Artist: Tsuruya Kōkei (弦屋光溪)

Print: Onoe Kikugorō VII as Benten Kozō [弁天子僧] in Shiranami Gonin otoko [白浪五人男]

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Dates: 1988,created
Dimensions: 9.5 in,15.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Number 24 (of 72): 二十四

Related links: Yale University Art Gallery;

Physical description:

There are two prints of Benten Kozō in the Lyon Collection with his bloody forehead clearly on display.

Benten Kozō and his cohorts in a play by Mokuami set up an elaborate scheme to get caught stealing in a shop while at the same time setting up a scam.

"The shop chosen is the Hamamatsuya cloth-shop, owned by Benten Kozo's father. Benten Kozo dresses up as a young lady of rank, the daughter of the samurai Hiyase. His comrade Rikimaru poses as a retainer who is escorting her. The two are respectfully received by the manager of the shop and his assistants. Rolls of silk and brocade suitable for wedding clothes are displayed before them, but Benten Kozo does not think much of the merchandise. While turning over a bundle of silks, he secretly drops among them a small piece of material which he then picks up again and clumsily stuffs into the front of his kimono. He is seen by one of the shop assistants and in the ensuing scuffle is wounded on the forehead by the manager. Rikimaru, as the "young lady's" protector, makes a terrible scene and proves to the manager that the piece of material does not come from his shop at all, even producing the bill for it from another cloth-shop. Sawanosuke, son-in-law of the owner, arrives and hears the story. He calls his father-in-law, Kobei (Benten Kozo's father), and a neighbour comes to mediate. Rikimaru holds out for 100 ryo as compensation for the wound on his "lady's" brow. After some haggling, during which the neighbour retires in disgust, Kobei is forced to pay up. The two bandits are about to make off with their booty when they are stopped by the arrival of Tamashima Itto (Nippon Daemon in disguise). The unfortunate affair is explained to him. He looks hard at the girl and her attendant and tells Kobei he has been fooled. He has caught sight of a pattern of cherry blossoms tattooed on the lady's shoulder and believes she is a man in disguise. He brusquely tells Benten Kozo to show his face and let them see who he is. This is the great moment of the play. With humorous sangfroid, Benten Kozo complies, making a famous "naming" speech as he does so. Neither his father nor his brother-in-law recognizes him. Rikimaru takes off his samurai dress, and Benten Kozo also removes as much of his disguise as he is able."

Quoted from: The Kabuki Handbook by Audrey and Giovanni Halford. [The use of bold type above is our choice.]