_Atsumori, dream-vision-noh play by Zeami__________ Foreword by Royall Tyler 1992

   Zeami, who wrote Atsumori, developed in it a particularly touching passage of the epic Heike monogatari, (The Tale of the Heike).
  The Taira clan had lorded it in Kyoto for a generation when, in 1183, the approach of the rival Minamoto forces put them to flight.  The
  next year, they were routed from their camp on the shore at Ichi-no-tani by a daring Minamoto attack.  Taking to their ships, they sailed
  away towards the scene of Yashima.  Alas, one Taira youth, the gentle Atsumori, was left behind on the beach, there to be challenged 
  by the seasoned Minamoto warrior Kumagai no Jirô Naozane.  Kumagai took Atsumori's head, though he would gladly have spared him,
  and at the young man's waist he found a flute.  To think that this noble youth had gone into battle with a flute!  Disgusted with the 
  warrior's calling and with all the crassness of the world, Kumagai entered religion and became the monk Renshô (or Rensei) of the play.
    In sober fact, Atsumori may have been killed by someone else, and Kumagai became a monk some twenty years after the battle, 
    probably in disappointment after losing a dispute over land.  However, the tale told in Heike monogatari lived on as the truth,
    inspiring popular fiction, more  plays by later playwrights, and plays for the bunraku and kabuki theatres of Edo times (1600-1868).
                                                 Sake o nomu samurai http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/jpd/item/2002700054/

      Zeami evoked in Atsumori the contrats between Atsumori and Kumagai-Renshô.  Atsumori was little more than a boy when they
      fought, but Atsumori was also a noble from Miyako while Kumagai was a rough warrior from the East.  A social gulf yawned between
      them, even as Kumagai wept for Atsumori's youth.  The flute brought home to Kumagai all the uncouthness of his own kind, and the
      fineness of that almost celestial world, Miyako.  Yet, as Renshô, a follower of the Buddha, it is Kumagai who is in touch with higher
      things, while Atsumori, a restless shade, is in deep suffering.  From these contrasts springs the conflict of the play:  A conflict less  
      of the battlefield than of the mind.  The conflict is resolved not in victory for one side or the other, but in mutual sympathy.
      Moreover,  Zeami conveyed, especially in the passage on music and flutes, a concern with art that is still clearer in his 
     Tadanori. He seems to have cared no more than Renshô for war.  http://lediarunnels27221219.wordpress.com/

   The battlefield of Ichi-no-tani lies now within Suma-no-ura Park in Kôbe.  Near a railroad station that served the park stands an old
    and imposing monument to Atsumori.  Not far away, roughly where the young mower of Atsumori played his flute, stands Sumadera.
    This temple prospered thanks to Atsumori's legend and for centuries has exhibited a flute identified (implausibly) as Atsumori's own.
    Elsewhere, in Saitama Prefecture, one can still see Yûkoku-ji, the temple founded by Kumagai in 1205 on the site of his own residence.
    And in Kyoto, at Kômyô-ji where Renshô is said to have trained under the great saint Hônen, a Kumagai Chapel contains a statue of
    Atsumori purpotedly carved by Kumagai, a painting of Atsumori, and votive monuments dedicated by the faithful to both men.
    Japan Foundation Library São Paulo N12117  * Royall Tyler 1992  Japanese Nô Dramas * last updated June 16th, 2013

                                                                                           shura-mono current in all five schools of nô
                                                                                           Atsumori  ghost-of-warrior II category play
                                                                                                                         Persons in order of appearance
                                                                                           The monk Renshô, 
                                                                                           formerly the Minamoto warrior Kumagai waki
                                                                         A Youth (no mask) maeshite
                                                                         Two or three Companions to the Youth tsure

                                                              Enlightenment is beyond Description and Analysis
                                                                       Kaiten Nakariyu, The Religion of the Samurai
Fundação Japão São Paulo
                                                                                    Notes  References Images                                   


smallfan19.gif (7762 bytes)

National Endowment for the Humanities
                                                                               Welcome to the Tale of the Heike 
                                                                                            Heike monogatari
                                                                         ________   Genpei  jôsuiki  ________

