The Three Kichisas


Sannin Kichisa

Blood pact by three like-named thieves spirals into tragedy

A fateful meeting among three thieves all named Kichisa leads to a story of deception, murder, incest and suicide


by Kaneda Eiichi

Beautiful girl proves to be famous thief – and a man

The banks of Sumida River in the evening. A poor girl named Otose is on her way to return a wallet that a customer had left behind the previous night. She encounters a young woman who seems from a good family. However, when Otose mentions that she has money, the woman reveals that she is really a man, snatches the money and shoves Otose into the river. Another thief tries to take the money from the “woman”, but the cross-dressing thief easily dispatches this challenge and steals his sword (which will emerge later as an important item).

【Left】[from left]Ojo Kichisa(Onoe Kikugoro)、Otose(Nakamura Baishi) April 2010 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】Ojo Kichisa(Onoe Kikugoro) May 2013 Kabukiza Theatre


Fateful meeting of three Kichisas

A man emerges from a palanquin and demands that money for himself, which the thief refuses. They announce their names: former samurai Obo Kichisa and cross-dressing thief Ojo Kichisa. They draw their swords, but are stopped by another character, the wayward priest Osho Kichisa. Seeing this meeting of like-named thieves as fateful, they cut their arms and drip the blood into a cup, which they drink in a blood pact. They agree to allow Osho to hold the money.

[from left]Ojo Kichisa(Onoe Kikugoro)、Osho Kichisa(Ichikawa Danjuro)、Obo Kichisa(Nakamura Kichiemon) April 2010 Kabukiza Theatre


Brief relief of parents and children

Denkichi’s daughter Otose has been rescued from the river by Kyubei, while Kyubei’s son Juzaburo, who was trying to throw himself into the river after losing a large amount of money, was stopped by Denkichi. The money Juzaburo had mislaid is the same that Otose had been trying to return. In the course of the story, it becomes clear that the two are in love.

[from left]Kyubei(Yamazaki Gonichi)、Juzaburo(Onoe Matsuya)、Otose(Nakamura Baishi)、Denkichi(Nakamura Karoku) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


Karma: intertwined fate of parents and siblings

Kyubei reveals Juzaburo was an adopted son, found at a temple when his own son had gone missing. Denkichi is shocked to realize that Juzaburo is his own abandoned son, the twin brother of Otose – that is, the two lovers are siblings, a fact he does not reveal for now.

[from left]Osho Kichisa(Onoe Shoroku)、Denkichi(Nakamura Karoku) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


The money

Osho tries to pass the thieves’ money to his father, but it is taken by someone else and eventually stolen again by Obo. When Denkichi tries to take it back, he is killed by Obo, who quickly escapes. Otose and Juzaburo discover the dead body along with the bloody knife used to kill him.

[from left]Denkichi(Nakamura Karoku)、Obo Kichisa(Kataoka Ainosuke) November 2009 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


Three Kichisas on the run

Osho, making his home in a deserted temple, has been offered clemency by the police if he delivers the others. In fact, he is hiding his fellow thieves to help them escape. Otose and Juzaburo deliver the sad news of Denkichi’s fate, and Osho realizes from the evidence that his father’s murderer was Obo. Nevertheless, he plots to save his blood brothers by killing the young couple and passing off their heads to the authorities as those of the sought-after thieves.

【Left】[from left]Obo Kichisa(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Ojo Kichisa(Bando Tamasaburo) February 2004 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Otose(Nakamura Shichinosuke)、Osho Kichisa(Ichikawa Danjuro)、Juzaburo(Nakamura Kanjaku) February 2004 Kabukiza Theatre


At the watchtower

The watchtower in Hongo is covered with snow. Osho’s deception with the severed heads failed and he has been arrested. The gates to the town are ordered locked until the remaining two are captured as well, at which time the watchtower drum will be beaten. Ojo and Obo secretly approach. Ojo climbs the tower and beats the drum, and when the gate is opened, Osho manages to escape his confinement and join them. Chased by the police, they see no hope of getting away and choose to die by joint suicide.

[from left]Ojo Kichisa(Bando Tamasaburo)、Osho Kichisa(Ichikawa Danjuro)、Obo Kichisa(Kataoka Nizaemon) February 2004 Kabukiza Theatre