Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 748
Yajirobei inherits money at his home in Fuchu, and he goes to Edo with his companion Kita to spend it. The money is soon wasted in riotous entertainment, and they live in poverty. Yaji marries, and Kita goes to work as an apprentice. Yaji’s wife dies, and he is left with bills to pay, particularly to the rice dealer, bills he cannot meet. Meanwhile, Kita is turned out of the shop where he was apprenticed for embezzling money. With trouble on every side and nothing to tie them down, the pair decide to skip town and make a trip to the sacred shrine at Ise.
Along the way they have many adventures and meet all sorts of people. At Odawara they eat uiro—a bean confection that is a specialty of the place. They also have to deal with a unique type of bath called goemonburo. Unlike an ordinary Japanese bath, which is made of wood, this is a metal pot with a fire built directly beneath it. Bathers stand on a wooden platform to keep from burning their feet. Unfamiliar with this type of bath, the city slickers remove the wooden board and put on clogs to protect their feet. Kita, as a result, kicks a hole in the bottom of the tub and ruins it.
Yaji thinks he arranged with the maid at the inn that she will sleep with him that night, but while he is going to the bathroom, Kita tells the maid that Yaji is sick, covered with boils, foul smelling, and disgusting. The maid keeps the money Yaji had paid her, but never shows up for the rendezvous.
At a river crossing they encounter a pair of blind travelers. When one blind man offers to carry the other across the river, Yaji gets on his back instead. When the blind man goes back to pick up his companion, Kita tries the same trick only to get dumped into the river. That evening at an inn at Kakegawa they encounter the same pair of blind men drinking sake. To get even for having been dumped in the river, Kita drains their cups and ends up drinking the whole jug of sake, making the blind men think they spilled it. In the end Kita’s ruse is exposed.
As they approach Akasaka, Yaji grows weary, so Kita offers to go on ahead and find an inn for the night. A short time later Yaji stops at a tea house for some refreshment and is warned that the road ahead is dangerous because it is haunted by a fox. He nevertheless walks on in the darkness until he comes across Kita sitting beside the road enjoying a whiff of tobacco. Yaji assumes that this is not Kita at all, but the fox who has simply changed his appearance to look like Kita. Consequently, Yaji beats his friend with a stick and ties him up, groping around under his clothes trying to find his tail to prove he is a fox. Finally, when a village dog ignores Kita, Yaji decides that perhaps Kita is not a fox in disguise after all.
At Iga Ueno they encounter a man who asks if they are from Edo. Yaji says they are and claims to be none other than Jippensha Ikku and goes on to tell this man that he is writing Hizakurige as they travel. Eventually this charade is discovered. When they are served konnyaku, a local delicacy, they fail to realize that it is supposed to be cooked on the hot rocks provided. Kita and Yaji think the rocks are some sort of food that is to be eaten. They pretend to know what they are doing, but as usual their ignorance is revealed.
More trouble awaits them when, at last, they reach Ise and there encounter none other than Tarobei, the rice dealer from Edo whose bill they left unpaid. From Ise they continue on to Kyoto and Osaka to see the sights in those great cities. On the way they have more farcical experiences. On a boat down the Yodo River, Yaji tries to do an imitation of a famous Edo actor, but even the people from the west of the country know more about the actor than he does. They meet a man carrying an urn containing his late wife’s ashes, and they mistakenly eat the ashes thinking they are some sort of local dish. Reaching Osaka at last, their journey ends.
Unlock This Study Guide Now
- 30,000+ book summaries
- 20% study tools discount
- Ad-free content
- PDF downloads
- 300,000+ answers
- 5-star customer support