(the Ogre of Adachigahara)

old woman (witch)
Yamabushi (an itinerate Monk)
The story comes from the Noh repertory. The Kongo version is called "Kurotsuka;" the Kanze version is called "Adachigahara."

The location is Adachigahara village, near Kyoto. One night while the demon (disguised as an old woman) was weaving, a courier comes to the house and asks if he can stay for the night. He lifts his legs to signify weariness, holds up a finger meaning one night and mimes sleeping. The old woman transforms herself into a demon and eats him. Later another traveler is also eaten by the demon.

The third visitor is a Yamabushi (mountain ascetic priest), who had trouble sleeping. He felt something was wrong with the situation. He looks behind a screen and sees the old woman as a demon so they start to fight. His prayers and horn blowing have no effect. At the end of the fight the Yamabushi drives the demon away with a holly branch screaming Push eyes, Push nose."

At Setsubun, one throws beans at demon's eyes to drive them away. One puts a holly branch through a sardine head because evil spirits do not like thorns and do not like bad smells, so this keeps them away.

(the Pilgrimage to Mt. Atago)

A Wealthy Man
The Man's Servant
Mother and Daughter
Tea Stall Proprietress

Mount Atago is in the northwestern part of Kyoto City. The shrine on the mountain houses the God of Fire. The worshipers pray for fire prevention, throw small ceramic bisqueware plates to gain protection from devils and return with a fire prevention charm that is kept in the kitchen. In former days there were many tea stalls as well as places to throw the small plates. In this play, rice crackers are substituted for the plates and tossed to the audience. Those viewers who eat the crackers are cleansed of evil spirits.

The Mime

A young maiden wearing a deep brimmed straw hat and her mother enter a tea shop. They are followed by a wealthy man and his servant. The men drink tea, throw some plates and purchase some sakaki-sacred foliage.

The wealthy man becomes enraptured with the young girl when he notices her flowery kimono. His servant intervenes and arranges a marriage with her mother. The servant offers a sword and jacket as a wedding gift, but the mother insists on having both men's kimonos. The servant tries to hid his kimono but to no avail. The young bride-to-be is given to the man and the mother and servant depart. As the man removes the hat of what must be a beautiful young girl, he discovers quite the opposite, she's quite ugly. Running off stage to escape he is chased by the ugly daughter.

(Swinging the Staff)

Bo-Furi ( Staff Swinger )
Devotees (All of the Performers )
This is the only performance without masks. It is done at the conclusions of the Spring and Autumn Equinox Events. At the Spring performance the play ends with the ringing of a bell. The staff-swingers represents a Demon and it is believed that this performance wards off evil.

The veiled staff-swingers enters stomping at the four corners of the stage to purify it. The staff is decorated with strips of colored cloth. He waves it to the right then the left then up and down. The troupe members fan him while keeping time and cheer him saying "Cho - Ha - Sassai". The staff-waver repeats the purification several times, he puts his staff down, he jumps back and forth over it, then leaves. The devotees clap.

(Offering at the Great Buddha)

Taira Kagekiyo ( Heike family Warrior )
Kagekiyo's Mother
Minamoto Yoritomo ( Genji family General)
Hatakeyama Shigetada (Yoritomo's retainer)
Two Daimyo (Feudal Lords)
The scene is Todai-ji Temple in Nara, 12th. Century. Minamoto Yoritomo, with his retainers will be paying homage to the great Buddha at Todai-ji. This is after the Heike family was defeated by the Genji family.

The play is devided into three acts. Taira Kagekiyo has three costume changes. At first he is dressed as a monk with a straw hat when visiting his mother. Their tearful parting is the highlight of the play. Next he is disguised as a common worker. Finally he dons the robe of a warrior monk.

There is also a Noh play with the same name, Daibutsu Kuyo.

The Mime

Kagekiyo visits his mother to bid her farewell. Though she pleads with him to change his mind, his mother knows that he will not. She drinks to his courage, followed by a tearful farewell.
While Yoritomo drinks with his vassals, Kagekiyo dressed as a workman tries to stab him. One of the vassals (Hatakeyama) spies his armor under the disguise and Kagekiyo flees.

Finally dressed as a warrior monk, Kagekiyo attacks only to be defeated by Hatakeyama and captured.

