CHINSETSU YUMIHARI-ZUKI
   
Play title Chinsetsu Yumihari-zuki  In Japanese
Author Mishima Yukio
History

Mishima Yukio's drama "Chinsetsu Yumihari-zuki" was premiered in November 1969 at the National Theatre [more details]. Based on a long yomihon by Kyokutei Bakin, it had exiled warriors, imperial ghosts and plotting in exotic Okinawa. The play was a fusion of all the key themes of Mishima Yukio: politics, beauty and cruelty. "Tamasabur, then just 19 years old, enchanted Mishima with his talent and ethereal beauty in performing the part of Princess Shiranui, Tametomos first wife" (Sasaguchi Rei). It was revived 3 times: in November 1987 at the National Theatre, in December 2002 at the Kabukiza and in May 2012 at the Shinbashi Enbuj.

Structure

"Chinsetsu Yumihari-zuki" is made up of 3 acts, divided into 8 scenes.

Key words Chinzei Hachir Tametomo
Daijin
Fujiwara Yorinaga
Genji
Goshirakawa Tenn
Gunpy
Heike
Higo
Hgen no Ran
Izu
Jidaimono
Karasu Tengu
Kinmanmon
Meoto Yado
Minamoto Tametomo
Minamoto Tameyori
Minamoto Tameyoshi
Mishima Kabuki
shima
Rt
Ryshi
Ryshi
Ryky Rett
Sansai
Sanuki
Satsunan Shot
Semeba
Shinkabuki
Shint
Shiromineg
Shya
Sutoku Tenn
Taira Kiyomori
Taira Shigemori
Yamato
Summary

Introduction

Minamoto no Tametomo, famed for his remarkable arm strength in wielding a colossal bow and renowned for his courage, stands as the eighth son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi. At the age of 13, he earns the ire of his father, leading to his exile to Kysh. During his time in Kysh, he swiftly subdues the entire region, earning himself the title of Chinzei Hachir Tametomo, the conqueror of Western Japan.

During the Hgen Disturbance in 1156, he aligned with his father, rallying behind the forces supporting the retired Emperor Sutoku. However, Tametomo's proposal for a night attack remained unheeded. Instead, the enemy, led by the retired Emperor Goshirakawa, implemented his brother Yoshitomo's strategy for a nocturnal assault, resulting in Tametomo's forces suffering defeat. In the aftermath, his father Tameyoshi and five brothers meet a grim fate, being executed by Taira no Kiyomori. Left as the sole survivor, Tametomo becomes a solitary warrior, fleeing from the victorious enemy. Pursued relentlessly, he was eventually captured and exiled to shima Island in Izu. The fate of his wife Princess Shiranui and son Sutemaru remained shrouded in mystery. While biding his time on shima, Tametomo seized control by subduing the island's tyrannical ruler, Saburoday, and took his daughter Sasarae as his wife. Assuming the role of regent, he worked to improve the lives of the islanders by implementing tax reductions and promoting their welfare.

Act I, scene 1: Izu no Kuni shima
On shima Island in Izu

Perched upon shima is a vantage point offering views of a volcanic spectacle, billowing smoke into the sky. Over a decade has passed since Tametomo's exile to this island. Throughout this time, it becomes Tametomo's ritual to don resplendent armor and pay homage, offering solace to the departed soul of Emperor Sutoku on the anniversary of his passing. Today, on the 26th day of the 8th lunar month [1], marking the solemn occasion of Emperor Sutoku's death, Tametomo, accompanied by Hacchtsubute no Kiheiji and Takama Tar Motoakira, journeys to the newly erected temple dedicated to the revered Emperor. While Tametomo harbors a desire to end his own life at Emperor Sutoku's mausoleum in Shiromine, the grim reality denies him this option.

Tametomo's wife, Sasarae, and Takama's wife, Isohagi, eager to uplift the solemn occasion of Emperor Sutoku's death anniversary, devise a plan to present a dance performance by their son and daughter, Tameyori and Shimagimi, akin to dolls adorning a festival cart. Upon learning of this proposal, Tametomo erupts in fury, vehemently opposing the idea as contrary to the code of the samurai. He emphasizes that with Sutemaru missing, it falls upon Tameyori alone to uphold the memory of the bitterness of defeat Tametomo endured during the Hgen Disturbance and to carry forth the determination to vanquish the rival Heike Clan.

Soon after, a man bearing a declaration of war aimed at annihilating Tametomo arrives, washed ashore on shima Island. It seems his intention is to instruct village leaders to capture Tametomo. Leading the enemy forces is the former regent, Saburoday. The convoy of ships ferrying Heike soldiers comprises a formidable fleet of 25 to 26 vessels.

