Two Pieces of Silver
Picture Credit: Zaraphena | Official Chirashi
English Title: Two Pieces of Silver -The Plum-Branch Hair Pin-
Japanese Title: 銀二貫 —梅が枝の花かんざし—
Romanized Title: Gin Ni-kan -Ume ga Eda no Hanakanzashi-
Performances: Bow Hall, 11/19- 11/29
Based On: The novel of the same name by Takada Kaoru
Author/Director: Tani Masazumi
Available on DVD: No
|Matsukichi (Tsurunosuke)||Tsukishiro Kanato|
|Zenjirou (clerk at kanten shop "Ikawa-ya")||Ema Naoki|
|Wasuke (owner of "Ikawa-ya")||Hanagata Hikaru|
|Kahei (cook, Maho's father)||Souno Haruto|
|Hikosaka Kazuma (Naemura clan samurai, father of Tsurunosuke) /Hanbee (kanten artisan)||Karyou Shizuru|
|Ohiro (mother of Otetsu)||Momohana Hina|
|Umekichi (apprentice at "Ikawa-ya")||Kujou Asu|
|Kiroku (Sanjikkokubune boatsman)||Kiraha Reo|
|Otaki (kanten fieldworker)||Anno Konomi|
|Osato (worker at "Ikawa-ya")||Ai Sumire|
|Souemon (owner of market "Yamoshiro-ya")||Kazushiro Runa|
|Okinu (Souemon's wife)||Hizakura Honori|
|Sadashichi (assistant manager at "Ikawa-ya)||Machi Yuuka|
|Oyou (village girl)||Saizuki Tsukushi|
|Oteru (village girl)||Sara Anna|
|Takebe Genbu (Naemura samurai)||Kanou Yuuri|
|Kamekichi (apprentice at "Ikawa-ya")||Shinjou Makara|
|Oichi (daughter of Souemon) / Hirosaka Tsurunosuke (as a child)||Irodori Michiru|
Other Cast: Yumenoka Mai, Suwa Saki, Tsukihana Yukino, Nonoka Himari, Kirara Umi, Seika Rian, Manomiya Rui, Yume Maoto, Mika Monami, Asato Mire
WARNING!! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!
A boy loses his samurai father and gets adopted as an apprentice to a kanten* shop in Osaka.
A growing-up story about human bonds and the value of life.
- (agar, gelatin that comes from seaweed)
Act I: Buying Revenge
It is a snowy night in Osaka, on the first month of the 7th year of the An'ei era (1778). Wasuke, the owner of "Ikawaya", a kanten wholesale store, is going to the Tenmangu Shrine to donate two thousand pieces of silver so the Shrine can be restored after the recent Osaka Fire burned it down. On his way there, he encounters Hikosaka Kazuma, and his 10-year-old son, Tsurunosuke, being attacked by a samurai named Tatebe Genbu, seeking revenge for the death of his father. Genbu slashes Kazuma, and goes in for the finishing blow but Tsurunosuke shields his father.
As Genbu is about to cut the boy down too, Wasuke steps in and reasons with him to make a business deal: buy Genbu's revenge in exchange for the bag of silver. Genbu eventually caves in and runs away with the money. However, the blow Kazuma sustained was fatal; with his dying breath, he begs his son to live on, no matter what.
Tsurunosuke, who is now all alone with nowhere to go, is taken in by Wasuke with the intention to make him an apprentice at his shop. Tsurunosuke is sent to "Minoshimaya", at Fushimi, where kanten is made, so the boy can learn first hand about it. Zenjiro, the elderly clerk of the shop, is not the least bit amused about the situation. He is very upset that Wasuke wasted the God's money for a random boy who is unlikely to make a good apprentice due to his samurai upbringing. Wasuke believes in the boy and the strong desire for life he saw in his eyes when he saved him.
4 years later, Tsurunosuke comes back to Osaka with a kanten delivery. His hands are red with frostbite and hard work. He is determined to throw away his samurai background and status and become an apprentice at "Ikawaya" and "live on, no matter what", like his father told him. On the way, a little girl who passes by, drops her plum blossom hair pin. Tsurunosuke returns it to her and she is amused by his classy speech patterns and good posture, both unfit for a shop apprentice. Wasuke tells him she's probably the daughter of a local merchant.
