Invitation To  BUNRAKU

Plays Famous Plays: Sewa-mono (Contemporary, domestic plays)

Shinpan Utazaimon (The New Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu)

Chikamatsu Hanji
First staged:

SummaryThis play offers a vivid juxtaposition between the strong affection shown by the two daughters.

Osome, the daughter of a major merchant in Osaka, and Omitsu, the daughter of a rural farming household, have strong feelings of affection towards Hisamatsu, an apprentice at the merchant’s shop. This sewa-mono was written based on an actual double suicide incident that had occurred.

This incident has also been adapted for Ningyo joruri and Kabuki and was known as "Osome Hisamatsumono." Also popular was a performing art called "Utazaimon," in which a performer sings and walks while adding fushi-mawashi (intonations) to such situations and suicides. "Shinpan," meaning new ballad, in the title of the play is likely a show of respect for the preceding work.

The act that is frequently staged is "Nozakimura (Nozaki Village)." The lively shamisen music that resonates at harrowing scenes is considered a masterpiece.

Highlight: "Nozakimura (Nozaki Village)"A merchant’s daughter returns the letter of an irresolute man, urging him to stay with her.

Accused of stealing, Hisamatsu returns to his family home and prepares to hold a wedding with Omitsu, the daughter of his foster father. Just then, Osome, the daughter of Hisamatsu’s employer and his lover, appears in pursuit of Hisamatsu.

The narrator and Shamisen player make use of a variety of techniques so that these two daughters are distinguishable. The scene where Osome scolds Hisamatsu with a letter in her hand employs "Kudoki," a method of building up climax by fervently pouring forth the character’s strong sentiments and feelings.

April 2013
National Bunraku Theatre
"Shinpan Utazaimon" Nozakimura

Main cast

Narrator: Toyotake Hanafusadayu III
Shamisen player: Tsuruzawa Tozo II
Puppeteer Hisamatsu: Yoshida Minojiro
Osome: Yoshida Minosuke III

The lines in the video

“You know better than I why I have come here. It is because of this letter you have left, telling me that I should give up on you and marry the gentleman from the Yamagaya. Maybe you think it is over, but I can never leave you. I wanted to see you and be near you. So much so that, though I feel terrible for doing this, I left home saying I was going to pray to Kannon. Without knowing which direction was north and which was south, I have come here to see you. If the two of us can be together, I do not mind living in the countryside where I do not have my bearings. I will cook you rice. I will spin yarn and weave your cloth. I will be happy however poor our lives may be. Once a woman sets her eyes on a man, she shall not have a change of heart. This is the destiny of women. Are you telling me to turn my back on this? I cannot agree to it. You are too cruel!” Osome expresses her displeasure to Hisamatsu, wiping her tears off with the sleeve of her silk kimono. Osome’s tears flow endlessly like rain showers with no intervals of sun.