Nō techniques and play borrowings provided important infusions into kabuki throughout its history, but in the nineteenth century, a genre of kabuki plays in close imitation of nō or kyōgen wasadded to the kabuki repertoire. The genre came to be called matsubamemono, meaning “[nō/kyōgen-derived kabuki] plays [performed] on a stage with a pine painted on the back wall” or “pine-boardplays.”1 These plays are the focus of this article, in which I first introduce the genre and its place in kabuki history, and then discuss its most famous example, the play Kanjinchō (Hattori 17–40; Meisakukabuki zenshū 181–197; Brandon, The Subscription List 205–236). Many matsubamemono are derived from fourth-category genzaimono nō plays. Kanjinchō is one such example, based on the genzaimono Ataka. Analysis of Kanjinchō will focus on the methods used to transform Ataka into Kanjinchō, methods that were used in other nō-to-kabuki matsubamemono adaptations and that resulted in a sophisticated amalgam of nō and kabuki techniques, borrowings and newly-created sections and passages. In addition, through an examination of the role of Benkei in performances by three great modern actors, I will briefly consider different ways of playing Benkei and how different interpretations affect our engagement with Benkei’s heroism, grandeur, and humanity.

First Page


Last Page



©2021 Katherine Saltzman-Li

Terms of Use & License Information