(the Monk's Wife)

Priest's Wife and their baby
A Wealthy Man
His Attendant
Though this play is no longer in tune with the times, it is humorous. Japanese monks are no longer required to be celibate.
Celibacy (at least ideally) for monks was de rigor in the old days. So, monks doing worldly acts was a very common theme. This play deals with a monk's need to repent.

Back in those old days if a priest were to marry and was caught he would be stripped and forced to leave the temple only carrying an umbrella. Daikoku is the god of happiness and good fortune so people used to enshrine him in the kitchen. Since the kitchen was the domain of the wife, in some parts of the country wives became known as "Daikokusan". San is the suffix to anyone's name, like Ms., Mr., etc. Therefore the monk, in this play, who enshrines this latter "Daikokusan" is meant for punishment.

The monk returns to his temple with his wife and child. The wealthy man and his attendant stop by to worship the Jizo Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) enshrined there. In a panic the monk disguises his wife, having her don the Jizo mask and hide in the main shrine. The man asks to pray. The monk, in a panic, opens the door a crack the tries to shoo the man away. The monk tries to hide his wife again but the man insists on praying. The ruse is discovered. The wife is ousted. The monk is stripped, carrying the child on his back and an umbrella. The attendant holds the monk's sash as the wealthy man pushes him along with a broom.

(the Bell of Jealousy)

Old Abbot of Dojoji Temple
Two monks
Young Woman (the spirit of Kiyohime, a snake demon)
This play is based on the legend concerning Dojo-ji Temple in Wakayama Prefecture. The daughter (Kiyohime) of a feudal lord falls in love with a monk (Anchin) at Dojo-ji. This faithful priest does not respond to the affections of Kiyohime. He escapes and hides in the temple bell. Kiyohime assumes the shape of a serpent, wraps herself around the bell and melts it.

When a new bell was cast, women were prohibited entry to the Temple. Monks gathered for the installation ceremony. A young woman (the spirit of Kiyohime) wishes to dance for the commemoration of the new bell. She rushes into the bell and disappears. The astonished priests lift the bell to discover her spirit in the body of a huge dragon/snake.

There is also a Noh play , Dojoji, with the same plot.

This pantomime, based on the above legend, centers around the comic routine of the two monks.

The Mime

Two monks bring in a new bell and struggle to hang it. The old Abbot reminds them that no women are allowed in the temple. A beautiful young woman comes to pay homage to the bell. Struck by her beauty the monks allow her entry. In appreciation she dances for the monks. The monks join her but become overpowered by the "vapors" she releases, putting them to sleep. The courtesan's dance reflects the rice farmer's yearly cycle, scattering seeds, planting seedling and finally harvest. A costume change reveals her as a demon/ snake. She jumps into the bell and it falls to the ground, waking the monks. The monks try to raise the bell but it is too hot to touch. The Abbot returns and prays at the bell. As the bell lifts into the air, the demon rushes out at the abbot but his power of prayer is stronger. She is foiled and fades away.

(Benkei in the Boat)

Yoshitsune (Genji family general)
Benkei (Yoshitsune's retainer)
Shizuka Gozen ( Lady Shizuka, Yoshitsune's concubine)
Sendo ( Boat Man)
Tomomori ( Ghost of a Heike Family warrior)
The sea scene makes good use of Mibudera Temple's stage and props. This is the well known story of Minamoto Yoshitsune and his retainer, the warrior-monk, Benkei. Yoshitsune falls out of favor with his older brother Yoritomo (the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate). During Yoshitsune's flight to the North, he is faced with the ghost of Taira Tomomori, a member of the defeated Heike clan. Yoshitsune is saved by the prayers of Benkei.

The Noh play with the same name has the same plot. A synopsis can be found here.

The Mime

Benkei summons Lady Shizuka so that she and Yoshitsune can share a farewell cup of sake. Benkei convinces the reluctant Yoshitsune to have Lady Shizuka return to the capital on her own. He and Yoshitsune leave by boat. The sea becomes rough and Tomomori's ghost appears. Yoshitsune cannot defeat the ghost with his sword so Benkei intervenes with prayer and is able to drive the ghost away.

(Wrestling the Greedy Ghosts)

Jizo Bosatsu (The Guardian Bodhisattva of Children)
Three Gaki (Hungry Ghosts; newly dead who suffered from greed)
Emma (The King and Judge of Hell, a.k.a. Yama)
Kuro-oni (Black Demon) aka Ibaragi -oni (Holly wood Demon)
Aka-oni (Red Demon)
Ko-oni (Little Demons)
The main object of veneration of Mibu-dera Temple is the Jizo Bosatsu, the guardian especially of children. This play shows through sumo wrestling that the Jizo Bosatsu's mercy is superior to the fear of Emma.

