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p. 250




A MAN of Kamakura went for a year to the Capital and fell in love with a girl there. When it was time for him to return to Kamakura he took her with him. But his parents did not like her, and one day when he was not at home, they turned her out of the house.

Thinking that she would have gone towards the Capital, the man set out in pursuit of her. At dusk he came to a village. He was told that if he lodged there he must take part next day in the waggon-dancing, which was held in the sixth month of each year in honour of the god Gion. He told them that he was heart-sore and foot-sore, and could not dance.

Next day the villagers formed into two parties. The first party mounted the waggon and danced the Bijinzoroye, a ballad about the twelve ladies whom Narihira loved. The second party danced the ballad called Tsumado, the story of which is:

Hosshō, Abbot of the Hiyeizan, was sitting late one summer night by the Window of the Nine Perceptions, near the Couch of the Ten Vehicles, in a room sprinkled with the holy water of Yoga, washed by the moonlight of the Three Mysteries. Suddenly there was a sound of hammering on the double-doors. And when he opened the doors and looked--why, there stood the Chancellor Kwan, who had died on the twenty-fifth day of the second month.

"Why have you come so late in the night, Chancellor Kwan?"

"When I lived in the world foul tongues slandered me. I am come to destroy my enemies with thunder. Only the Home of Meditation 2 shall be spared. But if you will make me one promise, I will not harm you. Swear that you will go no more to Court!'

"I would not go, though they sent twice to fetch me. But if they sent a third time . . ."

Then Chancellor Kwan, with a strange look on his face, drew p. 251 a pomegranate from his sleeve, put it between his lips, crunched it with his teeth, and spat it at the double-doors.

Suddenly the red pomegranate turned into fire; a great flame flickered over the double-doors.

When the Abbot saw it, he twisted his fingers into the Gesture of Libation; he recited the Water-Spell of the Letter Vam, and the flames died down.

And the double-doors still stand before the Abbot's cell, on the Hill of Hiyei.

When the two dances were over, the master of ceremonies called for a dance from one of those who had been watching. A girl stepped forward and said she would dance the "Dance of Tora Parting from Sukenari." Then they called across to the man who had lost his wife (he was over by the other waggon). "Come; you must dance now." "Forgive me, I cannot dance." "Indeed you must dance." "Then I will dance the 'Dance of Tora Parting from Sukenari.'"

"But this dance," said the master of ceremonies, "is to be danced by a girl on the other side. You must think of another dance."


I know no other dance.


Here's a pretty fix! Ha, I have it! Let's set the waggons side by side, and the two of them shall dance their dance together.

When they step up on to the waggons, the man finds that his partner is the wife he was seeking for. They begin to dance the "Dance of Tora," but soon break off to exchange happy greetings. The plays ends with a great ballet of rejoicing.

There is one whole group of plays to which I have hitherto made no reference: those in which a mother seeks for her lost child. Mrs. Stopes has translated Sumidagawa, and Mr Sansom, Sakuragawa. Another well-known play of this kind is Miidera, a description of which will be found in an appendix at the end of this book (p. 265).

A few other plays, such as Nishikigi, Motomezuka and Kinuta, I have omitted for lack of space and because it did not seem to me that I could in any important way improve on existing versions of them.


250:1 Sometimes called Bijin-zoroye or Bijin-zoroi.

250:2 The cell of the Zen priest.

Next: Chapter VIII: Kyōgen (Farcical Interlude)