On Sunday, March 9, 2014, I had a great opportunity to watch Nihon Furisode Hajime, a Kabuki play held in Kabukiza theatre in Tokyo, Japan. The production was written by the pen name Chikamatsu Monzaemon whose actual name is Nobumori Sugomori. The play was formerly created for the puppet theatre, Bunraku, and was first staged in Osaka in 1718. Also, it was first performed in Kyoto after it has immediately reformed to Kabuki during the same month.
Nihon Furisode Hajime is a fictional story about the fight between an eight-headed serpent and Susanoo. As a yearly ceremonial, the townspeople brought Princess Inada to the Izumo Mountain, the site where the annual sacrifice for the serpent is dedicated. The serpent, disguised as an ugly princess, was attracted to jars full of sake before she was able to attack Princess Inada. Knowing that the sake wine will weaken the serpent, a hero named Susanoo used set up the jars of sake wine as a trap against the serpent. Susanoo then attacked and defeated the drunken eight-headed serpent and saved Princess Inada.
There are three main characters in the production. The first main character of the play is Princess Iwanaga. She is a jealous woman whose spirit has become the eight-headed serpent. Due to her insecurities of being called ugly, she threatens and demands the villagers to send her every year the body of the most beautiful girl in town. Another important character named Princess Inada is a young and beautiful princess of a