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Shimosaka Curse?

 
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:34 pm    Post subject: Shimosaka Curse? Reply with quote
The plot of Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba, a kabuki play which I am currently writing about on the S-A wiki and in which I might be performing here in Hawaii in the spring, centers around a Shimosaka sword and the curse it carries. Though the curse is not really discussed at all in the play as it is performed today, the play appears to draw upon an earlier story or a more widely-known myth about this particular blade (or about Shimosaka swords in general?) is cursed, such that once it is drawn, or once it tastes blood, it must kill.

In the play, the main character has a spat with one of the courtesans, who taunts him to strike her with his scabbard. The scabbard splits, the sword bites into the courtesan's neck, spilling her blood, and the samurai becomes possessed, killing nearly everyone in the teahouse.

I skimmed the Nihonto Message Boards, and a number of sources on the play, and didn't find anything more about the curse. I am wondering if any of you know anything more about it, by chance.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It sounds exactly like the legends associated with Muramasa blades (that it infuses the bearer with bloodlust and must taste blood once it's drawn). I'm thinking they just changed the name for the play, since the Tokugawa regime frowned on using actual historical names in plays and novels.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Seems like a strong possibility... and I guess that since Shimosaka was earlier (16th century), unlike Muramasa, he would not have been considered a "contemporary" figure, and so a mention of him or his swords could more easily slip past the censors.

Of course, those same laws banned plays based on contemporary incidents, and yet, plays like that - such as Ise Ondo - were performed all the time.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
A little correction. Muramasa in question was, though indeed, Muromachijidai. The Echizen Shimosaka school did not start until the early Edo period. Examples of this school are Yasutsugu, famous for his nambantetsu and skill at re-tempering (sic) fire damaged swords of famous smiths and Tsuguhiro, etc. This school was famous at the time and would have been known by the hoi polloi.
MURAMASA SENGO [DAIEI 1521 ISE] SUEKOTÔ SAIJÔSAKU
He is said to be the son of Seki Kanemura, his Bhuddist name is Myôdai, his zokumei is Uemonnojô, and there is a story that says that he was pupil of Heianjô Nagayoshi. His work extends over a period of more than 50 years through Bunki, Eishô, Daiei and Tenmon, and there are various stories saying that it is thought that there were two generations during this period, but it is not clear. He made few katana, but many tantô and sun-nobi tantô. Ji is itame, hamon is gonome midare and hako midare, and resembles that of Nosada, Kanemitsu nado. His horimono resembles that of Nagayoshi. During the Tokugawa era a curse was placed on this same house, they were viewed as bewitched swords, and the wearing of a Muramasa was forbidden. For this reason, those who secretly possessed them changed them to various names or erased the names. This bit refers to oshigata. To the right, the `Mura' kanji was changed to `Hiro' and it was made a `Hiromasa' sword. Besides this, there are those in which the name was changed to "Masahiro", "Muratada", "Muramune", "Shô" (or Masa), nado. The reason that a long time ago it was said that the Muramasa was a bewitched sword is that in the 12 Guzen no Dekigoto, plays, kôdan (recited story) and such, various data was circulated, and one was "Katana ni Arawerata Meishin" (Superstitions brought forth in the sword). At the present time, conversely, there is deep appreciation among its admirers. [TN: Tokugawa Ieyasu cut himself on a Muramasa, and he had relatives slain with Muramasa swords. There should be no doubt as to who promoted plays and stories depicting the sword as evil.]
John
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I don't think the shogunate would have been promoting any plays at all. Samurai were strongly discouraged from attending kabuki performances, and strong restrictions were placed on the theatres; sometimes they were shut down entirely.

As for Muramasa being "contemporary" Edo period, oops, my bad. What was I thinking of?
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