Ôtô no Miya asahi no yoroi (Ôtô no Miya's armor at sunrise: 大塔宮曦鎧), a five-act jidaimono ("period piece" or history play: 時代物), premiered at the Takemoto puppet theater, Osaka, in 2/1723. It was written by Takeda Izumo I (1691-1756) and Matsuda Wakichi (Bunkodô) and was later revised by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (近松門左衛門, real name Sugimori Nobumori, 杉森信盛, 1653–1725). The plot derives from the Taiheiki (Chronicle of great peace: 太平記) and related works and was the first play to bring fame to Izumo I.
Ôtô no Miya is the son of Emperor Godaigo. He holds a banquet to raise an army to overthrown the Hôjô forces headed by Rokuhara Tandaiki. Ôtô no Miya is joined by the warrior Toki no Kurando Yorikazu, whose wife, Hayazaki, tries to persuade her father, Saitô Tarô Saemon [or Tarôzaemon], to break his allegiance with Rokuhara and support Ôtô no Miya, but he refuses. By importuning her father, however, Hayazaki has unintentionally alerted the enemy to the imperial plot. Yorikazu, when he realizes this, commits seppuku ("incision of the abdomen" or ritual suicide: 切腹) in expiation for his wife's carelessness. Tarô Saemon gathers the Hôjô forces, whereupon Hayazaki substitutes for her husband in battle; she is soon slain. Ôtô no Miya retreats and the emperor is sent into exile at Okijima. Various other events occur involving, among other things, the capture of Ôtô no Miya's young son, who is saved from assassination by none other than Tarô Saemon, who substitutes his own grandson, Rikiwaka, to honor Yorikazu and Hayazaki. Later, Tarô Saemon, who again refuses to join Ôtô no Miya and the imperial army, kills the Hôjô warrior who wanted to slay the young prince. Finally, Tarô Saemon commits seppuku.
Besides the role of Saitô Tarô Saemon (斎藤太郎左衛門) in Ôtô no Miya asahi no yoroi, Arashi Kitsusaburô II (二代目嵐橘三郎, 1788-1837) also performed as Rinpei (林平) in Otoko narikeri onna Narukami (What men? A female Narukami: 男哉女鳴神) on the 8/1828 Kado program. These two performances, plus a third, coincided with Kitsusaburô II taking the name Arashi Rikan II (二代目嵐璃寛) in a shûmei (lit., "succeed to a name": 襲名), a ritualized name-taking or accession ceremony. The plays were produced by Sawamura Otomatsu to commemorate the sixth anniversary (seventh memorial service) of the late megastar Arashi Rikan I (一代目嵐璃寛, i.e., Arashi Kitsusaburô I, 嵐橘三郎, 1769-1821).
The large white tachibana (mandarin orange blossom: 橘) on Rikan's black robe was a mon (crest or emblem: 紋) of the Rikan lineage of actors.
We have so far found only two other impressions of this fine design, one in the collection of Waseda University's Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum (no. 201-1585; poor condition), and the other illustrated in Kamigata shibai-e ten zoroku (Illustrated Record of an Exhibition of Kamigata Theater Prints). Matsudaira, Susumu. [Ikeda Bunko Library collection]. Tokyo: Kokuritsu Gekijô, 1985, no. 87 (right sheet of a triptych, partly faded).
References: NKE, p. 523; KNP-6, p. 178