Nakamura Shikan II as Sano Genzaemon
Publisher: Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei)
Original Japanese Woodblock Print, Size: Oban (ca. 37 x 26 cm)
Although face makeup is often seen in kabuki prints, it is almost always the case that the unprinted paper serves as the "color" for flesh. In Kunihiro's design, however, we have a printed flesh tone for the skin of the face, hands, and legs.
Play: Kaikei natsu no hachinoki (Potted trees and a man in summer) a play based on a drama from the classical No theater and its subsequent kabuki adaptations. The better known kabuki variant is called Yayoi ni hiraku ando no funahashi, derived from the No play Hachinoki (The potted trees).
The lord of Kamakura, Hôjô Tokiyori, while traveling in disguise as a priest, seeks shelter from deep snow and freezing temperatures at the house of Tsuneyo, the former lord of Sano, who is impoverished following the confiscation of his lands by duplicitous kinsmen. (The title of the play illustrated here by Kunihiro, Kaikei natsu no hachinoki, suggests, of course, that the season was changed from winter to summer in that version). When the night cold keept Tsuneyo awake, he sadly cuts his cherished bonsai of plum, cherry, and pine, setting them on fire to keep the priest warm. When Tokiyori asks why Tsuneyo does not stake his claim before the lord of Kamakura, Tsuneyo replies that he has heard his lord is away on a pilgrimage. He adds that he would gladly don his broken armor, take up his rusty spear, and mount his weakened horse to defend his lord from harm. In a later scene, Tokiyori sends orders for all the lords of the eastern provinces to gather at Kamakura. He then asks to see the most ill equipped lord, whereupon Tsuneyo, poorly attired, walks toward Tokiyori, thinking he is about to be executed. As the splendidly dressed lords look upon Tsuneyo with derision, Tokiyori reveals that he was the priest whom Tsuneyo had sheltered, and that for keeping his word to fight for his lord, returns to Tsuneyo his lands in Sano, along with three more estates, to compensate for the three bonsai Tsuneyo had sacrificed.
In Yayoi ni hiraku ando no funahashi, the mistreated lord is named Sano Genzaemon, and the priest/lord Saimyôji Nyûdô. Genzaemon is robbed of his lands by a wicked uncle. Other story lines are woven into the plot, but essentially Genzaemon looks to regain possession of his ancestral lands and win a Kamakura guarantee for his legitimate right to ownership.
The inscription above the actor quotes from a song performed by Sano Genzaemon