In Ningyo Joruri (or Bunraku Puppet Plays), there is a group of pieces depicting the “Taiko” (Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 1537?-1598) himself or other relevant figures. These plays are now generally called “Taikoki-mono.” One of the most major plays in the group is Ehon Taikoki (The Taiko's Exploit, first performed in 1799), a play based on a historical act of “treason” called the “Honnoji no hen” (“Honnoji Incident”), in which Akechi Mitsuhide (?-1582), one of the important feudal lords (daimyos) subjected to Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), made a surprise attack on the latter and forced him to a suicide.
This paper analyses the individual characterization of the “traitor” Takechi Mitsuhide (associating the historical Akechi Mitsuhide) as the protagonist of Ehon Taikoki. For this, I compare the figure of Takechi Mitsuhide and his “treason” with some corresponding “traitors” and acts of “treason” in other Taikoki-mono-plays that are also based on the “Honnoji no hen”.
Through such analysis, this paper finds out that the notion of “treason” in the Edo-period was more fluid than scholars of today tend to consider. Actually, the understanding of “treason” in Taikoki-mono-plays changed from piece to piece, according to who was in power and from what standpoint the acts of “treason” was viewed. Although Takechi Mitsuhide in Ehon Taikoki acts against the Confucian ideology of the Edo-period, he is not simply a villain: the co-authors of the piece have given certain “righteousness” to the acts of the protagonist, so that a strong dramatic tension between him and other characters has been created.