The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome
Winner of the 7th Amagasaki City Chikamatsu Award
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome
(Oct. 7 – 11, 2020 at Za-Koenji 1)
Photos: Tsukasa Aoki
Premiere: 2020
Japanese Drama Database
Play of the Month Play of the Month
Dec. 22, 2020
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome by Sanae Takayama 
A Day in the Life of Tokusaburo Umadome by Sanae Takayama 
This play is the winner of the 7th Chikamatsu Monzaemon Award. Living in a house deep in the mountains are Tokusaburo Umadome and his wife Minne. To their home, which is always a welcome gathering place for their elderly neighbors, one day a disreputable subordinate of the couple’s son stops by…. Performed in the local dialect of the playwright’s hometown in Shinshu (Nagano Prefecture), this play takes a real and empathetic view of the Kyojitsuhimaku (the theory of the great Kabuki playwright Chikamatsu saying that the appeal of art lies in the slender margin between the real and the unreal) in the daily lives of people suffering from dementia, spotted as it is with truth and lies and oblivion and delusion.
The season is summer. Deep in the mountainous countryside, the home of the elderly couple Tokusaburo Umadome and his wife Minne is gathering place for a string of elderly neighbors who stop by throughout the day. This day is no exception, as Tokusaburo and his former fellow student Taa-san sit on the porch facing the garden talking happily about this and that. Minne joins them, as the conversation turns to Tokusaburo’s days as a high-school baseball player there is suddenly a phone call from the couple’s son Masafumi who lives in Tokyo. He says that there has been some trouble at work and he needs to borrow some money from them, which he is sending one of his subordinates to get.

As Masafumi has said, his subordinate Kuramoto arrives at the Umadome home. While they wait for the return of Tokusaburo, who has gone to withdraw the money from his savings account, they talk with the neighborhood couple Ko-san (Koichiro Kamijo) and Matsuko about daily events. Then comes the Kamijo’s son Tetsu, who says that all the elderly people who gather here are senile and pressures Kuramoto to admit that he is a con-man who has come to steal from the old people. When Tetsu tells Kuramoto to draw a picture of Masafumi to prove that he is really his subordinate as he claims, Kuramoto shows him a quickly done sketch and surprisingly it is enough to convince Tetsu, who then departs reassured. Watching her husband depart to follow his son Tetsu, Matsuko explains that Tetsu is a victim of juvenile Alzheimer’s disease and that she adopted him after his mother died at an early age.

Left alone now, Minne’s friend Toshiko now comes to check on Kuramoto, who has been left alone at that time, and tells him that everything Matsuko says is lies and he shouldn’t believe her. The next to arrive with the look of a policeman is Taa-san. To Kuramoto, who has now become worried that he might be arrested, Taa-san says, “If you are really a con-man, you would be better off finding a house that is more worth conning,” and begins to tell his more than anyone could want about the personal information of the elderly people in the community. Kuramoto then becomes confused when he is told by Taa-san that the Umadome couple are senile and that their son Masafumi died when he was in his teens.

When Tokusaburo returns home with the money he has withdrawn, he sees Taa-san and tell him that the local policeman was looking for him. Tokusaburo says that both Taa-san and Toshiko are beginning to suffer from dementia and they often sneak out of their nursing facility and Taa-san often causes trouble by pretending to be a policeman. When Kuramoto tries to trick Tokusaburo into giving him the money, Tokusaburo begins to talk about when he played baseball in high school, and as he talks, he begins to call Kuramoto “Masafumi.” When Minne returns, the couple both begin to treat Kuramoto as their son, so Kuramoto has nothing to do but go along with the farce.

Like a real family, the three boil some ears of corn and sit down to eat. Tetsu arrives and says that his parents have snuck out of their nursing facility. He has forgotten entirely about Kuramoto and acts as if he is meeting him for the first time. From a television offstage comes the sound of a high school baseball game broadcast. Tokusaburo and Minne stare at the unseen television.

As if he were their real son, Kuramoto is in the living room preparing the Umadome family’s breakfast. To this scene, Matsuko comes looking for Tetsu, and Kuramoto mumbles that he is tired of being asked repeatedly who he is. Minne whispers to herself, “Pretending to have forgotten something, pretending to have made a stupid mistake, playing at constantly being tricked. If you can play all those roles, you have a real senile old person.” As Matsuko rushes out with the news that she has found Tetsu, Tokusaburo and Kuramoto follow to see what is happening.

Next it is Toshiko who comes in to sit down with Minne to eat breakfast. To Toshiko, who says she is carrying Tokusaburo’s child and wants to give birth to it to replace the young Masafumi who died, Minne says that Masafumi is working overseas. The two are talking in parallel worlds that never meet. In this confusion as to who is senile, what is the truth and what is delusion, Kuramoto returns, and to the fleeing Tetsu he begins to admit that he himself has Alzheimer’s disease.

Tokusaburo and Minne continue to watch the non-broadcasting television. To Minne, who has forgotten about her husband, Tokusaburo tells her about a girl that he had promised to take to the national finals at Koshien in Osaka, and then mumbles that he has to go home but can’t remember where it is, or even who he is.

Tokusaburo and Minne
Drawn by the nostalgic smell of Tokusaburo, Minne shouts, “Long ago, that summer, that ground, the sweat, the smell … Victory! Koshien!” Tokusaburo says, “Let’s go there together.”

The sound of the high school baseball broadcast swells loudly.

Born in 1977, in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture and continues to live there. Graduated from the Shinshu University Faculty of Arts. In 2001, Takayama joined the directing department of the Seinendan theater company led by Oriza Hirata. In 2003, she founded her own Takayama Shokubutsuen company and served as playwright and director (active until 2012). In 2018, Takayama won the 7th Chikamatsu Monzaemon Award for this play, A Day in the life of Tokusaburo Umadome.