Plays DataBaseYouchi Soga (Vengeance of the Soga Brothers at Night)

Youchi Soga
Photo from National Noh Theatre

Brothers Soga Jūrō Sukenari and Soga Gorō Tokimune have been watching for an opportunity to avenge Kudō Suketsune, the man who killed their father. They try to participate in the hunting competition that Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo of the Kamakura Shogunate holds at the foot of Mount Fuji*, since Kudō Suketsune, who has assumed an executive position in the Shogunate, will accompany Shogun Yoritomo to the hunting competition.

foot of Mount Fuji with their retainers, Danzaburō and Oniō. There, Jūrō and his younger brother, Gorō, decide to attack Suketsune tonight. Though the brothers have already prepared to die in their act of vengeance, their only concern is the mother they have left behind in the village of Soga. Considering their mother’s grief after their death, the brothers discuss and decide to send the retainers back to the village of Soga, in order to pass their mementos to their mother. The brothers call the retainers and order them to go back to the village. However, the retainers show their determination to help the act of vengeance and are willing to die even before the brothers do. Because the Soga Brothers strictly order the retainers to follow their order, the retainers are caught between a rock and a hard place and try to commit suicide by stabbing each other. Surprisingly, the Soga Brothers stop them and once again persuade them to follow their order by explaining the way of master and servant and the importance of bringing their mementos to their mother in the village of Soga. They further mention that if the retainers do not follow their order, they will disown them, even in their next lives. Being pressed on that much, all the retainers can do is just follow the order. After receiving a letter from Jūrō and a talisman from Gorō, Danzaburō and Oniō depart in tears from the Soga Brothers and head to the village of Soga.

That night, the Soga Brothers attack Kudō Suketsune and gain their revenge for the death of their father. After killing Suketsune, the brothers fight against Shogun Yoritomo’s warriors and Jūrō is killed in the battle. Gorō remains alive and he fights and kills Furuya Gorō. However, he is finally pinned down and captured by Gosho Gorōmaru, who is disguised as a woman.

*Hunting competition: a style of hunting where a large number of servants of samurai chase wild game out so they may be shot by the samurai warriors.

This is one of the Soga-mono pieces, whose titles include their family name, Soga. These Soga-mono all describe the stories associated with the vengeance of the Soga Brothers for the murder of their father from different viewpoints.

This piece, Youchi Soga (Vengeance of the Soga Brothers at Night) describes the story immediately before and after their act of vengeance. In the first half of the drama, the Soga Brothers force their retainers to return to their village of Soga right before the act of vengeance. With limited movements and chants, it depicts the behaviors and subtleties of emotion of both masters and retainers, which are simple yet human. The second half of the drama starts from the scene after the act of vengeance, and only Gorō and Yoritomo’s warriors appear on the stage. It describes Gorō who fiercely fights against his foes after learning and lamenting that his brother, Jūrō, was killed.

Instead of directly showing the scenes of vengeance, this piece extracts only the moments before and after the event. Furthermore, it focuses only on Gorō’s fighting scenes in the second half of the drama, which succeeds in making a clear distinction between the first and second halves and in impressing on its audience the differences of each scenes.

In this “Youchi Soga” , kyōgen-kata plays an important role to bridge the first and second halves of the drama. With Izumi School, one or two kyōgen-kata, who are called Hayauchi-Ai, appears on the stage as a messenger and narrates the scene of the act of vengeance. With Ōkura School, they humorously perform a man named Ōtōnai, a guest of Kudō Suketsune, who just ran away from the battle of the Soga Brothers’ vengeance. The Ōtōnai provides some laughs and relaxing moments for the audience who have been watching the series of tense scenes throughout the drama. Izumi School also performs this “Ōtōnai” as a special version (kogaki).

STORY PAPER : Youchi Soga (Vengeance of the Soga Brothers at Night)

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Youchi Soga (Vengeance of the Soga Brothers at Night) Story Paper PDF Sample

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