Kanadehon Chuushingura ("The Treasury of Loyal Retainers") is based on a true incident which took place between 1701 and 1703. To avoid shogunate censorship, the authors set the play in the earlier Muromachi period (1333-1568) and the names of the characters were altered. The central story concerns the daimyou Enya Hangan, who is goaded into drawing his sword and striking a senior lord, Kou no Moronou. Drawing one's sword in the shogun's palace was a capital offense and so Hangan is ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide by disembowelment. The ceremony is carried out with great formality and, with his dying breath, he makes clear to his chief retainer, Ooboshi Yuranosuke, that he wishes to be avenged upon Moronou. Forty-seven of Hangan's now masterless samurai or rounin bide their time. Yuranosuke in particular, appears to give himself over to a life of debauchery in Kyoto's Gion pleasure quarters in order to put the enemy off their guard. In fact, they make stealthy but meticulous preparations and, in the depths of winter, storm Moronou's Edo mansion and kill him. Aware, however, that this deed is itself an offense, the retainers then carry Moronou's head to the grave of their lord at Sengaku-ji temple in Edo, where they all commit seppuku.
Act I, Tsurugaoka kabuto aratame ("The Helmet Selection at Hachiman Shrine") Act II (rarely performed) Act III, scene 2, Matsu no rouka ("The Pine Corridor in the Shogun's Palace") Act IV, scene 1, Enya yakata no ba ("Enya Hangan's Seppuku") Act IV, scene 2, Uramon ("The Rear Gate of the Mansion") Act V, scene 1, Yamazaki kaidou teppou watashi no ba ("The Musket Shots on the Yamazaki Highway") Act VI, Kanpei seppuku no ba ("Kanpei's Seppuku") Act VII , Gion Ichiriki no ba ("The Ichiriki Teahouse at Gion") Act VIII, Michiyuki tabiji no yomeiri ("The Bride's Journey") Act IX, Yamashina kankyo no ba ("The Retreat at Yamashina") Act X (rarely performed) Act XI, Koke uchiiri no ba ("The Attack on Moronou's Mansion")