, is astonished.

GOEMON. That reminds me, Master Senzaki. As you yourself
saw, we came upon a traveller lying dead with a gunshot
wound on our way hither. Upon nearer approach, we found he
was Ono Sadakuro, the villain whom even his avaricious
father, Kudayu, had to disown. It was said that having
nowhere to go, he had turned a highwayman. There is no doubt
that the murderer of Kanpei’s father-in-law was no other
than he.

MOTHER. What, was it then somebody else that murdered the
old man?

RECITATIVE. The mother clings to Kanpei.

MOTHER. See, I clasp my hands to you and entreat you. It was
all my fault that I should have abused you from my old
complaining heart. Please, forgive me, Kanpei, and do not,
do not die.

RECITATIVE. As she entreats with tears, he raises his head.

KANPEI. Now my mother’s suspicions are dispelled and my name
is cleared. I will take this thought with me to the other
world and overtaking my father-in-law, accompany him over
the Mountain of Death and across the Three-streamed River.

RECITATIVE. He plunges his dirk deeper and turns it round.

GOEMON. Ah, wait a while. That you revenged your
father-in-law’s death without knowing it, shows that your
knightly fortune is not yet at an end. By the mercy of the
God of War, you have done a meritorious deed, Kanpei, and
there is something I wish to show you secretly while you

RECITATIVE. He takes a scroll from his bosom and deftly
unrolls it.

GOEMON. This is the covenant signed by the confederates who
have sworn to slay our lord’s enemy, Kono Moronao.

RECITATIVE. Before he has done reading it, Kanpei calls out
in his agony.

KANPEI. What are their names?

GOEMON. We are forty-five in all. Since we have seen your
spirit, we will add your name and then we shall be
forty-six. Take this as a souvenir to the other world.

RECITATIVE. He takes out an ink-and-brush case from his
bosom and writes down Kanpei’s name.

GOEMON. Seal it with your blood, Kanpei.

KANPEI. Right willingly.

RECITATIVE. He cuts his belly in a cross and pulling out his
entrails, presses them under his name.

KANPEI. Now I have sealed it with my blood. Ah, how glad,
how thankful I am! My desire is attained. Mother, do not
lament, I pray you. Neither my father-in-law’s death nor my
wife’s service has been in vain. Please, take this money for
our confederates’ use.

RECITATIVE. With tears the mother places before the two men
the two packages of money and the pouch.

MOTHER. This pouch into which Kanpei’s spirit has entered,
please, look upon it as my son-in-law and let it accompany
you when you go to attack the enemy.

GOEMON. Yes, that is a natural request.

RECITATIVE. Goemon takes the money.

GOEMON. Now enter into Buddhist happiness.

KANPEI. Buddhist happiness! Loathsome are the words. I will
not die, no, I will not die. My spirit shall remain on earth
and follow the attack upon our enemy.

RECITATIVE. He speaks now with agony. The mother is bathed
in tears.

MOTHER. I wish I could, Kanpei, let my daughter know of this
and see you once more before you die.

KANPEI. No, mother. Her father’s death she may know of, but
of mine never a word, I beg. The wife who was sold for her
lord’s sake, if she should, on hearing of this, neglect her
service, it would be the same as if she were disloyal to her
lord. Only leave it as it is. I have now nothing I regret to
leave behind.

RECITATIVE. With the tip of his dirk he pierces his throat
and, falling forward, he dies.

MOTHER. What, are you dead already, my son? Ah, is there in
this world another as luckless as I? My husband is dead, my
son-in-law to whom I turned for help, has gone before me,
and my dearest daughter lives separated from me. This aged
mother who is left alone behind, ah, how can she remain
alive?	O husband, Yoichibei, please, take me with you.

RECITATIVE. She flings herself upon the body and cries.
Again she stands up.

[Illustration: Crying elderly woman; two samurai walking away]

MOTHER. O my son, I will go with you.

RECITATIVE. She clings to the body and sinks on the floor.
She weeps there and here she weeps. With a loud cry she
sinks and laments at the top of her voice. It is a sight
pitiful to behold. Goemon stands up.

GOEMON. Come, old mother, it is natural that you should cry;
but Master Oboshi will be highly pleased when I tell him in
detail how Kanpei died and hand the money he has offered.
This money which I have here round my neck, a hundred _ryo_
in all, I give you to offer prayers and hold services for
the repose of the souls of your husband and son-in-law. Now,
farewell, fare you well.

RECITATIVE. Tears in the eyes that gaze on and tears in the
eyes that look back, they part, alas, in a flood of tears.

  [1] The God of Rice, whose messenger is the fox, to which popular
      superstition ascribes supernatural powers.

  [2] About ten o’clock.




Would you amuse yourself with flowers, gather the fair ones
of Gion. There, to the east, south, north, and west, it
shines as brightly as if the Amida’s Paradise were gilded
over and over again. The bright array of dancers and other
women would deprive the genteelest of his senses and make
him no better than a dunce.

(_Enter Ono Kudayu and Sagisaka Bannai_).

KUDAYU. Please, show me in. Is not the host in? Host, host.

HOST. How busy I am kept! What fellow is it? Who is the
gentleman? Ah, Master Ono Kudayu! You asking to be shown in,
why, you surprise me.

KUDAYU. No, I have brought a gentleman who comes here for
the first time. You appear to be in great bustle. Have you a
room that I can take the gentleman into?

HOST. Oh, yes, sir. The wealthy Mr. Yura has this evening
had all the well-known women brought together so that the
rooms on the ground floor are completely occupied; but the
out-room is vacant.

KUDAYU. That, I suppose, is full of cobwebs.

HOST. There you are, sarcastic as usual.

KUDAYU. No, I mean that at my age I must take care not to be
caught in women’s toils.

HOST. Now that is too much. I cannot leave you down here;
and so up the stairs with you. Hi, waitresses, bring lights,
wine-cups, and tobacco-trays.

RECITATIVE. As he calls out in a loud voice, the sounds of
drums and _samisen_[1] are heard within.

KUDAYU. What do you think, Master Bannai? Do you see how
Yuranosuke is carrying on?

BANNAI. Master Kudayu, I think he must be mad. Though we
received many private reports from you, even my master
Moronao did not believe he was so far gone as that
and told me to come up to the Capital and inquire, and to
let him know at once if there was any cause for suspicion
Well, well, I am now quite convinced that you were right.
And his son Rikiya, what has become of him?

KUDAYU. The fellow comes here sometimes and is as dissipated
as his father. What puzzles me is that they feel no reserve
before each other. I came here this evening determined to
get to the very bottom of the affair. I will speak to you
privately. Now, let us go upstairs.

BANNAI. After you.

KUDAYU. Then, come this way.

RECITATIVE. A song is heard within.
    “Though your heart is cold to me,
  Your lips that move in sweet pretence of love
    Are adept in flattery.”

(_Enter Yazama Jutaro, Senzaki Yagoro, and Takemori

JUTARO. Master Yagoro and Master Kitahachi, this is the
tea-house Ichiriki, where Master Yuranosuke takes his
pleasure. Oh, Heiyemon, we will call you when the time
comes. Go and wait in the kitchen.

HEIYEMON. Yes, sir. I beg you will speak for me.

JUTARO. Will some one please come to the door?

WAITRESS. Yes, sir; and who are you?

JUTARO. Oh, we have come on business to Master Yuranosuke.
Go in and tell him that we are Yazama Jutaro, Senzaki
Yagoro, and Takemori Kitahachi; that though we sent
messengers several times asking him to come to us, he would
not return home and so we have all three repaired hither and
beg him to see us as we have something on which we must
consult him. Please, do not forget to tell him.

WAITRESS. Then I am sorry for you, for he has kept drinking
since the third of the moon and even if you saw him, you
will find he is not in his senses. His usual spirit is gone.

JUTARO. Do you hear that, Master Yagoro?

YAGORO. Yes, I hear and am astonished. I thought at first
that it was a scheme to put the enemy off the scent; but now
he gives himself too much to pleasures and I cannot
understand it.

KITAHACHI. Is it not as I said? Has not his spirit changed
completely? Let us break into his room and......

YAGORO. No, no, let us first speak to him.

KITAHACHI. Very well; then we will wait here.

JUTARO. Well, but please say to him as I told you.

[Illustration: Blindfolded Yuranosuke and two women]

WAITRESS. Yes, sir.

WOMEN. Come where I clap my hands; here I clap them.

YURANOSUKE. I’ll catch you; I’ll catch you.

WOMEN. Not yet, not yet, Blindman Yura.

YURANOSUKE. I’ll catch you and make you drink. Here, I’ve
caught you. Now for wine. Bring the wine-holder.

JUTARO. No, Master Yuranosuke, I am Yazama Jutaro. What are
you going to do?

YURANOSUKE. Great Heavens, I have made a mistake!

WOMAN. Oh, we are sorry. What fierce-looking samurai they
are, Miss Sakae! Are they his friends?

SAKAE. I suppose so. They all look very dreadful.

JUTARO. Ah, you women. We have come on business to Master
Oboshi, and we should like you to leave us for a while.

WOMAN. I thought it would be so.

SAKAE. Master Yura, we will go in, and you will come soon.
We leave you, sirs.

JUTARO. Master Yuranosuke, I am Yazama Jutaro.

KITAHACHI. And I, Takemori Kitahachi.

YAGORO. And I, Senzaki Yagoro, wait upon you. Are you now

YURANOSUKE. You are all welcome, gentlemen. And why........

JUTARO. When shall we start for Kamakura?

YURANOSUKE. Well, then it is an important thing you come to
ask me. Says the song in _Tamba no Yosaku_:[2] “When you go to
the City of Yedo....” Ha, ha, ha! Pardon me; I am talking

JUTARO. No, wine reveals a man’s true character. If you are
not in your right senses, we three will make you sober.

HEIYEMON. Oh, do not act rashly. As I should like, by your
leave, to say a few words, pray, wait a while. Master
Yuranosuke, I am Teraoka Heiyemon. It gives me great joy to
see Your Honour in such excellent health.

YURANOSUKE. Humph, Teraoka Heiyemon? Ah, yes. You are the
light-footed _ashigaru_[3], who was sent on an errand to the

HEIYEMON. The same, sir. When I heard in the North of our
lord’s death, I was amazed and hurried home on wings; but on
the way I was told that his domain had been confiscated and
his retainers dispersed, and great was my indignation.
Though I am but an _ashigaru_, I am bound no less than
others in gratitude to our lord. I went to Kamakura to cut
down at a stroke his enemy Moronao; for three months I
disguised myself as an outcast and prowled after him; but he
was so well guarded that I could not approach him. I felt I
could only disembowel myself; but I thought of my parents in
my country home and thither I trudged in deep dejection. And
then—surely it was Heaven that told me—I heard that you
gentlemen had signed a covenant for the league. How glad,
how thankful I was! Leaving everything
behind me, I ran to these gentlemen’s inn and begged them to
intercede for me. They called me a brave fellow, a fine
fellow, and promised to plead for me to the Chief. And
relying upon their words, I have followed them to-day.
Moronao’s mansion.......

YURANOSUKE. Ah, wait, wait. Why, you are not light of foot,
but very, very light of tongue. Why do you not become a
jester? Well, I did feel indignant in a slight degree and
form a league of forty or fifty men. But what of that? I
pondered upon it. If we fail, off our heads will go; and if
we succeed, we must cut our bellies. Either way there was
but death for us; it was like taking a decoction and then
hanging ourselves. As for you, you are an _ashigaru_ with a
salary of five _ryo_ and three men’s rations. Now do not be
angry. For you who received no more than a dole we might
give to a begging priest, to throw away your life for
vengeance upon our enemy, why, you might as well give a
grand dancing performance in return for a present of a few
seaweeds. My stipend was fifteen hundred _koku_; and
compared with you, I might take the enemy’s heads by the
bushel and yet not be on a level with you. And so we gave it
up. Do you see? Such is the way of the world. And when I
hear music going _tsutsuten, tsutsuten, tsutsuten,_ I can
hardly contain myself.

HEIYEMON. I cannot imagine that these are Your Honour’s
words. To me who received only three men’s rations and
yourself with fifteen hundred _koku_, the life that keeps us
in this world is the same, and there is no difference in our
gratitude to our lord. But what we cannot disregard is the
lineage. I know it is rude, it is impudent for a fellow of
no worth like me to beg to be allowed to join gentlemen of
rank who were qualified to act as our lord’s deputy. I
should be like a monkey mimicking a man; but I will carry
your sandals, your boxes, or anything, if only you will take
me with you. I entreat you, sir; please, Your Honour, Your
Honour. What, he appears to have fallen asleep.

KITAHACHI. Come, Heiyemon, do not waste more words; for
Yuranosuke is as good as dead. Master Yazama, Master
Senzaki, we have now seen his true spirit, and let us act as
we agreed.

YAGORO. Yes, as a warning to our confederates. Are you

RECITATIVE. As they close in, Heiyemon stays their hands and
approaches them.

HEIYEMON. Pray, stop a moment, sirs. As I turn it over and
over in my mind, it seems to me that the many difficulties
he has encountered in his wish to avenge his lord’s death
after he parted from him and his indignation at people’s
slanders when anxiety besets him on all sides, these he has
borne in silence, and he could not under these burdens have
lived on till now if he had not kept drinking. Take your
measures when he has become sober again.

