Dōjōji Ittsui no Furisode (The Maiden at Dōjō Temple)

Nakamura Nakatarō, Nakamura Fukusuke, Bando Hikosaburō V & Nakamura Shikan IV in the dance “Dōjōji Ittsui no Furisode” (“The Maiden at Dōjō Temple”), at the Ichimura-za in the 9th month of 1871

Dōjōji Ittsui no Furisode (“The Maiden at Dōjō Temple”) is another classic kabuki dance play based on an 18th century Nō play simply called “Dōjōji”. The play starts with a scene of 2 Buddhist priests admiring a huge hanging bell in the precincts of Dōjōji Temple. They are very pleased because the temple hasn’t had a bell for quite some time and this one has just been dedicated. 

According to the legend, the temple used to have a handsome priest named Anchin, who was the love interest of a young girl called Kiyo-hime. He tried to ignore her affections but she insisted on pursuing him with great determination. Finally she became so frustrated by his unfriendly reaction that she started to hate him and transformed into a fire-breathing serpent. The priest ran into the temple and the abbot lowered the giant bell over him to protect him from the snake but she coiled herself around the bell and breathed fire until it melted, killing him. 

Since that day no woman was ever allowed into the temple precincts on any account. But today a beautiful young girl arrives calling herself Hanako and saying she is a travelling dancer. she has heard of the new bell and would like to come in to see it. At first the priests decline but her great disappointment moves the priests and they relent, allowing her in to dance in the bell’s honour.

She dances with a hat and then with a hand towel, then one after another. The priests feel strangely aroused by the dancing and are sure that every time she changes her costume they can see a strange aura emanating from her. Remembering the legend they decide to drive her from the temple but just as they do so she gives them a sardonic smile and climbs onto the bell, revealing herself to be the spirit of Kiyo-hime. 

Notes

Prints of this play nearly always have blue backgrounds and feature shaven headed men with one or possibly 2 Shirabyōshi dancers (with the tall hat) – plus a giant bell, of course. 

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