'The Subscription Scroll', (Kanjinchō).
A story of superhuman courage, and of the moving bond between a lord and his retainer.
It is the late 12th century. The young but brilliant General Yoshitsune is forced to escape from the jealous anger of his older brother, the shogun. With a small group of loyal retainers, he is on his way north to seek refuge with an ally. His men are disguised as mountain priests, and Yoshitsune is dressed as their humble porter. But hearing rumours of this, the shogun has ordered new road barriers to be set up in order to stop and interrogate all such priests. Yoshitsune's right-hand man is the warrior priest Benkei, one of Japan's most famous heroes!
Yoshitsune and men reach the Ataka barrier where they must confront the barrier guard Togashi. Pretending to be leader, Benkei declares that they are sent on a fund-raising mission. But he is then challenged by Togashi to produce and read out the list of subscribers, (the kanjinchō of the play's title), that all fund raisers were bound to possess. Not really having such a list, Benkei is forced to bluff. He must improvise the contents from an empty scroll!
Afterwards, despite Benkei's magnificent performance, Togashi is still dubious and he interrogates Benkei about the complicated symbolism of these priests' costumes. This is an exciting and heroic confrontation, and as the questions and answers become faster and faster the tension becomes almost unbearable! But again, Benkei's knowledge is very impressive and he manages to answer everything. Togashi finally allows them to pass. But just then, one of the barrier soldiers points out the figure of the porter who resembles Yoshitsune. Once more, the situation is desperate! Benkei must try to allay their suspicions, and so he is forced to do the unthinkable! Their very lives depend upon Togashi's reaction. Will he be convinced by Benkei's actions, and does he realise who these men really are?