|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
|A pictorial subject in *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 taken from SENBONZAKURA (One Thousand Cherries), an epic *kabuki 歌舞伎 play set in the era of the Genpei 源平 wars (late 12c). The play originates from the joururi 浄瑠璃 YOSHITSUNE SENBONZAKURA 義経千本桜 written in 1742 by Takeda Izumo 竹田出雲. The play is based on legends surrounding the defeat of the Taira 平 clan, in particular the legend that the general Minamoto no *Yoshitsune 源義経 (1159-89) had allowed the Taira generals Koremori 維盛 (1160-?), Tomomori 知盛 (1152-85), and Noritsune 教経 (1160-85) to escape. The play opens with a skirmish at the Horikawa 堀川 palace between the forces of Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝 (1147-99) and his brother Yoshitsune who is accused of harboring Taira sympathies. Yoshitsune goes into hiding and in Act 2 at the shrine, Fushimi Inari 伏見稲荷, he says farewell to his lover Shizuka gozen 静御前, giving her a drum as a gift. Shizuka is later almost captured but is rescued by the wayward samurai 侍 Satou Tadanobu 佐藤忠信 who then becomes her protector. In Act 3, Shizuka and Tadanobu travel to Mt. *Yoshino 吉野 where they search for Yoshitsune. In Act 4 at the shipping agency of Tokaiya Ginpei 渡海屋銀平, the merchant hides Yoshitsune from a supposed retainer of Yoritomo, but then Ginpei reveals that he is actually Tomomori. His plan to kill Yoshitsune in a sea battle fails and in Act 4 Yoshitsune's forces win the battle at the bay, Daimotsu-no-ura 大物浦, capture the child Emperor Antoku 安徳, and wound Tomomori. Tomomori asks Yoshitsune to look after the emperor and then throws himself into the sea. In Act 5, after the Taira defeat Koremori's wife Wakaba 若葉, hiding in the hermitage in the northern Saga 嵯峨 in Kyoto, narrowly evades discovery when the loyal retainer Kokingo 小金吾 hides Wakaba and her son Rokudaigimi 六代君 under a load of hats. They travel to Mt. Yoshino in Act 6 and as they rest under a tree, the local scoundrel Gonta 権太 tricks them out of money. Kokingo is killed in a fight in Act 7 and the sushi shop owner Yazaemon 弥左衛門, father of Gonta, discovers the body. In Act 8 at the Tsurube 釣瓶 sushi shop, the beautiful daughter Osato お里 plans to marry the refined-looking servant Yasuke 弥助, actually Koremori who is sheltered by Yazaemon. When Wakaba and Rokudaigimi arrive Koremori reveals his identity. With a bakufu 幕府 (goverment) official in pursuit the three escape but Yazaemon is captured. Suddenly his son Gonta appears with two captives and the head of Koremori. In fact, the head is that of Kokingo and the captives are Gonta's own wife and child. The last scene takes place at the Kawatsura Hougen 河連法眼 residence on Mt. Yoshino where Yoshitsune is hiding. Tadanobu arrives, relieved to find his master, but knows nothing of Shizuka's whereabouts. When Shizuka arrives she does not recognize Tadanobu, but when she plays her drum the "other" Tadanobu arrives. It is revealed that the Tadanobu who protected Shizuka is a fox spirit attached to Shizuka because her drum is made of the skin of his parents. Yoshitsune gives the fox the drum and a name, Genkurou gitsune 源九郎狐, and then in return the animal reveals that Yoshitsune's supposed ally Kakuhan 覚範 is really the Heike commander Noritsune. When Noritsune arrives Yoshintsune spares his life and the two men agree to end the war between their clans. Most of the illustrations of the theme are shibai-e 芝居絵, depicting scenes from the kabuki theater. Because of the length of the play, favorite scenes were often excerpted and performed. For example, while illustrations of the entire play are known, the "Journey to Yoshino" Yoshinoyama Michiyuki 吉野山道行 (Act 3), "Daimotsu Bay" Daimotsu-no-ura (Act 4), and the "Residence of Kawatsura Hougen" Kawatsura Hougen Yakata (Act 9) are most frequently depicted. In addition, prints of Senbonzakura were produced in the style of *uki-e 浮絵 and *musha-e 武者絵 . There are notable prints by Utagawa Toyokuni 歌川豊国 (1769-1825), Kunisada 国貞 (1786-1864), Kunichika 国周 (1834-1900), and Shunchou 春潮.|
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