Ise ondô koi no netaba (A song of Ise: Love and a dull blade: 伊勢音道恋寝刃), premiering at the Kado no Shibai, Osaka in 7/1796, was written by Chikamatsu Tokuzô, Tatsuoka Mansaku, and Namiki Shôzô II only two months after a real-life incident when a twenty-seven-year-old physician named Magofuku Itsuki, in a jealous rage, went on a murder rampage at the Abura-ya
teahouse in Ise on the fourth day of the fifth month, killing three people and wounding six. Itsuki committed suicide two days later at the home of his uncle, a low-ranking Ise shrine priest. His lover, the courtesan Okon (age 16 at the time), survived the incident, dying of illness at age 49.
The play takes place primarily at a teahouse called the Aburaya, also a house of assignation, in the town of Furuichi near Ise shrine, and features a cursed, blood-thirsty, heirloom Aoi-Shimosaka sword that, when drawn, exacts a violent toll. The hero, Fukuoka Mitsugi, the son of a deceased samurai, serves Manjirô's father, the Lord of Awa, as well as a Shintô priest
at the Ise Grand Shrine. Mitsugi joins Manjirô in the search for his family's sword, and eventually finds it at the Aburaya (although later he believes, mistakenly, that he is tricked into taking another sword after some scabbard switching). Due to manipulations by the teahouse proprietess or chief maid, Manno, Mitsugi is dumped by his lover, the courtesan Okon, due to a jealous misunderstanding engineered by Manno. Seeing Mitsugi's anger, Manno taunts him to strike her with his scabbard. When he does so, gently, the scabbard splits and the sword cuts Okon's neck. Manno screams "murder" at the sight of Okon's blood, whereupon Mitsugi slays Manno. Possessed now by the sword's curse, Mitsugi goes on a killing spree, despatching nearly everyone in the brothel, including several of the
evil protagonists. Only the wounded Okon can stop him from more killing and break the spell.
The scene shown here may be from the now rarely performed Act IV after Mitsugi flees from the Aburaya to his aunt's home. All along, he has been unaware that the sword he used to kill so many was the cursed Shimosaka heirloom. On the far left sheet Mitsugi subdues Daizô, who serves Tokushima no Iwaji, a villain seeking to keep the sword from Manjirô (Iwaji is later killed by Mitsugi). When Manjirô arrives asking after the sword, Mitsugi apologizes for what he believes is his failure to obtain the heirloom and stabs himself. His wound is not fatal and he soon learns that he does indeed have Manjirô's Shimosaka sword.
The printing of this tetraptych is deluxe with gold-color brass on three sheets and extensive use of silver-color metallics in the fret pattern on the fusuma (sliding door: 襖) on all four sheets.
References: IKBYS-IV, no. 459 (right only); TWOP, color plate no. 72; KNP, vol. 6, p. 554