Invitation to Kabuki - Guidance for Kabuki appreciation
Kabuki repertoire
"Bancho sarayashiki"
Introduction of work
This important example of Shin-kabuki (new Kabuki), written by Okamoto Kido, was first performed in 1916.
Aoyama Harima, a hatamoto (direct retainer of the Shogun), is involved in a quarrel with machiyakko (chivalrous commoners). His lady-in-waiting, Okiku, with whom he is in love, tests his love for her by breaking a plate that is one of his family treasures. Harima, furious because his love has been doubted, kills Okiku and throws her body into a well.
Originally there was a Kabuki ghost play called "Banshu sarayashiki" containing a scene in which Aoyama Tessan tied up his maid Okiku, suspended her over a well, killed her and threw her body into the well. Okamoto Kido rewrote "sarayashiki," using many of the ideas of the original work but adding a distinctively modern love theme.
Distinctive expressions
Dialogue in Okamoto Kido's work
"Shin-kabuki" means works written in and after the second half of the Meiji period by playwrights and other writers from outside of Kabuki, not by the Kyogen-sakusha who wrote exclusively for Kabuki. Okamoto Kido is one of most important Shin-kabuki writers. His work is distinguished by dialogue filled with poetic sentiment describing modern love. This distinction can be heard in one section, "Issho ni ichido no koi" (only one love in my entire life), of the long speech by Aoyama Harima in the picture image.

Distinctive speech from Kido's work describing modern love. Aoyama Harima played by Nakamura Baigyoku 4th and Okiku by Nakamura Matsue 5th, "Bancho sarayashiki" 'Bancho aoyamake' scene, July 1994