Nekomata at the Play

Unknown Author, Baiou Zuihitsu (1789-1801)

During spring of the eighth year of the Kansei Era, the play “Kyouga no Ko Musume Doujouji” was performed at the Nakamura-za theatre to rave reviews. Even those who didn’t enjoy watching plays dragged themselves over to see it.

Amongst those, a man named Hattori Ichirouemon, from the town of Honjo-warigesui, took five or six of his friends to the teahouse he previously frequented attached to the theatre.

“During these times, even though I usually refrain from watching plays, even I have been unable to resist the rave reviews and found myself wishing to see it. It has been a while. Please prepare the usual food for us.”

And so they watched the play, and then afterwards retired to the teahouse to relax and feast. Ichirouemon was particularly fond of the flounder coated in ankake sauce and gobbled up three of them himself.

“Please forward the bill to my estate, as usual,” he said, and then got up to leave.

A few days later, some workers went to visit the man’s estate and were shocked. Ichirouemon had died seven years earlier. Come to think of it, the three flounder that Ichirouemon had consumed, he had consumed whole; head, bones, and all. But that wasn’t where the strangeness ended. There had long been rumours of a nekomata in the Hattori estate. Perhaps this had been the nekomata’s work as well.

There was little that could be done about it, and in the end, the tea house was forced to absorb the loss themselves.

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