Back in Ikawaya, Wasuke introduces Tsurunosuke to the rest of the apprentices. Everyone is intimidated when they learn of his samurai background. Wasuke tells them Tsurunosuke is an orphan and one of them, and pleads them to get along well with him. Osato, the maid, is touched to hear Tsurunosuke was working for 4 years in the harsh enviroment of kanten-making, as this job took her own parents' life. Zenjiro piles criticism on Tsurunosuke for his inability to adopt the humble speech patterns, slouched posture and appropriate clothes of an apprentice. Umekichi, Kamekichi and Osato do their best to teach him. Zenjiro argues with Wasuke once again that Tsurunosuke is not fit for the job, but Wasuke insists on raising him. Zenjiro begs Wasuke to do everything to raise the money for the shrine donation again, as soon as possible. Tsurunosuke receives the name "Matsukichi" for his new life as an apprentice, after the matsu (pine) trees of the Tenmagu Shrine that were the only thing there to survive the fire.
After some initial reluctance to let go of his name, he accepts. Matsukichi is struggling to adopt the apprentice's way of speaking, repeating customer greetings over and over. One day, Souemon, a client and "Yamashiroya"'s owner, drops by to order a delivery, on his way to watching a love-suicide bunraku play with his daughters, Oichi and Okinu. Zenjirou, enlessly bitter at Matsukichi, reminds him of his debt to them and emphasises that two thousand pieces of silver is such a big amount of money, it's the reason the main couple in "The Love Suicides at Sonezaki", a bunraku play based on real-life events, end up taking their lives. A short reenactment of the play's final scene follows.
One day, while making a kanten delivery, Matsukichi runs into the plum blossom hairpin girl once again. Her name is Maho, and her father, Kahei, runs the "Mahonoya" restaurant, who is a new client of the "Ikawaya". The two of them get along immediately. Maho's mother died when she was 3 and she doesn't even remember what she looks like, but her father is taking care of her and she is not lonely at all. She asks about his family and starts weeping when she learns Matsukichi is all alone, with no living family left. Matsukichi is deeply moved to see there is someone who would cry for his sake and starts thinking there is still a place for him in the world.
Matsukichi starts being increasingly late to return every time there is a delivery for "Mahonoya". Zenjiro tells Umekichi to take up those deliveries from now on; Umekichi points out that he shouldn't, since both the young lady and the master look disappointed when it's not Matsukichi delivering, and it makes him feel bad. Wasuke is happy that Matsukichi is appreciated and reminds Zenjiro that Kahei is an excellent chef who can teach Matsukichi many things. Zenjiro makes disgruntled noises; everyone in "Ikawaya" pleads with him to be less harsh with Matsukichi.
Maho tries to keep Matsukichi around by having him help out with chores and cleaning, but he eventually needs to leave and continue his deliveries. As he's about to leave, she starts asking about all sorts of things about how kanten came to be and who discovered it. Matsukichi indulges her and explains how. Maho exclaims kanten is not only tasty but interesting too! Matsukichi
seems doubtful about that. Maho runs to her father and asks him to help Matsukichi understand kanten. Kahei gives both of them some to eat. The kids find kanten aromatic but tasteless; Kahei explains that is the important thing about it. He then shows Matsukichi the new delicacy he came up with for his restaurant: Kohakukan, named after its amber color (kohaku = amber). He bids Matsukichi try it and he finds it delicious. Kahei thus proves his point, that kanten is good because it can preserve the taste of what you make with it. He then asks Matsukichi to never tell of this tasting to anyone; it's not for an apprentice to be the first to try a new dish. He only did it at Maho's bequest, who thought it's sad for him to work with kanten when he didn't think much of it. Matsukichi is touched to tears by their kindness. Kahei muses that if there was kanten double as firm as now, it would help cooking advance even more. Matsukichi agrees to try loving kanten more.