The Mime

Emma appears on stage with some of his demons. The Gaki are afraid of the powerful Emma and hide under the sleeves of Jizo. Every time Emma takes a step, the Gaki fall down. The Gaki and the demons wrestle. In the beginning these Gaki are knocked down. After they receive Jizo's blessing though, they become powerful and throw down the demons one after another. The Gaki's dance accompanied by the lively rhythm and music sounding like, Gandenden, Gendenden."

As the demons lose, Emma becomes so angry that he tries to knock down the Gaki. Naturally Emma is stronger. As he exits Jizo challenges him. Emma and Jizo wrestle while all cheer. Jizo overcomes Emma and as the defeated Emma leaves, he brandishes his iron staff, beating his demons.

(The Flower Thief)

Wealthy Gentleman
His Servant
This mime illustrates the proverb "To make a rope after the Thief is caught," or "Locking the stable after the horse has been stolen."

The Gentleman has his Servant cut him a branch of the flowering cherry tree. A Thief steals the branch. The Servant asks him to return it. The Thief does not comply. Then the Servant attacks him and takes it back but meanwhile, the Gentleman is robbed of his short sword and clothes. He gives the Servant his long sword, commanding him to retrieve the stolen goods. The long sword is also stolen.

The Gentleman decides to capture the Thief himself and demands rope from his attendant. There is no rope. The Servant began to pound straw to make rope. Finally the Thief is caught and the Servant is ordered to tie him up. The Servant mistakenly ties up his Master and the Thief escapes. The infuriated Master chases his Servant off stage.

(Breaking Cherry Branches)

Monastery Abbot
a Wealthy Gentleman
His Servant
The inspiration for this play comes from regular' Kyogen. The drinking game between the monk and the servant are to be noted. They play "paper, scissors, stone" and the loser has to drink. As they get tipsy they do a ballad drama using a box for the narrator's stage and a broom as a shamisen; using the broom as an umbrella, they enact a courtesan promenade. The game "paper, scissors, stone" is used by anyone of any age in Japan to make decisions best left to chance whether it be who buys the next round of drinks, who wins in a tie decision or who drives home.

First on stage are the Abbot and the young monk who is carrying the Abbot's umbrella. The monk is used to being scolded by his cranky superior for his many mistakes. The Abbot orders the monk to hang a sign from a branch reading "Do not break the cherry branches," and tells him no one is permitted to have a flower viewing party.

While the monk is chanting a sutra and ringing a bell a Wealthy Gentleman and his attendant come to the temple. They see the sign and decide to have their cherry viewing party in front of the temple gate. The monk sees the party and cannot resist the pull of the sake. The attendant catches him trying to sneak some of the sake and only frees him when they are permitted to go into the garden under the trees. The threesome have a riotous party and the monk finally passes out. The Gentleman has his attendant break off a branch of the tree as they depart. The Abbot returns, sees the mess and chases the monk off, beating him with his staff.

(Benkei [on Gojo] Bridge)

Ushiwakamaru (later known as Minamoto Yoshitsune)
Benkei (12th c.warrior-monk)
Page Boy
This is an extremely popular legend among the Japanese.
Benkei is on a pilgrimage to the Tenjin shrine at Gojo (5th Avenue) bridge. His attendant advises him not to go because it would be dangerous. Benkei encounters a fleeing crowd running from the bridge. Just then Ushiwakamaru appears; he has vowed to take 1,000 swords to appease his father's spirit. One after another he fells the fleeing people. Benkei thinks Ushiwakamaru is being childish. When they meet, they duel and Benkei loses. He becomes Ushiwakamaru's retainer and they depart.

(The Assassination Of Nobunaga)

ODA Nobunaga (The feudal ruler of Japan in the 16th C.)
Ranmaru (Nobunaga's attendant)
Rikimaru (Nobunaga's attendant)
Bomaru (Nobunaga's attendant)
Ono no Kata ( Nobunaga's wife)
AKECHI Mitsuhide ( Nobunaga's general and assassin)
Sanmanosuke ( Mitsuhide's younger brother)
Mitsuhide's followers
Abbot of Honno-ji Temple
At the beginning the abbot and priests are chanting sutras at Honno-ji. The scene changes to where Mitsuhide has his troops attack Honno-ji Temple. Nobunaga is holding a banquet, there is drum music and Mitsuhide rushes in. Nobunaga orders Ranmaru to his defense. Nobunaga retreats to another room. During the ensuing battle almost all are killed except Ranmaru and Nobunaga. As the temple goes up in flames, Ranmaru learns that Nobunaga committed Seppuku in the temple. Ranmaru commits seppuku. Later the priests discover the remain and hold a memorial service for those lost.

