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Ishikawa Goemon played by kabuki actor Arashi Hinasuke II (painting by Toyokuni III, 1863)
In this Japanese name, the family name is Ishikawa.

Ishikawa Goemon (石川 五衛門 or 石川 五右衛門 ?, 1558-1594) was a legendary bandit hero who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor. He is notable for being boiled alive after a failed assassination attempt on Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A large iron kettle-shaped bathtub is now called a Goemon-buro ("Goemon bath").

Contents

Biography

There is little historical information on Goemon's life, and thus he has become a folk hero, whose background and origins have been widely speculated upon.

In one version of the story, Goemon tried to assassinate Hideyoshi to avenge the death of his wife and capture of his son, Gobei. He entered Hideyoshi's room but knocked a bell off a table. The noise awoke the samurai guards and Goemon was captured. He was sentenced to death by being boiled alive in an iron cauldron along with his young son, but was able to save his son by holding him above the oil.

In another version, Goemon wanted to kill Hideyoshi because he was a despot. When he entered Hideyoshi's room, he was detected by a mystical incense burner. He was executed on August 24 along with his whole family by being boiled in oil.[1]

In yet a third version, Goemon stole a prized songbird of Hideyoshi's, but the bird sang.[2] His whole family was executed, but Gobei was saved by Goemon.

In popular culture

Ishikawa Goemon is the subject of many kabuki plays. The only one still in performance today is entitled Kinmon Gosan no Kiri ("The Golden Gate and the Paulownia Crest"), a 5 act play written by Namiki Gohei in 1778.[3] The most famous act is entitled Sanmon Gosan no Kiri ("The Temple Gate and the Paulownia Crest") in which Goemon is first seen sitting on top of the Sanmon gate at Nanzen-ji in Kyoto. He is smoking an over-sized silver pipe called a kiseru and exclaims "The spring view is worth a thousand gold pieces, or so they say, but 'tis too little, too little. These eyes of Goemon rate it worth ten thousand!". Goemon soon learns that his father, a Chinese man named So Sokei, was killed by Mashiba Hisayoshi (a popular kabuki alias for Toyotomi Hideyoshi) and he sets off to avenge his fathers death.

He is the main character of the film Goemon (his role played by Yosuke Eguchi) and of the long running Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Ganbare Goemon) series of video games, and was the subject of Tomoyoshi Murayama's Shinobi no Mono novels, which in the 1960s became a film series starring Ichikawa Raizō VIII as Ishikawa (in the series, Goemon escapes his execution).

Goemon appears as a playable character available in the Samurai Warriors and Ninja Master's video game series. The character Goemon Ishikawa XIII of the manga and anime series Lupin III is purported to be Ishikawa Goemon's descendant (the opening sequence in Burn, Zantetsuken! shows Goemon Ishikawa XIII weeping while watching the famed kabuki performance based on his ancestor's life).

A Japanese film called Goemon by director Kazuhiro Iwashita was released in 2009. It was about a fictional account of Goemon's exploits and his role during the Japanese civil war, especially the conflict leading to the decisive Battle of Sekigahara.

See also

References

  1. ^ The legend of Ishikawa Goemon (has several pictures)
  2. ^ Historical Backgrounds of Samurai Warriors Characters; Blonde-samurai.piczo.com.
  3. ^ Brandon, James R. and Leiter, Samuel L. (2002). "Kabuki Plays on Stage: Villainy and Vengeance, 1773 - 1799. Vol. II", Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.







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