RECITATIVE. He stops them against their will and accompanies
them within. Their shadows disappear behind the well-lighted

One _ri_ and a half westward from Yamashina runs
Yuranosuke’s son Rikiya, all breathless; and peeping within,
he sees his father lying asleep unconscious of all around
him. If he calls him, he will be heard by others; and so
coming close to his pillow, he gently strikes his
sword-guard against the hilt. Suddenly Yuranosuke rises.

YURANOSUKE. Oh, is it you, Rikiya? Did you sound the
sword-guard because you have urgent business? Quietly, speak

[Illustration: Kneeling Rikiya handing package to

RIKIYA. An express messenger has just brought a secret
letter from Lady Kaoyo.

YURANOSUKE. Was there no verbal message, besides?

RIKIYA. Our enemy Kono Moronao’s application for permission
to return to his province has been granted and he will
shortly start for home. The message added that the
particulars would be found in the letter.

YURANOSUKE. Very well. You will go home and send a palanquin
for me in the night. Now, go.

RECITATIVE. Without a moment’s hesitation, he runs back
towards Yamashina. Anxious to see what the letter might say,
Yuranosuke is about to open it, when Kudayu calls to him.

KUDAYU. Master Oboshi, Master Yura, it is Ono Kudayu. I wish
to see you.

YURANOSUKE. Ah, it is a long, long time; we have not met for
a year, and have grown old, very old. Have you come here to
stretch out those wrinkles on your forehead? Oh, you old

KUDAYU. Master Yura, in a great deed, they say, little
defects are overlooked. Your dissipation here in defiance of
evil tongues will be the foundation of your great deed. I
think you a fine man of great promise.

YURANOSUKE. Ha, ha, you drive me hard, hard as a catapult.
But leave it alone.

KUDAYU. No, Master Yuranosuke, don’t sham. Your dissipation
really looks like a scheme to attack the enemy.

YURANOSUKE. You surprise me. But thank you. I thought you
would laugh at me as a fool and a madman for taking to
pleasures when I am over forty years of age; but no, you
look upon it as a scheme to attack the enemy. Master Kudayu,
I am delighted.

KUDAYU. Have you, then, no intention of avenging our lord’s

YURANOSUKE. Not a jot, not a jot. When we handed over the
mansion and the domain, I said I would die fighting in the
castle; but that was only said to please Lady Kaoyo. You
left the room at the time, saying that we were acting like
rebels to the Shogun; and after that, we swaggered on, fools
that we were; but we could not come to a decision. We said
we would slay ourselves before our lord’s tomb, and we stole
out by the back gate. It is entirely owing to you that I am
now enjoying these gay pleasures. I do not forget our old
friendship. Don’t be so formal, but be more at ease.

KUDAYU. Yes, as I think of it, I, too, was a hypocrite in
the old days. I will show my true nature and drink with you.
Come, Master Yura, it is a long time since we drank
together. Give me your cup; are you going to ask it back as
they do at parties? Go on pouring and I’ll drink, and go on
drinking and I’ll pour. Accept this fish that I am going to
give you.

RECITATIVE. He takes up a piece of octopus that he sees
beside him and places it before Yuranosuke.

YURANOSUKE. I put out my hand to receive the octopus’ foot.
Thank you.

RECITATIVE. As he raises it to his head and is about to eat
it, Kudayu takes hold of his hand.

KUDAYU. Hear me, Master Yuranosuke; to-morrow will be the
anniversary of our Lord Enya Hangwan’s demise. They say that
the eve of that day should be especially kept holy; and yet
will you eat this fish without hesitation?

YURANOSUKE. Yes, certainly. Or is it that you have had
tidings that our Lord Enya has turned into an octopus? What
a querulous man you are, to be sure! You and I are _ronin_
now because of Lord Enya’s indiscretion. I may bear him
grudge; but I have not the least wish to abstain from animal
food on his account. I eat with great pleasure the fish you
are good enough to give me.

RECITATIVE. And he coolly eats it at a mouthful; and the
crafty Kudayu is so astonished that he remains speechless.

YURANOSUKE. With such poor fish we cannot drink. We will
have a fowl killed and broiled. Come with me within and we
will make the women sing.

RECITATIVE. He goes staggering in exhilaration. Music is
heard within.

YURANOSUKE. You little vixens, see if I don’t make you

RECITATIVE. Amid the noise he goes in. Sagisaka Bannai, who
has been watching the whole time, comes downstairs.

BANNAI. Master Kudayu, I have been carefully observing. From
one who does not refrain from animal food on the anniversary
of his master’s death, revenge is not to be dreamt of. I
will report it to my master Moronao and make him open the
gates that he keeps strictly guarded.

KUDAYU. Yes, there is no longer need for guard. See, he has
forgotten his sword.

BANNAI. Indeed! it truly proves what a great fool he is. Let
us look at this soul of a samurai. Why, it is rusted all

KUDAYU. Ha, ha, ha! It shows his true nature more clearly
still; and you may now rest at ease. Let Kudayu’s servants
bring his palanquin.

RECITATIVE. They bring the palanquin.

KUDAYU. Now, Master Bannai, please, get in.

BANNAI. You are old; please, get in.

KUDAYU. Then, by your leave.

RECITATIVE. He gets in.

BANNAI. By the bye, Master Kudayu, I hear Kanpei’s wife is
in service here. Do you not know her? Master Kudayu, Master

RECITATIVE. He receives no answer.

BANNAI. This is strange!

RECITATIVE. He lifts the screen of the palanquin and sees
inside a fair-sized stepping-stone.

BANNAI. What is this? Has Kudayu turned into a Matsura[4]

[Illustration: Bannai peering into palanquin that contains a
large stone]

RECITATIVE. As he looks around, he hears a voice from under
the verandah.

KUDAYU. Here, Master Bannai. I have slipped out of the
palanquin, because the letter
that Rikiya brought a while ago makes me uneasy. I will
watch and let you know afterwards. Do you walk by the
palanquin as if I were still in it.

BANNAI. Very well.

RECITATIVE. He nods and slowly walks by the palanquin as if
there were some one in it. On the upper floor appears Okaru,
Kanpei’s wife, to cool her flushed face. She is already used
to her new life, and she cheers her spirits in the breeze
that blows towards her.

YURANOSUKE. I shall come back directly. I, a samurai, have
forgotten to bring my precious sword. While I am away, hang
straight the _kakemono_ and put some charcoal in the

OKARU. Oh, take care, you must not tread on that _samisen_
there and break it.

YURANOSUKE. Dear me, Kudayu appears to have gone.

RECITATIVE. A song is heard within.
  “Some one calls out close to his ear:
    ‘O father mine and mother dear!’
  He looks around in great surprise,
    And, lo, a parrot meets his eyes.
  It was his wife that taught the bird
    To speak the tender words he heard.”

[Illustration: Okaru sitting holding a mirror]

RECITATIVE. Yuranosuke looks around and, by the light of the
hanging lantern, he reads Lady Kaoyo’s letter which tells in
detail the enemy’s condition. Being a woman’s letter with
many redundant phrases he cannot read it quickly. Thinking
with envy that it is a letter from some loved woman, Okaru
looks down; but she cannot distinguish the characters in the
dim light. She thinks of her metal mirror; and bringing it
out, she reads the letter by its reflection. Little dreams
Yuranosuke, being no god, that

[Illustration: Yuranosuke reading a long letter; Kudayu
reads it hidden below the deck]

under the verandah Kudayu is reading the same letter by the
moonlight as it unrolls and hangs down. Okaru’s hair-pin
comes loose and falls on the ground. At the sound Yuranosuke
looks up and hides the letter behind him; under the verandah
Kudayu is still in smiles; and on the upper floor Okaru
conceals her mirror.

OKARU. Is it you, Master Yura?

YURANOSUKE. And you, Okaru? What are you doing there?

OKARU. You gave me so much to drink and I feel so dizzy that
I came here to cool myself in the breeze and drive away the

YURANOSUKE. Oh, Okaru, I have something to say to you. With
you over there, we are as if on the opposite sides of the
Milky Way[5] and I cannot speak to you from here. Will you not
come down for a moment?

OKARU. What you want to tell me, is it something you wish to

YURANOSUKE. Well, something of the sort.

OKARU. I will come round.

YURANOSUKE. No, no. If you go round by the stairs, the
waitresses will catch you and make you drink again.

OKARU. What shall I do?

YURANOSUKE. Oh, see, happily here is a nine-runged ladder.
Please, come down by it.

RECITATIVE. He leans it against the eaves of the lower

OKARU. This ladder is not of the ordinary make. Oh, I am
afraid. Somehow it looks dangerous.

YURANOSUKE. Never mind, never mind. In the old days you
might have been afraid or shrunk away from a ladder. But now
you are old enough to come down three steps at a time.

OKARU. Don’t talk foolishly. It feels like being in a boat;
I am afraid. If you will not keep quiet, I will not come

YURANOSUKE. If you will not, I will bring you down.

OKARU. Oh, there you are again at your tricks!

YURANOSUKE. You are noisy as a little miss. I will catch you
from behind.

RECITATIVE. He catches her from behind and puts her on the

YURANOSUKE. Now, did you see anything?

OKARU. Oh, n-n-no.

YURANOSUKE. I am sure you saw.

OKARU. Yes, something that looked like an interesting

YURANOSUKE. Did you read it all from over there?

OKARU. Oh, how tiresome!

YURANOSUKE. Then your life is in danger.

OKARU. What are you talking of?

YURANOSUKE. What I am talking of, Okaru? Though it is a
stale thing to say, I am in love with you. Will you not be
my wife?

OKARU. Oh, stop. That is not true.

YURANOSUKE. Well, truth will not take root unless it comes
out of falsehood. Say you will be my wife.

OKARU. No, I will not.


OKARU. Because what you say is not truth that comes out of
falsehood, but falsehood that is founded on truth.

YURANOSUKE. Okaru, I will redeem you.

OKARU. What?

YURANOSUKE. To prove that it is not a falsehood, I will buy
you out this very night.

OKARU. But I have a ......

YURANOSUKE. If you have a lover, I will let you marry him.

OKARU. But are you in earnest?

YURANOSUKE. It is the samurai’s benevolence. After I have
kept you by me for three days, you may do as you please.

OKARU. Ah, how glad I am! I believe when you have made me
say that, you are going to laugh at me.

YURANOSUKE. No, I will go and pay your master at once and
settle the matter this moment. So do not be anxious, but
wait here for me.

OKARU. Then, I will wait for you.

YURANOSUKE. While I go and pay the money, be sure you do not
move from this spot. You are now my wife.

OKARU. And that too, only for three days.

YURANOSUKE. Yes, I know.

(_Yuranosuke goes in_).

OKARU. I am grateful to you.

RECITATIVE. A song is heard within.
  “If e’er was ill-starr’d maid,
    That maid I am, surely;
  For days and days I think
    Of my dearest lover,
  With muffled cries at night
    Like the lonely plover.”

Okaru is sunk in thought as she feels how fitly the song
describes her own position. Here Heiyemon comes in and meets

HEIYEMON. Are you not my sister?

OKARU. Oh, is it you, brother? I am ashamed to be seen here.

RECITATIVE. She hides her face.

HEIYEMON. There is no cause for shame. When I came back from
the Eastern Provinces, I saw our mother and heard it all.
You bravely sold yourself for your husband and for our lord.
Well done, sister.

OKARU. I am glad if you think so kindly of me. But rejoice
with me. To-night, though I did not expect it, I am to be

HEIYEMON. That is excellent. And by whom?

OKARU. By one whom you know, Master Oboshi Yuranosuke.

HEIYEMON. What, by Master Yuranosuke? You have long been

OKARU. No, not at all. I have lately waited on him twice or
thrice when he drank, and that was all. He says, if I have a
husband, he will let me join him, and if I want to leave
him, he will let me go. It is almost too good to be true.

HEIYEMON. Then, does he know that you are Kanpei’s wife?

OKARU. No, he does not know it. As it would be shame to my
parents and husband, how could I tell him?

HEIYEMON. Humph, then, he is a libertine from his heart. It
is certain that he has no wish to revenge his lord.

OKARU. Oh, but he has, brother. I cannot say it aloud. I
will whisper it to you.

RECITATIVE. She whispers to him.

HEIYEMON. Humph, you really read the letter?

OKARU. I read it to the end. Then we looked at each other,
face to face, and he began to banter me, and at last he
talked of redeeming me.

HEIYEMON. After you had read the whole letter?


HEIYEMON. I see now. Sister, your life is doomed; give it to

RECITATIVE. And he draws his sword and strikes at her; but
she springs aside.

OKARU. O brother, what have I done? As I have my husband
Kanpei and my two parents, you cannot do as you will with
me. All my pleasure now is to be redeemed and see once more
my parents and husband. Whatever I may have done, I will ask
your pardon. Forgive me, pardon me.

RECITATIVE. As she clasps her hands to him, Heiyemon flings
away his sword and, throwing himself down, sinks into tears
of bitter sorrow.

HEIYEMON. My poor, poor sister, then, you know nothing? Our
father Yoichibei was struck down and murdered on the night
of the twenty-ninth day of the sixth moon.

OKARU. Heavens, and how?

HEIYEMON. There is something more to startle you. Kanpei,
whom you think to join when you are redeemed, has
disembowelled himself and died.

OKARU. What? Is it true? Is it, is it, tell me?

RECITATIVE. She clings to him and with a loud cry, sinks
into bitter tears.