(Smashing Plates)

Plate Merchant
Drum Merchant
Mokudai ( Official)
Pilgrims coming to Mibu-dera Temple to view the Spring Equinox plays purchase bisque plates which are presented to the temple as votive offerings. During this kyogen these platters are broken thereby ridding the believers of evil and bringing them good luck.

A new marketplace opens and an official puts up a sigh reading, "The first to open a stall is exempt from taxation." Before dawn a leather drum seller sees the sign and sets up shop. While waiting for his first customer he tires and naps. A plate merchant sees the sign and while she is setting up, she sees the drum merchant asleep. Thinking to gain the tax break she switches goods with the drum merchant. When the drum merchant awakens and notices the ruse, he starts fighting with the plate salesman. The official returns and declares that the winner of a talent competition will be considered the first to arrive. The plate seller wins and sets up his shop. The drum seller returns and with dramatic flare destroys the plates, pushing the many stacks of fragile clay disks off the front of the stage, where they fall many feet the ground with a great crash. Now, the official gives the tax break to the drum seller.

This is THE Mibu kyogen which everyone interested in it knows about, because of its spectacular action, the crashing of hundreds of bisque fired plates.

(The Attack on the Horikawa Palace)

Yoshitsune ( Genji Family General)
Benkei (Yoshitsune's warrior-monk retainer)
Two Followers
Yakko (Servant)
Tosanobo Shozon
Shizuka Gozen ( Yoshitsune's concubine)
Anewa ( Tosanobo's retainer)
This play derives from the Noh play "Shozon." It takes place at Minamoto Yoshitsune's palace on the Horikawa river in Kyoto (Rokujo and Aburanokoji), thus it's name Horikawa Palace. Kamakura is the seat of government and it is run by Yoshitsune's older brother Yoritomo. Shozon comes to Kyoto from Kamakura to kill Yoshitsune at his brother's command. The aggressive action between Benkei and Shozon builds tension in the first half of the play. The action is released when Anewa and Shozon are fought and defeated by Benkei.

Tosanobo Shoshun (Shozon) comes as Yoshitsune is having a feast with his retainers. Benkei is convinced Shozon has come on orders from Yoshitsune's brother to kill him. Shozon insists he is on a religious pilgrimage. Shozon is forced to sigh a pledge that he did not come to kill Yoshitsune. He does and a drinking party follows. Shozon becomes stressed at the situation and flees. Yoshitsune commands Benkei and his retainers to capture Shozon. That evening Anewa returns to kill Yoshitsune but is thwarted by Benkei. When Shozon appears Benkei also captures him and ties him up.

(Master Crab's Revenge))

Father Crab
The Crab's Child
Usu (a Mortar)
Hasami (a pair of Scissors)
Female Monkey
Little Monkeys
This is a children's comedy based on the well known fairy tale "Saru-Gani Gassen" (known by other names as well) - The Battle of the Monkey and Crab." The Chestnut, Mortar, Scissors and Crab are distinguished by their coats and head gear. Here you caan find one version of the story.

The Father Crab and his child cannot climb a persimmon tree to get the fruit they would like to eat. So, they ask a monkey to climb the tree and retrieve persimmons for them. The monkey climbs the tree and eats all of the ripe persimmons, then, starts throwing the unripe ones at the Crabs below. One hits and kills the Father Crab. The monkey runs away.

The young Crab, when he is grown, plans to avenge his fathers death. He starts by bringing kibi dango, a type of millet and rice cake with him. Scissors appears before Crab and follows him after being given that sweet. Chestnut and the Mortar, also join the group. They take their posts in the monkey's house when he is not home. The Mortar hangs from the ceiling, the Chestnut positions himself in the fireplace (hibachi - brazier) and the Scissors stand by the entrance. When the monkey returns Crab and his retinue attack. The monkey is nipped by the Scissors, popped by the flying Chestnut and smashed by Mortar. Crab and his retinue win. They celebrate by drinking sake. The monkey rushes back in; then Crab leaps onto his back and rides him out like a horse.

