Akaneya Hanshichi (あかねや半七) (role )



The following text was taken from Osaka Prints:

In 1695 Akaneya Hanshichi (the son of a sake merchant from Gojô in Yamato province) and his lover Minoya Sankatsu (the adopted daughter of Minoya Heizaemon of Nagamachi in Osaka) committed double suicide (shinjû) at Saitarabatake, part of the burial ground of Sennichiji, an Osaka monastery. In response, the play Akane no iroage (Akane's love reawakened) was staged that same year and became the first love-suicide play (shinjû mono: 心中物) to be a hit with the public, running 150 days (anything over 100 days was considered exceptional).

The best known dramatization, Hade sugata onna maiginu (A stylish woman’s dance robe: 艶容女舞絹) premiered in 1772. In that version, Hanshichi deserts his wife Osono for Minoya Sankatsu — a geisha he has loved since before his arranged marriage to Osono. To complicate matters further, Hanshichi and Sankatsu have a young daughter, Otsû. When Hanshichi is accused of murdering a man in a brawl, he becomes a fugitive and is disowned by his father. The dutiful Osono blames herself and considers taking her own life. (She is regarded as a model of the virtuous stage wife by kabuki audiences, reflecting rigid 19th-century dictates proscribing female behavior that would be considered intolerable today.) However, when the lovers send Otsû to Hanshichi's family home, all soon realize what the lovers intend to do. The child carries a letter in which they ask Osono to look after Otsû and to comfort Hanshichi's parents after the death of such an undutiful son.