This play was
originally written for the puppet theater by Hachimin Heishichi in 1768.
Based on a rivalry between two major sumo wrestlers. "When Kuniemon is
insulted by his rival, he commits seppuku, but his spirit returns and
possesses his son, Kunimatsu, who defeats Dōemon in the ring."
Quote from: New
Kabuki Encyclopedia: A Revised Adaptation of kabuki jiten, by Samuel L.
Leiter, 1997, p. 627.
Thirty one years
previously Kunisada, aka Toyokuni III, portrayed Bandō Mitsugorō as
Akitsushima Kuniemon in a scene from this play.
I am only guessing
here because I have been unable to locate a text of this play, but it would
seem logical given the images below that the insult was made with the
sandal. That is one of the elements found in several prints which we have
shown on this site including the scene of
the maid Ohatsu wiping Onoe's blood
from her sword. This was in revenge for the insult of Ohatsu's virtuous
mistress and her subsequent suicide.
The use of the shoe
was made eminently clear a few years ago when the statue of Sadaam Hussein
was torn down in Baghdad. At that time a number of bystanders struck the
fallen head with their shoes. Obviously it isn't just a Japanese phenomenon.