Tametomo strides towards the beach, prepared to confront Saburoday head-on. Meanwhile, Sasarae wrestles with the weight of her past transgressions, regretting deeply her decision to defy her parents' wishes and engage in a forbidden romance with Tametomo when he first arrived on the island as an exile. She silently resolves to end her life by drowning, alongside her father and their children. Despite being surrounded by enemy forces, Tameyori courageously follows his father's orders, engaging the enemy in battle. Witnessing her son's valor, Sasarae makes a fateful decision and plunges into the sea, accompanied by Shimagimi. Undeterred by the loss of his mother and sister, Tameyori presses on, driven by a fierce determination to avenge their deaths by pursuing the enemy soldiers relentlessly.

Butta, once a loyal follower of Tametomo, receives orders to assassinate Tametomo's wife, Princess Shiranui. However, the woman who is reported to have passed away is not Princess Shiranui. Upon learning that Princess Shiranui is alive, Takama and his wife decide to embark on a search for her. Along their journey, they encounter Tametomo and deliver the heartbreaking news of Sasarae's death. In his final moments, Tameyori, gravely wounded, implores his father to end his suffering. Tametomo, shattered by the loss of his son, resolves to leave the island to gather reinforcements, partly influenced by Kiheiji's counsel. Departing separately from Takama and his wife, who continue their quest for Princess Shiranui, Tametomo finds himself without arrows to exact vengeance upon the traitor Butta. However, thanks to Kiheiji's frantic rowing, the ship carrying Butta swiftly departs the island, eluding Tametomo's pursuit.

Act II, scene 1: Sanuki no Kuni Shiromine
At the Shiromine Shrine in the Province of Sanuki

The retired Emperor Sutoku, who suffered defeat in the Hgen Disturbance, was banished to Shiromine in Sanuki and breathed his last eight years later, carrying a deep-seated grudge against the Heike, his adversaries.

Having fled from shima Island, Tametomo arrives in Sanuki with the sole purpose of fulfilling his long-held desire to pay homage at the mausoleum of Emperor Sutoku in Shiromine. Facing dire circumstances, Tametomo contemplates ending his life at the sacred site. However, as he slips into unconsciousness, the apparition of Emperor Sutoku materializes, riding upon an ethereal melody, accompanied by Minamoto no Tameyoshi, Fujiwara Yorinaga, and a host of peculiar karasu tengu creatures. Though seemingly unaware of Tametomo's presence, the ghostly Emperor Sutoku proceeds to impart prophetic words concerning Tametomo's fate, delivering a solemn message:

"Taira no Shigemori, who currently enjoys widespread popularity, is destined to pass away within the next decade. His demise will present a prime opportunity for Tametomo and his Genji forces to decisively defeat the Heike Clan. They should lure the Heike forces out into the waters of Yashima and sink them to the depths of the sea. It would be sheer folly for Tametomo, the lone survivor of the Hgen Disturbance, to contemplate suicide. Instead, if Tametomo ventures to the Province of Higo amidst the winter of this year, he will encounter old acquaintances who will offer invaluable assistance and solace. I pledge to ensure the prosperity of your descendants."

Tametomo expresses deep gratitude for the guidance bestowed upon him by Emperor Sutoku's oracle. In a solemn ritual, the spirits of Emperor Sutoku and his retinue share cups of sake, offering prayers for the realization of Tametomo's enduring aspiration to rally forces and restore the fortune of the Genji Clan. As dawn breaks with the crowing of a cock, the spectral figures vanish into the ether.

This entire sequence unfolds within Tametomo's dream. Upon awakening, he discovers the emperor's sake cup left behind, interpreting it as a sign from Emperor Sutoku, urging him to abandon thoughts of suicide. Encountering Kiheiji once again fills Tametomo with resolve, prompting him to swiftly make his way towards the province of Higo, wasting no time in his pursuit.

Act II, scene 2: Higo no Kuni Kihara Sanch
In the Moutains of Kihara in the Province of Higo

Tametomo and Kiheiji have finally arrived in the Province of Higo, spurred on by a prophecy promising reunions with old acquaintances. Unbeknownst to them, Butta, the traitor who betrayed Tametomo a decade ago, now masquerades as a traveling medicine peddler in search of Princess Shiranui.

Upon their arrival, Tametomo's legendary strength is showcased as he single-handedly subdues a massive man-eating boar that charges at him in the snow. Impressed by this feat, the local hunters (ryshi) extend an invitation to a celebratory feast, featuring the freshly slain boar's meat, and the customary exchange of sake cups. However, the sake served to Tametomo and Kiheiji contains a potent concoction that numbs their limbs, rendering them helpless. Before they can react, they find themselves bound and captured by their hosts, falling victim to a treacherous ambush.