HEIYEMON. It is natural, very natural that you should cry.
It will take too long to tell you in full. I feel most sorry
for our mother. She speaks of it and cries, and then she
thinks of it and cries again. She feared that if you heard
of it, you would cry yourself to death, and told me not to
say a word of it to you. I did not think to tell you; but
now you cannot escape death. For Master Yuranosuke, who is
the very embodiment of loyalty, has no cause to redeem you
if he does not know that you are Kanpei’s wife; and he
certainly is not infatuated with love. Of grave import was
the letter you saw; and I am sure that he means to put you
to death when he has redeemed you. Even though you should
not tell of the letter, walls have ears, and if its contents
came to light through others, it would be attributed to your
blabbing. It was your fault to have peeped into the secret
letter; and you must be killed. Rather than you should fall
by another’s hand, I would put you to death myself. A woman
who has knowledge of the great plot, you cannot be allowed
to escape though you are my sister. On the strength of that
deed, I will join the leaguers and accompany them on their
journey. Ah, sad is the lot of a man of low estate; for he
cannot, unless he shows a spirit superior to others, be
counted among them. Hearken to me and give me your life;
please, die, dear sister.

RECITATIVE. Hearing these clear words of her brother, Okaru
sobs again and again.

OKARU. I thought I had no tidings from Kanpei because he had
started on his journey by making use of the money, the price
of my service, and I have been angry because I thought he
might have come to bid me farewell. Though I am wrong to say
it, our father, sad as was his death, was still of ripe age;
but Kanpei—to die when he was hardly thirty years old, how
sad, how mortified he must have been and how must he have
longed to see me! Why was I not allowed to see him? Not to
abstain from animal food in memory of my father and husband,
it was my evil fortune. Why should I wish to live? If I die
by your hand, our mother will be offended with you. I will
kill myself; and afterwards if my head or body be of service
to you, make what use you please of it. Now farewell, dear

RECITATIVE. With these words she takes up the sword; but a
voice cries out:

A VOICE. Nay, wait a moment.

(_Enter Yuranosuke_).

RECITATIVE. He who stops her is Yuranosuke. Heiyemon is
startled. Okaru cries out as Yuranosuke holds her hand.

OKARU. Oh, let go. Let me die.

RECITATIVE. He still holds her hands tightly.

YURANOSUKE. You brother and sister, your conduct is
admirable. My doubts are dispelled. The brother shall
accompany me to the East, and the sister shall survive and
offer prayers for his soul.

OKARU. No, I will say those prayers as I accompany him to
the other world.

RECITATIVE. As she tries to snatch away the sword, he holds
it tightly over her hand.

YURANOSUKE. Though your husband Kanpei has joined the
league, he has not killed a single enemy and will have no
plea to make when he meets his lord in the other world. That
plea shall be found here.

RECITATIVE. And he thrusts the sword which Okaru still holds
between the mats through the floor, and Kudayu, whose
shoulder is pierced as he hides under it, writhes with pain.

YURANOSUKE. Drag him out.

RECITATIVE. Instantly Heiyemon jumps off the verandah upon
the ground and drags out by force the blood-stained Kudayu.

HEIYEMON. What, Kudayu? Well, you are rightly served.

RECITATIVE. He drags him forward and throws him down before
Yuranosuke, who catches him by the hair ere he can rise and
pulls him towards him.

YURANOSUKE. The worm that feeds in the lion’s body is such
as you. You received a high salary from our lord and great
favours as well; and yet you became his enemy Moronao’s spy
and reported to him everything, were it true or false. We,
forty men and more, have left our parents, parted from our
children, and sent our wives who should be our life-long
companions to lead a life of shame, all, all to revenge our
lord’s death; and awaking or asleep, we ponder ever upon the
circumstances of his suicide and weep tears of despair in
the anguish of our hearts. To-night, of all others, the eve
of the anniversary of our lord’s death when we must abstain
from all unclean food and I have endeavoured with the utmost
effort not even to utter an impure word, you dared to thrust
the flesh of fish to my face; how great was my agony when I
durst not refuse and yet could not accept it! How do you
imagine I felt when it went down my throat on this eve of
the anniversary of my lord whose family mine has served for
many generations? My whole body seemed all at once to go to
pieces and my bones to break every one, You devil, you hound
of hell!

RECITATIVE. He presses and pushes his head on the ground and
sinks into tears of despair.

YURANOSUKE. Here, Heiyemon, my forgetting to take that rusty
sword of mine

[Illustration: Yuranosuke slashing Kudayu with a sword]

was a presage that I should torture this fellow to death
with it. Torture him without killing him.

HEIYEMON. Very well, sir.

RECITATIVE. No sooner does he draw the sword than he jumps
and flies at Kudayu and cuts him about; but the gashes are
only a few inches long. He strikes him until no part of his
body is left unwounded.

KUDAYU. Heiyemon, Okaru, plead for me.

RECITATIVE. He clasps his hands to them. How unsightly is it
for him to bow and entreat Teraoka, whom formerly he
despised as an _ashigaru_!

YURANOSUKE. If we kill him here, it will be difficult to
explain it away. Pretend he is drunk and take him home.

RECITATIVE. His _haori_ is thrown upon him to hide his
wounds. Here Yazama, Senzaki, and Takemori, who have been
listening in secret, suddenly open the sliding-door.

ALL THREE. Master Yuranosuke, we humbly apologise for our

YURANOSUKE. Here, Heiyemon, let this drunken guest take a
bath in the River Kamo.

HEIYEMON. Yes, sir.


  [1] The Japanese three-stringed guitar.

  [2] A play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the greatest of Japanese
      dramatists (1653—1724).

  [3] The ashigaru were a grade lower than the samurai; and in war
      they were common soldiers.

  [4] When her lord, Satehiko, left on an expedition to Korea,
      Sayo-hime stood on a high rock and waved her sleeves to his
      vessel. She remained there so long that she was turned into

  [5] An allusion to a popular legend of the Stars Vega and Altair on
      the opposite sides of the Milky Way.




Who was it sang,
  “This world is like the As’ka River,
   For all things change for ever;
   There where the deep pool was yestreen,
       A shoal to-day is seen”?

The pool has changed to a shoal, and he who received a
stipend is now a _ronin_ with no place to turn to. Through
Enya’s fault, Konami, the daughter of Kakogawa, though still
linked by love, is deserted by her affianced husband before
the exchange of betrothal presents. She is given to moody
thoughts, and her mother resolves to go with her to
Yamashina and give her in marriage to her lover Chikara.
Bearing in mind his present condition, when the mother and daughter
bend their steps towards the Capital, they neither take a
waiting-woman nor ride in a palanquin. Konami’s snowy-white
complexion is tinged in the cold air with the light red of
the winter plum-blossom; and the tips of her fingers are
frozen as she reaches Kogoezaka (Frozen Steep) and climbs up
the Satta Pass. As she looks back, the snow-dust vanishes
from Mount Fuji[2]; but her uneasiness, as she thinks her fate
will be like it, will soon be set at rest by the fire to be

[Illustration: Travelers walking with Mount Fuji in the

at her wedding. With these joyful reflections she comes upon
the pine-grove of Miho; after it is an avenue of pine-trees, which
is now filled by a great procession. Who the lord is she knows not,
but she looks at it with envy; ah, if the times had not
changed, in such grand state might she have travelled for
her marriage. With these dreams of pageantry she passes
Fuchu, and when the castle-town is left behind, her mother,
to cheer their spirits, looks forward impatiently to the
moment when the wedding cups are exchanged and all is still
but for the whisperings of the bridal chamber which the
daughter will keep secret from the mother. The ivy-covered
path leads from the sea-coast where the lashing billows
separate parent and child; and here in the tangled path her
mother takes her hand and asks her how glad she will be to
meet her lover. She pushes aside her mother’s swords at the
Mariko River, and near Utsu Hill she is lost in reverie,
thinking of her bridegroom. The coloured rice at Seto is
hard; and so may be her life, though now she is full of
bashful joy. At the Oi River an anxiety arises; for the
stream of water and a man’s heart are fickle, they say. Will
his heart ever change? As well ask if the flower will bloom
in the shade. At Shimada[3], that home of maiden coiffure,

[Illustration: Two women, one resting on luggage]

her brooding ceases. Asking herself in a murmur if people
know how she is placed, she crosses the bridge at Shirasuka,
and further on, at Yoshida and Akasaka, the women of the
inns in a loud voice invite the passers-by. “If you would
seek a mate,” they sing, “go to the Temple of Kiyomizu,
plunge into the Falls of Otowa, and pray for one every day. The
dancers’ drum has broken our midday nap.” Oh, how she wishes to tell
of her hardships to her husband in the Capital! If it is only the
couple and the mother, the Goddess of Ise has brought them
together; and the country song is a good omen to her. She
comes to Narumi; ah, is that the Shrine of Atsuta over
yonder? The boat has hoisted its sail on the seven-_ri_
ferry and the boatmen keep time as they row. The sound of
their steering, it is like the cry of the _suzumushi_
(bell-insect); nay, it is sad and lonely as the cricket’s
chirp.[4] The boats are few in number, and so runs the mother,
and runs the daughter. The hail falls from the sky, and they
put up umbrellas with their fellow-passengers in the boat.
Now they come to Shono and stop at Kameyama, where part the
roads to Ise and to the East. The bells (_sazu_) of the
postal road are heard at Suzukagoe,
and the rain falls at Tsuchiyama.[5] So they all say at
Minakuchi. At Ishibe and Ishiba she picks up stones, big and
little, and fondles and rubs them[6] as they remind her of her
husband. In time they reach Otsu and cross the foot of the
Temple of Miidera. and hurry to a village not far from

[Illustration: Pines tree]

  [1] In this Act, such frequent allusions are made to the different
      places on the highroad from Yedo to Kyoto that, without the
      knowledge of their names, it is well-nigh impossible to make
      much meaning out of the whole piece.

  [2] Refers to an ode by Saigyo-hoshi (1118-1190).

  [3] The formal coiffure of young unmarried women is called shimada
      after this town.

  [4] Refers to an ode by Gokyogoku (died 1190), which runs:—
           Sweetly chirps in the frosty night,
             The lonely cricket at my side;
           But lonelier far am I and cold,
             With half my bed unoccupied.

  [5] Refers to a popular local song, which runs:—
           At Seki, it is burning hot o’erhead
             At Suzuka the clouds have spread;
           And at Tsuchiyama, the half-way town,
             The rain comes pouring down.

  [6] Oboshi’s real name is Ōishi, which means ‘big stone’; hence
      the allusion.




In Yamashina, which is neither elegant nor out-of-the-common
and has nothing to recommend it, lies Yuranosuke’s temporary
home. Since yesterday he has remained at the tea-house in
Gion; for last night he was kept in by snow and has come
home this morning. Jesters and waitresses have come with
him, and flushed with wine, he attempts to roll the snow;
but instead of the snow rolling, he rolls in the snow, and
he amuses himself heedless of all appearances.

A JESTER. Master, your parlour commands a fine view. The
garden with the bamboos weighted with snow looks just like a
picture; it is beautiful, is it not, Oshina?

OSHINA. Yes, when I see this view, I do not wish to go
anywhere else.

YURANOSUKE. Er......don’t you know that ode,

  “When it is seen from morn to eve,
   E’en Awaji’s fair chain of hills
   Over ’gainst Sumiyoshi’s beach
   No more our eyes with wonder fills”?

[Illustration: Two men and a woman]

Though a man may be proud of his garden, he cannot relish
wine at home; it will not go down his throat. Now, come in,
come in. Where is my wife when I have visitors?

RECITATIVE. He goes before the others; and as he strides
from one stepping-stone to another, his words are unsteady,
and so are his legs, for he is exhilarated with wine. His
wife, guessing that he has returned, comes out in a light
spirit, and in her anxiety for her husband out in the cold,
she shows no jealousy. With cheerful words she brings him a
cup of tea; but he takes only a sip and throws the rest on
the ground.

YURANOSUKE. Ah, wife, that is clumsy of you. You wish me to
become sober when I have had wine and enjoyed myself. How
jealous must other people think you! Ah, how the snow has
fallen! Snow is like whipped cotton, they say, and flying,
is stuffed within; and the wife, when she is called mamma,
becomes a household drudge.[1] Pardon the lateness of my visit
to my lady’s chamber. The spring lobster, the goblet, and
the fence of the Rice-God of the Grotto must be red, or they
will lose their votaries, I suppose. Dear, dear, I have
stumbled and sprained my big toe. Oh, well, well. I will do
so while I am about it.

OISHI. Oh, do not jest; be quiet. When he drinks too much,
he loses his senses. What a trouble he must have been to

RECITATIVE. She speaks to them gently. Rikiya comes in.

RIKIYA. Please, mother. Is father asleep? Pray, give him

RECITATIVE. From their actions it is plain that the parents
and son understand one another; and when Rikiya hands a
wooden pillow, Yuranosuke appears to be in a dream.

OISHI. Will you all now go home?

JESTERS AND WAITRESSES. Yes, yes, madam. Pray, present
compliments to Master. And come sometimes, Young Master.

RECITATIVE. They make signs with their eyes, and they go
home with abashed looks. When they have gone beyond hearing,
Yuranosuke raises his head.

YURANOSUKE. Rikiya, see this snow that I rolled when I
pretended to amuse myself; it was done with an object in
view. What do you make of it?

