Two Acolytes
Shirabyoshi dancer (A Woman/Demon)

The Abbot of Dojoji temple (at Hidaka in Wakayama) enters with two attendants. He intends to install a bell for the temple. The acolytes bring the bell on stage. Taking a few breaks during their work they finish hanging the bell. One of them leaves to tell the Abbot that the bell has been hung.

The Abbot insists that no women be allowed entrance to the temple grounds during the dedication ceremony.

A Shirabyoshi dancer hears of the bell's dedication ceremony. She feels that by worshiping at the dedication she will be able to rid herself of her sins and guilt. She hurries to the temple and asks if she can be admitted. An acolyte says he cannot admit her as the Abbot has forbidden women to enter. She pleads that she is not an ordinary woman but a Shibayoshi dancer and will dance for them if they permit her to enter and worship. They admit her and give her a court cap to wear while dancing. She dances focusing her attention on the bell. Finally she rushes to the bell as if to strike it but instead jumps inside as it crashes down around her. While she is dancing, she has charmed the acolytes so they fall asleep. They awaken when the bell crashes down over her. They panic and try to guess what has happened. They notice the bell has fallen and when they touch it, that it has become burning hot.

They are both afraid of the Abbot and try to talk the other one into telling him. The first acolyte finally works up the courage to face the Abbot and explains about the dancer and the bell. The Abbot goes off to examine the bell.

The Abbot then explains the story behind the original bell.

Long ago there was a manor steward who spoiled his only daughter. A mountain aesthetic on a pilgrimage to Kumano stayed with the steward. Over the years the ascetic repeated the pilgrimage, always staying with the steward. He would always bring lovely presents to the daughter. The father teased her saying that the pilgrim would marry her. The daughter in childish simplicity believed it. She waited for years and when the pilgrim returned insisted that he marry her and take her away with him. The pilgrim, who is really a priest, panicked and escaped in the night. He came to the temple and begged the Abbot to save him. The Abbot lowered the bell and he hid inside. The girl searched after him and as her anger intensified, she became a venomous serpent. When she entered the temple she noticed the bell in its unusual position. Grabbing the dragon-head finial at the top, she wrapped herself around the bell and struck it with her tail. The bell became red hot and the ascetic inside was killed.

The Abbot directs his acolytes to preform an exorcism. The bell begins to peal, though unstruck, and to rise, revealing the dancer transformed into the serpent. The Abbot and the serpent battle. She breaths on the bell and its flames engulf her. She rushes off and leaps into the river.

(Benkei in the Boat)
the Hogan, Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Musashibo Benkei, warrior monk
Three other retainers of Yoshitsune
Chief Boatman
Lady Shizuka, Yoshitsune's lover
Ghost of Taira no Tomomori

Part One - Shore of Daimotsu Bay, in the southwest part of Amagasaki.
Part Two - Sea near Daimotsu Bay

Part One

Yoshitsune, his three retainers and Benkei (wearing a rosary) enter. The four are escaping from the wrath of Yoritomo and seek Yoshitsune's safety.
Here a part of a poem attributed to the God of the War, Hachiman at Iwashimizu Shrine outside Kyoto. A poem by the God suggests he is aware of men with pure hearts.

The group has now reached Daimotsu Bay. Benkei goes off to ask the boatman to help the group. The boatman agrees and readies the boat to sail.

Benkei suggests to Yoshitsune that he leave Lady Shizuka behind for safety and is told to make appropriate arrangements.

Benkei goes to greet Lady Shizuka as she enters the stage. Shizuka does not believe Benkei and goes to ask Yoshitsune himself.

She discovers there was no ruse and feels ashamed. Benkei says not to be concerned about it. There is much weeping and wailing about her being left behind.

Chrysanthemum wine is shared as the departure draws near. Lady Shizuka dances and sings for Yoshitsune. The songs refer to a famous episode in Chinese history where the most beautiful concubine of the Emperor causes a revolution and is killed by his retainers. Then a quote from Lao-tse about retiring not with worldly wealth but with the wealth of success and fame.

