The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Japanese Drama Database
Japanese Title: Hogiuta
English Title: Ode to Joy
Author: KITAMURA, So
Author's Profile: Born in Shiga prefecture in 1952. The head of the Project Navi Theatre Company (f. 1987), KITAMURA now lives and works in Nagoya. As a playwright, he is known for his light touch and portrayal of the "bright emptiness" of life. He received the prestigious Kishida Drama Prize for "The Eleven Young Men" in 1984; won in the Individual Category of the Kinokuniya Drama Award with "Across the Snow... the Second Draft: The Bright Moon" in 1989; and received the Shonichi Tsushin Scenario Prize in 1990. His major works include "Ode to Joy" and "The Person on the Rooftop."
First Performance:   1979
Performance time:   1 hour 20 mins
Acts / Scenes: 4 scenes
Cast: 3 (2 men, 1 woman)


In this play, a comic duo makes friends with an unusual stranger in a post-nuclear war setting.



In a provincial town in the Kansai (Kyoto-Osaka) area after a nuclear war, the Kokonoe Gorokichi theatre troupe, comprising a middle aged man, Gesaku, and a young woman, Kyoko, are traveling along a road through the debris. Yasuo appears seemingly from nowhere and joins their travels. Using his magical talent for multiplying items, he helps them survive.

Ahead of them, missiles are being launched by a computer out of control. Yasuo mutters, "Armaggedon . . . apocalypse . . . heat haze," Kyoko's comb break. Wanting to listen to the radio, she goes off in search of dry batteries and returns with an Amagatsu doll charm. A mysterious firefly comes to Kyoko. Gesaku says that the firefly is the spirit of the Amagatsu doll.

Eventually, the three reach the town of Barutai and put on a performance. Yasuo magically produces copies of Kyoko's rosary and hands them out to the audience. Gesaku is accidentally killed in a shooting trick. In the throes of death, he asks Yasuo if his name isn't really Yaso (Jesus), confides that he is actually Christian himself, and prays. At that moment, Kyoko comes rushing in exclaiming that lightning is hitting the rosaries.

As Kyoko and Yasuo are crying in front of Gesaku's grave, Gesaku enters and the story continues as if nothing had happened to him. Yasuo decides to part ways with them and head on to Jerusalem. Kyoko chases after him but then returns saying that Yasuo was only a mirage. If he had existed, he must have been the firefly. The comic duo starts for Mohendo-jaro, singing "Ode to Joy." Snow begins to fall, and from that day the ice age begins.
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