(The Bandit Chief)

Kumasaka Chohan (Bandit chieftain)
Ushiwakamaru (Minamoto Yoshitsune 12th c. - known by this name in his youth)
The first follower of Kumasaka
Other followers
Hagare (Stripped victims)
The hero, Ushiwakamaru, triumphs over evil, the thief Kumasaka. This action-packed play takes you beyond a need for dialog. The fighting scenes and the final duel with Kumasaka's dramatic sword swinging are the highlights.

The Mime

Kumasaka's band of robbers can only seem to rob people of their clothes. Seeking more lucrative loot, Kumasaka orders his band to attack the inn where Ushiwakamaru is staying during the night. Ushiwakamaru hears of their plans. In the dark, he causes the robbers to attack their own members. Finally Chohan and Ushiwakamaru fight. Chohan is slashed across the shoulder and though severely wounded, Ushiwaka allows him to escape.

(Maple Viewing)

Taira Koremochi (12th c.; Heike family general)
Koremochi's Servant
Beautiful Lady ( Really a witch-demon )
Her Female Attendant
Jizo - bosatsu (Bodhisattva Guardian )
This play states the dangers of drink-induced lust and untruthfulness.
On Mt. Togakushi there lives a witch who disguises herself as a beautiful woman. Taira no Koremochi is deer hunting on the mountain in autumn. He is overcome by her charming behavior and accepts her invitation to attend a feast. She serves him drugged sake, which he first refuses to drink. She presses him until he finally does then he passes out. Before he passes out the "lady's" attendant takes the servant away.

In a dream Koremochi is told the truth by a Divine Being that the lady is a witch-demon. The Divine Being gives him a sword of truth. Even though he is weakened by the poison he manages to kill the witch-demon.

At the climax the witch - demon gnaws on a maple branch in agony as she dies.

In this play the Jizo - bosatsu (who is the principal deity of Mibu-dera Temple) replaces the Divine Being.In the original Noh version of Momiji-Gari, the Divine Being is the God of War, Namu-ya Hachiman Dai-Bosatsu, who gives Korimochi his sword.

(Nightmare Bird)

Nue (a night bird / monster)
Court Noble - the Emperor's Chief Advisor
Minamotono Yorimasa ( a Genji family general)
Ino Hayata (Yoshimasa's retainer)
Page Boy
This story is found in Volume 4 of the Story of the Heike. The Nue, though called a "bird" has the head of a monkey, the body of a tiger and a snake's tail. In this play, the stage actions of the monster highlight some of the special techniques found with Mibu Kyogen.

It roams the attic of the palace and has Emperor Konoe (12 th. c.) in its power, making him ill. The Emperor's Chief Advisor has a priest pray for the Emperor's health. The Nue binds him hand and foot, then strips him of his robes.

The Chief Advisor then sends Yorimasa and his retailer after the monster. Yorimasa shoots at the Nue but it escapes. Again Yorimasa with a bow and Hayata with a sword capture the monster and bring it to the Chief Advisor. The Chief Advisor recites a poem praising the victory, to which Yorimasa recites the second half. The Chief Advisor, suitably impressed by Yorimasa's military and literary knowledge, presents him with a sword.

(The Women of Ohara Village)

a Wealthy Man
His Servant
Mother and her daughters
In the north eastern outskirts of Kyoto is the village of Ohara. The village is still an area of farming. The women, wearing traditional farm clothing, are called "Oharame" and these Oharame are still seen throughout the city of Kyoto, some selling flowers but most selling vegetables. In the past these Oharame could be seen walking around with bundles of flowers carried on their heads for sale. A few still use large pullcarts but most use small white trucks. They are not just saleswomen but exchangers of gossip and advice for the lonely, often elderly housewives who are their customers.

The Mime

A Wealthy Man and his servant come to Ohara to view the cherry blossoms and are having a party under the cherry trees. He spies a woman and her three daughters. The Mother is relieving herself at the side of the road and the man sees her as risque. He becomes charmed with the daughters, and invites them all to join the party.They all enjoy the sake under the cherries.

While the daughters are dancing, the Wealthy Man tries to pull the second daughter to him. The Mother notices, gets angry and takes the second daughter away, where she exchanges clothes with the daughter. The Mother in disguise returns to the party. The Wealthy Man suceeds in pulling the "second daughter" to his side and sends the others away. He earnestly proposes but finally realizes that he has proposed to the old Mother instead. He runs away in fright.

