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Banch Sarayashiki

Banch Sarayashiki
Banch Sarayashiki ( The Dish Mansion at Banch) is a Japanese ghost story of love separated by social class, broken trust and broken promises, leading to a dismal fate. The story of Okiku and the Nine Plates is one of the most famous in Japanese folklore, and continues to resonate with audiences today.

The story of Okiku is an old one, whose true origins are unknown; however, it first appeared under the title Bancho Sarayashiki in July 1741 at the Toyotakeza theater. The familiar ghost legend had been adapted into a ningy jruri production by Asada Iccho and Tamenaga Tarobei I. Like many successful puppet shows, a Kabuki version followed and in September 1824, Banch Sarayashiki was staged at the Naka no Shibai theater starring Otani Tomoemon II and Arashi Koroku IV in the roles of Aoyama Daihachi and Okiku. A one-act Kabuki version was created in 1850 by Segawa Joko III, under the title Minoriyoshi Kogane no Yoshitoshi Tsukioka's portrait of Okiku. Kikuzuki, which debuted at the Nakamura-za theater and starred Ichikawa Danjr VIII and Ichikawa Kodanji IV in the roles of Tetsuzan and Okiku. This one-act adaptation was not popular, and quickly folded, until it was revived in June 1971 at the Shimbashi Embuj theater, starring the popular combination of Kataoka Takao and Bando Tamasabur V in the roles of Tetsuzan and Okiku. The most familiar and popular adaptation of Banch Sarayashiki, written by Okamoto Kido, debuted in February 1916 at the Hong-za theater, starring Ichikawa Sadanji II and Ichikawa Shch II in the roles of Lord Harima and Okiku. It was a modern version of the classic ghost story in which the horror tale was replaced by a deep psychological study of the two characters' motivations. Another adaptation was made in 2002, in Story 4 of the Japanese television drama Kaidan Hyaku Shosetsu [1] .

Plot summary
Folk version
Once there was a beautiful servant named Okiku. She worked for the samurai Aoyama Tessan. Okiku often refused his amorous advances, so he tricked her into believing that she had carelessly lost one of the family's ten precious delft plates. Such a crime would normally result in her death. In a frenzy, she counted and recounted the nine plates many times. However, she could not find the tenth and went to Aoyama in guilty tears. The samurai offered to overlook the matter if she finally became his lover, but again she refused. Enraged, Aoyama threw her down a well to her death.

Banch Sarayashiki It is said that Okiku became a vengeful spirit who tormented her murderer by counting to nine and then making a terrible shriek to represent the missing tenth plate or perhaps she was tormented herself and still trying to find the tenth plate but crying out in agony when she never could. In some versions of the story, this torment continued until an exorcist or neighbor shouted "ten" in a loud voice at the end of her count. Her ghost, finally relieved that someone had found the plate for her, haunted the samurai no more.

Ningy Jruri version

Hosokawa Katsumoto, the lord of Himeji Castle, has fallen seriously ill. Katsumoto's heir, Tomonosuke, plans to give a set of 10 precious plates to the Shogun to ensure his succession. However, chief retainer Asayama Tetsuzan plots to take over. Tomonosuke's retainer, Funase Sampei Taketsune is engaged to marry a lady in waiting, Okiku. Tetsuzan plans to force Okiku to help him murder Tomonosuke. Tetsuzan, through the help of a spy, steals one of the 10 plates and summons Okiku to bring the box containing the plates to his chamber. There, he attempts to seduce Okiku. She refuses due to her love for Taketsune. Rejected, Tetsuzan then has Okiku count the plates to find only nine. He blames her for the theft and offers to lie for her if she will be his mistress. Okiku again refuses and Tetsuzan has her beaten with a wooden sword. Tetsuzan then has her suspended over a well and, erotically enjoying her torture, has her lowered into the well several times, beating her himself when she is raised. He demands that she become his lover and assist in the murder of Tomonosuke. She refuses again, whereupon Tetsuzan strikes her with his sword, sending her body into the well. While wiping clean his sword, the sound of a voice counting plates comes from the well. Tetsuzan realizes that it is the ghost of Okiku but is entirely unmoved. The play ends with the ghost of Okiku rising from the well, Tetsuzan staring at her contemptuously.

Okamoto Kido version

In 1655, in Edo, a vassal of the Shogun Aoyama Harima has fallen in love with a young servant girl Okiku. Aoyama has promised to marry her, but has recently received an auspicious marriage proposal from an Aunt. Aoyama promises Okiku that he will honor their love, and refuse the proposal. Okiku doubts, and tests him by breaking one of the 10 heirloom plates that are the treasure of the Aoyama household. The traditional punishment for breaking one of the plates is death, which is demanded by Aoyama's family. At first, Aoyama is convinced that Okiku broke the plate by accident, and pardons her, but when Okiku reveals that she broke the plate as a love-test, Aoyama is enraged and kills her. He then throws her body down a well. From then after, Okikus ghost is seen to enter the house and count the plates, one through nine. Encountering her in the garden, Aoyama sees that her ghostly face is not one of vengeance, but beautiful and calm. Taking strength from this, he commits seppuku and joins her in death.