RIKIYA. Snow, sir, is scattered when it falls by the least
wind; and yet, though it is light, it becomes, when it is
pressed into a ball, as you see there, as hard as a stone,
for rocks are split by snow that is blown down from a peak.
Weighty is loyalty. But neither that weighty loyalty nor
this ball of snow must be kept too long. Is that your
meaning, sir?

YURANOSUKE. No, no. Yuranosuke, his son, Hara Goemon, and
the rest of the forty-seven confederates are all masterless
and live in the shade. Snow, too, will not melt if it is
kept in the shade; and it warns us against haste. It is in
the sun here, take it into the yard behind the house. When
they collected fireflies or piled snow[2] for light to read
by, it showed the patience of scholars. Let the servant open
the garden-gate from inside. I will write the letter to
Sakai; when the messenger comes, let me know.

RECITATIVE. The servant opens the garden-gate; the snow is
rolled in and the gate is shut. The sliding-door is opened
and they all go in.

She who now comes to this retreat in Yamashina, as far removed
from the world as the recesses of the heart, is Tonase, the wife of
Kakogawa Honzo Yukikuni. She makes the palanquin which has
come with her wait near her; and alone she girds two swords
and, strict in deportment, she calls at the door of the

TONASE. If you please.

RECITATIVE. Hearing her voice, the servant Rin slips off her
_tasuki_[3] and rushes to the door, which formerly would have
been answered by an usher.

TONASE. Is this Master Oboshi Yuranosuke’s home? If so,
pray, tell him that I am Tonase, Kakogawa Honzo’s wife; I
have long neglected to call; but I have come a great
distance to-day as there is something for which I desire to
see him.

RECITATIVE. Then she turns round and makes the bearers bring
the palanquin beside her. She calls her daughter. And with
such a smile as smiles the bush-warbler when he flies out of
the depths of the valley to find the plum-tree all a-flower,
out comes Konami, with a head-covering almost concealing her eyes.

KONAMI. Are we already at Master Rikiya’s home? I feel too

RECITATIVE. The room is put in order, and the servant comes
to the door to bid them enter.

TONASE. The palanquin-bearers may now go home. Please, show
us in.

RECITATIVE. Konami keeps close to her mother and sits down
with her; and the next moment Oishi calmly enters to meet

OISHI. You ladies are welcome. I should have called long
ago; but you have no doubt heard of our present condition,
and I am ashamed to be visited in such a home.

TONASE. You are too formal. Though we see each other for the
first time to-day, since your son, Master Rikiya and my
daughter Konami were betrothed, you and I are now
connections, and we need not stand upon ceremony to each

OISHI. It is very kind of you to say so. I am grateful for
such an unexpected visit in this cold weather of Master
Kakogawa Honzo’s lady who must be very busy. Mistress Tonase
knows the Capital, no doubt; but it must be quite new to
Mistress Konami. Have you been to Gion, Kiyomizu, Chion-in,
and the Great Statue of Buddha? If you wish to see the
Kinkakuji, I can procure you admittance.

RECITATIVE. To this unreserved talk Konami can only mutter a
word or two in answer, as if the light dazzled her even
through her head-covering. Tonase now sits up straight.

TONASE. I will tell you why I came here to-day. After this
my daughter Konami was betrothed, came the calamity to your
Lord Enya, and we could not discover where Master Yuranosuke
and Master Rikiya dwelt. It is the way of the world to
change with the times; but unchangeable is the parent’s
heart. Upon inquiry, we found that you lived here in
Yamashina and, in our desire to make over our daughter to
you as soon as possible, I have forced myself upon you
to-day. My husband Honzo should have come in person; but as
he is busy with his official duties, I have girded myself
with these two swords, the soul of my husband, and am
therefore here as his deputy. I do duty for him and myself.
I desire to see Master Yuranosuke also. I should like to see
the marriage-cups exchanged and feel at ease. Happily,
to-day is an auspicious day, and please, therefore, to make
preparations for the marriage.

OISHI. Your words are most unexpected. Unfortunately,
Yuranosuke has gone out; but if he were at home and saw you,
he would answer, “I am most grateful for your kindness. When
the children were betrothed, I was in my lord’s service and
received a stipend; I asked Master Honzo to give me his
daughter and he consented, and the promise was made. But now
I am a _ronin_ with scarcely a servant; and though the
promise was made, the daughter of one of Master Kakogawa’s
high position would be out of place here; it would be, as
the vulgar saying is, as ill-matched as a lantern and a
temple-bell. An ill-sorted marriage can only end in a
divorce. Besides, we have not exchanged betrothal presents,
and so, pray give her away anywhere you please without the
least reserve.” That, Madam, would be his answer.

TONASE. You surprise me. However much you may humble
yourself, you cannot say that it is an ill match between
Honzo and Master Yuranosuke. I will tell you why. My master
is of a modest position, and his chief councillor Honzo
receives only five hundred _koku_; while Lord Enya was a
_daimyo_, and his chief councillor Master Yuranosuke’s
stipend was fifteen hundred _koku_. Did you not make the
betrothal when your stipend was a thousand _koku_ higher
than Honzo’s? And now you are a _ronin_, and even if you
were without income, Honzo’s stipend would only be five
hundred _koku_ higher than yours.

OISHI. No, you are wrong. Though there might be a difference
of not merely five hundred _koku_, but even of ten thousand,
we would not object to taking for wife a great man’s
daughter if only our hearts matched.

TONASE. I should like to hear more of this, Mistress OISHI.
You say, if your hearts matched. Whose hearts, pray, tell

OISHI. My master Lord Enya Hangwan’s death was due, it is
true, to his hasty temper; but it arose originally from his
love of honesty. On the other hand, Master Honzo cajoled
Moronao with bribe and receives the stipend of a fawning
samurai. We cannot take for wife a woman who is an ill match
for the beloved son of Yuranosuke who refuses to serve a
second master.

RECITATIVE. Instantly Tonase shuffles forward.

TONASE. Whom do you mean by a fawning samurai? According to
your answer, I may refuse to let it pass; but I will
overlook it for the love of my daughter. It is the wife’s
duty to submit to her husband. Whether the marriage ceremony
has taken place or not, she is, since she has been betrothed
to Rikiya, his wife in the eyes of all men.

OISHI. Humph, that is interesting. If she is his wife, her
husband divorces her; I divorce her in my son’s name.

RECITATIVE. With these words she stands up and going out,
shuts the sliding-door behind her. The daughter bursts out

KONAMI. I came here relying upon your promise to let me see
Master Rikiya, to whom I was betrothed as we loved each
other, and now his mother divorces me; but I have done
nothing to deserve it. Please, plead for me, mother, and let
the marriage ceremony take place.

RECITATIVE. She clings to her mother and weeps; and the
mother gazes long at her face.

TONASE. It may be due to a parent’s partiality; but your
beauty appears to me to be more than ordinary. We looked for
a good husband for you and betrothed you to Rikiya; and now
our journey has been in vain. I understand now. Being a
_ronin_ with no one to turn to, Rikiya has, on the strength
of his high birth, become the husband of a wealthy
merchant’s daughter and lost all sense of duty and justice.
Come, Konami. That fellow’s spirit is as I have just said.
Since he has divorced you, you will find many a one anxious
to marry you; and have you no wish to go elsewhere? This is
a critical moment. Answer firmly without weeping. Come, what
do you say?

RECITATIVE. The mother’s nerves are tense as a bow.

KONAMI. You say cruel things, mother. When I left home, my
father said to me that Oboshi Rikiya, _ronin_ as he is, is
unexceptionable in conduct and ability and I was fortunate
in having such a husband; since a chaste women never looks
upon a second husband, I was not, even though I parted from
him, to take another husband, for that would be the same as
the infidelity of a married woman; asleep or awake, I must
not forget to be tender to my husband and be dutiful to
Yuranosuke and his wife; I was not, though I lived on good
terms with my husband, to be in the least jealous and thus
run the risk of being divorced; and when I was about to
become a mother, I was not to conceal it from fear of
causing my father anxiety, but to let him know at once.
These were my father’s words and I remember them well. If I
am divorced and go home, I shall only increase his anxiety;
and whatever excuse or plea others may offer, I will marry
no one, if I cannot Master Rikiya.

RECITATIVE. On hearing Konami show her determination to
persist in her love, Tonase can endure no longer and,
overcome with tears, she draws her sword.

KONAMI. What are you going to do, mother?

RECITATIVE. As Konami restrains her, her mother raises her

TONASE. Can you ask what I am going to do? As you say, your
father wishes to have the marriage ceremony performed as
soon as possible and to see the face of his first
grandchild; for such is ever the father’s love of his
daughter. When he is thus looking forward with great
pleasure, how can I take you home and tell him that you have
been divorced before even the wedding took place? And yet if
your mother-in-law refuses to take you in, we can do
nothing. Especially, as you are his former wife’s daughter
and none of my blood, he might think I was remiss in
bringing about your marriage, and I cannot go home alive.
When I am dead, you will tell your father what I have told
you and beg his forgiveness.

KONAMI. Ah, what you say is more than I deserve. It is I,
unloved of my husband, that should die. I am most undutiful
to you, for while I have hitherto received all kindness from
you, I am now causing you sorrow. Oh, kill me, I entreat,
with your own hand. I desire nothing more than to die here,
divorced as I am, in my husband’s house. Please, slay me at

TONASE. Oh, well said; you have spoken bravely. I will not
kill you alone; but I will accompany you on the road to
Hades. When I have slain you with my own hand, I will soon
overtake you. Are you ready?

RECITATIVE. She bravely stops her tears and half rises.

TONASE. Oh, Konami, hear that. A _komuso_[4] is playing
outside on his flute the song of the “Nesting of the Crane.”
When even birds love their young, it is the clashing of
ill-starred karmas that I must slay an innocent child.

RECITATIVE. As she thinks of it, her legs can hardly support
her; and as she lifts at

*An itinerant minstrel of the _ronin_ class.

last her sword with shaking hands, Konami sits bravely under
it with her hands joined in prayer.

[Illustration: Tonase has a raised sword behind kneeling
Konami. A person is behind a screen]

KONAMI. Oh, save us, Amida Buddha.

RECITATIVE. As she recites this prayer, she hears a voice
call out.

A VOICE. Stop.

RECITATIVE. Without her knowing it, Tonase’s arms weaken,
and the flute, too, becomes suddenly still.

TONASE. Oh, yes, yes. The voice that called stopped the
flute of the _komuso_. As I wished so much to save you, my
heart grew faint at the sound of the voice. But let me not
be laughed at for a faint-hearted woman. Daughter, are you

RECITATIVE. As she lifts her sword again, again the flute is
played, and again the voice calls out.

A VOICE. Stop.

TONASE. H’m, the voice that calls out, “Stop,” does it stop
the hand of the flute-player or this uplifted hand?

A VOICE. I stopped the hand with the sword. The marriage
with my son Rikiya shall take place.

TONASE. What, that voice is Mistress Oishi’s. Is it true
what you tell me?

RECITATIVE. While she asks, the wedding song is heard from
within the sliding-door: “Auspicious, indeed, are the
pine-trees that grow together.” Out comes Oishi carrying on
a level with her eyes a small stand of plain wood.

OISHI. You showed, Mistress Tonase, a resolute heart when
you raised your hand against a daughter to whom you are
bound by a sense of duty; and great, too, is Mistress
Konami’s chastity of heart. From admiration for your spirit,
I will permit the ceremony I am loth to perform; and in
return I expect a wine-cup from the bride that is not
commonly given. I will receive it on this stand, and have
you it ready?

RECITATIVE. As Oishi places the stand before her, Tonase
feels a little relieved, and she returns to the scabbard her
drawn sword.

TONASE. By a wine-cup uncommon in the world I suppose you
mean a wedding-present. These two swords are my husband’s
heirloom; the sword was made by Masamune and the dirk by
Namino-hira Yukiyasu. They are treasures that cannot be
exchanged for house or life. I offer them as presents.

RECITATIVE. Before she has done speaking, Oishi breaks out.

OISHI. Looking down upon us as _ronin_, you give us two
swords of high value as wedding-presents, as much as to say
that we may sell them when we are straitened in our means.
They are not what we desire.

TONASE. What, then, do you wish?

OISHI. We wish placed on this stand the head of Master
Kakogawa Honzo.

TONASE. What? and why?

OISHI. When our Lord Enya Hangwan, having a grudge against
Kono Moronao, struck him with his sword in the Palace of
Kamakura, it was solely because your husband Kakogawa Honzo
who was present caught him from behind and stopped him that
he was unable to accomplish his object and his enemy escaped
with a slight wound while he himself was compelled to commit
_seppuku_. Though he said nothing at the time, great was his
mortification and how must he have hated Master Honzo for
his interference! If you think that Rikiya, his servant, is
such a man that he will calmly take to wife the daughter of
this Kakogawa, I will permit the exchange of the
wedding-cups when I have seen on this stand Master Honzo’s
hoary head, or if you refuse, place on it any two other
heads for the ceremony. Now, do you consent, or do you not?

RECITATIVE. To these sharp words of reason the mother and
daughter bow their heads and know not what to do.

A VOICE OUTSIDE. I will give you Kakogawa Honzo’s head.
Receive it.

RECITATIVE. The _komuso_ who has been standing outside,
takes off his hat and throws it down; and slowly he comes

[Illustration: Honzo standing]

KONAMI. What, you are my father?

TONASE. Master Honzo, how did you come here? And in this
guise? I cannot understand. How is this?