Kohakukan is a big hit in town and slowly the last month of the year comes around. Zenjiro berates Wasuke for not admitting his knee is getting worse. As they are discussing business, the city's fire alarm goes off. Everyone tries to get when they can and run to safety. Zenjiro laments that this is Tenjin's wrath upon them for failing to make the donation to his temple, and he openly blames Matsukichi for it. Wasuke berates him for thinking like that, and Zenjiro runs away in fear and desperation. Wasuke admits he understands the old clerk's feelings and he may even be right for thinking the way he does. Zenjiro, Wasuke explains to his staff, used to be an apprentice in a different shop when he was a boy, but he lost both his place of employment and the family that took him in and treated him kindly, in a fire, at the tender age of 13. Loss and solitude made him quite stubborn and religious, and he cannot but be wary of their inability to pay the donation to Tenjin's shrine. Unable as he is to blame Wasuke for it, he takes his frustration out on the apprentices. Wasuke acknowledges that the blame lies with him alone, but asks Matsukichi to be understanding of the old clerk and his harsh treatment. A firefighter comes in and reassures them they are safe where they are, the wind is flowing the flames away from their part of the city. Funakoshi and Honmachi (Osaka districts), however, are in deep trouble. Wasuke realises Funakoshi is where "Mahonoya" is. Matsukichi immediately runs out to find Maho. In the Funakoshi area, everything is in chaos, with flames roaring and people running away in panic, but Matsukichi refuses to give up and prays Maho stays alive.
Act II: You're precious to me
5 years later, Tenjin's shrine is finally restored and a festival is held in celebration. Wasuke and Zenjiro are relieved but also haven't forgotten the two thousand pieces of silver promised to the god, and vow to donate it in the future at all costs. Oichi, tells Umekichi that her parents will come ask something of him, and begs him to just say "yes" to whatever they ask of him. Matsukichi is now a grown man, but has not forgotten Maho, and still laments her disappearence in the fire. At the festival, he overhears two men talking about a new shop that sells kouhakukan, which turned out to be an imitation of the one Maho's father used to make. Matsukichi frantically asks to learn the location of this shop and immediately runs to find it. A messanger then runs in informing people that a great fire broke out in Kyoto. Wasuke realises Minoshimaya is in danger there and means to run and help them, but Zenjiro stops him. Wasuke tells him that if something happens to their supplier their shop will go down too.
Arriving at the restaurant the two men were talking about, Matsukichi runs into a cook throwing out a protesting young woman. As she falls down, her headscarf comes undone and reveals extensive burns on the left side of her face and neck. Matsukichi is stunned, she looks exactly like Maho. He calls out to her and there is shock and recognition in her eyes. Matsukichi cannot hide his joy that she's alive and asks her lots of questions about where she'd been since the great fire and if her father is also alive. The girl, however, quickly hides her burn marks and tells him he's got the wrong person. Matsukichi tries to remind her they used to know each other, when suddenly an older woman arrives frantically looking for the girl. She calls her Otetsu and claims the girl's her daughter. She is hostile towards Matsukichi and has a nervous breakdown when Matsukichi insists she is not. The girl consoles her assuring her she is indeed her daughter, Otetsu.
Back in Ikawaya, the other apprentices catch Sadashichi sneakily running away. The shop's main kanten supplier, "Minoshimaya" ended up losing everything in the Kyoto fire and closed their business. Sadashichi feels it's pointless to just sit around and wait for their own shop to go under too as the kanten stock depletes. He openly admits he has found a job somewhere else and urges everyone to leave this sinking ship too before it's too late. Wasuke does not blame him for feeling this way and sees him off with a smile. Zenjiro begs him to think of something for their very difficult situation, but Wasuke laments they have been unable to find a kanten supplier with quality like "Minoshimaya"'s. He reassures the apprentices that he
can at least still feed them all. Matsukichi asks permission to go to Haramura, in Takatsuki. There, a past worker of Minoshimaya has opened his own kanten-making place. He and Matsukichi are acquintances from the latter's apprenticeship at Fushimi, back when he was still a boy, and Matsukichi owes a lot to him. Hanbei is known as a good worker, so Wasuke and Zenjiro trust his kanten will be of quality. Wasuke sends Matsukichi to Haramura and bids him to see with his own eyes the quality of Hanbei's kanten, and if it's as good as they hope, make a deal with him to
supply "Ikawaya" with his entire produce. At that moment, Maho walks in. She admits to everyone she is really is the Maho they used to know, daughter of the "Mahonoya" restaurant owner and begs them (and especially Matsukichi) to never call her by that name again. She explains that her father died in the fire 5 years ago, and she now lives as Otetsu, the daughter of the woman Matsukichi saw her with. Maho's father died in the fire while trying to protect her from a falling burning pillar. The real Otetsu was next to her. In the turmoil of the blaze, her mother saved Maho and Otetsu was left to die. Maho feels extremely guilty and responsible for these two deaths, so she decided to live Otetsu's life as atonement. She begs Matsukichi to never address her as "Maho" anymore for it will call her mother unbearable distress to find out the truth. Wasuke tells her that becoming this woman's new daughter and consolation is probably why Maho survived the fire. Kamekichi tells Maho of how long and hard Matsukichi searched for her after the Great Fire, never giving up. He shows her the half-burned "Mahonoya" nameboard Matsukichi saved from the restaurant's burned ruins and was praying to every morning for Maho and everyone's safety all these years. Maho thanks him with tearful eyes. Wasuke tells Maho that until the day she decides to return to being "Maho" and not "Otetsu" anymore, Matsukichi will keep the board in his care. Zenjiro tells her he is very happy she survived, and then breaks down in tears; Maho is happy and touched by the old man's gesture. Matsukichi explains to her that Zenjiro had lost his own beloved young miss in a past fire. Maho tells him this is the first time since then that she felt happy to have survived. Maho then begs him to fulfill her dead father's dream and try to make kanten that's double as firm as the current one, since she is unable to. Matsukichi promises her, for both her and her father's sakes. It is obvious there's still a lot of mututal love between the two of them, but Maho leaves. Matsukichi sings about his feelings, alone.