(Mercy by the Bucket)

Teruko (a beautiful but deformed Lady)
A Wealthy Man
His Pregnant Wife
This is one of the most important and difficult programs in the Mibu Kyogen comic repertory. Teruko's manner of walking is very difficult to preform as she must express the esoteric Sanskrit character for "Buddha" as found in the sutras. The story is about the eternal conflict between men, women and love. It may be one of the oldest plays.

The Mime

A maid named Teruko lived near Mibudera Temple. Unfortunately she was born with only three fingers on her left hand. She is ashamed of this disfigurement and daily prays at the temple to be reborn whole in the next world. Every day she would scoop sacred Akasui water from "Amaga-ike" (Nun's pond) and bring it in a bucket as offering to Jizo Bosatsu.

Teruko purifies herself then goes to the temple carrying the bucket of water with her three fingered hand. A Wealthy Man who lives nearby falls in love with Teruko. She treats him curtly but finally Teruko relents and consents to teach dancing to the man.

The Wealthy Man's pregnant wife sees them dancing intimately and becomes angry with jealousy. While the man and his wife quarrel, the man has Teruko run away. He tries to console his wife, but she asks him to return while pushing him with her large pregnant belly. He cannot give Teruko up and, reluctantly, runs away to be with her. The wife laments over how ugly she is She tries various cosmetics but is not satisfied with the results or the situation she is in. Finally, she losses all hope and goes mad.

(Mt. Ooe)

Shutendoji (chief of the demons)
Minamoto no Yorimitsu (popularly known by the alternate reading of his name, Raiko, (a general of the Genji Family)
Watanabe no Tsuna (Raiko's follower)
Hirai Houshou a.k.a. Yasumasa (Raiko's follower)
Jizo Bosatsu ( the Guardian Bodhisattva of children)
Yamabushi (a mountain ascetic priest)
Girl- an abductee
Demons: Kuro-oni (black demon)
Aka-oni (red demon)
Ko-oni (little demon)
Ibaraki-oni (Principal follower of Shutendoji)
Mt. Ooe is on the border of the old Tamba district and Tango district in Kyoto Prefecture. Shutendoji ( who was believed to be a demon chieftain but in actuality was a thief) would rob travelers going to and from Kyoto. He would on occasion abduct women. This story is a popular children's tale. The highlights of the play are the drinking and fighting scenes.

The Mime

Minamoto Raiko, a brave warrior, accompanied by his followers Tsuna and Yasumasa, comes to Mt. Ooe to destroy Shutendoji. They come across a girl washing bloodied clothes in a stream. She had been abducted by the demons. The asked directions to the demon's dwelling. On the way to the summit of Mt. Ooe they meet an old man who is gathering brushwood in the forest. He is actually an incarnation of Jizo. He tells them the way to the demons dwelling. When they arrive they ask permission from the drunk demon boys to stay overnight, then begin to party. Raiko offers the demons a bottle of drugged sake. The demons drink themselves to sleep. Jizo appears in Raiko's dream and gives him a helmet as well as orders to kill the demons while they sleep. Raiko and his followers attack the demons, leaving with Shutendoji's head. The demon Ibaraki - oni follows Raiko's group but the Yamabushi priest drives him away with a holly branch, chanting "Push eyes - Push nose."

(Demon Gate)

Minamoto no Raiko (also read Yorimitsu, a Genji Family General )
Watanabe noTsuna ( Raiko's retainer)
Hirai Houshou (also read Yasumasa, Raiko's retainer)
Page Boy
Ibaragi Oni ( Ibaragi, the "Holly-wood" Demon)
Rashoumon gate was at the southern end of Suzaku-oji, the central North-South street in the Heian capital. This was the front gate of the Capital, Heiankyo (the name Kyoto was given when it was first established as the capital). Tension mounts as the spectator waits for the demon to pounce. This demon is an underling of Shutendoji. See the legend and play "Ooeyama."

The Mime

Raiko and his retainer were drinking together one day. Raiko asked about the news. One of the retainers says that there is a demon in Rashomon gate. Tsuna refuses to believe it and they argue. Raiko stops the argument and hands Tsuna a talisman to put on the gate. The other retainers wish to go along but Tsuna ignores them. However, there is a demon (Ibaragi) in the ruined gate that eats travelers who try to pass through. Tsuna's horse shies as they approach the gate. Tsuna continues on foot, hangs the talisman and notices the demon in the ceiling of the gate. The demon grabs his helmet. They fight and Tsuna cuts off the demon's arm, returning with it.

