"Inasegawa Seizoroi (Five Dandy Thieves at the Inase River)" Scene from "Aotozoshi Hana No Nishikie"

About the scene

On the bank of the Inasegawa River the band of five thieves, who have been involved in various

wrongdoings throughout the country, were finally surrounded by a band of thief-takers (a posse of people officially hired to capture criminals). Resigned to their fate of getting caught, the five men declare their true identities and in turn tell their life stories.

Characters

About the drama

Aotozoshi Hana No Nishikie”, also commonly referred to as “Shiranami Gonin Otoko” (Five Thieves), is one of the

most important works by kabuki playwright Mokuami Kawatake, who produced many great plays from the end of

the Edo period through to the Meiji era.

Shiranami is an old slang word meaning “thief”, originating from a belief that there used to be thieves in a place

 

called Shiranami in ancient China. Due to this, kabuki dramas that depict thieves are often called “Shiranami mono”.

Highlight of the scene

Watch the colorful and flashy costumes of the five thieves, each symbolizing the character being played.

A series of rhythmic monologues in a seven and five syllable meter, where each of the five men

identifies himself in turn, is called “watari-zerifu” - a classic feature of stylized kabuki entertainment. This watari-zerifu technique is the basis of the Japanese kids’ TV show genre: “Super Sentai” - where a team of colorfully-clad superheroes identify themselves in turn. (Outside Japan, the Super Sentai Series is best known as the source material for the Power Rangers franchise.)