Part Two

The boat is readied and as they prepare, they lament over the sad feelings of Lady Shizuka. The sea is getting rough but they decide to continue. As the boatman and Benkei talk they notice a nasty looking cloud over what is now Mount Rokko in Kobe. The boatman and his crew try to tame the waves by scolding them.

The ghosts of all the dead but especially Tomomori rise out of the sea, where he was killed in battle, hailing Yoshitsune and threatening to drag him to the bottom of the sea. The battle / dance between the two begins, but Yoshitsune's sword can do no damage to the ghost; it is the prayers of Benkei which finally win the day.

Benkei's prayers invoke the Myoo (Diva Raja) who are incarnations of the Buddha as the "Body of the Law". The fierce visages of the five Buddhist Kings are enthroned in the four quarters / directions of Heaven with Fudo in the center. Fudo the Unmoving carries a rope (for binding sin) representing mercy, a sword of wisdom and is in the midst of flames which burn away evil thoughts and passions.

by Hiyayoshi Sa-ami Yasukiyo (possibly first half of the 15th Century)

Ushiwakamaru (Minamoto Yoshitsune's childhood name)

Benkei introduces himself and reveals his plans to go to Kurama Temple via Gojo bridge. Benkei's follower warns that some young man is harassing people trying to cross the bridge. Benkei thinks he can handle the situation. Benkei goes to the bridge.

Ushiwakamaru, at his mother's insistence, must be at the temple at daybreak. While Ushiwakamaru rests, Benkei charges into his armor. Ushiwakamaru is aroused by the noise Benkei makes walking on the bridge and stands alert waiting. Benkei and Ushiwakamaru start fighting when they see each other. Benkei looses, then discovers Ushiwakamaru is Yoshitomo's son. Benkei begs forgiveness. The two join forces, returning together to Ushiwakamaru's home.

(The Black Tumulus)
Kurozuka is a grave mound (Black Tumulus) in Adachigahara, in Michinoku thought to be the dwelling of a demon. The plot is very similar to the Mibu kyogen but the Noh version, attributed to Komparu Zenchiku, dwells on the sadnesses of living alone in poverty, and the demon's shame because of what she is. She insinuates that she will kill and eat travellers because they have seen and understood who she is.

A traveling monk and his servant arrive at Adachigahara village in the evening. Spotting a fire in a hut, they go to ask for one night's lodging. The old woman reluctantly agrees.

The priests see a spinning wheel and ask what it is and how it works. She demonstrates while lamenting her poor state. The night was cold and the woman states she will collect wood for the fire. The priests offer to gather wood for her but she refuses their help. Before leaving she tells them not to look into her bedroom.

While she is gone, of course, the servant looks. He see the bedroom filled with piles of rotting bodies. This brings to mind horror stories of a demon who supposedly lives in this area.

The woman returns as the demoness and finds they have seen her secret shame. Enraged, she begins to attack them but they recite exorcistic mantra to the protective Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, until she dissolves into the night.

Beautiful woman - a Demon in disguise
Three of Her Attendants
Serving Maid
Four followers
God of a subordinate shrine

The play takes place in late Autumn, leaf-viewing time, on Mount Togakushi in Shinano provence, now northern Nagano prefecture.

The beautiful woman and attendants enter. They set up their picnic and maple viewing site and pass some sake. Taira no Koremochi (who is on a hunt with some retainers) enters. He notices some people in the near distance and sends an attendant to ask who they are. The attendant returns saying they are a group of ladies and their mistress, who appears of noble birth, but did not give a name. Koremochi decides it is too rude to merely pass and goes to pay his respects. The woman asks him to stay and share some sake. Reluctantly he drinks the sake and falls under the woman's /demon's spell. Koremochi falls asleep because of the sake. The woman dances close to him and noticing his state wishes him not to awaken.

The god of Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine on Otokoyama, sends a messenger to him while he dreams, telling him the woman is really the demon of Mount Togakushi and that he must slay her with the sword that the God gives him.

Koremochi wakes and finds the sword. He sees the demon and they fight. Koremochi overcomes her and the demon dies.


