The play Kewaimizu Kinugawa tsutsumi (粧水絹川堤) was one of the adaptations of the Kasane mono ("Kasane plays"). These were various dramatizations of stories about Kasane, who was murdered by her husband Yoemon at the Kinu River ("Kinugawa" 絹川 is included in the play title) after she flew into a jealous rage. (In some versions Kasane is at first disfigured by the spirits of other murdered protagonists, which brings on her jealousy.) Kasane's ghost would not let her rest and so it possessed or haunted others until appeased (in some cases with the intercession of Saint Yûtetsu). Kasane mono became a staple for Kaidan mono ("Ghost plays") in the kabuki and puppet theaters.
The play was one of the three performances in the eighth month at the Kado no Shibai.* Especially interesting is the accompanying poem, in which Kitsusaburô II acknowledges his name change, as it is signed nidaime (second generation 二代目) Rikan: Naokirite / shitateru nomizo / kikukasane (roughly, "The name is borrowed / I only have to make the clothes / for an autumn success"), with kikukasane punning on the name "Kasane," as well as referring to chrysanthemum (kiku 菊), an autumn flower. The "borrowed" name also refers to "Rikan," inherited from his illustrious predecessor, Arashi Rikan I, while "making the clothes" suggests that Rikan II understands that merely donning the robes for kabuki roles will not make him a success — he must make his own way in the tradition of Rikan I to truly prove he is worthy of the name.
* The other two plays on the program were "Ôtô no Miya asahi no yoroi" (Ôtô no Miya and the armor of the rising sun: 大塔宮曦鎧) and "Otoko narikeri onna Narukami" (What men? A female Narukami: 男哉女鳴神), in which Kitsusaburô II played Saitô Tarô Saemon and Rimpei, respectively.
A rare print, this impression was formerly in the Okada Isajiro (岡田伊三次郎) Collection, a celebrated Japanese compilation (featured in Kuroda Genji's 1929 Kamigata-e ichiran, Review of Kamigata Pictures) that was thought to have been lost until its miraculous reappearance and gradual dispersal starting in the year 2000. The colors in this impression are remarkably well preserved.
References: KNP-6, p. 178.
大判 (38.0 x 25.5 cm)
非常に見事な摺り。黄色の下地に美しい色合いで描かれている。保存状態良。から摺り。 裏打なし。少シワ、汚れ 擦りあとあり。