(On the Banks of Hell)

Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha-bodhisattva)
Gaki (A Hungry Ghost - spirit of an unrepentant glutton)
Emma (The Judge of Hell, a.k.a. Yama)
Chotsuke (An official of Hell, the accountant)
Kuro uni ( Black Demon)
Aka oni ( Red Demon)
In Hell the unrepentant Gaki is forced to stand in front of a special mirror, named the Johari-kagami, which shows the Gaki's deeds in life, recorded by the accountant. The Ghost refuses to repent. Emma becomes angry and has him beaten with the iron staffs of his underlings. The Gaki still refuses to repent. Emma orders him to be boiled and eaten. The devils first yank out his tongue, boil, then eat him. Jizo Bosatsu collects the sinner's bones and brings him back to life. Jizo lectures the now repentant spirit. The man leans on Jizo as they depart.

(Sake Storehouse Gold Storehouse)

Feudal Lord
Sake Storehouse Watchman
Money Storehouse Watchman
This play deals with the eternal problems of money and drink. The fans are used to represent sake cups and bottles, and a circular hand movement, money.

The Lord shows the watchmen the storehouses to guard and departs. The watchmen figure that taking a little money and sake would not be noticed, so they partake of the wealth within the warehouses. The Lord returns, catching them at their deception. Then tying them up, he departs. The watchmen help each other untie each other's knots and continue to party. When the Lord returns he is disgusted with them. He orders them to take what they will and leave. The two leave dancing and in merry spirits.

(Demons Out, Fortune In)


Setsubun (Spring Equinox) is a purification festival, removing evil, (Demons or bad luck) and ushering in Good Luck. Roasted soy beans are thrown around the house to chase out the Demon and bring in the good luck. Throwing is accompanied by the chant ( "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" - Demons out, Fortune in). Grilled sardine heads are stuck on the end of a holly branch and put at the entrances of the house to repel incoming bad fortune, because demons hate bad smells and thorns. Beans also seem to attack their eyes.

The Setsubun festival is one of the highlights of the year. This mime is preformed several times a day for the parishioners. Watching the performance washes away evil spirits.

The Mime

On the day of Setsubun (February 2 or 3), the Widow roasts soybeans, lights the altar candle and puts the prepared holly branches at the entrance. A passing Exorcist is asked to remove the evil in order to escape it in the coming year. The Exorcist leaves. Next, a Demon comes dressed as a traveler in a straw hat.The Demon comes to the house, frightening the Widow. The woman is startled and tries to escape. The Demon tricks her into allowing him to stay, by eating the sardine head and giving her a kimono. The Demon makes many kimono with his magic mallet and tricks the Widow by giving them to her. They have a drinking party and the Demon falls asleep. The Widow's greed grows and she takes his magic mallet, then strips the Demon of his kimono. Now she sees his true form and screams, waking the Demon. The Demon discovers the theft and he tries to grab the widow. She pelts him with the roasted beans, thus driving him out.

(The Beautiful Fox-Witch)

Tamamo-no-mae ( Lady Tamamo, disguise of the evil nine-tailed Fox spirit)
Tachibana Toyonari, the Kampaku (Chief Court Advisor)
Abe Yasunari (Court Astrologer and Diviner)
Miuranosuke (Warrior)
Kazusanosuke (Warrior)
People eaten by the Fox
A real stone, in present-day Ibaragi pref., Chausudake, Higashifumoto, standing near a volcanic vent giving off poisonous gases is responsible for some of this story.

The highlight of the performance is the leaping fox, who even jumps off stage. The Emperor is of course never shown but is understood to be behind the screen. Everyone must remove their weapons before coming into the room where he is.

A thousand-year old nine-tailed fox, who has done evil all over India and China, comes to Japan and transforms herself into a beautiful young lady. The Cloistered Emperor Toba (12th cent.) falls in love with her. He gives her the name Lady Tamamo-no-mae. Soon after falling in love with her, he becomes ill.

The Chief Court Advisor (kampaku) Tachibana Toyonari and Tamamo-no-mae pay a sympathy visit. Tachibana has the Astrologer divine the cause of the illness. Yasunari discoveres through a magic mirror that Lady Tamamo-no-mae is a nine tailed fox. He waves a sacred paper wand at her where upon she shows her true form and escapes.