Act II, scene 3: Higo no Kuni Kihara Sanch Sansai
At a Moutain Fortress in the Moutains of Kihara in the Province of Higo

In the heart of the Kihara mountains in the province of Higo, Princess Shiranui, the formidable mistress of a moutain fortress (sansai), quietly marshals courageous soldiers, anticipating the moment when Tametomo will summon his forces. Butta, ensnared by a deceitful hunter named Koshiya Genta, now stands before Princess Shiranui, undergoing scrutiny to determine his worthiness to join Tametomo's ranks. As Princess Shiranui conducts her assessment, she unveils Butta's treachery-a betrayal that led to Tametomo's exile to shima. With steely resolve, Princess Shiranui commands her attendants to administer a fatal punishment upon Butta, all while she serenades the air with Tametomo's cherished melody on her koto. His life extinguished, Butta's remains are consigned to the wilderness, destined to be devoured by the ravenous wolves that roam the land.

Tametomo and Kiheiji are ushered into the presence of Princess Shiranui. Recognizing the familiar strains of koto music, a nightly ritual from his days in Dazaifu, Tametomo speculates that Princess Shiranui dwells within this very fortress. His conjecture proves true as Princess Shiranui emerges before him. Joyous disbelief fills both Tametomo and Princess Shiranui as they unexpectedly reunite, and in her elation, Princess Shiranui orders the removal of Tametomo's bindings, setting him free.

Tametomo attentively listens to Princess Shiranui's plan for his resurgence, empathizing with the trials she endured to gather valiant warriors for him. His heart swells with happiness upon seeing his son Sutemaru safe and healthy. Gratitude fills him as he acknowledges Emperor Sutoku's kindness in reuniting him with Takama and his wife, who now care for Sutemaru.

Amidst the celebration of their reunion, Tametomo raises a toast with the emperor's sake cup, a cherished memento retrieved from Emperor Sutoku's mausoleum, shared with Princess Shiranui, his son Sutemaru, and the Takamas. As per Takama's account, Princess Shiranui has garnered over a hundred allies, among them Koshiya, who once served Tametomo in Dazaifu, along with numerous mounted soldiers from Kysh. With Tametomo now in Higo, the moment for his resurgence with Dazaifu as his stronghold draws near. Tametomo envisages making meticulous preparations for war, constructing warships, and orchestrating assaults on the capital city of Kyto.

Summer has arrived, and with it, the ranks of allies have swelled to several hundred strong. Under Tametomo's leadership, they stand poised to rival over a million mounted soldiers in strength. Securing two sizable ships crafted by Urato of Minamata, Tametomo is primed for action. Preparations progress seamlessly under the guidance of Koshiya and his loyal followers. The moment for Tametomo's resurgence is at hand, ripe and ready.

Act II, scene 4: Satsunan Kaij
On the Sea near Satsunan Islands

Having rallied troops with the aim of crushing the Heike forces, Tametomo, fueled by visions of avenging Emperor Sutoku's vendetta against the Heike Clan by slaying Kiyomori, sets sail for the capital of Kyto. The sea surface is adorned with myriad jellyfish, while flocks of flying fish fill the sky-a harbinger of an impending storm. As the command to swiftly lower the sails echoes across the ships to evade the tempest, a fierce gale descends, accompanied by torrential rain. Buffeted by tumultuous waves, the vessels carrying Isohagi, Takama, and Sutemaru succumb to the depths of the sea.

In a desperate bid to rescue them, Kiheiji plunges into the unforgiving waters. The anguish felt by Princess Shiranui, who eagerly anticipated witnessing her son's inaugural battle, is indescribably profound. Tametomo laments his own misfortune juxtaposed with Kiyomori's seemingly unassailable luck.

Crushed by the grief of losing her son, Princess Shiranui resolves to offer herself as a sacrifice to appease the sea god, drawing inspiration from the legendary tale of Princess Ototachibana's self-sacrifice to save Yamato Takeru. Despite Tametomo's attempts to intervene, Princess Shiranui's determination remains unyielding, and she plunges into the sea clutching the emperor's sake cup, beseeching for safe passage. In that moment, a black butterfly emerges from the depths, engulfed by the raging storm.

As Princess Shiranui embraces the sea, the spirit of the departed emperor empathizes with her plight, and the tempest begins to abate. Guided by a sacred oracle proclaiming, "Good fortune shall accompany your descendants," Tametomo finds solace in the belief that Sutemaru yet lives.

