Written jointly by Izumo Takeda and several other playwrights, this play was first staged at the Takemotoza Theatre in Osaka in August 1748 under a different title.
In less than a month after the first day of its performances the Tokugawa Shogunate banned it because the play took as its theme the Battle of Osaka Castle in 1614-5, in which leyasu Tokugawa, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, played a prominent role. Eleven years later the play was staged again under the present title, "Kamakura Sandaiki,” apparently to beguile the attention of Shogunate officials. The play has since been known by this title.
Although the reference to the Battle of Osaka Castle is self-evident, it is camouflaged by the use of fictitious names for all characters, such as Tokimasa Hojo for leyasu Tokugawa, Tokihime for Senhime, Miuranosuke for Shigenari Kimura and Takatsuna Sasaki for Yukimura Sanada.
At his war camp at Shono in the Province of lse, Tokimasa Hojo, a warlord, meets a farmer named Toza, who has been captured on suspicion that he may be Takatsuna Sasaki, an enemy warrior, in disguise. As Toza flatly denies the charge of disguise, Tokimasa calls Kagaribi, Takatsuna's wife, who has also been captured, and makes her identify his captive. Kagaribi asserts that the man is her husband but Toza insists that he has never met her before, to say nothing of marrying her.
At this moment a retainer reports that a woman who calls herself Toza's wife is outside the camp and is asking for permission to meet her husband. When the woman is called in, the couple meet with each other with a show of great pleasure. Convinced that Toza is a genuine farmer, Tokimasa orders his men to tattoo his front to save him from further trouble of mistaken identification. Tokimasa consults with his retainers, Shinzaemon Furugori and Yagoro Dohi, on how to recover Tokihime, Tokimasa's daughter, from a house in Kinugawa Village where the is staying with the sick mother of Miuranosuke, an enemy warrior to whom she is engaged.
Overhearing their talks, Toza volunteers to become an emissary entrusted with the task of taking Tokihime back. Tokimasa accepts his offer and employs him as a low-class retainer. Toza puts on armor and asks Tokimasa for permission to marry Tokihime if he succeeds in his mission. Tokimasa grants his request and delivers his dagger to Toza as a proof of his commission. Toza gladly leaves for Kinugawa Village, paying no attention to his wife's protest against his proposed marriage to Tokihime.
At the house of Miuranosuke in Kinugawa Village, Orachi, a housewife in the neighborhood, and Okuru, Toza's wife, ate visiting his mother who is confined to bed. Miuranosuke's mother tells Orachi that Okuru has just moved into the house next door.
Tokihime, Miuranosuke's fiancée, who is temporarily living in the house, is absent, having gone to buy a bottle of sake which the intends to serve Orachi. Orachi enters an inner room to rest. Okuru goes back to her house to cook.
Two ladies-in-waiting to Tokimasa visit the house and persuade Tokihime, who has come back from shopping, to return to her own home only to meet her flat refusal.
Orachi comes out of the inner room to drink sake and teaches Tokihime how to cook rice. She drinks all the sake. As she wants to drink more, she goes out to buy it herself.
The ladies-in-waiting decide to kill Miuranosuke's mother and take Tokihime back willy-nilly to Kamakura. As they approach her room, however, Toza blocks them. Toza tells them that he has Tokimasa's order and shows them the dagger as its proof. At Toza's advice, they retire to the village master's house to stand by. Toza hides himself to bide his time.
Miuranosuke comes back from the battlefield to see her mother, having been informed that she is seriously ill. At the gate of the house he falls unconscious due to fatigue but soon comes to when Tokihime pours medicine into his mouth.
After asking Tokihime about his mother's condition, Miuranosuke proceeds to the doorway of his mother's room when he hears her calling to him not to open the door. The says if he is a true warrior like his late father, who was known for his unparalleled valor, he should devote himself completely to the service to his lord, never thinking for a moment of leaving the battlefield no matter how serious his mother's illness may be.
The mother's words are so stern that Miuranosuke feels he has no choice but to return to the battlefield immediately. As he tries to go, however, Tokihime clings to him, saying that she loves him with all her heart and that she will cast her lot with him through thick and thin. In spite of her assertion Miuranosuke is not fully convinced of her loyalty to him because she is a daughter of his enemy, Tokimasa.
Tokihime asks Miuranosuke to stay until dawn for the sake of his mother whose death seems imminent. As soon as they enter an inner room, Rokuro Tonda, a retainer of Tokimasa, emerges from the well in the garden. He has come to the well through an underground passageway that he had secretly dug in order to gain entrance to the garden from outside.
Rokuro has been sent by Tokimasa to see to it that Toza successfully carry out his mission of taking Tokihime back to Tokimasa. Rokuro is joined by Okuru, who leads him to the back of the house for consultation on how to take Tokihime out. As soon as they are gone, Tokihime enters, followed by Toza.
Toza hands the dagger to Tokihime and asks her to go back to her father with him. Tokihime sternly rejects the offer and orders Toza to leave the house. Upon looking at the dagger brought by Toza, she correctly guesses that her father is hinting to her to kill Miuranosuke's mother with this dagger. Instead of following her father's implied order, she decides to kill herself. Just as she attempts to do so, however, Miuranosuke rushes out of the inner room to stop her. He says he now has no doubt about her loyalty to him and asks her to kill her own father. Though hesitant at first, she resolutely promises to comply with his request.
Rokuro, who has been overhearing their talk, comes out to say that he will inform Tokimasa of their plan. When he tries to run out, however, a spear thrust from inside the well kills him instantly. From the well appears Toza, now resplendently dressed to reveal his true identity as Takatsuna Sasaki. Miuranosuke's mother grabs the spear held by Tokihime and thrusts it into her abdomen, saying the is killing herself in order to enable Miuranosuke to fight wholeheartedly without being worried about his mother's illness.
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