Matsukichi arrives at Hanbei's place in Haramura. It takes a little while for him to remember the little boy from Fushimi 10 years ago, but once he does he welcomes him warmly. He explains "Ikawaya"'s situation and begs Hanbei to supply his kanten to them, because if Ikawaya goes down, Matsukichi will never be able to repay his debut to them. Hanbei is happy, but cannot make promises until the kanten is made and turns out to be of quality. Matsukichi meets more old acquaintances from Fushimi who had come to work at Haramura. Matsukichi feels happy and moved to be back, feeling the kanten workshop is a home he returned to. He tells Hanbei of his plan to make a firm and sturdy kanten that would still congeal even with boiled potatoes inside it. Hanbei admires his resolve and gives him permission to try it. Matsukichi for the first time feels the true meaning of his father's dying words: "live on, no matter what".
Back in "Ikawaya", Osato spots a sad Oichi looking through the door at Umekichi sweeping the floor and asks for an explanation. Umekichi changes the subject, urging Kamekichi to keep doing his best and believing that Matsukichi will come back with something that will save their failing shop. Soon after, Matsukichi walks in and passes Wasuke a sample of the kanten made at Haramura. Wasuke takes a bite and quietly passes it to Zenjiro. They both agree that it's excellent kanten, on par with the one they used to get from "Minoshimaya", and maybe even better than that. Even the curt Zenjiro praises Matsukichi for his good work. Wasuke asks Matsukichi to follow him somewhere. On the way, Matsukichi asks about Umekichi's uncharacteristic gloomy behaviour that he noticed upon his return. Wasuke explains that Umekichi received a proposal from Oichi's family to marry her; everyone was very happy for him, but Umekichi refused it, and will not say why even when Wasuke asked him for a reason. Matsukichi replies that since Umekichi is a kind soul, he probably felt bad to find happiness on his own while "Ikawaya" was in such a tight spot, so if Hanbei's kanten sells well, the situation could change.
Matsukichi is stunned to realise they have arrived at the small dango street vendor business "Otetsu" and her mother, Ohiro, run for a living. Ohiro greets Wasuke warmly as a frequent customer. Wasuke introduces Matsukichi to her and tells her that since his leg is only getting worse, he'll be sending Matsukichi to buy the dango from now on. Matsukichi is speechless. Wasuke tells him to come see her as soon as he likes, but always treat her as "Otetsu". This is Wasuke's gift to him for all his hard work. "Otetsu" brings Wasuke his dango and is astonished to see Matsukichi. They are introduced again as though they had never seen each other before, and share an emotional, silent moment. Ohiro tells Matsukichi her daughter has received a marriage proposal from a shop clerk in his 40s. He is old, but attached to a well-established shop with prospects to some day open his own branch, and "Otetsu" is already 24 and still unmarried, so it's a good deal for her. Ohiro thinks that becoming the mistress of a shop will be a better life for "Otetsu" than working herself to the bone kneading dango in their small business forever. Matsukichi asks if this person is someone who would cherish "Otetsu". Before Ohiro can answer, he runs to Wasuke and asks to go back to Hanbei's workshop for another year. He intends to keep his past promise to make a firmer kanten. Everyone sings about the importance of keeping a promise.