Banch Sarayashiki

Romantic Influence Okamoto's version is notable for being a much more romantic adaptation of the story, similar to the Kabuki version of Botan Doro. This was an influence of the Meiji restoration, which brought Western plays to Japan for the first time. Western plays were much more noticeable for romantic elements, and this was adapted into a style of theater known as Shin Kabuki. Shin Kabuki was ultimately an unsuccessful merger of East and West, although Okamoto's Bancho Sarayashiki remains as one of the few classics.

Okiku and Ukiyo-e

Like many Kabuki plays, Okiku was a popular subject matter for ukiyo-e artists. In 1830, Katsushika Hokusai included her as one of the kaidan in his One Hundred Tales (Hyaku monogatari) series. Ekin, a somewhat notorious artist who had troubles with the law, painted a Byobu-e [2] of Okiku being accused by Tetsuzan Aoyama and his brother Chuta.

An ukiyo-e print by Hokusai depicting Okiku

Most notably, she appeared as one of the New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. His portrayal of Okiku is unusually sympathetic, particularly as ghosts were viewed as fearsome apparitions by nineteenth-century Japanese, reflecting a general trend in his later work.

Influences on Japanese culture

In 1795, old wells in Japan suffered from an infestation of a type of worm that became known as the "Okiku bug" (Okiku mushi). This worm, covered with thin threads making it look as though it had been bound, was widely believed to be a reincarnation of Okiku. As the Ningyo Joruri version is set in Himeji Castle, a popular tourist attraction at the castle is Okiku-Ido, or Okiku's Well. Traditionally, this is where the hapless maid's body was thrown after being killed by Tetsuzan. Although the castle is closed at night, it is said that her ghost still rises nightly from the well, and counts to nine before shrieking and returning. The NES game Monster Party features a boss named "The haunted well", a well who attacks by throwing plates at the player, a reference to the tale. But since the game was only released in the USA, many players did not understand the concept.[3] Manga artist Rumiko Takahashi included a parody of the legend of Okiku in her romantic comedy Maison Ikkoku, published in Big Comic Spirits magazine from 1980 to 1987; the series was later animated for Japanese television. It's the story of Godai, a hapless college student who woos and eventually wins his beautiful widowed landlady, Kyoko, often despite the antics of the other wacky residents of Ikkoku-kan, the boarding house run by Kyoko. As part of an Obon event, the residents of Ikkoku-kan take part in a summer festival; Kyoko dresses up as Okiku and is supposed to hide in a shallow well. However, this being a romantic comedy, nothing goes as planned.[4] In the manga Gintama, there is a parody of this story when the Yorozuya trio assist a man in organizing a "test of courage."

Banch Sarayashiki

[1] [2] [3] [4]

(Japanese) Kaidan Hyaku Shosetsu [] :: (

Pictures on paper folding screens. http:/ / www. sydlexia. com/ monsterparty. htm Ido no naka in Takahashi Rumiko, 1984, Mezon Ikkoku, vol. 6, Tokyo: Shogakukan, pp. 165-184.

Addiss, Steven, Japanese Ghosts and Demons, USA, GeorgeBraziller, Inc., 1986, ISBN 0-8076-1126-3 Araki, James T., Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, USA, Columbia University Press, 1998 Iwasaka, Michiko, Ghosts and the Japanese: Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends, USA, Utah State University Press 1994, ISBN 0-87421-179-4 Ross, Catrien, Supernatural and Mysterious Japan, Tokyo, Japan,Tuttle Publishing, 1996, ISBN 4-900737-37-2 "Banch Sarayashiki" ( Kabuki21. Retrieved July 14, 2006. "Okiku" ( Asian Horror Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 18, 2006.

External links
Kaidan Bancho sara yashiki (1957) ( at the Internet Movie Database Bancho sara yashiki: okiku to harima (1954) ( at the Internet Movie Database Kaidan Hyaku Shosetsu (Story 4) (2002) ( at JDorama (http://www. The Japanese Ghost Story of Okiku at Artelino Art Auctions ( ghost_story_okiku.asp) - contains details of many different versions of the story.

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors

Banch Sarayashiki Source: Contributors: Azukimonaka, Black-Velvet, Brittany Ka, Bunnyhop11, Chris the speller, Ciphers, Cnilep, D.h, Earle Martin, Elyu, Grenavitar, Henry Merrivale, Jsnx, Julian Grybowski, K.h.w.m, Kevinalewis, Kintetsubuffalo, Kokuran, Krinndnz, LordAmeth, Mafuyu, Marudubshinki, Middayexpress, MightyAtom, Moocowsrule, N. Harmonik, Reinyday, Rjwilmsi, Robaato, Sadads, Slicrider, Squalk25, TheFarix, TomorrowTime, Treybien, 21 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

File:okiku.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: MightyAtom File:Hokusai Sarayashiki.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Hokusai

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