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Atsumori (play): Wikis

Atsumori ( 敦盛. Atsumori. ) is a Japanese Noh play by Zeami Motokiyo which focuses on Taira no Atsumori. a young samurai who was killed in the Genpei War. and his killer, Kumagai Naozane. Atsumori's death is portrayed tragically in the Heike monogatari (Tale of the Heike ), from which this and many other works stem.

Background

Atsumori, roughly 15 years old at the time of the battle of Ichi-no-Tani (1184), was killed by the Minamoto warrior Kumagai Naozane. In the Heike monogatari and many works derived from it, this is focused upon as a particularly tragic episode. Kumagai is said to have expressed great remorse for his actions, as his own son of roughly the same young age had recently been injured (despite it being a minor injury Kumagai understood the fear and pain of a father seeing his son killed or wounded). Atsumori is also, like many of his Taira brethren, portrayed as a courtier and poet, not truly prepared for battle. He is said to have carried a flute into battle, evidence of his peaceful, courtly nature as well as his youth and naïveté. Kumagai also notes that none of his fellow Genji (Minamoto) warriors were cultivated to a point where they would ride into battle with a flute. Royall Tyler 's analysis, preceding his translation of the play, focuses on the contrasts between Atsumori, the young, peaceful courtier and flute player, and Kumagai, the older seasoned warrior.

The Noh play takes place some years after the end of the Genpei War. It is an example of the dream or mugen genre of Noh, although it differs slightly in that the ghost is usually unrelated to the person who sees it. The ghost of Atsumori, disguised as a grass cutter, is the shite role, and Kumagai, having become a monk and changed his name to Renshō (or Rensei), is played by the waki .

The play begins with Renshō's arrival at Ichi-no-Tani, also known as Suma. a location which features prominently in a number of classic texts, and thus has many layers of significance within the Noh; references are made throughout the play to other events that took place there, in particular those of the Genji monogatari and Ise monogatari . The monk seeks to ask forgiveness from Atsumori, and to calm his spirit. There he meets a flute-playing youth and his companions; he speaks with them briefly about fluting and about Atsumori before the youth reveals that he has a connection to Atsumori, and the first act ends.

Between the two acts, there is a kyōgen interlude, as is quite common and traditional in Noh. A kyōgen performer, playing an anonymous villager, speaks with Renshō and relates to the audience the background of the story of Atsumori, Kumagai and the battle of Ichi-no-tani.

The second act begins as the first one ended, with Renshō reciting prayers for Atsumori, who now makes his appearance. The actor who played the youth in the first act has now changed costume and plays Atsumori; this is a very common device in the most standard Noh plays, and it is implied that the youth earlier was Atsumori's ghost in disguise. Atsumori (along with the chorus chanting for him) relates his tragic story from his perspective, re-enacting it in dance form. The play then ends with Renshō refusing to re-enact his role in Atsumori's death; the ghost declares that Renshō is not his enemy, and asks that the monk pray for his release. (Tied to the mortal realm by the emotional power of his death, Atsumori's ghost has been unable to move on.)

  • Ikuta Atsumori (also known as Ikuta ) - a related Noh play centering on Atsumori.
  • Tadanori - a related Noh play centering on another Taira killed in the same battle.
  • Ichinotani Futaba Gunki - a jōruri and Kabuki play which relates much the same events.
References

Other articles

Taira no Atsumori

Taira no Atsumori

Taira no Atsumori was a young Taira clan warrior who fought against the Minamoto clan in the Genpei War of 1180 -1185. A son of Taira no Tsunemori. Master of the Palace Repairs Office, he is most known for the circumstances of his death at age 17 at the 1184 Battle of Ichi-no-Tani. as related in the "Death of Atsumori" chapter of the Tale of the Heike . This chapter has inspired numerous Noh. kabuki. and puppet plays, including Atsumori . Ikuta Atsumori . and Kumagai Jinya .

As related in the Tale of the Heike. Atsumori was making his way off the beach at Ichi-no-tani, towards a Taira ship waiting out in the water, when he was called back by a Minamoto warrior, Kumagai Naozane. Naozane rode up alongside him, grappling with him, pulling both of them off their mounts and to the ground. Tearing Atsumori's helmet from his head, Kumagai saw Atsumori's powdered face and blackened teeth - signs of courtly refinement & elevated status; noting that Atsumori was just the same age as his own son, Kumagai hesitated to kill him. Being given Kumagai's name, and realizing Kumagai was not of particularly high rank or status, Atsumori refused to give his own name, simply assuring Kumagai that he was a good kill, and that if Kumagai took his head, his superiors would recognize him as Atsumori. Declaring that he cannot let him go, because then some other Minamoto warrior will surely kill him, and that at least this way Atsumori will have a regretful Kumagai to say memorial prayers for him, Kumagai says he must take Atsumori's head - to which Atsumori replies, "Just take my head and be quick about it." [1] He then does so, distraught and weeping at having had to kill someone so young, innocent, and refined. Finding a flute among Atsumori's possessions, which he realizes must be the one he heard played so beautifully the night before, and which he later finds out was named Saeda, and was a gift from Retired Emperor Toba to Atsumori's grandfather Taira no Tadamori. Kumagai weeps again.