HONZO. Come, it is unbecoming to be so noisy. I have heard
it all. I will tell you later how I came here without
letting you know. Be silent for the present. And you are
Mistress Oishi, the wife of Master Yuranosuke? I thought it
would turn out thus to-day and came without my wife and
daughter’s knowledge to find out for myself. And, as I
expected, you wish to have my head as my son-in-law’s
wedding present! Ha, ha, ha! That is what a samurai should
say. Yuranosuke, who has no intention of avenging his lord’s
death, given to pleasures, a debauchee whose spirit is
disordered with excessive drinking, the greatest mirror of
folly in all Japan! A frog’s offspring can but become a
frog; and Rikiya is a great idiot no less than his father, a
cowardly, good-for-nothing samurai. Such a fellow cannot cut
off this head of mine. No more of such foolishness!

RECITATIVE. He tramples upon the stand and breaks it to

HONZO. It is I who will not have him for my son-in-law. You
shallow-hearted woman!

OISHI. That is too much, Master Honzo. I will show you if
this rusty sword of a _ronin_ has an edge or not. Unworthy
as I am, I am Yuranosuke’s wife; and you are such an enemy
as I desire. Come, let us fight it out; let us appeal to

RECITATIVE. She tucks up her skirt, and taking down a spear
from the wall, prepares to attack him.

TONASE AND KONAMI. You are too hasty. Please, wait.

[Illustration: Oishi holding a spear]

RECITATIVE. As his wife and daughter rush forward to stop
the fight, he tells them to be out of the way and pushes
them aside to the right and left. As Oishi bears upon him
instantly with the spear, he catches hold of the spear
socket and thrusts it away with a twist; and as she turns
her body and springs upon him to pierce both his legs, he
kicks the glittering blade and the spear falls from her
hands. And as she runs forward to pick it up, he catches her
by the _obi_ and pushes her down on the mat. Honzo puts his
knee upon her; and Oishi gnashes her teeth with
mortification. As the mother and daughter look on with
palpitating hearts, Oboshi Rikiya rushes out, and before any
one is aware that he has taken up the fallen spear, he
thrusts it in through Honzo’s left side until it is almost
out upon his right. With a groan, Honzo falls on his face.
The mother and daughter cling to Honzo with grief and
horror; Rikiya takes no notice of them and draws out the
spear to give the finishing stroke. But Yuranosuke comes out
and catches hold of the spear.

YURANOSUKE. Stop, Rikiya, do not be over-hasty. It is long
since we last met, Master Honzo. The object you sought for
is gained and you have fallen by your son-in-law’s hand; and
you are, no doubt, satisfied.

RECITATIVE. Seeing that Yuranosuke has guessed his
intention, Honzo opens his eyes.

HONZO. Great has been your anxiety to avenge your lord’s
death, and putting the enemy off the scent by frequenting
pleasure-quarters, you have gathered together all your
confederates. As I think of it, it reminds me that your
position should have been mine. Last spring, when the Shrine
at Tsurugaoka was completed, my master Wakasanosuke was
enraged beyond measure at the insults heaped upon him by
Kono Moronao. He called me to him privately and told me all
and declared that he would kill him at a stroke in the
Palace on the following day. I saw from his determined look
that the hot blood of youth could not be curbed. And as I
was sure that Kono had insulted him because, being a man of
moderate means, he did not give sufficient bribes to him, I
went without my master’s knowledge to Moronao with gold and
cloths in quantity beyond his station, and fawned upon him
against my will, because I had my lord’s interests at heart.
When Moronao had received the bribe, he begged pardon of my
master, who was, then, unable to slay him, and his grudge
against him completely vanished. Moronao’s anger, then,
turned upon Lord Enya. That day I caught him from behind
because I thought that if his enemy was not killed, he
himself would escape the punishment of death; it was the
greatest error of my life that I carried my thought too far.
And finding that error would bring trouble upon my daughter,
I desired to give this hoary head in atonement to my
son-in-law. I sent my wife and daughter on before me, and I
begged to be dismissed from my lord’s service on the ground
of my flattery of Moronao, and taking a different route, I
arrived in Kyoto two days before my wife and daughter. The
flute-playing which I learnt in youth was useful to me, and
in four days I saw clearly what were your intentions. If I
fall by your hand, your grudge against me will be dispelled,
and if you will, according to promise, let my daughter marry
Rikiya, I will never, not through all our future lives,
forget your goodness. See, I beg you with clasped hands.
This life of mine that I thought not to give up except in my
master’s cause I now yield for my daughter. Oh, have a
feeling for the parent’s heart, Master Yura.

RECITATIVE. He speaks, choking with tears; his wife and
daughter are beside themselves with grief.

KONAMI. We thought not for a moment that things would come
to this pass. It was only because we were too slow to die
that you threw away your life. Hard is our destiny; and I
tremble as I think what retribution will fall upon me. Oh,
pardon me, father.

RECITATIVE. She falls on the ground and cries bitterly; and
in their sympathy for the feelings of the parents and
daughter, Oboshi, his wife and son droop with sorrow.

YURANOSUKE. Nay, nay, Master Honzo. The superior man, they
say, hates the offence, but not the offender; and no doubt
you feel resentment since we should have taken marriage and
grudge separately and not confused them together. But we
must shortly leave this world, and we will now show you our
true motive.

RECITATIVE. He flings wide open the sliding-doors which lead
to the yard, and there stand two five-storied towers of snow
which Yuranosuke has made in anticipation of coming events
to foretell his final fate.

TONASE. That snow displays your intention, when you have
avenged your lord’s death, to melt away without serving
another master. Master Rikiya, too, with the same intention,
divorced my daughter; and his apparent cruelty arose really
from his pity. I grieve to think I bore you ill-will,
Mistress Oishi.

OISHI. You speak truly, Mistress Tonase. To take a wife whom
we cannot wish a long, happy wedded life since she must soon
be a widow, never was such a matter for congratulation and
sorrow together. It was because I did not wish for such a
wedding that I spoke so cruelly and unfeelingly to you; how
you must have hated me!

TONASE. No, no. In my anger I said that your son had become
a merchant’s son-in-law and lost all sense of duty and
justice. I am now both sorry and ashamed of it, and can
hardly hold up my head before you. Mistress Oishi.

OISHI. Mistress Tonase.

TONASE. This child who is above the common in lineage and
beauty, why is it that she is so unfortunate?

RECITATIVE. Her voice is choked with tears. Honzo checks his

HONZO. Ah, how I rejoice that my wish is fulfilled! No need
to take account of the loyalty of Wu-tzu-hsiao,[5] who smiled
at the insults heaped upon him when he was put to death for
remonstrating with the King of Wu. The mirrors of loyalty
are Hu-yang[6] in China and Oboshi in Japan; since antiquity
up till now, there have only been these two men in China and
Japan. To have become the wife of Rikiya who has one of
these for his father, it is an achievement for the daughter
of a samurai a hundred times greater than sharing the
Imperial bed. To the husband of this high-achieving daughter
I would make a wedding-present.

RECITATIVE. With these words he takes it out of his bosom;
and Rikiya receives it with a bow. He opens it, and what is
this? It is not a list of presents, but a guide to
Moronao’s house. The porch, outlying blocks, samurai’s room,
water-gate, lumber-room, and fuel-shed, all are minutely
marked in the plan. Yuranosuke takes it with obeisance.

YURANOSUKE. I am deeply grateful. All our confederates are
ready; but as we knew not yet the details of the enemy’s
house, we postponed our journey. This map is truly as the
secret books of Sun and Wu[7] and the _Rikuto Sanryaku_[8] to
us. As we have decided to make a night-attack, we will get
over the wall with a rope-ladder; and to steal into the
house, we will take out the rain-shutters of the verandah
and then we shall be in the sitting-room. We will cut it off
and attack in this way.

RECITATIVE. While father and son rejoice, Honzo retains his
wits in spite of his wounds.

HONZO. Nay, nay, that is an error. Kono Moronao keeps strict
guard. All his sliding-doors are bolted and his shutters
hasped end to end so that you cannot wrench them open. If
you attempt to break them down with hammers, the noise will put
him on his guard. What will you do?

YURANOSUKE. Oh, for that I have a good plan. If we are too
absorbed, good ideas are apt to escape us; when I was
returning from the pleasure-quarters, I suddenly thought of
the snow-laden bamboo in my garden and with it the plan for
taking out the shutters. I will now show you how I shall do

RECITATIVE. In the garden stands a great, stout bamboo
bending under the heavy weight of snow. Yuranosuke turns it
round and puts the tip under the lintel; it is bent like a
bow by the snow.

YURANOSUKE. I shall make bows bent like this with strings
and put the two ends between the lintel and the sill; and
when the strings are cut all at once, the result will be as
you will see.

RECITATIVE. He shakes the snow off the branches; and as it
falls, the bamboo straightens of itself and raises the
lintel. The sliding-doors come off the groove and fall down
one after another. In his admiration Honzo forgets his

HONZO. Well done, well done. Ah, with a retainer possessed
of such loyalty and military ability, Lord Enya should have
been more discreet; and how deplorable was his inconsiderate

RECITATIVE. As he hears Honzo’s regret, Yuranosuke is
reminded of his lord’s hasty act; and when he reflects upon
what he might have done if the loyalty he is now showing he
could have displayed before his lord on the battle-field,
his heart is filled to choking with mortification, and only
tears escape him. Rikiya calmly stands up, and going up to
his father, bows to him.

RIKIYA. Now that, by Master Honzo’s kindness, we are
informed of the arrangement of our enemy’s house, I will go
down to Amakawaya Gihei’s house at Sakai in the province of
Izumi and make arrangements for our equipment.

YURANOSUKE. No, no. Everyone knows that I live in Yamashina,
and if we muster our confederates here, they will attract
attention. When we have arrived at Sakai, we will start
thence together. You, with your mother, bride, and Mistress
Tonase, will remain behind and put everything in order, so
that you may leave nothing to cause regret afterwards. Do
you understand? And then come down by the night-boat
to-morrow. I will put on the disguise which Master Honzo has
happily brought here.

RECITATIVE. He puts on the robe and the wicker-hat. In
gratitude to Honzo and to dispel his anxiety in the other
world, he allows in his sympathy this one night of love to
the bride. As he goes out softly singing, Oishi, prepared as
she has been, is plunged in sorrow; and though she only
wishes him success in his undertaking, her heart aches with
grief as she refrains from saying much that she would fain
say at this final parting. The wounded man knows that his
last moment has come, and in his dying agony he answers not
the cries of his daughter. Now the link between them is
snapped, and they are parted for ever in this world. Loud
lament the mother and daughter; and they both throw
themselves upon the body and pray for his soul’s rest, —oh,
the impermanence of love. The out-going feet stop awhile and
the prayer to the Amida Buddha is heard in the tunes of the

[Illustration: Pipe and wicker hat]

  [1] A parody on a famous couplet in a Chinese poem:
        “Snow is like goose-feather, and flying, is scattered;
         Man looks robed in the crane’s plumage, and rising, wanders

  [2] Refers to the stories of two Chinese scholars, Ch’e-yin, who
      collected fireflies and put them in a bag to read by their
      light, and Sun-K’ang, who read by the snow-light, as they were
      too poor to buy a lamp and oil.

  [3] A cord for tucking in the sleeves.

  [4] An itinerant minstrel of the ronin class.

  [5] A celebrated Chinese strategist of the fifth century before

  [6] Noted for the great efforts he made to avenge the murder of his
      master Chih-pai.

  [7] Famous Chinese writers on military art.

  [8] Celebrated Chinese works on strategy.




At Sakai, the largest port in the three provinces of Settsu,
Izumi, and Kawachi, whence vessels sail to other provinces,
lives Amakawaya Gihei, well thought-of by his townsmen and
without a spot upon his reputation. He has amassed wealth;
and though he looks a man of moderate means, he is in
reality rich. He is tying heavy boxes in his shop, and the
skipper of a large vessel addresses him.

SKIPPER. With this I have received just seven boxes.

RECITATIVE. He shoulders the box and goes out in the
twilight, and the master gives a sigh of relief.

GIHEI. The weather is fine, and promises a fair voyage.

RECITATIVE. And smoking a pipe, he goes within. His heir is
four years old this year, and his nurse is a round-browed
boy of nineteen, who plays with his charge for his own

IGO. Now, it is going to commence. Oh, what fun! “The Crying
Benkei.”[1] Listen, gentles all! Here the one to be most
pitied is this Yoshimatsu. For he has only a father, and his
mother has been divorced and sent away; and that is why I
call him the Crying Benkei.

YOSHIMATSU. Oh, Igo, I don’t want any more puppet-show. Go
and fetch mamma.

IGO. There, you are again unreasonable. I’ll tell master and
make him turn you out, too. Since last month the whole house
has been turned topsy-turvey. The clerk, why, he has been
driven out because he doesn’t keep his eyes open as if he
was a young rat or something. The cook was sent packing
because she gave a great yawn. And now there are only you,
me, and master. I suppose we shall all slip out of this
house, for boxes are being sent to ship at times. If we must
flit, we will take with us the box of puppets.

YOSHIMATSU. No, I don’t want puppet-playing; I want to

IGO. There, you are going to entice me, too. Very well, I
will sleep with you in my arms.

YOSHIMATSU. No, I don’t want to.

IGO. Why not?

YOSHIMATSU. You can’t give milk; I don’t want you.

IGO. There, you are unreasonable again.

