This play is one of a series of popular Chôbei-Gonpachi mono (Plays about Chôbei and Gonpachi), which are related as well to various Gonpachi Komurasaki mono ("Gonpachi and Komurasaki plays". These dramatizations were based on real-life events involving the samurai Gonpachi, guilty of murder and robbery, who was executed in 1679, and the otokodate (a chivalrous commoner, lit. "upstanding man") Banzuin Chôbei. Both were quintessential street heroes who came to the aid of downtrodden commoners and defied those with power and influence. Theatrical and literary fictions paired Chôbei with Gonpachi, who by legend were reputedly homosexual lovers (despite their historical counterparts living in different eras). In some versions, Teranishi Kanshin (a rônin or masterless samurai) attempts to redeem his favorite pleasure woman, the Yoshiwara courtesan Komurasaki, but she runs away with Gonpachi, the lovers hiding in Chôbei's home.
The most familiar story features Gonpachi who was — by age 16 — famous for his good looks, bravery, and swordsmanship. He kills a fellow samurai and flees to Edo, where at an inn he is warned by a 15-year-old beauty named Komurasaki that the owner is a gang leader plotting to murder him for his sword. Gonpachi swiftly kills all ten of the gang. Afterwards, he visits the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter and finds Komurasaki at the Miuraya brothel, now a prostitute selling herself to earn money for her destitute parents. Without the funds to ransom her, Gonpachi turns to a life of debauchery, supporting himself by robbery and murder. When he is finally captured and executed, the devoted Komurasaki takes her life at his grave.
大判4枚続き絵(37.3 x 105.0 cm)