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

PlaysLeading Plays

Kotobuki Soga no TaimenThe Revenge of the Soga Brothers

Jidai-mono / Common name: Soga no taimen

Summary

This play tells the story of the revenge taken by the Soga brothers in the Kamakura period (12th to 14th centuries). It is commonly known as “Soga no Taimen” (The Confrontation of the Soga) or “Taimen” (Confrontation).

The Soga brothers Juro and Goro, whose father was killed by Kudo Suketsune, visit Kudo’s residence and confront their enemy in New Year. Kudo promises the brothers that they can kill him after he has finished his role as commander of the hunt at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

After hardship, the Soga brothers killed their father’s enemy Kudo Suketsune; the elder brother Juro was killed in the fight and the younger brother Goro was executed after being arrested. This series of events was circulated to the general public through a story called “Soga Monogatari” (The Tale of the Soga), gaining support for the brothers from the common people.

Each New Year, Edo Kabuki troupes would put on a play featuring the Soga brothers who met such violent ends, to pray for their souls and for peace in the country.

On-stage, the play contains an array of representative Kabuki characters, and is filled with picturesque beauty.

Highlight

Many of the characters in this play are stylized, and are performed as archetypal characters.

From the left
Soga no Goro: Aragoto (exaggerated style) character
Soga no Juro: Wagoto (a softer, more realistic style) character
Kudo Suketsune: Role played by the troupe leader
Kobayashi Asahina: Humorous comic character
Kewaizaka no Shosho (Goro’s lover): Role played by a young onnagata (female roles) actor

From the left
Soga no Goro: Aragoto (exaggerated style) character
Soga no Juro: Wagoto (a softer, more realistic style) character
Kudo Suketsune: Role played by the troupe leader
Kobayashi Asahina: Humorous comic character
Kewaizaka no Shosho (Goro’s lover): Role played by a young onnagata (female roles) actor