[Illustration: Kneeling man facing a standing man and woman]

I can’t help it, as we are both boys. This is another cause
for tears.

RECITATIVE. Two samurai appear at the door.

SAMURAI. If you please, is Master Gihei at home?

RECITATIVE. He asks in a low voice.

IGO. Master is in; we are busy puppet-playing. If you want
to see him, come in, come in.

SAMURAI. No, that would be disrespectful unless we are shown
in. Please, tell him that Hara Goemon and Oboshi Rikiya
desire to see him privately.

IGO. Oh, master, great big men have come.

RECITATIVE. With this cry he runs in with Yoshimatsu, and
his master Gihei comes out.

GIHEI. Fool, you are shouting again. Ah, Master Goemon and
Master Rikiya, please, come this way.

GOEMON AND RIKIYA. By your leave.

RECITATIVE. They take their seats.

GOEMON. By your kindness everything has now been arranged;
and Yuranosuke should himself have come to thank you; but as
he intends to start for Kamakura to-day or to-morrow, he is
very busy and has sent in his stead his son Rikiya to
apologise for his discourtesy.

GIHEI. That is very good of you. If you are to start so
suddenly, you must be very busy with one thing or another.

RIKIYA. Yes, as Master Goemon has said, we shall start early
to-morrow morning; and as my father is very busy, he has
told me to take the liberty to thank you myself and to ask
if the remaining boxes we asked you for have all been
shipped to-night.

GIHEI. Yes, the weapons you ordered have been sent one after
another by sea; the gauntlets, leggings, and smaller weapons
have been put in a long box; and seven boxes in all were
delivered to a skipper who luckily sails this evening. There
remain dark-lanterns and chain head-bands, and I intend to
send them later by land.

RIKIYA. Do you hear that, Master Goemon? We are greatly
beholden to him.

GOEMON. Yes, Master Yura saw that though there are many
merchants who received favours from our Lord Enya, Amakawaya
Gihei is the only one who possesses a manly spirit which
even samurai cannot surpass, and it was natural that he
should have entrusted to him this great task. But, setting
aside swords and spears, coats of mail and rope-ladders are
unusual articles. Did you not arouse any suspicion when you
bought them?

GIHEI. No, when I ordered them, I gave the makers
earnest-money without telling them my address; and when they
were made, I paid the money down and took them, so that they
do not know who their customer is.

RIKIYA. Indeed, that is true. Now I should like, too, to ask
you. When you brought home the weapons and packed them, how
did you evade the notice of your servants?

GIHEI. Oh, that, too, is a natural question. When this task
was entrusted to me, I sent my wife back to her father, all
my servants I discharged on one pretext or another, and now
only remain a fool and my son who is four years old. There
is no danger of the plot being discovered.

RIKIYA. You really astonish me. I will tell my father and he
will feel relieved. Master Goemon, shall we not take leave?

GOEMON. Yes, we are impatient to start. Master Gihei, we
take our leave.

GIHEI. Then, please, present to Master Yuranosuke........

GOEMON. Your compliments. With pleasure. Now, farewell.

GIHEI. Farewell.

RECITATIVE. They part, and the two men return to their inn.
Just as Gihei is about to shut the front-door, his
father-in-law, Ota Ryochiku, pushes himself in.

RYOCHIKU. No, you don’t shut it in my face. Are you in?

RECITATIVE. He walks straight in and looks about him

GIHEI. You are welcome, father. I sent you the other day my
wife for her health; and I am afraid she is a trouble to
you. Does she take medicine?

RYOCHIKU. Yes, she takes medicine and she takes food, too.

GIHEI. That is excellent.

RYOCHIKU. No, it is not excellent. When I was in my
province, I received a stipend from Master Ono Kudayu and
was fairly to do; but now I cannot even keep a servant.
There must be some reason for your sending your wife who is
not particularly ill to me for her health. But be that as it
may, if the young woman should misconduct herself, you will
be dishonoured and I shall have to cut this shrivelled belly
of mine. And so I have a proposal to make. Suppose you
pretend to the world that you have separated from her and
send me a letter of divorce; why, when you want her, you can
at any time take her back. Just write me the letter, please.

RECITATIVE. Though he speaks lightly, Gihei sees that he has
some plan in his heart; but if he refuses, she will be
immediately sent back, and if she comes back, he will be
breaking his word to those who entrusted him with the great
task. He hesitates in his perplexity.

RYOCHIKU. Do you refuse? If you will not consent, I cannot
keep her a moment longer. If she returns, I shall squeeze
myself in, too, and stick to you and be a burden upon you
together with her. Answer me if you consent or refuse.

RECITATIVE. Taken at a disadvantage, Gihei feels with
mortification that he is caught in a trap; but he cannot run
the risk of the great undertaking being detected. He takes
down the ink-slab and quickly writes the letter.

GIHEI. Since I give you this, Master Ryochiku, we are no
longer father and son.

[Illustration: Gihei grabbing Ryochiku with one hand and
holding the letter with the other hand]

Never again darken my doors. I am chagrined to think that I
am knowingly falling into your trap in giving you this
letter. Now, take it and go.

RECITATIVE. He throws him the letter, and Ryochiku takes it
hastily and puts it in his bosom.

RYOCHIKU. Yes, you have guessed right. I heard that _ronin_
came here in secret, and I questioned Sono, but she says she
knows nothing. It made me very uneasy to leave my daughter
with a son-in-law who, for aught I know, may do something
dreadful. Happily I have had a proposal of marriage from a
great family, and we have agreed that she should marry as
soon as we get your letter of divorce. And so you are
entrapped, and that is excellent.

GIHEI. Oh, even without my giving the letter of divorce, if
she has the heart to desert a husband by whom she has a
child and marry elsewhere, I have no longing for such a
woman. Let her do as she pleases.

RYOCHIKU. To do as I please is the parent’s right. I shall
marry her this evening.

GIHEI. Now, don’t go on chattering, but leave this house at

RECITATIVE. He takes him by the shoulder and kicks him out
of the door and shuts it upon him. Ryochiku gets up.

RYOCHIKU. Here, Gihei. You may seize me and throw me out;
but I have received money for preparation from the family
she is going to marry into. As you have kicked me when I am
flush, you have apparently cured my rheumatism.

RECITATIVE. He is glib of tongue, and rubbing his legs and
hips, he goes home murmuring.

It is past the hour of the boar[2] when all are asleep in the
neighbouring houses, which are invisible in the gloom of the
clouded moon. Several policemen make for Gihei’s house; they
carry truncheons, cords, and dark lanterns. Hiding the
light, they proceed warily; they summon a servant who
appears to be their spy and whisper to him. He nods, and
hurriedly raps at the door.

GIHEI. Who is it? Who is it?

SPY. I am the skipper of the large ship who came in the
evening. There is a mistake in the reckoning of the freight.
Please, open the door.

GIHEI. What a fuss you make! I suppose it is some trifling
difference. Come to-morrow.

SPY. No, the ship is to leave to-night; but unless you
settle the account, I cannot set sail.

RECITATIVE. Gihei fears his loud voice will be heard in the
neighbourhood, and he rises and without any suspicion, opens
the door, when he is instantly surrounded.

POLICEMEN. We have caught you. Don’t move, we command in the
name of the Government.

GIHEI. What is it?

RECITATIVE. He looks around him.

POLICEMEN. What, do you ask why, you rascal? As you have, at
the request of Enya Hangwan’s retainer, Oboshi Yuranosuke,
purchased weapons and equipages and sent them by sea to
Kamakura, we have been ordered to seize you at once and
torture you into confession. You cannot escape. Here, tie
his arms behind.

GIHEI. Such accusation is most unexpected. I have never done
anything of the kind. You have probably mistaken your man.

POLICEMEN. Hold your tongue. We have a proof which you
cannot dispute. Here, servants, bring it in.

RECITATIVE. The servants bring in the long box packed in
straw matting which he shipped this evening. Upon seeing it,
Gihei feels his heart palpitate with apprehension.

POLICEMEN. There, don’t let him move.

RECITATIVE. They cut the ropes and are about to open the box
when Gidayu breaks

[Illustration: Gihei sitting on a shipping box]

loose and, kicking away the servants, he jumps and sits upon
the lid.

GIHEI. You are too heedless. In this box are various wares
and private articles which were ordered by the consort of a
certain _daimyo_. As her name is marked on every one of
them, the name of this great family will become known if you
open the box; and if you see it, your own lives may be in

POLICEMAN. This grows more and more suspicious. He will not
readily confess. Come, let us do as we agreed.


RECITATIVE. He runs into an inner room and brings out
Gihei’s only son, Yoshimatsu.

POLICEMAN. Now, Gihei, be the contents of the box what they
may, you have joined the league of Enya’s _ronin_ and are,
no doubt, fully acquainted with the secrets of their plot
against Moronao’s life. Confess all you know; if you refuse,
see, we will instantly do thus to your son.

RECITATIVE. The bare blade is pointed at the child’s throat;
but startled though he be, Gihei looks unmoved.

GIHEI. Ha, ha! You think to question me by taking a hostage
as you might a woman or a child. No, a man to the marrow is
Amakawaya Gihei; he will not, even for the love of his
child, confess what he does not know. I know nothing,
nothing whatever. I say I know nothing, and no torture of
earth or hell shall make me confess. If you think me
hateful, kill my child before my own eyes, yes, kill him.

POLICEMEN. What a stubborn fellow he is! You, who furnished
the spears, guns, and coats of mail, forty-six in number all
differently marked, can we let you say you know nothing? If
you will not confess, we will cut you by inches or slice you
still thinner. What do you say?

GIHEI. Oh, that is fine. I will be sliced. It is the
merchant’s business to stock and sell not only weapons, but
everything else from the ceremonial hats of the huge and
samurai to the straw shoes of waiting-women and other
servants; and if you think it suspicious and make inquiry,
there will be no one in Japan secure from inquisition. If I
am cut by inches or bound with a three-inch rope, I shall
lose my life for my trade and I do not grudge it. Come, kill
me. Stab my son before my eyes. Will you cut me by inches
first from my arm or from my breast? Take your choice of my
shoulder-blade and my spine.

RECITATIVE. He thrusts his body and limbs before them.

GIHEI. You shall see that my spirit is not to be changed by
the love of my child.

RECITATIVE. He seems from his look to be bent upon
strangling his son; but a voice calls to him.

A VOICE. Do not be over-hasty, Master GIHEI. Wait, wait a

RECITATIVE. From out the long box comes Oboshi Yuranosuke
Yoshikane; and upon seeing him, Gihei is amazed. The
policemen all throw away their truncheons and cords and sit
down far below him. Yuranosuke sits straight and puts his
hands on the floor before Gihei.

YURANOSUKE. Your spirit has struck us with astonishment. It
is to you that we may fitly apply the phrases “the lotus
rising out of the mud” and “the gold mingled in the sand.” I
was certain that such must be your spirit, and entrusted to
you the great task. I, Yuranosuke, never had a shadow of a
doubt; but among our forty and more confederates were some
who were not well acquainted with you. They only knew you as
a merchant by trade, and thought they, if you were seized
and questioned, what would happen, what would you say? And
especially as you had a dearly-loved son, it would be
natural for a parent’s heart to be led astray by the love of
his child. They discussed it often and grew restless with
anxiety. I felt the only way to set my old comrades’ hearts
at ease was to show them how determined was your will; and
though I knew it was what we should not do, we did what we
did to-night. I humbly crave your pardon for our rude
conduct. ‘Among flowers the cherry-blossom and among men the
samurai,’ they say; but no samurai can vie with you in
resolution. Even though one hold one’s own against a million
brave foes, such a spirit as yours is not to be acquired. If
we make your determination our pattern and attack our enemy
Moronao, we shall not fail in our object though he shut
himself up in a rock or lay hidden in an iron cave. Among
men there are no men, they say; but it is wonderful that
there should be such a man in a merchant’s home. Unless we
revere you as the tutelary deity, the protecting god of our
confederates, we cannot sufficiently repay our obligations
to you. In a time of tranquillity no wise man appears. Ah,
how deplorable, how regrettable! If our late lord were still
living, he might have fitly made you, with your great
ability, the leader of an army, or entrusted to you the
government of a province. To these here sitting before you,
Owashi Bungo and Yazama Jutaro, and Odera, Takamatsu, Horio,
Itakura, and Katayama, your action is a sovereign specific
for opening their closed eyes, it is as a medicine upon
which a great physician has exhausted his resources. We are
thankful to you, most thankful.

RECITATIVE. They shuffle back and bow to Gihei three times.

ALL. We crave pardon for our rude conduct.

RECITATIVE. They press their heads on the mats.

GIHEI. Now, you embarrass me. Pray, raise your hands and
heads. As they say, try a horse by riding and a man by
associating with him, it was natural that the gentlemen who
did not know me should feel uneasy. I was formerly a poor
man, but through your lord’s favour, I rose to my present
fortune. I was mortified like yourselves upon hearing of the
Lord Hangwan’s fate, I revolved in my mind various ways of
wiping away this great shame; but my efforts were no more
availing than those of a turtle trying to stamp on the
ground. While I was thinking how powerless I was, came this
request from Master Yuranosuke; instantly I complied, and
without a thought of consequences to myself, I took courage
like yourselves. Poor is the merchant’s lot; had I received
but a handful of rice for a stipend, I would have clung to
your sleeves and skirts and begged you to take me with you
on this great expedition, if only to pour you tea or water
to quench your thirst in the fight. Even that may not be,
and how mean is the merchant’s position! How great are your
lord’s favours and the power of the sword! I envy you for
laying down your lives for them. And when you serve your
lord in the other world, pray, make mention of the little
service that Gihei has done.

