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  • "Aoto Zōshi Hana no Nishiki-e", as the original and fullest version of this play is known, is a tale in five acts of the shiranamimono sub-category of the kizewamono genre of kabuki plays. Written by Kawatake Mokuami, it first premiered at the Ichimura-za in Edo in March 1862. The play is frequently known by a number of other names. The name "Benten Kozō" actually refers to the main character of the play, a gizoku, one of a band of five such men. Another common name for this play is "Shiranami Gonin Otoko", "shiranami" being a term used to refer to thieves. Like most traditional Japanese dramas, the play originally had five acts, following particular conventions as to the dramatic pattern and themes of each act. However, today, it is very common to perform only one or two acts, each combination of acts represented by a different play title. For example the title "'Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami'" refers to the performance of Acts III and/or IV without the other three. The play centers on a band of five thieves, based on real thieves and criminals of Edo period Osaka: Karigane Bunshichi, An no Heibei, Gokuin Sen'emon, Kaminari Shōkurō and Hotei Ichiemon.

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