Five Women Who Loved Love

by Hirayama Tōgo

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Last Updated on January 7, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 570

The First Story. Seijr, a handsome, gallant young man disowned by his wealthy father for his profligacies, apprentices himself to a shopkeeper and proves hardworking and reliable. When Onatsu, his master’s younger sister, falls in love with him, he, after some reluctance, at last fully returns her affection. As an apprentice, he is far from an eligible suitor, and so the lovers are forced to elope. Seven hundred gold pieces disappear at the same time. When the lovers are discovered, Seijr, condemned for theft as well as for seduction, is executed. The gold is later found where it was mislaid. Onatsu goes mad for a time. Later, she enters a nunnery.

The Second Story. Osen, a country woman, is married happily to a cooper. When Chzaemon, the yeast maker, is planning to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his father’s death, Osen offers to help in the preparations. While she is arranging sweetmeats, Chzaemon accidentally drops a bowl on her head, disarranging her hair. Chzaemon’s suspicious, jealous wife accuses Osen of adultery. Because she is unjustly accused, Osen impulsively decides to revenge herself on the wife by truly making love to Chzaemon, although she cares nothing for him. When her husband, the cooper, discovers the lovers, Osen commits suicide and Chzaemon is executed.

The Third Story. Osan’s husband goes to Edo on business. Her maid, Rin, is in love with Moemon, a clerk. Moemon, however, feels coldly toward Rin and only reluctantly agrees to visit her bed. Together, Rin and Osan decide to punish him, and Osan takes Rin’s place in the bed. The trick has other results, however, when Osan and Moemon find themselves hopelessly in love. After pretending to commit suicide together, they hide in a faraway village for a time. Eventually, they are discovered and executed.

The Fourth Story. Oshichi, an innocent young woman, is taken by her mother to find refuge in a temple after their house burns down. There she meets and falls in love with Onogawa Kichisabur, a young samurai. When Oshichi and her mother return to their home, the lovers are not able to meet in secret. Oshichi, remembering how she first met her lover, decides to start another fire, but she is discovered, arrested, exposed to shame, and burned at the stake. Kichisabur, who was ill, does not know of her death until he accidentally sees her gravestone. At first, he plans to commit suicide, but he is persuaded to delay his plan until after a talk with his mentor and sworn brother. As the result of his friend’s advice, Kichisabur decides to become a monk.

The Fifth Story. Gengobei, a pederast, takes priestly vows after the death of Hachijr, his lover. Later, he falls in love with another boy who returns from the dead to see him again. In his grief, Gengobei retires to a mountain hut. Meanwhile, a girl, Oman, sees and falls in love with Gengobei. Determined to win him, she disguises herself as a boy and visits his retreat. There she succeeds in winning Gengobei’s love, even after her sex is revealed. Gengobei leaves the priesthood, and the lovers live in great poverty together until Oman’s parents finally find her. Rejoicing at her recovery, her parents decide to have the two lovers marry and then give their family fortune to Gengobei. Oman’s love story, therefore, comes to a happy ending.

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