RECITATIVE. At these sincere words, his hearers’ eyes are
filled with tears and they clench their teeth.

YURANOSUKE. We leave to-night for Kamakura; and it will not
be a hundred days hence before we accomplish our object. I
hear you have sent away even your wife and thank you for
your great sacrifice. We will enable you before long to call
her home, and you will kindly put up for the present with
the inconvenience. We now take our leave.

GIHEI. Nay, you are going on what we may call an auspicious
journey; and I would offer you wine.

YURANOSUKE. Nay, but ............

GIHEI. But I would celebrate the occasion with hand-cut

YURANOSUKE. What, hand-cut! That is a good omen. Then,
Owashi and Yazama will remain behind; but those of the
advance party will call for Goemon and Rikiya and proceed to
the Grove of Sada.

GIHEI. Pray, come this way.

YURANOSUKE. It would be rude now to stand upon ceremony.

RECITATIVE. Yuranosuke enters within with the two men.

Buffeted between her father and husband, Osono’s heart is
darkened by thoughts of her child; she comes with a little
lantern and knocks at the door in the darkness.

OSONO. Igo, Igo.

RECITATIVE. The dunce awakes upon hearing her voice and
comes running to the door.

IGO. Who was it called me just now? Was it a goblin or a
wandering spirit?

OSONO. No, it is I, Sono. Please, open.

IGO. Still you make me nervous. Be sure not to say “Bah,”
like a ghost.

RECITATIVE. With these words he opens the door.

IGO. What, is it you, mistress? You are welcome. But if you
walk alone, you will be bitten by a mad dog.

OSONO. Oh, if I were bitten by a dog and killed, I should
not suffer as I do now. I am divorced. What has become of
you all? Is master in bed?

IGO. No.

OSONO. Is he away?

IGO. No.

OSONO. What is it?

IGO. I don’t know myself what it is; but early in the
evening lots of people came and cried, “I have caught you, I
have caught you,” as if a cat had caught a rat. I drew my
quilt over my head and went to sleep. And now he is drinking
with those men in the inner room, and they are having great

OSONO. Well, I cannot make it out. And the boy, is he

IGO. Yes, he is fast asleep.

OSONO. Did he go to sleep with master?

IGO. No.

OSONO. Did he sleep with you?

IGO. No; he went to sleep by himself.

OSONO. Why did you not keep him company and send him to

IGO. I would have; but he kept on crying, for he could not,
he said, get milk from either master or me.

OSONO. Ah, poor fellow! I suppose so. That, of all things,
must be true.

RECITATIVE. She bursts into tears at the door; and no sleeve
of hers is dry in the rain that falls not from the sky.

GIHEI. (within) Hi, hi, Igo, where are you?

RECITATIVE. Thus calling, out comes the master, Gihei.

IGO. Yes, I am here.

RECITATIVE. He runs within, and Gihei looks aslant at his
departing form.

GIHEI. You fool, go in and wait upon the gentlemen.

RECITATIVE. As he scolds him and then closes the door, Osono
holds to it.

OSONO. Wait, master. I have something to say. Please, open.

GIHEI. No, I have nothing to hear or say. You inhuman woman,
you pollute the place. Go away.

OSONO. No, here is a proof that I am not in league with my
father. Look at it and dispel your doubts.

RECITATIVE. Through the crevice of the door she throws in a
letter. As Gihei picks it up, his wife pushes herself in. He
glances at the letter.

GIHEI. Why, this is the letter of divorce I wrote a while
ago. What do you mean to do by returning it?

OSONO. It is too cruel of you to ask what I mean to do. You
have always known the evil-mindedness of my father Ryochiku;
and whatever may have happened, why did you give the letter
of divorce? When he brought it home, he told me that he was
making preparations to have me married. I put on a happy
look to put him off his guard, and then stole the letter of
divorce from his pocket-book and escaped here. Do you not
love Yoshimatsu? Do you mean to divorce me and bring him
under a stepmother? How cruel you are!

RECITATIVE. She clings to him, weeping.

GIHEI. Why, that complaint should be the other way about.
How did you take what I told you when I sent you home? I
said that I was not divorcing you, but that you should
return for a while to your father’s house. He was formerly
Ono Kudayu’s stipendiary, I said; and as his heart is
unaltered, I will not tell him the reason; pretend to be
sick; do not freely get up or lie down, or comb your hair.
Did I not say so? and have you forgotten it all? Nobody will
propose a marriage to a woman whose hair is always
dishevelled. You cannot possibly love Yoshimatsu. Though the
fool coaxes him from morning till evening, he calls for
mamma when night falls. I tell him mamma will be soon here
and try to lay him to sleep; but he will not close his eyes,
and if I scold him or look angry, he will not cry aloud but
keeps on sobbing. When I see it, I feel as if my body were
being torn to pieces. And it reminds me of the obligations I
owe to my parents; these obligations, they say, we come to
know only when we have children of our own. I look upon
these sufferings for my child as a punishment for my
undutifulness to my parents and weep with remorse until the
day dawns. Last night, three times I took him in my arms
and, thinking to carry him to you, went as far as the
outside of the house. But, I reflected, it was not for one
night only, it might take fifty days, or we might have to
remain separated for a hundred days, and if he got again
used to you, troubles would follow. And so for three _cho_[4]
five _cho_, I walked on, shaking and patting him, and when
he fell asleep, I gently laid him down and pressed him to my
breast, when in his sleep he groped for milk and tried to
suck. Since he yearns for you even when separated for a
while, I have no wish to keep you apart for life. But this
letter of divorce which I was obliged to write and give to
Ryochiku, to receive it back in secret would be an improper
act done in defiance of your father; I cannot willingly take
it back, and so go home with it. Think it is all over
between us, it is our foreordained fate; there need be no
more ado if you imagine me dead.

RECITATIVE. Though he speaks resolutely, it is sad to those
who know his ordinary life.

OSONO. If I remain in this house, your honour will be in
danger, and if I go home, I must marry. Upon me falls the
whole burden of sorrow. This may be our final parting.
Please, wake up Yoshimatsu and let me have just one look at

GIHEI. No, I cannot do that. But you would have to go away
as soon as you saw him, and I have too much pity for your
sorrow after parting. This evening, besides, I have guests,
and so, without more noise, go home at once.

OSONO. But just one look at Yoshimatsu.......

GIHEI. How weak-spirited! Think of your sorrow afterwards.

RECITATIVE. He raises her by force and, giving her the
letter of divorce, he hardens his heart and pushes her out
of the house.

GIHEI. If you love your child, make excuses to Ryochiku and
get him to keep you till the spring, and then we will hit
upon some plan. If you cannot do that, then this will be our
last meeting.

RECITATIVE. He shuts the door and goes within.

OSONO. Oh, if that were possible, I should not be suffering
now. Unfeeling are you, my husband. You not only divorce me,
who am innocent, but refuse to let me see my child; it is
too cruel, too inhuman. I will not move a step until I have
seen my child; I will not.

RECITATIVE. She knocks at the door.

OSONO. For pity’s sake, for charity, open the door and let
me see but his sleeping face. See, I clasp my hands in
supplication. Oh, how cruel!

RECITATIVE. She throws herself on the ground, and bursts
into tears unconscious of all around.

OSONO. No, I will not complain, I will not grieve. If I saw
him for a moment and he recognised me and clung to me, he
would not let me go nor could I leave him. If I go home
to-night, to-night I must marry; not even till to-morrow is
respite given me. Then, farewell, farewell.

RECITATIVE. But still she stands with her ear close to the
door, expecting to hear her child’s voice and to see his
face. Yet, not a sound is to be heard.

OSONO. Ah, there is no help. This is the end.

RECITATIVE. As she gives up hope and runs out, a big man
muffled with only his eyes exposed, stops her on the way and
seizes her, and before she can cry out, he draws his sword
and, alas, cuts off her hair at the

[Illustration: Masked man cutting off Osono’s hair]

root; and he puts his hand into her bosom and takes out its
contents, and runs away no one knows whither.

OSONO. How hateful, how provoking! Who was it that cut off
my hair so cruelly and ran off even with the letter? If he
is a robber of combs and hair-bars, let him rather kill me.

RECITATIVE. Hearing her cry, Gihei is startled and has
almost, before he is aware, run to her; but he stops himself
and, with clenched teeth, feels that it is here that his
manly spirit should be kept under control. And as he
hesitates, he hears a voice from within.

A VOICE. My host, my host. Master Gihei.

RECITATIVE. And Yuranosuke comes out.

YURANOSUKE. For your most kind entertainment I will express
my thanks to you from Kamakura. As for the remaining
articles, I beg you will send them on by express messenger.
We must take our leave before the day dawns.

GIHEI. Yes, the night is now so advanced that I cannot press
you to stay. I wish you a safe journey. I shall look forward
to the good news.

YURANOSUKE. I will let you know by letter as soon as we
arrive. For the great trouble you have taken on our account
I cannot sufficiently express my thanks in words. Here,
Yazama and Owashi, the parting present for our host.

RECITATIVE. Bungo and Jutaro bring forward each a package on
a fan which they use for a white stand.

YURANOSUKE. This is for yourself and this for your good
wife, Mistress Osono, slight as they are.

RECITATIVE. As he places them before him, Gihei changes

GIHEI. If these are the thanks that you cannot express in
words........ Come, I did not take all this trouble at the
risk of my life to receive a present from you. Despising me
as a merchant, you think to throw money in my face.

YURANOSUKE. No, we are taking leave of this world; you will
by virtue of the relation from a former existence remain in
it. And this present is a slight token of our good wishes as
we desire you to look after Lady Kaoyo.

RECITATIVE. With these words he goes out by the door, and
Gihei’s anger rises still.

GIHEI. Have you mistaken my spirit and disposition? You act
as if you spurned me. It is abominable, it is foul.

RECITATIVE. And as he kicks away the packages, they come
loose and their contents are scattered on the floor. His
wife rushes in.

OSONO. See, these are my comb, hair-bar, and my hair that
was cut off. Heavens! and this package contains the letter
of divorce.

GIHEI. Then, the man who cut off her hair a little while ago

YURANOSUKE. Oh, I sent Owashi Bungo round from the back
entrance to cut off her hair at the root; and the reason was
that no father would propose to give in marriage a woman
whose hair is cut short like a nun’s, and still less would
there be any one to take her to wife. The hair will grow in
about a hundred days, and it will not be as many days before
our great object is accomplished; and when we have killed
our enemy, you will celebrate your reunion, when you will
use the comb, hair-bar, and this hair. Until then, engage
this nun and nurse for a short term of service. Her sureties
shall be Owashi Bungo and Yazama Jutaro, who will guarantee
to our confederates that the secret will not be revealed by
her. And I will from the other world act as your go-between,
Master Gihei.

GIHEI. Ah, you are most kind. Thank him, wife.

OSONO. You have, indeed, saved my life, sir.

YURANOSUKE. Nay, there is no need to thank me. I have only
repaid a very small portion of the deep debt I owe you.
Master Gihei has said that he would have accompanied us,
were he not a merchant. Happily, however, we have decided
upon a night-attack, and when we rush into the enemy’s
house, we will use your trade-name Amakawaya as our
pass-word in the attack, and if one cries “Ama,” the other
shall answer “Kawa.” Thus, if forty and more of us call out
“Ama” and “Kawa,” it will be the same as if you were also
present at the night-attack. Now we must take our leave.

RECITATIVE. He leaves with his companions.

[Illustration: Hair, hair-bar, and comb in a pile]

  [1] A name given to a child who is always crying.

  [2] About 10 o’clock at night.

  [3] A kind of macaroni.

  [4] About a hundred and twenty yards.




That gentleness controls impetuosity and weakness strength
was the secret which Shihkung imparted to Changliang.[1]
Oboshi Yuranosuke, the retainer of Enya Hangwan Takasada,
following this secret precept, has put out with over forty
brave confederates in fishing-boats, which are covered with
thick rush-mats, and, taking advantage of the unprotected
position of Cape Inamura, has them rowed to the foot of a
rock on the coast there. The first to land is Oboshi
Yuranosuke Yoshikane, the second is Hara Goemon, and the
third Oboshi Rikiya; they are followed by Takemori Kitahachi
and Katayama Genta. Those in the leading boats and those
that follow land in due order. The first five and Okuyama
Magoshichi and Suda Goro, as they stand in a row, complete the first
seven characters of the syllabary[2] marked on their _haori_. Katsuta,
Hayami, and Tonomori, the famed Katayama Gengo and Owashi Bungo with
a great mallet, and Yoshida and Okazaki make up the second
seven. Among the young men are Odera, Tatekawa Jinbei, Fuwa,
Maebara, Fukagawa Yajiro, Kawase Chudayu who lands with a
small bow under his arm, and Oboshi Seibei, who make up the
third seven. The fourth set consists of Okumura, Okano,
Odera’s eldest son, Nakamura, Yajima, Maki, and Hiraga; and
next to them stand Ashino, Sugano, Chiba, Matsumura, and
Murabashi Denji; Shioda and Akane carry long swords; Isogawa
Jumonji, Tomatsu, Sugino, Mimura no Jiro, and Kimura have
rope-ladders in readiness; Senzaki Yagoro, Horii no Yaso,
and Yakuro of the same surname, hold in their hands great
bamboos about eight feet long and bent with bow-strings,
to carry out the plan which Yuranosuke hit upon after
drinking in the pleasure-quarters: and the rear is brought
up by Yazama Jutaro, who is followed at a distance by the
self-humbling Teraoka Heiyemon. Their names and marks appear
on their sleeves, and they are forty-six in number. They all
wear mail _hakama_ and black _haori_, with breast-plates of
fidelity; they are truly patterns of loyalty and exemplars
of uprightness.

