The Summer Festival


Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami

A gruesome murder in mud and water against the backdrop of Osaka’s joyous summer festival

The fishmonger Danshichi, newly released from prison, soon gets in trouble again when he rushes to a woman’s rescue and inadvertently kills his own father-in-law. The grisly murder takes place in real mud and water, creating a hyper-reality on the stage, as a joyous summer festival parade incongruously marches nearby.


by Komiya Akiko

Decadent son

Isonojo, the dissolute son of the Tamashima household, is in love with the courtesan Kotoura. Okaji, wife of the fishmonger Danshichi, served in Isonojo’s household and wants to lure him back. She enlists a man named Tokubei to tell how he became penniless because of his debauchery. On hearing this story, Isonojo reflects on himself and returns home.

[from left]Okaji(Kamimura Kichiya)、Issun Tokubei(Ichikawa Enya)、Tamashima Isonojo(Ichikawa Monnosuke)、Kotoura(Onoe Ukon) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre


Sumiyoshi Shrine

Danshichi is to be released today from prison, where he was sent for street fighting. His wife Okaji and young son Ichimatsu come to Sumiyoshi Shrine to meet him. They are accompanied by an old gambler, the boatman Sabu. While the wife and son are praying, Isonojo comes by in palanquin. The palanquin bearers try to extort money from him, but he is saved by Sabu.

【Left】[from left]Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Tsutsumi Tonai(Otani Keizo) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】[from left]Sabu the boatman(Nakamura Karoku)、Tamashima Isonojo(Nakamura Kinnosuke) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


The barber shop

Danshichi comes out of prison with hair and beard unkempt. He gets tidied up at a barber with a shave and new kimono. He emerges to find a man attempting to kidnap Kotoura. Tokubei, who is working for the kidnapper, starts to fight with Danshichi. Okaji steps in. When Tokubei realizes that Danshichi is Okaji’s husband, he announces that he too served the Tamashima household and exchanges a kimono sleeve with Danshichi as a pledge of loyalty.

【Left】[from left]Kotoura(Onoe Ukon)、Danshichi Kurobe(Ichikawa Ebizo) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Issun Tokubei(Kataoka Nizaemon)、Okaji(Nakamura Shibajaku)、Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kichiemon) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


Decadent son ordered to work

Isonojo has been disowned by his parents. He changes his name and, with Danshichi’s help, goes to work as a clerk. But he falls in love with the daughter of the household. The senior clerk loves her as well and arranges with the greedy Giheiji to interfere. Isonojo becomes involved in the scheme and kills someone. He is saved by Sabu and Danshichi and is hidden in the latter’s home. (This scene is usually cut)


The female gambler

The opening day of the festival at Osaka’s Kozu Shrine. Sabu’s wife is grilling fish. They are visited by Tokubei’s wife Otatsu, who is on her way back to her husband’s village. Sabu’s wife, hoping to get Isonojo out of danger, asks if Otatsu would be willing to travel with him. Otatsu willingly accepts, but Sabu immediately rejects the idea. He says that the beautiful woman would be too tempting for a playboy like Isonojo. Otatsu, determined to help, suddenly takes a hot poker from the fire and presses it to her face, scarring it and thereby removing her sexual appeal. Sabu is impressed by her strength of mind and allows her to take care of Isonojo.
When Sabu goes off, Giheiji shows up pretending to be on a mission from Danshichi. He takes Kotoura away in a palanquin. Otatsu takes Isonojo and goes to her husband’s country home. Danshichi and Tokubei come back with Sabu. Danshichi hears about Giheiji and realizes that something is wrong. He rushes to rescue Kotoura.

【Left】[from left]Otatsu(Bando Tamasaburo)、Sabu the boatman(Ichikawa Sadanji) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre
【Center】[from left]Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Otsugi(Nakamura Shikimatsu)、Sabu the boatman(Nakamura Karoku)、Issun Tokubei(Kataoka Nizaemon) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kanzaburo) November 2010 Heisei Nakamuraza Theatre


The mud scene

Danshichi catches up with Giheiji in a back alley. He demands the return of Kotoura. The money-hungry Giheiji will hear nothing of it and insults Danshichi. During this harangue, Danshichi instinctively reaches for his sword. Giheiji dares him to kill him. In the course of their struggle, Danshichi accidentally wounds Giheiji, who screams, “Murderer! Murderer!” Danshichi is left with no alternative but to finish off the action and kill him in a horrific spectacle of blood, mud and water. He buries the dead body in the mud, quickly cleans himself up and mixes in nonchalantly with the festival crowds as they come dancing by.

【Left】[from left]Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Giheiji(Ichikawa Danshiro) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Center】[from left]Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kichiemon)、Giheiji(Ichikawa Danshiro) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre
【Right】Danshichi Kurobe(Nakamura Kichiemon) June 2011 Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre


Flea catcher

Tokubei comes to Danshichi’s home. He has found one of Danshichi’s sandals in the back street, thus implicating Danschichi in the murder. Tokubei offers to take responsibility for the crime in his place. Danshichi refuses the offer. Tokubei suddenly cries that he has caught a flea, discreetly trying to provide cover for Danshichi to slip away. But Danshichi rejects this as well. Tokubei then intentionally makes a sexual approach to Danshichi’s wife. Sabu arranges for her to be divorced from Danshichi so that Danshichi is no longer responsible for the particularly severe crime of killing his father-in-law. But they are raided by the police. Tokubei tells them he will capture Danshichi, but instead passes him money and allows him to escape.

【Left】[from left]Issun Tokubei(Ichikawa Enya)、Sabu the boatman(Ichikawa Sadanji)、Danshichi Kurobe(Ichikawa Ebizo) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre
【Right】[from left]Danshichi Kurobe(Ichikawa Ebizo)、
Issun Tokubei(Ichikawa Enya) July 2014 Kabukiza Theatre