In the end, Atsumori is held up as of the chief examples in Japanese literature and legend of a tragic hero, and as the epitome of both bun (cultured refinement) and bu (martial skill & bravery). Though remembered for his youthful beauty and skill at the flute, suggesting a theme of how pitiful it was (is) that such youths and such cultured, skillful artists, should have to die in battle, in the text of the Heike chapter, Atsumori also proves himself as a warrior, bravely turning back to face Kumagai, boldly refusing to give his name to a warrior of lesser rank, and in the end saying "Just take my head and be quick about it."

In Popular Culture

Atsumori returns as a ghost in Zeami's warrior play Atsumori. in which Kumagai, who has now become a monk as a result of his deep regrets, helps him find release. This play, or a kôwakamai version of it, is said to have been one of Oda Nobunaga's favorite dances.

In the kabuki & puppet play Kumagai jinya. Kumagai cannot bring himself to kill Atsumori, and so he survives. In order to hide that he allowed Atsumori to escape, Kumagai kills his own son, presenting his own son's head to Minamoto no Yoritomo as Atsumori's.

This article is a placeholder or stub. You can help SamuraiWiki by expanding it .

References
  • William de Bary, Sources of Japanese Tradition. vol 1, Columbia University Press (2001), 278-280.


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ATSUMORI PLAY: definition of ATSUMORI PLAY and synonyms of ATSUMORI PLAY (English)

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definition - ATSUMORI PLAY Atsumori (play) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2nd — shura mono

shite Mower/Atsumori
waki Renshō/Rensei
kyogen Mower's companion

end of 12th Century

This box: view • talk

Atsumori ( 敦盛. Atsumori. ) is a Japanese Noh play by Zeami Motokiyo which focuses on Taira no Atsumori. a young samurai who was killed in the Genpei War. and his killer, Kumagai Naozane. Atsumori's death is portrayed tragically in the Heike monogatari (Tale of the Heike ), from which this and many other works stem.

Background

Atsumori, roughly 15 years old at the time of the battle of Ichi-no-Tani (1184), was killed by the Minamoto warrior Kumagai Naozane. In the Heike monogatari and many works derived from it, this is focused upon as a particularly tragic episode. Kumagai is said to have expressed great remorse for his actions, as his own son of roughly the same young age had recently been injured (despite it being a minor injury Kumagai understood the fear and pain of a father seeing his son killed or wounded). Atsumori is also, like many of his Taira brethren, portrayed as a courtier and poet, not truly prepared for battle. He is said to have carried a flute into battle, evidence of his peaceful, courtly nature as well as his youth and naïveté. Kumagai also notes that none of his fellow Genji (Minamoto) warriors were cultivated to a point where they would ride into battle with a flute. Royall Tyler 's analysis, preceding his translation of the play, focuses on the contrasts between Atsumori, the young, peaceful courtier and flute player, and Kumagai, the older seasoned warrior.

The Noh play takes place some years after the end of the Genpei War. It is an example of the dream or mugen genre of Noh, although it differs slightly in that the ghost is usually unrelated to the person who sees it. The ghost of Atsumori, disguised as a grass cutter, is the shite role, and Kumagai, having become a monk and changed his name to Renshō (or Rensei), is played by the waki .

The play begins with Renshō's arrival at Ichi-no-Tani, also known as Suma. a location which features prominently in a number of classic texts, and thus has many layers of significance within the Noh; references are made throughout the play to other events that took place there, in particular those of the Genji monogatari and Ise monogatari . The monk seeks to ask forgiveness from Atsumori, and to calm his spirit. There he meets a flute-playing youth and his companions; he speaks with them briefly about fluting and about Atsumori before the youth reveals that he has a connection to Atsumori, and the first act ends.

Between the two acts, there is a kyōgen interlude, as is quite common and traditional in Noh. A kyōgen performer, playing an anonymous villager, speaks with Renshō and relates to the audience the background of the story of Atsumori, Kumagai and the battle of Ichi-no-tani.

The second act begins as the first one ended, with Renshō reciting prayers for Atsumori, who now makes his appearance. The actor who played the youth in the first act has now changed costume and plays Atsumori; this is a very common device in the most standard Noh plays, and it is implied that the youth earlier was Atsumori's ghost in disguise. Atsumori (along with the chorus chanting for him) relates his tragic story from his perspective, re-enacting it in dance form. The play then ends with Renshō refusing to re-enact his role in Atsumori's death; the ghost declares that Renshō is not his enemy, and asks that the monk pray for his release. (Tied to the mortal realm by the emotional power of his death, Atsumori's ghost has been unable to move on.)

  • Ikuta Atsumori (also known as Ikuta ) - a related Noh play centering on Atsumori.
  • Tadanori - a related Noh play centering on another Taira killed in the same battle.
  • Ichinotani Futaba Gunki - a jōruri and Kabuki play which relates much the same events.
References