Kirare Yosa (Yosa the Bat!)

Kunichika: Nakamura Nakazō III, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, Onoe Taganojō II & Arashi Rikan IV in the play “Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi”, July 1885

Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi often called just “Kirare Yosa” or “Yosa the Bat” is another traditional classic of the kabuki repertoire but, ironically, the person in the title is not actually the main character or the hero if the play – that is Yosaburō.

Love at first sight at Kisarazu Beach

Yosaburō is the adopted son of a wealthy merchant family who later have their own child, Yogorō. The family want Yosaburō to inherit the business but actually he feels that it should go to Yogorō and as a result tries to live a life of debauchery in the hope that he is disinherited. As a result he is living under the protection of a relative while he waits to be thrown out.

Yosaburō meets on the beach with a family friend called Kingorō who hands him a letter written by Yogorō who is worried about him. They both try to convince him not to continue on his current path.  While on the beach a comic storyteller called Aishō tells him about a beautiful girl called Otomi, the mistress of a local gambler (Akama Genzaemon), who is on the beach today. Otomi is a geisha but has come to the beach to gather shellfish with some friends. Both glimpse each other as they leave the beach and instantly fall in love.  

At the Akama villa

One night Aishō takes Yosaburō to the villa of Akama Genzaemon when he knows he is not there. Aishō has been playing the role of courier between the lovers since the day they saw each other on the beach. At least this night the lovers meet face to face and they drink sake but find nothing of any importance to say so they just hold each other. 

Akama Genzaemon suddenly returns with his henchmen to surprise the lovers – he had been tipped off by one of his henchmen (Matsugorō) who had learned of the assignation. Otomi escapes but Yosaburō is caught and Akama instructs his henchmen to slash his body but not to kill him. Yosaburō begs to be killed but Akama refuses – tying him with ropes and throwing him into the sea. Matsugorō catches Otomi is at the top of a cliff and tries to make her go with him. He loves her but of course she refuses and, being agry at the refusal Matsugorō tells her that Yosaburō was killed. Otomi is shocked and throws herself into the sea to commit suicide. 

At Genjidana

Three years later Otomi is still alive after being saved by a man called Tazaemon who happened to be sailing nearby. Tazaemon is a rich merchant who owns the Izumiya store and after checking the unconscious Otomi’s charm bag he realises that the woman he had saved was his own long lost sister. He didn’t reveal this to her but let her live in a comfortable house in the Genjidana district of Edo and provided everything she needed.  

A funny little man called Kōmori Yasu (Yasu the Bat, because he has a tattoo of a bat on his face) comes to Otomi’s house with his friend Kirare Yosa (scarface Yosa) who covers his face with a towel. Kōmori Yasu used to work for the Izumiya but was fired for being a bad worker and tonight he tries to extort some money from Otomi. She feels troubled by his demands so gives him some money and asks them to go. Kirare Yosa tells Kōmori Yasu to leave but he will stay because all in the house is his – he removes his disguise revealing that he is Yosaburō. 

Yosaburō is very much aggrieved that Otomi has been continuing her life without him in relative luxury and this contrasts with his hard and very unlucky existence since their parting. Otomi assures him that she still loves him and that Tazaemon is like an older brother to her. Tazaemon comes back and tells the men to take the money and go, which they do. Otomi tries to follow them but Tazaemon stops her. Tazaemon has to leave but before he does he gives her a charm bags with a letter in it. After he has gone she reads it and it explains that he is her brother and she is very surprised. Yosaburō returns and hears the story from her – they are both very touched and moved by Tazaemon’s kindness and resolve to love each other forever. 

Kunichika: Onoe Kikugorō V & Onoe Matsusuke IV in the play “Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi” performed at the Kawarasaki-za theatre in September 1892
Chikanobu – Nakamura Nakazō, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX, Onoe Takozō & Arashi Rikan in the play “Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi” (与話情浮名横櫛) performed from June 1882

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