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 nô 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
Notes * References * Images
http://www.glopac.org/Jparc/AtLearnCenter/atsumori.html * http://www.glopad.org/pi/en/record/piece/1000014
Welcome to the Tale of the Heike
________ 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.
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).
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.
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
______________ Japan Foundation Library São Paulo N12117 * last updated Sunday, June 16th, 2013 _______