Hanazumo chôchô no mombi (Amateur wrestling and a special day for the butterflies) was an adaptation of the much better known Futatsu chôchô kuruwa nikki (Diary of two butterflies from the licensed quarters). The original play featured a tale of two wrestlers (metaphorically, the "butterflies" in the play title, punning on the character chô in their names). Chôkichi and Chôgorô are rivals, both inside and outside the sumô ring, but later in the play they resolve their differences.
Oseki, the sister of Chôkichi, is upset at his quarrelsome behavior, so much so that she loses her temper and calls him an outlaw in public. Her accusation brings such shame upon him that he is compelled to commit suicide, in his mind the only path toward vindication. However, before he can take his own life, Chôgorô, who has decided on a reconciliation, intervenes and urges Chôkichi to go on living. In the scene shown here, the wrestlers have already pledged friendship and have mixed their blood in a cup to be shared between them as they declare their brotherhood. Kanbei, who is kneeling beside Oseki, is a amazakeya (sweet rice-wine seller: 甘酒や) who had earlier witnessed Oseki's angry confrontation with her brother, and it was Kanbei who provided the wine cup.
The figures are standing on a bridge spanning the Dôtonbori (Dôton Canal) in Osaka. The silhouetted skyline in the distance provides a glimpse of the kabuki theaters, with banners flying. Presumably, Utaemon IV and Ensaburô I are wearing padded robes to suggest the bulky physiques of the wrestlers. Ensaburô I, in particular, is a formidable figure posing in a wrestler's crouch.
References: IKBYS-IV, no. 349; NKE, p. 105; HOP, p. 114, no. 45