Invitation to Kabuki - Guidance for Kabuki appreciation
Kabuki repertoire
"Aotozoshi hana no nishikie"
Common names: "Shiranami gonin otoko" "Bentenkozo"
Introduction of work
"Shiranami gonin otoko" is one of the most important works by Kawatake Mokuami, who specialized in writing Shiranamimono [works with thieves as heros of the stories]. It describes the fates of 5 thieves: Nippon Daemon, Bentenkozo Kikunosuke, Nango Rikimaru, Akaboshi Juzaburo, and Tadanobu Rihei.
"Shiranami gonin otoko" performances center around 2 scenes: 'Hamamatsuya misesaki' scene in which Bentenkozo disguised as a samurai family's daughter carries out extortion, and 'Inasegawa seizoroi' scene in which the 5 thieves meet together. In many cases only these 2 scenes are perfomed, and the title "Benten musume meo no shiranami" is used.
Since Onoe Kikugoro 5th, 19 years old at the time, achieved great success when he first performed the role of Bentenkozo in 1862, each generation of Onoe Kikugoro has played this role successfully.
 
 
 
Distinctive expressions
Bentenkozo's speech declaring his name
After Bentenkozo comes to extort money from the Hamamatsuya shop and a store employee discovers that the supposed young lady is actually a man, he annouces his name. His speech starting with, "Shirazaa itte kikaseyasho" is very famous. This excellent speech in shichigo-cho (7-and-5 syllable meter rhythm) is a pleasure to hear.

The actor playing Bentenkozo in this scene gives a beautiful and refined performance of detailed Kata (forms) ranging from serifu mawashi (speech delivery) to how to handle props such as tenugui (Japanese towel) and kiseru (tobacco pipe).
 

[Part of] Bentenkozo's superb speech declaring his name. Bentenkozo by Onoe Kikugoro 7th, "Aotozoshi hana no nishikie" 'Hamamatsuya misesaki' scene, March 1984
 
Bentenkozo's speech declaring his name
 "Shirazaa itte kikaseyasho. Hama no masago to goemon ga, uta ni nokoseshi nusutto no, tane wa tsukinee shichirigahama, sono shiranami no yobataraki, izen o iyaa enoshima de, nenkizutome no chigogafuchi, hyakumi de chirasu makisen o, ate ni kozara no ichimonko, hyaku ga nihyaku to saisen no, kusune zeni see dandan ni, akuji wa noboru kaminomiya, iwamotoin de koju no, makurasagashi mo tabikasanari, otenagako to fudatsuki ni, toto shima o oidasare, sorekara wakashu no tsutsumotase, koko ya kashiko no terajima de, komimi ni kiita tottsuan no, ninu kowairo de koyusuri katari, na sae yukari no Bentenkozo Kikunosuke taa ore ga koto da"