A Messenger appears saying that the fox has been seen in Nasuno in the Kanto district, where she is eating people. Tachibana sends two warriors to slay her. She is beheaded and the warriors return with the head.

(The Demon Spider)

Minamoto no Yorimitsu, better known as Raiko (12th c. Genji Family General)
Tsuchigumo (Demon Spiderr)
Watanabe no Tsuna (Raiko's retainer)
Hirai no Yasumasa (Raiko's retainer)
Page Boy
The dramatic "spider threads" thrown out make this one of the most popular Mibu Kyogen. The threads are reputed to bring the audience good fortune.

The warrior Minamoto Raiko is feeling out of sorts and has a party with his retainers to cheer up. He becomes tired and leaves the room to retire. A giant spider appears and tries to kill Raiko by covering him with a sticky web. He manages to free his sword and drive the spider off. Watanabe and Hirai rush in when they hear the noise. Raiko orders them to kill the spider. Watanabe and Hiraitie tie up their sleeves and carry torches. The Demon Spider defends itself, spewing its web at the attackers. The retainers return carrying the Demon Spider's head.

(Grated Yam at the Yamabana Teahouse)

Tea-house Mistress
Her male servant
a Customer
Night Watchman (checking and warning about fires)
In Yamabama village, in northeast Kyoto there is a tea shop famous for its slippery grated mountain potato. It is cherry viewing season.

The Mistress has her Servant grate potato for the day's customers. A Customer arrives for cherry viewing but the shop is out of sake. The Servant is sent out for some.

Night falls, and the Customer and Mistress go to sleep. The Night Watchman makes his rounds. A Thief appears and threatens the Watchman. The Thief now checks out the tea house. Sneaking into the tea house he steals the mistress's kimono. The Servant returns, sees the Thief and hides. As it is dark the Thief mistakes the Servant for his cart and the Servant recovers the stolen goods. The Servant grabs the grinding stick from the bowl of potato to fend off the Thief, whose hand gets stuck in the potato. The Thief cannot remove his sword. The Servant wakes the Customer and Mistress, who is frightened and tries to escape.She upends the bowl of grated potato. They all slip, tumble and slide as they try to fight and escape.

(Night Revenge of the Soga Brothers)

Soga Goro
Soga Juro (Goro's elder brother)
Oni-ou (Juro's retainer)
Danzaburo (Goro's Retainer)

Furuya Goromaru (Suketsune's retainer)
Aristocrat and Servant
*Goto Suketsune (a.k.a. Kudou Yuukei, killer of the Soga brothers' father) does not actually appear on stage

The Kamakura Shogunate has organized a hunt at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The Sogo brothers discover that Suketsune, their father's murderer, has been invited. While drinking sake, they decide to revenge their father's murder.

They order their retainers home. The retainers plead to accompany the brothers but are told to return. They do not want to leave and instead attempt ritual suicide (seppuku). Before they can, they are stopped. The retainers are given a charm and a letter to be delivered to their mother.

The brothers exchange a cup of water and bid farewell then hurry to the hunting event. They startle an aristocrat who is wearing sleeping clothes and his attendant. Jiro is killed and Goro is tied up by Goromaru. Exactly when this happens is left up to the viewer's imagination, as is the killing of Suketsune.

(The Boiling Water Ritual)

Shinto Priest
Shrine Maiden
All the actors of the Dai Nembutsu Troupe (devotees)
Mibu-dera Temple's local shrine is a branch of Miwa Shrine in Nara Prefecture. The play enacts a Shinto rite to ensure a peaceful life for the people and safety for the coming year. The Shinto Hot Water Rite is rarely preformed in Buddhist temples. It is only done once a year at the end of the Spring performances. The chant "Myounen no, Myounen no," means "next year's, next year's."

The Devotees place a caldron in front of a Shinto altar. They fill the caldron chanting Myounen no, Myounen no," and bring the water to a boil. The Shinto priest and Shrine Maiden enter. The priest prays, dips bamboo leaves in the boiling water and splashes them around the stage. This is the purification ritual. The Devotees play flutes and the Shrine Maiden makes music with a "jyanbon" bowl. The priest and Maiden are thanked and depart at the end of the ritual. With the remaining hot water the devotees wipe their faces, clean the kettle and again chant "Myounen no, Myounen no," as they exit.