Where has the ship, originally bound for the east, been carried by the currents? Tametomo's fervent wish has been granted-Sutemaru has been rescued by Kiheiji, a skilled swimmer, and now bobs amidst the undulating waves, clinging to a sizable wooden plank, salvaged from the wreckage, serving as makeshift flotation.

Meanwhile, the Takamas, cast ashore onto a rugged boulder, narrowly evade a fatal fate. However, upon spotting the young heir and Princess Shiranui leaping into the sea, they follow suit without hesitation. Strange fish soar overhead, launching assaults on Sutemaru and Kiheiji. Yet, as the black butterfly, Princess Shiranui's ethereal form, flutters into view, a miraculous calm descends upon the agitated creatures.

Act III, scene 1: Ryky-koku Kitadani Saij
At a Ritual Site in Kitadani in Ryky

In Ryky, the malevolent daijin Riy plots to seize the throne by installing a young prince as a puppet ruler. Riy orchestrates the assassination of King Shnei and Queen Chfugimi, shamelessly attributing their deaths to a divine curse. Blinded by his own treachery, Riy scapegoats Princess Neiwannyo and her loyal attendant Tshju, accusing them of plotting to overthrow the kingdom.

Determined to eliminate Neiwannyo and Tshju, whom he views as impediments to his ambitions, Riy plans to offer them as sacrifices during the Shint purification ritual. However, Tshju reveals the truth-that the young prince is merely a fabricated heir, a pawn in Riy's deceitful scheme.

To pacify the wrath of Kinmanmon, the guardian deity of Ryky, the young prince, under the insistent guidance of Kumagimi, his nurse, administers punishment to his sister Neiwannyo. Unimpressed by the lenient reprimand, Riy endeavors to eliminate Neiwannyo and her devoted attendant Tshju. In a decisive moment, an arrow pierces Riy, ending his life. The arrow's origin: Chinzei Hachir Tametomo, who emerges alongside two boys, Tsuru and Kame, sons of the late royal retainer Mkokutei, staunch allies of Ryky's royal family. Tametomo corners the malevolent forces, driving them to desperation. Meanwhile, Kumagimi flees with the young prince in tow.

Expressing gratitude, Tshju acknowledges Tametomo's legendary archery skills. Nonetheless, Tametomo laments his tardiness in rescuing Neiwannyo from harm's way. In a poignant moment, a black butterfly emerges from the lifeless form of Princess Neiwannyo. It is a manifestation of Princess Shiranui's spirit, which had inhabited her body. Princess Shiranui's ethereal presence reveals that Sutemaru and Kiheiji have recently arrived in Ryky. Tsuru and Kame step forward, offering their loyalty to Neiwannyo and vowing to avenge their parents' deaths while repaying the kingdom's kindness. Inspired by their resolve, Tametomo joins in their pledge to rid the land of the malevolent influence of Kumagimi.

Act III, scene 2: Kitadani Meotoyado
At the Married Couples Inn in Kitadani

Following Tametomo's arrival in Ryky, intent on restoring order and supporting Neiwannyo, who was believed to have been assassinated, Kumagimi finds herself thwarted in her bid for control over the kingdom. Subsequently, Kumagimi adopts a more modest lifestyle, operating a meoto yado, an inn exclusively for married couples, and residing humbly with the young prince.

Armed with this knowledge, Tsuru and Kame, driven by their enmity towards Kumagimi, devise a plan to gain lodging at the inn by posing as a married couple. Upon being shown to their room, Kumagimi begins honing a sword with the intent to sacrifice them to Kinmanmon, the guardian deity of Ryky. Seizing an opportunity, Tsuru pays an unexpected visit to Kumagimi, requesting a cup of tea. While Kumagimi is occupied in the kitchen, Tsuru and Kame inspect the sword and recognize it as their mother's guardian sword.

Their father has been slain by Riy six years prior, prompting their mother, pregnant with the brothers at the time, to flee the royal mansion. Tragically, their mother met her demise on the banks of the Fuz River, her belly cruelly slit open by an unknown assailant who stole away the unborn child. Convinced that Kumagimi is the same woman their mother encountered by the river, the brothers express gratitude to Buddha for guiding them to their enemy's whereabouts.

Abruptly, Tametomo and Neiwannyo rush to the brothers' aid, posing as a married couple. However, Kumagimi swiftly strikes, fatally injuring the young prince. The piercing cry of the child summons Tametomo to the scene with haste. In a fervent bid for vengeance, Tsuru and Kame also confront Kumagimi. As the brothers wield their swords against her, Kumagimi begins to recount her sad tale.

