Ippon gatana dohyo iri (When I Became A Champion Sumo Wrestler)

“Murakami was one of those prolific and neglected writers of popular fiction and plays of the 1930s. Some of his work is pure romantic froth, and some, like this play, recreations of the social conditions and customs of latter Tokugawa Japan. This slight tale of a casual act of kindness repaid years later is a neo-Kabuki play popularized by Kikugoro VI, a kizewamono dealing with the world of petty gamblers, prostitutes, and, in general, low-life under the Tokugawa.

“It is an actor's piece: Hasegawa, long criticized for his effeminate style, displays a different aspect of his talent. As Mohei, he changes from a rather sweet, half-starved but hopeful sumo apprentice to a hardened and self-confident travelling gambler or toseinin. In representing a world distinguished by extreme self-stylization, Hasegawa makes an abrupt switch in language patterns and physical choreography: the scale is without parallel in the West and not easily identified by a Western audience.”

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