Japanese Takigi Noh Performance

A Japanese Takigi Noh Performance will be held at Keio University as part of the 150th Anniversary celebrations.

Date: Friday, Nov 7, 2008 (17:00-18:30)
Place: Keio University, Mita Campus

Admission: Free and open to the public



In the quiet solitude of the mansion of Minamoto no Raiko in Kyoto, Raiko, a minister of the imperial court and a person of fine character, is surrounded by his retainers. The short- sleeved kimono covering his extended arm symbolizes that he is ill in bed.

Raiko mutters to himself, “My body is as fragile as a bubble that vanishes as soon it appears. I can’t blame anybody for this sickness; I just have to put up with it.” It is not a normal illness; it seems that something really horrible is attacking him.

Kocho, a serving woman who works for one of his retainers, tries to console him, but he simply replies, “I’m just waiting for death.” The retainers continue to employ all possible means to cure his illness, but Raiko now can’t tell day from night. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, time goes quietly by.

That evening is clear with a shining full moon. Suddenly, as dark clouds cover the clear sky and a dense fog rises, a Buddhist priest appears. He comes up to Raikoand asks him how he is feeling?” His voice sounds nearer and nearer in the darkness. Raiko looks at him suspiciously, and the priest reveals himself as the spirit of the spider and tells him “I have caused your illness.” As Raiko thinks that the approaching figure indeed looks like a spider, suddenly the spirit of the spider begins to enmesh Raiko in the threads of a web.

A thousand threads enmesh Raiko in a huge arc. Raiko instantly draws a sword lying by the bed and fights the spider, wielding stroke after stroke. As he raises his sword to deliver the killing stroke, however, the evil creature simply vanishes.

At his master’s cry, Hitori Musha, a retainer, hurries to the scene. Raiko is still holding the bloodstained sword tightly, and looks as if he cannot control his impatience. But when he sees Hitori Musha, he regained control over himself, and told the retainer about the spider and that he had because of his sword.

Hitori Musha now understands that the suspicious shadow he had happened to see a short while before was an evil creature, and he is determined to hunt the creature down by following the trail of the blood it had left. He and his men discover an eerie old mound. They surround the mound and jab at it with their swords to destroy it. The ground spider then shows itself in a crouching position. Telling them that it had gone to Raiko to disrupt the emperor’s world, it tries to enmesh the men. Escaping the thousand threads the spider sends forth, they surround the evil creature and kill it once it weakens.

The characteristic feature of the first half part of the play is the chanting of an old song by Raiko, representing his melancholy feelings. The play then changes abruptly to the breathtaking fight with the evil spirit. This dynamic change is the highlight of the play.

From 07 Nov 2008
Until 07 Nov 2008
Tokyo, Japan
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