Kumagimi ventured to the province of Yamato as a young woman, immersing herself in the esoteric teachings of Shint at a sacred shrine. During the shrine festival, she engaged in a passionate liaison with a rugged suitor, exchanging a dagger for a picture of Ryky without disclosing their identities. Upon returning to Ryky, Kumagimi bore a daughter, whom she relinquished along with the dagger, as she served as a medium in service to the gods and could not take care of her daughter. This child grew up to be the mother of Tsuru and Kame, the brothers whom Kumagimi now recognizes as her grandchildren. Recalling the dagger associated with the abandoned infant she has discovered on the banks of the Fuz River, Kumagimi realizes the familial connection.

Driven by the ambition to elevate her grandchild to the throne of Ryky, Kumagimi operated an inn for married couples following Riy's demise. However, she resorted to heinous acts, murdering inn guests and plundering their belongings to amass funds for raising an army. Kumagimi has since learned that Tsuru and Kame are her grandchildren. Motivated by remorse for her misdeeds, she orchestrates her own demise at their hands, seeking absolution for her sins.

Outside, Kiheiji, fortunate to arrive just in time, eavesdrops on Kumagimi's revelation. Having absorbed her tale, he enters and is overcome with joy at reuniting with Tametomo. However, what Kiheiji reveals next shocks Tametomo profoundly. Kiheiji discloses that he himself was the man who had a clandestine affair with Kumagimi during the shrine festival. Moreover, the picture he produces from his pocket is the very one Kumagimi had exchanged with him on that fateful eve. Confronted with the weight of her past, Kumagimi implores Kiheiji to end her life. The husband and grandchildren, despite their reunion with Kumagimi in her moment of clarity, feel a profound sadness at the prospect of parting ways with her once again.

Tametomo gently urges Kumagimi to embark on her journey to the other realm alongside her grandson, serenading her with a tender lullaby. As he sings softly, Kumagimi's voice grows faint, gradually fading as she departs for the next world, watched over by her loved ones who bid her a solemn farewell.

Act III, scene 3: Unten Kaihin Yomiya
The Festival-Eve Vigil on a Seashore in Unten

After the thwarted coup attempt by Riy and his cohorts, Ryky faces further turmoil with the rise of Mun, a formidable monk seeking to seize control. Despite a prolonged period of conflict, peace is eventually restored to Ryky thanks to Tametomo's decisive victory over Mun. It has now been seven years since Tametomo arrived in Ryky.

Impressed by his exemplary character and the peace he has restored, the people of Ryky urge Tametomo to ascend to the throne as their king. However, Tametomo humbly declines this offer. Instead, he bestows the title of king upon his son Sutemaru, who is henceforth known as King Shunten.

Today is the 25th day of the 8th lunar month [1], with tomorrow marking Emperor Sutoku's death anniversary. In honor of the occasion, Tametomo resolves to host a festival on the eve of the emperor's passing, to be held on Unten Beach at the northern edge of Ryky. The shoreline, framed by towering banyan trees and offering a view of the crescent moon, teems with people eager to partake in the festivities. King Shunten, Neiwannyo, Tshju, Tsuru, Kame, and Kiheiji are all resplendent in formal attire, while Tametomo stands sentinel in armor. Despite their respective roles as king and servant, King Shunten extends the highest seat to his father, paying him due reverence as the festival commences.

As the Shint ritual commences, Tametomo reflects on the recent annihilation of the Heike Clan earlier in the year. He still harbors a desire to end his life at Emperor Sutoku's mausoleum. Perhaps his wish is granted, as a white horse emerges from the waves. With skillful command, Tametomo reins in the horse, discovering the emperor's sake cup clasped in its mouth. Speculating that the horse originates from Shiromine in Sanuki, Tametomo interprets the appearance of a white crane as a herald of his imminent departure.

Turning to Neiwannyo, the vessel of Princess Shiranui's soul, Tametomo entrusts her with the care and love of King Shunten as her own child. Appointing Kiheiji as a general and delegating future responsibilities to Tshju, Tsuru, and Kame, Tametomo mounts the white horse and ascends into the sky, leaving behind a poignant message:

"When you glimpse the crescent moon high above in the summer sky, remember it as a remnant of Tametomo."

Notes

[1] Emperor Sutoku died the 26th day of the 8th lunar month of the 2nd year of the Chkan era, which was the 14th of September 1164 in the western calendar.

The poster of the revival of "Chinsetsu Yumihari-zuki", which was staged in November 1987 at the National Theatre

 
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