“Narukami” is counted among the works of “Kabuki-Juhachiban” (Eighteen Kabuki Pieces) of the Ichikawa Danjuro Family.
In this story, Priest named Narukami Shonin holds bitter feelings toward the Imperial Court. He has confined the dragon god at the bottom of a waterfall, causing a long drought. In response, the Imperial Court orders the beautiful princess named Kumonotaemahime to seduce Shonin and release the dragon god. The princess gets the priest very drunk and frees the god. When Shonin awakens, realizing that he has been deceived. In his fury, he chases after Kumonotaemahime.
This play was originally part of a longer work entitled “Narukami Fudo Kitayama-Zakura” which that includes “Kenuki” and “Fudo”; also considered parts of “Kabuki-Juhachiban”.
Highlights in the first half include lines delivered by Kumonotaemahime with lively gestures, confessing her love affair, and a scene in which Shonin becomes depraved while massaging her. The scene of entrancing dialogue between the sensuous princess and the prudish Shonin stands in sharp contrast to the aragoto (exaggerated style) performance that marks the play’s second half.
Shonin’s anger at being deceived is expressed in the aforementioned aragoto style. The actor playing Shonin changes into a wig with ruffled up hair, and applies kumadori makeup. He changes the costume to one with a flame pattern on a white base at stage in an instant. Other audience-pleasing aragoto touches include a mie pose, in which Shonin wraps both arms and one leg around a pillar in a cave; the priest posing on a rock holding the cut sacred rope in one hand like the God of Fire; Shonin battling with his apprentice monks; and angrily pursuing the princess like jumping with rage just before the end of the act.