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Breaking Cherry Branches

Monastery Abbot
a Wealthy Gentleman
His Servant

The inspiration for this play comes from "regular" Kyogen. The drinking game between the monk and the servant are to be noted. They play "paper, scissors, stone" and the loser has to drink. As they get tipsy they do a ballad drama using a box for the narrator's stage and a broom as a shamisen; using the broom as an umbrella, they enact a courtesan promenade. The game "paper, scissors, stone" is used by anyone of any age in Japan to make decisions best left to chance whether it be who buys the next round of drinks, who wins in a tie decision or who drives home.

First on stage are the Abbot and the young monk who is carrying the Abbot's umbrella. The monk is used to being scolded by his cranky superior for his many mistakes. The Abbot orders the monk to hang a sign from a branch reading "Do not break the cherry branches," and tells him no one is permitted to have a flower viewing party. While the monk is chanting a sutra and ringing a bell a Wealthy Gentleman and his attendant come to the temple. They see the sign and decide to have their cherry viewing party in front of the temple gate. The monk sees the party and cannot resist the pull of the sake. The attendant catches him trying to sneak some of the sake and only frees him when they are permitted to go into the garden under the trees. The threesome have a riotous party and the monk finally passes out. The Gentleman has his attendant break off a branch of the tree as they depart. The Abbot returns, sees the mess and chases the monk off, beating him with his staff.

sake container cherry branch
sake cup