                                                                                            __________  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/--N2_SMUUHWQ/Tj7Gqmma99I/AAAAAAAAChI/dzhVML_h3VI/s1600/toyokuniKUMMAts1.JPG   __________
                                    Atsumori  ACT one
                                    To the music of the hand drums and the flute,
                                             the waki dressed as a priest, enters the bridgeway and moves slowly to the shite post.
                                    Awake to awareness, the world's but a dream,
                                    awake to awareness, the world's but a dream,
                                    one may cast it aside -- is this what is Real ?
                                    The confusion between dream and reality, yume and utsutsu is a common metaphor for the
                                             illusory and transient nature of this life.  Here in the opening song, shidai, the waki questions
                                             whether simply taking religious vows is enough to show one to attain enlightenment.
                                             Waki, nanori
                                    I am Kumagae no Jirô Naozane, a resident of Musashi,
                                    who has renounced the world and taken the priestly name Renshô.
                                    I did this because of the deep remorse I felt at having killed Atsumori.
                                    Now I am going to Ichinotani to pray for the repose of his soul.
                                    The most likely reason for his decision to become a priest at that time was
                                             the frustration caused by a long-standing dispute over a landholding.  See
                                             Uwayokote, Heike monogatari no Kyôko to Shinjitsu volume 2, pp. 48-9.
                                             As Uwayokote points out, there is no documentary proof that Naozane killed Atsumori.
                                             Concerning Naozane's taking of the tonsure, see also
                                             Miyazaki Fumiko, Religious Life of the Kamakura Bushi, Naozane and His Descendants
                                    Monumenta Nipponica 47 (4) 1992:435-67 in
                                             H.P.Varley's __Warriors of Japan as portrayed in the war tales, 1992:236.

                                             H. Paul Varley, The "End of the Buddhist Law" in
                                    Warriors of Japan as portrayed in the war tales, 1994:85 __
                                    * mujô: all is transitory, insubstantial, impermanent ]
                                             The sense of human helplessness that accompanied the medieval fixation on mujô, 
                                             the Buddhist concept of impermanence was further heightened by the notion, drawn from
                                             Mahayama Buddhism, that the world had entered the age of mappô, the "end of the Buddhist Law."
                                             According to this notion, the world, from the time of the historic Buddha, Gautama, circa 500 B.C.,
                                    would pass through three ages:  an age of the flourishing of the law;  an age of the decline of the Law,
                                             and, finally, and age of the end of the Law, when the world would descend into darkness, disorder, and
                                             destruction.  The Japanese calculated that the first age lasted a thousand years and came to an end in
                                             A.D. 552, when according to Nihon shoki -- Buddhism was formally introduced to Japan from Korea.
                                             The second age would only last 500 years and would yield to mappô, the third and final age, in 1052.
                                    Mappô thinking in Japan formed the basis for a profoundly pessimistic view of history as 
                                             a path of steady decline leading ultimately to the degenerate, lawless time of the mappô itself.
                                             To Heian period Buddhists, mappô seemed sadly to explain the deterioration of their world in
                                             the final years of the Heian period and the rise of the of warriors as the country's new ruling elite.
                                             When, for example, the sacred sword of the imperial regalia sank beneath the waves with emperor
                                             Antoku at the battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185, people took this as sign that the imperial court had lost
                                             its vitality and would thenceforth need to be defended by warriors, whose ascent to prominence 
                                             was itself an indication of the world's fallen state __ H.Paul Varley (1994:85).

                                                            Library of Congress
                                             Ume ni kabuto * Helmet on a plum tree
                                             The helmet of Kajiwara Genda Kagesue, 
                                             a master horseman and samurai of the Minamoto clan, on a plum tree.
                                             Ume ni kabuto

                                                             non-commercial digital image service copyright                                              The Trustees of the British Museum                                      
                                                             Related sites __ Karen Brazell, Atsumori, shuramono by Zeami  
                                                     H. Paul Varley __ The Taira as Courtiers-Warriors
                                                                   Fundação Japão São Paulo                                              
  ______________ Japan Foundation Library São Paulo N12117  * last updated Sunday, June 16th, 2013  _______