Ichinotani futaba gunki (Battle chronicle of two young leaves at Ichinotani: 一谷嫩軍記) was originally written for Bunraku (puppet theater: 文楽) and staged at the Toyotake no Shibai, Osaka in 12/1751. It was adapted for kabuki in the following year with a performance in Edo at the Morita-za in 4/1752, and in Osaka that same year in the 11th month at the Naka no Shibai. This jidaimono ("period piece" or history play: 時代物) is a fanciful adaptation based on tales of the Genpei wars (1156-1185), the pivotal struggle between the Minamoto (Genji) and Taira (Heike) clans. It's main plot features Kumagai Jirô Naozane, one of kabuki's most celebrated roles, as a general serving under the legendary Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Kumagai must face in battle a youth of only 15 named Atsumori, son of a Taira general. As it happened, Kumagai owed a debt of gratitude to Atsumori's mother, for she had saved Kumagai and his wife from execution 17 years earlier. Having no other way to honor his debt, Kumagai substitutes and sacrifices his own son Kojirô for Atsumori. This shocking turn of events only delays the inevitable, and finally Kumagai must slay Atsumori. Distraught at the loss of his son and his failure to save Atsumori, Kumagai renounces his allegiance to the Minamoto and takes up the vows of a Buddhist priest.
In the present scene, Yoshitsune and Kumagai (Kumagaya), are shown at Yoshitsune's encampment. The long expanse of curtain serves as an effective graphic device to link the four sheets. At the far right is the stone mason Midaroku, actually Yaheibei Munekiyo, a former Taira warrior who had saved Yoshitsune and his half brother Yoritomo when they were children, an act of kindness that would in the present time bring ruin to Munekiyo's clan when Yoshitune's forces attack the Taira. Midaroku leans on a large chest of armor (the character reads mae 前 or "front") with a printed woodgrain pattern. Kumagai, having already sacrificed his son, has put on a black stole and shaved his head in the manner of a Buddhist monk. He holds a rosary, as he is about to go on a pigrimmage to pray for his son, signalling that he has decided to retire from military service.
For another scene from this same production, see HSD44.
References: IKBYS-IV, no. 285