(The Death-Rock)

The story of Tamamo-no-Mae derives from the Noh play "Sesshoseki," (attributed to Hiyoshi Yasukiyo) which itself originated from earlier folklore about a stone in the hot spring area of Nasuno, in Shimotsuke, present-day Tochigi prefecture. The story can also be found in the Tale of the Heike and in the story of the revenge of the Soga brothers.

This play takes place in the early Ashikaga Period (1392-1573) , in the autumn, in the Kanto district of Nasuno on the plain of Shimonoseki.

The priest Gennoh, after receiving enlightenment, decides to see the world for himself. On their travels, his servant sees a bird fall dead from the sky. Upon inspection, a village woman appears naming the stone the famous Nasuno death stone, stealing the life from whatever touches it, as the spirit of Lady Tamamo-no-Mae. The Death-Rock houses the spirit that destroyed kings in India and China and finally became Tamamo-no-mae, consort to the Japanese Emperor Toba. She was acclaimed to be beautiful and wise, but evil. During a late night concert at the end of autumn, when all the lamps blew out, Tamamo-no-mae began to glow like the moon. After this, the Emperor became ill. His astrologer Abe-no-Yasunari cast the Emperor's fortune and discovered Tamamo-no-mae was the cause of the illness. She was pursued to Nasuno and killed.

The monk says he will do an exorcism and show her the true light of Buddha's Enlightenment.

As Gennoh calls forth the spirit, the stone splits in half and the spirit is revealed as a fox who becomes human as they watch. She tells the story of Tamamo-no-mae. Abe-no-Yasunari, the astrologer, found her out and began an exorcism which caused her torment. She leaped into the air and landed far away on the Nasuno plain. The Emperor sent warriors to find and destroy her. Showing herself, she was chased into a trench and pierced with many arrows.

As her life drained, her attachments remained and became the Death-Rock, which has killed all who came too close. Now that she has received the Holy Law, she vows to do no more evil and the fox vanishes.


(The Demon Spider)

Minamoto no Raiko (Yorimitsu)
Hitorimushi- one of Raiko's warriors
Kocho- a serving woman
Tsuchigumo- first appearing as a Priest then as the Demon-spider

Reiko is bed-ridden and weakened with a mysterious illness. A serving woman returns from the court physician with medicine. In the middle of the night the restless Raiko feel he is surely going to die. He is visited by a monk he does not know. The monk sings a quip from a love song, "My lover comes tonight, like a small crab"s, the spider's movement's are the sign."

Reiko recognizes him as a spider and pulls his famous sword from under the bedding. In the fight, Reiko wounds the spider. Reiko's warrior comes to discover the demon has fled. The warrior (Hitorimusha) and retainers chase the Demon-spider to its lair. They destroy its tomb-mound lair, fight then kill it, returning to the Capital with its head.


(Night Attack of the Soga Brothers)

The Soga Brothers: Goro and Jiro
Furuya Goromaru
a Man of the Hunting Grounds

The time is Summer. The play opens at a tent at the foot of Mount Fuji.

The brothers Goro and Jiro enter and decide to go to a hunt at the foot of Mount Fuji. Both brothers Goro and Jiro know that their father's murderer, Kudou Yuukei (a.k.a. Sunatsuke) is to attend the hunt. They plan to kill him.

Goro and Jiro ask the servants to return home with a letter and charm as keepsakes for their mother. The servants promise to go home then return after delivering the items. The servants are pulled between the orders they agreed to and their loyalty to help the brothers in their planned attack on their father's murderer. The servants decide to kill themselves but Goro and Jiro intervene and finally the servants return home.

Atanai and the Man at the Hunting Grounds meet. Atanai tells the story of the brothers Goro and Jiro at the camp. Atanai reports to Sunatsuke (the murderer of Goro and Jiro's father) about the planned attack. Sunatsuke is aware of the constant plotting of Goro and Jiro over the years and plans for the upcoming encounter.

The group relaxes and drinks; Sunatsuke falls asleep. The brothers discover Sunatsuke sleeping and will not kill him in his sleep so they rouse him. Goro and Jiro are separated. Goro cannot find Jiro and presumes him dead. Goro prepares to fight the entire camp but is bested, tied up and carried off.