YURANOSUKE. Do not forget the passwords “Ama” and “Kawa,”
which we have taken from Gihei’s trade-name, but act as we
agreed upon. Yazama, Senzaki, and Odera and their company,
together with my son Rikiya, shall enter by the front gate,
while Goemon and I will slip in by the back gate. When you
hear my signal whistle, burst in as the time has come. There
is but one head that we wish to take.

RECITATIVE. Upon hearing Yuranosuke’s command, they all
glare with angry looks upon the distant mansion and separate
into parties which are to enter by the front and back gates.

(_Here the stage revolves_)

Unconscious of all this, Kono Musashi-no-Kami Moronao, who
has been put off his guard by Yuranosuke’s dissipation, is
drinking in fancied security and making women of pleasure
dance and sing. With Yakushiji as his chief guest, he is
carousing ignorant of his fate, and in the end he and his
guests grow so lax in their behaviour as to lie down in the
hall all together and are now fast asleep. Only the
night-watchman is left awake, and all is silence except the
sound of his clappers as he goes his round. The parties at
the front and rear settle their plans, and the two fearless
men, Yazama and Senzaki, creep to the front gate and listen
attentively. They hear only the distant sound of the night
watchman’s clappers; they see their opportunity, and tacking
on the high wall the rope-ladder in the use of which they
are expert, they climb upon the roof of the wall like
spiders with an energy which might take them even to the
clouds. The sound of the clappers is now nigh at hand, and
as they jump down, the watchman discovers them and rushes
upon them to see who they are; but they catch him and throw
him down on the ground; they bind him fast and, seeing in
him a good guide, they gag him and, tying to their own
sashes the ends of the cord that binds him, they take up his
clappers and strike them as they daringly go round with him
to the offices in the mansion. The whistle is soon heard
from the back-gate and as the time has come, the two men cry
“Ama Kawa,” beating time with the clappers, and drawing out
the cross-bar, they fling open the front gate. Rikiya,
Sugino, Kimura, Mimura, and their company rush in, but find
the shutters securely shut. Chikara tells his comrades that
they must now make use of his father’s precept of the
snow-laden bamboo; and putting the round bamboos bent with
bow-strings between the upper and lower grooves of the
shutters, they cry, “one, two, three,” and all at once cut
at a stroke the bow-strings. The lintel rises and the sill
sinks; and the shutters fall down one after another. “Now,
run in,” they call, and with shouts of “Ama” and “Kawa,”
they break into the house. “It is a night-attack,” exclaim
the inmates, coming out with torches and lanterns. The comrades
from the back-gate have entered, and Yuranosuke on the one side
and Goemon on the other sit on camp-stools and

[Illustration: Several men in battle]

direct their men. The attacking party, though small in
number, are this night valiant men who are prepared for
death and fight with all their strength.

YURANOSUKE. Do not look to others. Aim only at Moronao.

RECITATIVE. He gives this command, together with Goemon, to
all around them. The impetuous young men rush about and
clash their swords. Next door to Moronao on the north lives
Nikki Harima-no-Kami and on the south Ishido Umanojo. Both
these neighbours, hearing the noise, send samurai on
housetops with lanterns which look like stars in the

SAMURAI. Hi, we hear great noises in your mansion, clashing
of swords, whizzing of arrows, and cries. Is it ruffians or
robbers, who are causing them, or is it due to a sudden
order of the authorities? We are commanded by our lord to
ascertain and report.

RECITATIVE. They call out aloud, and instantly Yuranosuke
answers them.

YURANOSUKE. We are the retainers of Enya Hangwan, forty and
more in number, who are fighting with desperation to avenge
our lord’s death. We that speak to you are Oboshi Yuranosuke
and Hara Goemon. We have no grudge against Lord Takauji and
his brother and, as we certainly bear no malice against
Moronao’s neighbours Lords Nikki and Ishido, we are not
likely to do anything hostile; and as we have taken every
precaution against fire, you need have no

[Illustration: Men climbing over the top of a roof]

anxiety on the matter. We only ask you quietly to leave us
alone. But if you cannot remain unconcerned in your
neighbour’s affairs and wish to aid him, we are ready,
though much against our will, to fight you.

SAMURAI. That is admirable. It is but proper that they who
have served a master should act as you do. If you have
anything to say to us, we will hear you. Withdraw the

RECITATIVE. And all at once the neighbourhood sinks into
silence. In the fight which has lasted about two hours, only
two or three of the assailants are slightly injured while
the enemy’s wounded are without number. But as no one
looking like their commander Moronao is to be seen anywhere,
the _ashigaru_, Teraoka Heiyemon, runs about the interior of
the mansion; he not only searches room after room, but also
thrusts his spear into the ceiling above and the bamboo
matting below, and even into the well. Still Moronao is not
to be found; Heiyemon goes into a room which appears to be
Moronao’s bed-chamber, he feels the bed-clothes, and as they
are still warm in this cold night, he perceives that he has
not long fled from the room. He runs to see if Moronao has
not escaped outside the house; but he is stopped by a voice.

A VOICE. Wait, Heiyemon, wait.

RECITATIVE. He sees Yazama Jutaro Shigeyuki dragging Moronao
after him.

YAZAMA. Here, come, you all. I have found him hiding in the
fuel-shed and brought him prisoner.

RECITATIVE. On hearing this, they all run up to him in great
glee such as a flower might feel when fed with dew.

[Illustration: Yazama dragging Moronao]

YURANOSUKE. Well done, bravely done. But do not kill him
recklessly. He is at least a governor; even in killing him
etiquette must be observed.

RECITATIVE. And taking him over, he makes him sit above

YURANOSUKE. We, though we are but retainers, have broken
into my lord’s mansion and created a disturbance, because we
desired to avenge our lord’s death, and we beg you to pardon
our want of manners. You will now bravely give us your head.

RECITATIVE. On hearing these words, Moronao, hypocrite as he
is, betrays no fear.

MORONAO. Oh, your request is natural. I am prepared for
death; come, take my head.

RECITATIVE. Putting him off his guard, Moronao suddenly
draws his sword and strikes at him; but Yuranosuke parries
the blow and twists his arm.

YURANOSUKE. Ha, delicately do you offer resistance. Come,
you all; now is the moment for wreaking our vengeance.

RECITATIVE. Yuranosuke gives the first blow with his sword;
and his forty and more comrades shout and rejoice as might
the blind tortoise when it falls in with a floating log or
as if they had seen the flower of the _udonge_ which blooms
but once in three thousand years; they leap and dance in the
fulness of their joy. The head is cut off with the dirk that
their lord left behind. They rejoice and dance, for it was
to see this one head that they forsook their wives, parted
from their children, and lost their parents. What an
auspicious day is to-day! They beat the head and bite at it;
they all weep with joy. It is too natural, and becomes
saddening to see. Yuranosuke takes out of his bosom his dead
lord’s tablet and places it on a table in the alcove; he
washes the head of its blood-stains and offers it before the
tablet; and then he burns incense which he has brought in
his helmet. He shuffles back and bows three times, nay, nine
times to the tablet.

[Illustration: Man on knees bowing to a low table which a a
censer with burning incense]

YURANOSUKE. I have the honour to report to the sacred spirit
of our late lord, Renshoin Kenri-daikoji.[3] With the dirk
which you bestowed on me when my lord committed suicide and
enjoined me to give repose to your spirit, I have cut off
Moronao’s head and now offer it before the tablet. I beg
that from your resting-place under the grass my lord will
accept it.

RECITATIVE. With tears he offers prayers.

YURANOSUKE. Come, let us one after another burn incense.

REST. Since you are our chief commander, you will begin.

YURANOSUKE. No, no. Before me you will burn incense, Master
Yazama Jutaro.

JUTARO. No, no, that is not to be thought of. If you favour
me thus before the whole company, you will embarrass me.

YURANOSUKE. No, it is no favour. Of the forty-six of us who
have risked our lives to take Moronao’s head, you alone
found him in the fuel-shed and caught him alive; and it
shows that you are, indeed, pleasing to the sacred spirit of
our Lord Enya. We envy you, Master Yazama. What do you say,

ALL. We agree with you.

JUTARO. But that........

YURANOSUKE. Come, we are wasting time.

JUTARO. Then, by your leave.

RECITATIVE. He burns incense first of all.

JUTARO. The second is Master Yura. Come, stand up.

YURANOSUKE. No, there is still another to burn incense.

JUTARO. Who is that? Which of us?

RECITATIVE. Yuranosuke takes out of his bosom a purse of
checkered cloth.

YURANOSUKE. This shall be the second of the loyal retainers
to burn incense. Hayano Kanpei was reduced to the greatest
straits; through misconduct on his part, he was unable to
join our league; and at least to be among those who
subscribed for the monument, he obtained money by selling
his wife; for that money his father-in-law was murdered; and
the money itself was rejected, and in despair he put an end
to himself by disembowelment. And Kanpei’s heart at the
time, how mortified, how desperate he must have been! The
rejection of his money was the greatest blunder of my life;
and since I brought him to a sad end, I have never for a
moment allowed this purse to leave my person and have
brought it with me in this night’s attack. Heiyemon, he was
your brother-in-law; let him burn incense.

RECITATIVE. And he throws the purse to him; and Heiyemon
picks it up with bows.

HEIYEMON. Very well, sir.......... How glad must he be as he
rests under the grass! It is a fortune beyond his deserts.

RECITATIVE. He places the purse on the censer, and calls

HEIYEMON. The second to burn incense is Hayano Kanpei

RECITATIVE. His voice trembles for tears; and the breasts of
the comrades around are bursting with regrets for Kanpei’s
death. Suddenly a tumultuous noise of men and horses is
heard and the hills and valleys resound with the beating of
war-drums, and battle-cries are also raised. Yuranosuke is
not in the least disturbed.

YURANOSUKE. Then it appears that the samurai of Moronao’s
house have returned to the attack. Why should we cause more

RECITATIVE. As they wait prepared for death, Momonoi
Wakasanosuke rushes in.

YURANOSUKE. Yes, if we put an end to ourselves, let it be in
front of our late lord’s tomb. We will retire as my lord
tells us, and beg you to guard the rear.

RECITATIVE. No sooner has he spoken than Yakushiji Jiro and
Sagisaka Bannai, who seem to have been in hiding somewhere,
suddenly appear before them.

[Illustration: A man approaching]

WAKASANOSUKE. Come, Oboshi. He who is now attacking at the
front gate is Moronao’s younger brother, Moroyasu. If you
kill yourselves here, it will be reported to the latest
generations that you were afraid of the enemy. Withdraw to
Enya’s family temple, Komyoji.

YURANOSUKE. Yes, if we put an end to ourselves, let it be in
front of our late lord’s tomb. We will retire as my lord
tells us, and beg you to guard the rear.

RECITATIVE. No sooner has he spoken than Yakushiji Jiro and
Sagisaka Bannai, who seem to have been hiding somewhere,
suddenly appear before them.

YAKUSHIJI AND BANNAI. You Oboshi, we will not let you

RECITATIVE. They attack him from the right and left; but
Chikara parries their blows; and after fighting for a while,
Chikara sees his chance and deals a fatal blow on
Yakushiji’s shoulder and with the same stroke he cuts off
Sagisaka’s legs, and Bannai falls down dead. Chikara is
praised for his prowess; and the same praise is bestowed on
the loyal retainers to the latest generations. And this we
write to the everlasting glory of our Lord the Shogun and
his House.

14th day of the 8th month in the
First year of Kwan-en.


[Illustration: Samurai hat]

  [1] A famous Chinese general, flourished in the third century
      before Christ.

  [2] The loyal retainers have each of them one of the forty-seven
      characters of the Japanese syllabary written on their haori.
      From the coincidence in the number of the retainers and that
      of these characters, the title Kanadehon Chushingura is given
      to this play, Kanadehon meaning the copy-book of the Japanese

  [3] The Buddhistic name of Enya Hangwan, which was, according to
      custom, given him upon his death.



英文  忠臣藏
(亜製) 正價金貳圓貳拾五錢

東京市 著作者 井上十吉
東京市神田區裏神保町二番地 發行者 山田九郎
東京市京橋區新榮町一丁目廿一番地 印刷者 佐藤保太郎
東京市京橋區新榮町 印刷所 文祥堂印刷所

Transcriber's Notes Typographical Errors:

  - Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).
  - Page xv: ‘avenger’s familiy’ amended to ‘avenger’s family’.
  - Page 22: ‘RECITATION’ probably should be ‘RECITATIVE’.
  - Page 60: ‘KAMPEI’ amended to ‘KANPEI’.
  - Page 132: ‘acompany’ amended to ‘accompany’.
  - Page 147: ‘HEIEMON’ amended to ‘HEIYEMON’
  - Page 181: ‘go anywhhere else' amended to ‘go anywhere else'
  - Page 238: ‘OSNO’ amended to ‘OSONO’

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