The Love Suicide of Osome and Hisamatsu

double suicide Edo period suicide



Somemoyō imose no kadomatsu

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This play was written by Suga Sensuke and first performed in 1767 at the Toyotake Konokichi-za theater in Kita Horie in Osaka that was the successor to the Toyotake Konokichi-za theater and was the first big hit after the theater moved out of the Dotonbori theater district.

The Aburaya Pawnshop


It is the end of the year and the Aburaya is very busy because the daughter of the house, Osome, is to be married to Yamagaya Seibei and the maidservants are busy sewing kimonos for her.

But Osome is not enthusiastic about this wedding because she is really in love with Hisamatsu, an apprentice in her parent's shop. The chief clerk Zenroku is also in love with her and tries to press a love letter on her, which she refuses and finally throws away, while he tries to embrace her.

After Zenroku is gone, Hisamatsu emerges and they reaffirm their love for each other. They want to go somewhere far away where they can live as husband and wife.

Osome's brother Tasaburo comes with a complaint of his own. He has been in love with a courtesan named Oito and he worked with a friend of his named Genemon to buy out her contract and who is also keeping her safe. Tasaburo suspects her of being unfaithful since he cannot get in touch with her, but just at that point Oito herself appears barefoot and says that Genemon has been keeping her a prisoner and has been trying to make here his wife. She has only just escaped. Hearing the truth, Tasaburo is soon reconciled to her. But Hisamatsu sees Yamagaya Seibei coming and they hastily hide Oito in the closet.

When Yomagaya Seibei comes, Osome's mother Okatsu immediately starts fussing over Seibei. But Genemon comes shouting that Tasaburo is a thief. Genemon and Zenroku have plotted together to get rid of Tasaburo by using a valuable poem card with calligraphy by the famous classical poet Fujiwara no Teika that Genemon owns. The poem card has been pawned for three hundred gold coins.

She asks Zenroku what he knows about it, but Zenroku claims that he did everything for the sake of the store. Moreover, Genemon accuses Tasaburo of being a thief for taking Oito without paying back the money or returning the poem card. Okatsu is shocked and asks for proof that Tasaburo has taken Oito and inadvertently opens the closet, sees Oito, and immediately closes it and covers up by saying that there is nothing but Osome's colorful kimons.

Tasaburo tries tp get Genemon to return one hundred gold coins that he borrowed, but the promissory note that he presents as proof is not blank. And when Okatsu tries to resolve the matter by returning the poem card to Genemon, the poem card is missing from the box and instead, there is a songbook titled "the Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu."

Seibei resolves the situation and beats Genemon and Zenroku to punish them. He also shows that when Genemon tried to sell the poem card, it ended up in Seibei's possession. Seibei gives Okatsu the poem card and says she should give it to Genemon whenever he returns for the one hundred gold coins he borrowed.

Genemon and Zenroku moan over their defeat and Zenroku taunts Seibei for marrying Osome when she is having an affair. He and Genemon explain by performing the ballad describing the affair between Osome and Hisamatsu in the songbook, with Genemon using a broom as an improvised shamisen.

Seibei stops them and says this is not proof, but Zenroku says he has absolute proof, a love letter from Hisamatsu to Osome. Seibei reads the latter, but substitutes Zenroku's love letter to Osome.

Okatsu is furious at Zenroku betraying them. She should have him executed, but instead, will simply dismiss him from service and expel him from the house. When Okatsu wants to disown Tasaburo, Seibei intercedes and says he will take care of Tasaburo and Oito and get him to reform.

Late that night, Zenroku and Genemon break in to steal the poem card, but Hisamatsu overhears them and manages to substitute a wooden clog for the poem card.

The Ikutama Shrine


Osome and Hisamatsu meet and express their love for each other and their resolve to die. They see a sign for a performance of "The Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu" and believe it must be about someone else. They playfully wonder if that other couple resembles them. They listen to the music and in shock, realize that it is all about them.

Zenroku emerges and says he had this performer tell this story to get back at Seibei, have him cancel the wedding, get Hisamatsu dismissed, and for Zenroku to be able to make Osome his own.

Hisamatsu grabs Zenroku's sword and kills him. Hisamatsu realizes he cannot go on living and stabs himself with the sword. Osome rushes to join him in death and throws herself into a well.

The Pawnshop


Back at the pawnshop, Hisamatsu is dozing and a street performer is reciting "The Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu" outside. Hisamatsu is relieved that the scene at the Ikudama shrine was a dream, but he worries about whether it might be a prophetic dream foretelling the future. Osome comes rushing out and is relieved to see that Hisamatsu is all right. She has seen the same dream. Osome's mother calls her and she is forced to go.

Hisamatsu's father Kuysaku comes from his home village of Nozaki on the outskirts of Osaka. He comes to ask the master to release Hisamatsu from service so that he can go back to get married to the sister of a neighboring farmer. Hisamatsu panics and says that he must stay in service her and his father is only an ignorant farmer who does not understand these things. Kyusaku reveals that he is here because Okatsu wrote asking him to come and convince Hisamatsu to see reason.

Beating Hisamatsu with his staff would defile it, so he bought leather tabi socks, the leather, the skin of a beast being the appropriate thing to use to punish Hisamatsu. As Kyusaku beats Hisamatsu, Osome comes out and says that it is all her fault. Kyusaku begs her to tell Hisamatsu to go back to Nozaki. Osome's mother Okatsu comes out and says she has heard everything. She explains how she has been worried sick about Osome. She persuades Osome that Seibei is the son of her husband's master and because of their feelings of gratitude to their late master and the involvement of the elders of the neighborhood, they have no choice but to go ahead and have Osome marry Seibei. She begs Osome to give up Hisamatsu and when Osome doesn't give a clear answer, shows that she has a razor and threatens to commit suicide.

Finally Osome agrees and Kyusaku prepares to take Hisamatsu home with him. But Okatsu says that since tonight is New Year's Eve, it would look bad to take away Hisamatsu abruptly. It shouldn't cause too much harm if they wait until after NEw Year's day.

Kyusaku agrees, but then thinks that the young couple might try something desperate in the meantime and suggests that Hisamatsu be locked up in the storehouse and then he will take him away in the morning.

In Front of the Storehouse


Osome slips out to see Hisamatsu and they express their love for one another, but they say that they cannot go on living and resolve on death.

Meanwhile, her father Tarobei starts reciting the Ofumi sermon about the white bones, which says that no matter how beautiful in life, everything ends in death and bones.

He hears Osome and calls her inside. He is sympathetic, but begs her to get married to Seibei. He tells Osome to please not die, the sermon he just read has the lesson of the terrible loss that death brings to everyone. He urges Osome to go back to her room and she agrees, in tears.

Near dawn Okatsu finds that Osome has committed suicide. Kyusaku is worried about what Hisamatsu has done. He rushes to the storehouse only to find that Hisamatsu has hanged himself.

Osome at the Storehouse

Osome at the storehouse

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