The actor Ichikawa Sadanji I as Sano Jirozaemon
Sano Jirozaemon, a farmer, was disfigured with smallpox and believed no woman could ever love him. He was bequeathed a magic sword which would bring him good fortune as long as it was never unsheathed.
Jirozaemon became a wealthy business man and fell in love with the courtesan Yatsuhashi. She initially returned his favours but later rejected him in favour of her former lover and humiliated Jirozaemon in public.
Overcome with shame, Jirozaemon killed her with his magic sword. Pursued by police, he escaped onto the rooftops. When he killed Yatsuhashi's former lover, Jirozaemon was finally revenged, and allowed himself to be captured.
Based on a true story, this tragic tale was first staged in the kabuki theatre in 1888.