Sarumawashi Kado De no Hitofushi

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Sarumawashi Kado De no Hitofushi

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1896

IHL Cat. #705

About This Print

Kunichika portrays the main characters, as listed below, from the play Sarumawashi Kado De no Hitofushi.  "The Meiji star Onoe Kikugorô V [pictured in the brown robe] had the idea once to use a real monkey on stage when he played the role of Yojirô. The highlight of the performance was something not expected by the actor: the monkey peeing on the stage ... to the audience's delight."1

The mischievous monkey
click on image for enlargement

The Actors and Their Roles Pictured in This Print

from right to left:
Onoe Kikugorō V 尾上菊五郎 in the role of Sarumawashi Yojirō 猿廻し与次郎 the monkey showman
Kataoka Tonosuke II 片岡土之助 as Keikomusume Otsuru  けいこ娘おつる
Onoe Eizaburo V 尾上栄三郎 as Oshun おしゆん
Onoe Kikunosuke II 尾上菊之助   as Denbei Izutsuya 井筒屋伝兵衛

For profiles of the actors please see the article The Kabuki Actor.

The Play "Sarumawashi Kado De no Hitofushi"

Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979, p. 38.

Sarumawashi Kado De no Hitosushi is the Kabuki version, first performed in 1807, of the 1782 bunraku play Chikagoro Kawara no Tatehiki, based on a real love suicide of the 17th century.

Izutsuya Denpei is in love with the courtesan Oshun.  Because his rival – the evil samurai Yokofuchi Kanzaemon – has swindled Denpei out of 300 ryō, the two men get into a fight.  As a result, Denpei kills his enemy and becomes a fugitive from justice.  Meanwhile, Oshun is sent to her home in Horikawa, where her blind mother lives in poverty with Oshun’s elder brother Yojirō, a monkey trainer.  Aware that Denpei may come to Horikawa seeking Oshun, Yojirō is resolved to prevent the lovers from meeting; he fears that they will seek to commit double suicide.  Denpei comes to the house at night and, after a series of complications, convinces Yojirō and his mother of the depth of his relationship with Oshun.  They are sent off into the night, disguised as monkey trainers, after drinking a symbolic cup of water signifying their marriage.  It is clear that they will resolve their problems by suicide.

The lamentation scene (kudoki) in which Oshun’s heart is laid bare is famous.  The play beautifully depicts Yojirō’s simple filial piety and his love for his mother and sister as well as Oshun’s and Denpei’s love for each other.  Perhaps the most charming scene in the play is when Yojirō has his monkeys perform (puppets are used) as the lovers enact their nuptial rites.

1 Kabuki 21 website

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #705
 Title (Description) Sarumawashi Kado De no Hitofushi 猿廻しかど出の一諷
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature Toyohara Kunichika hitsu with toshidama seal
 Seal  toshidama seal under signature
 Publication DatePrinted on March 23, 1896 / Issued on March 27, 1896
明治廿九年三月廿三日 / 印刷仝年三月廿七日出版  
Fukuda Kumajirō 福田熊次郎; Address Nihobahsi-ku Hasegawachō 19-banchi [Marks: 30-046; pub. ref. 071]
 Carver unknown
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good- backed with heavy album paper; minor soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper
 13 5/8 x 9 3/8 in. (34.6 x 23.8 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print
 The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 007-0623, 0624, 0625