INVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts KabukiINVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts Kabuki

PlaysLeading Plays

Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Sekinoto(The Snowbound Barrier)

Dances / Common name: Sekinoto

Summary

This is a performance in the style of tokiwazu buyo (dance performed to Tokiwazu music), and is commonly known as “Sekinoto”.

In the first half of this work, the scene is snow-covered Osaka no Seki (Osaka Barrier Station). There, many komachi-zakura (a type of cherry tree) are in full bloom. Yoshimine Munesada, who lives near the station, is visited by his lover Komachihime (princess Komachi). Upon her arrival, she voices suspicions about the real identity of Sekibei, the local barrier keeper and guard.

In the second half, we learn that Sekibei is really Otomo no Kuronushi, a wicked villain plotting to take over the land. Another key role, the courtesan Sumizome, turns out to be a cherry tree fairy. Kuronushi and Sumizome then engage in battle. In most productions, the same onnagata (female role) plays both two characters.

Highlight

January 1991
National Theatre, Large Theatre
“Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Sekinoto” ‘Osakayama Sekisho’ scene
Sekibei (Otomo no Kuronushi): Ichikawa Danjuro XII

The certain Kabuki play in which characters at first conceal their true identities and social ranking, with those details revealed later is called Miarawashi. In most of the performances, the technique of instant change of costume is normally used to visually expose these realities. In this rather rare case, the audience is shown the real identity not only of Sekibei(as Kuronushi), but also of the courtesan Sumizome (as the cherry tree fairy).