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Kanjincho

【勧進帳】

【KANJINCHO】

 
  • “Kanjincho”. Matsumoto Koshiro 9th (Matsumoto Hakuo 2nd) as Benkei and Ichikawa Somegoro 7th (Matsumoto Koshiro 10th) as Togashi. December, 2004 at the National Theatre. (Y_E0100242012022)
One of the Kabuki-Juhachiban plays.
Minamoto no Yoshitsune departs from Kyoto with Musashi-Bou Benkei and few subordinates and heads to Hiraizumi (Iwate prefecture) to meet the Fujiwara clan, after he fell out with his older brother Minamoto no Yoritomo. Yoritomo tries to capture Yoshitsune by having many checking stations built on the way to Hiraizumi. “Kanjincho” is a Kabuki play about Yoshitsune and his men passing through a station of Ataka in Kaga no Kuni (Ishikawa prefecture). They try to pass through the checking station under the disguise of mountain priests, but the station guard Togashi Saemon does not let them pass with suspicion, since he knew that they were disguised as mountain priests. Then, Benkei reads out loud a blank scroll, pretending it is a real subscription book (Kanjincho), which is a list of requests to the temples for subscriptions. Togashi is convinced for the moment and let them pass, but stops them after one of his men claims that there is a man who looks like Yoshitsune. To avoid being found out, Benkei beats Yoshitsune harshly with his stick. After seeing this, Togashi sympathizes with the serious desire of Benkei and finally allowed them to pass the station.
Ichikawa Danjuro 1st performed this scene during the Genroku period. However, the script at that time was not preserved, so Danjuro 7th rewrote it in 1840, referring to Noh to create new costumes and stage equipment. The background was Matsubame imitating the stage of Noh and the costumes were created to resemble the ones used in Noh. After that, Danjuro 9th specialized in the play and it is passed down to the current generation.
The acting of Benkei requires not only the dynamism of the Aragoto style represented by Tobi Roppo (flying exit) at the end, but also the skill of clearly delivering lines and dancing. For this reason, Benkei is especially valued as a role for Zagashira. Also, Nagauta that accompanies the play is known as one of the typical Shamisen music.

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