Once again, Wasuke and Zenjiro painstakingly manage to save two thousand pieces of silver for the god Tenjin. They discuss how it is all thanks to Hanbei's kanten. Matsukichi is soon coming back, and in his most recent letter he wrote to them about the new, much firmer "ito-kanten" he managed to make. Wasuke marvels at how the once little boy has grown into a wonderful merchant, a fact even Zenjiro admits. Wasuke tells him of his intention to make "Ikawaya" as big as he can and then leave the shop to him, as reward for his long years of service, moving the old clerk to tears. There is a bang on the door, and Matsukichi enters with Hanbei. Hanbei apologises that he might not be able to supply them with kanten anymore, since "Minoshimaya", the shop he used to work for restarted business, and not liking Hanbei selling to "Ikawaya", they pulled strings to block him from procuring the red algae essential to kanten-making. Wasuke points out that he could get the red algae from elsewhere. Hanbei agrees but to make that happen a hefty sum would be needed, and to raise it he would have to close down his workshop for a while and he has to think about all the workers there who make a their daily living from the kanten business, so his hands are tied. Wasuke and Zenjiro once again offer the 2 thousand pieces of silver
they have to save Hanbei's business. Matsukichi is touched at this gesture of kindness and muses how he cannot hold a candle to the two of them who so magnanimously offered the 2 thousand it took them 19 years to save all over again, 19 years since they first offered it to save his life.
Umekichi approaches Matsukichi meekly and asks him to take care of "Ikawaya" and everyone in it from now on, as he will be going to "Yamoshiroya" to marry Oichi after all. "Yamoshiroya" is currently at the verge of bankruptcy, and Umekichi wants to do everything he can for them now at their time of need, as they had always been so nice to him. He also urges Matsukichi to go see "Otetsu", since her mother is very sick and she is taking care of her with Oichi's help. Matsukichi is hesitant since he doesn't want to cause any misunderstandings now that "Otetsu" has a marriage proposal. Umekichi berates him for being so oblivious; he informs Matsukichi it's obvious how much he and "Otetsu" love each other. Her mother went and refused the proposal seeing how much he seemed to care about her daughter that time Wasuke introduced them. Matsukichi runs to Ohiro and "Otetsu"'s house. Umekichi sings about his gratitude and hope that Matsukichi
Matsukichi arrives at the house as Ohiro is dying of illness. With her dying breath, Ohiro muses that they make a fine couple, and tells her daughter that "it's okay now, this is enough". "Otetsu"
breaks down crying for her mother's death. Matsukichi sings about their bond though all these years. He asks Maho to marry him. Maho hesitates, touching her burned face and neck. Matsukichi tells her that everything about her is precious and dear to him. He openly sings his feelings to her. Maho tells him she has't stopped thinking about her mother's last words; maybe her mother knew all along that she wasn't the real Otetsu. Matsukichi replies that what she probably meant was that it's time for her to find happiness now. When you're all alone you cannot keep living like that. He used to think like she does, that he does not deserve happiness, but now he has come to realise that exactly because they lost so much and they suffered so much, they should allow themselves to become happy. The two of them sing about their love.
22 years after running across a young boy and his father, Wasuke and Zenjiro finally manage to donate the 2 thousand pieces of silver to Tenmagu shrine. They discuss how thanks to Hanjiro's kanten, Matsukichi's ito-kanten and the newest "neri-youkan" (firm red bean paste jelly) Matsukichi and Maho made together, Ikawaya's business soared and this time they managed to gather the money much sooner than they expected. Matsukichi had promised that he and Maho would not have their wedding until Wasuke and Zenjiro managed to finally make the donation to Tenjin, and finally the day has come. Matsukichi expresses his gratitude for saving him all those years ago and for the life he got to lead thanks to everyone until then. Once again he asserts the importance of keeping on living, no matter what, though all adversity. Wasuke and Zenjiro lighten the mood by pretending to be senile and not remembering what he's talking about.
Maho speaks of her intention to attend her wedding ceremony without hiding her burn scars. Matsukichi agrees and the two head off to get ready. Wasuke is proud of the business deal he made 22 years ago. Zenjiro agrees that buying the boy's life was a great purchase, and a total bargain at that. Everyone dances elegantly as Matsukichi and Maho return in their formal wedding garb, holding their ceremony among happy faces.
- Japanese Wikipedia page on the novels and 2014 TV drama (source).
- Final performance for Tsukihana Yukino.
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