Invitation To  BUNRAKU

Plays Famous Plays: Jidai-mono (Historical Plays)

Meiboku Sendai Hagi (The Troubles in the Date Clan)

Matsu Kanshi and others
First staged:

SummaryWomen’s bargaining in a family feud

This jidai-mono dramatized a family feud of a domain in Sendai that created an uproar in society in the mid-17th century. This Kabuki play adapted for Bunraku was created in Edo at a time when many works originated in Osaka. It depicts the breathtaking struggle between villains who sought to take over the clan, and the nurse, retainers, and others who protect the young lord. Acts that are frequently staged include "Take-no-Ma (The Bamboo Room)," which depicts the bargaining between the nurse Masaoka who tries to prevent the young lord from being poisoned, and the villain women at the noble’s private quarters, "Goten (The Women’s Quarters of the Palace of the Lord of the Clan)," "Masaoka Chugi (Masaoka’s Loyalty)," and "Yukashita (Below the Floor)," which depicts the battle between the villain Nikki Danjo, who uses witchcraft, and the retainers.

Highlight: "Masaoka Chugi (Masaoka’s Loyalty)"A mother’s grief for sacrificing her child in order to protect the young lord

Masaoka’s child, Senmatsu, is tortured to death in front of her by Yashio, a fellow villain, after the child eats a poisoned confectionary. As Masaoka maintains composure and endures her pain without shedding a drop of tear, she is confided of the plot from a villain who thought that she is an accomplice.

Once Masaoka finds herself alone, she sneaks to the corpse of her child without being noticed and holds the corpse tightly. She blames herself and is overcome with deep grief and sorrow. This is a highlight scene of an onnagata (female role) called "Kudoki," in which Masaoka pours out her strong emotions.

April 2013
National Bunraku Theatre
"Meiboku Sendai Hagi" Masaoka Chugi

Main cast

Narrator: Toyotake Rosetayu III
Shamisen player: Tsuruzawa Seiji
Masaoka: Yoshida Kazuo

The lines in the video

Holding onto the corpse of her child, the sadness she had continued to suppress is released all at once and her tears roll down her face. She grieved, with sobs welling up in her eyes. Masaoka says, “Senmatsu, how bold of you to die. You did a good job. Because you gave up your life, even the crafty Sakae Gozen misunderstood that the child had been switched and disclosed her plot. Maybe god or Buddha had pity on parent-child loyalty and protected the fortune of Tsurukiyo. Oh I am so grateful.”