|KITSUNE TO FUEFUKI|
|Play title||Kitsune to Fuefuki|
"Kitsune to Fuefuki" was made up of 5 acts.
Late Spring at Harukata's Home
The flutist Harukata was married for two years to a woman named Maroya. She was a talented koto player who often performed with him. She unfortunately died too soon. Today, his musician friends have come to pay a visit to console a grieving Harukata. One of them recalls a recent incident in which a mother fox was captured with her cub in the forest. The animals were released because Harukata, near tears, had requested it because it was the anniversary of the death of his wife. The men tease Harukata, saying that the foxes will come around with a gift to thank him for saving their lives.
Akinobu, one of the friends, goes out to get additional drinks. He returns bringing a woman with him. They all think she is a courtesan, but are amazed when they realize that she is the living image of late Maroya. Her name is Tomone. Akinobu has met her on his way back. Harukata is astonished because the complete resemblance. In fact, Tomone is none other than the child fox. She was secretly sent by its mother to repay Harukata for saving their lives.
The guests tactfully go home quickly, leaving the couple alone. Harukata expresses his amazement at Tomone's resemblance to his wife, and confesses his deep and sincere love for late Maroya. He has thought of committing suicide but was fortunately dissuaded by his flute master.
Tomone consoles him, saying that he is fortunate that Maroya comes to visit him every night. Harukata is startled that Tomone knows that, indeed, every night, somebody, who could not be seen, comes to play koto for him with Maroya's style and technique. Tomone says that the nocturnal koto is definitively played by late Maroya.
As it is getting late and the evening moon hangs in the sky, Tomone says she must go home. She lives on the other side of the mountain near Lake Biwa. Harukata answers that it is too far away and too late to leave. The koto music is suddenly heard. Harukata turns away for an instant. When he turns back to the room, Tomone is no more with him. She has mysteriously disappeared.
End of Summer at Harukata's Home
One day Harukata is at home, playing on his flute. He receives the unexpected visit of Hidehito, a fellow flutist, who lives far away from the capital. Hidehito had heard of Maroya's death and had come to visit as soon as he could. He was expecting to find Harukata still lost in grief over the death of his wife. But to his surprise, Harukata is looking well. Hidehito's surprise is even greater when Tomone walks in. For a moment he thinks she is Maroya. Harukata explains that it is Tomone, whom no doubt Maroya had sent to take her place. They are not married and there is an agreement between them: Tomone is to serve Harukata just as the memory of Maroya and nothing else.
Hidehito praises Harukata for his amazing flute-playing. Harukata says that the master is considering recommending him as one of the musicians to play at the autumn court festival in the presence of the Emperor. The master has suddenly started to teach him much more difficult numbers, but he can keep it up by practicing with Maroya on koto. Hidehito does not understand until Harukata explains him that Maroya comes indeed to play her koto with him every night. Tomone shows a sign of jealousy when Hidehito recalls Harukata and Maroya deep love but the two men don't notice it.
The temple evening bell sounds and suddenly they can hear the koto. Harukata takes his flute and starts to play to the accompaniment of the koto. Out in the garden, Tomone suddenly starts to weep aloud. Harukata goes out to ask what the matter is, but she leaps away, saying she is going to return to her mother. The koto music keeps on playing through the commotion. The frightened Hidehito hurries away from his friend's house.
Mid-Autumn at Harukata's Home
Tomone has started a fire with fallen leaves in which she has thrown Maroya's koto. Harukata comes by and notices the burning koto. He demands an explanation. Tomone is weeping in remorse and asks for forgiveness. She explains that she is regretting that she ever came to live with him, because now she has fallen in love with him and is jealous of Maroya. Harukata answers that he himself is no longer sure whether he really regards her only as a memory of late Maroya. He loves her for herself. He loves her as Tomone. Still weeping, she says that she can never marry him. She finally reveals her secret and her true nature: she is not a woman but a fox, sent by her mother to repay Harukata, who saved their lives. She had been warned by her mother that she would lose her live if she were ever to make love with Harukata. She is determined to leave him. But she says she will not return to her mother by Lake Biwa, but will make her home in the woods near Harukata's home in order to be able to see him from time to time. Harukata, however, says that fox or not, he will not give her up.
Early Winter at Harukata's Home
The music master is about to announce the names of the flutists to be recommended for the autumn court festival. Tomone is sure that Harukata's will be put down the list. She has decided to take this opportunity to leave Harukata. But before she can leave, voices are heard. Evidently friends have accompanied Harukata home. She hides in the garden from where she can hear Harukata calling her name plaintively. He is drunk, and his friends are consoling. Tomone realizes that Harukata had not been among the recommended musicians. She comes out of hiding and approaches the group, where Harukata's friends greet her in relief.
After they have left, Harukata says that Hidehito was named instead of himself. He does really think that Hidehito is really a better musician. His master had in his integrity named Hidehito in spite of Hidehito's repeated request that Harukata be named. Tomone weeps. Harukata's sole consolation is her presence. Finally unable to control himself, he asks that she makes love with him that night as a true wife should. Tomone is afraid to die but she finally offers herself to Harukata.
In the Woods at Dawn near Harukata's Home
The moon is shining through the trees. Below, the body of a female fox lies in the grass. It is wearing a silken garment and its face is covered with a fan. Harukata's voice calling Tomone is heard. He presently comes to the site, where he finds the dead fox. Harukata falls weeping over the body, calling again and again Tomone's name.
He picks up the dead fox tenderly, caressing it and asking her forgiveness as he is responsible for her death. He too will go with her in the afterlife. He will take her body to Lake Biwa. They will sink together to the bottom of Lake Biwa.
This summary would have not been possible without the help of Sekidobashi Sakura!
"Kitsune to Fuefuki" is indeed deeply season-related, not only in its structure (an act for each season) but also through the characters' names: Harukata (haru), Natsumasa (natsu), Akinobu (aki) and Fuyutoshi (fuyu).
Harukata (left) and Tomone (right) in a digital painting made by Shôriya Araemon in 2013
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