Famous Plays

Famous Plays: NohTakasago(Takasago Bay)

Category: First Number of scenes:Two Location:Takasago Bay, Harima province (Present-day Takasago City, Hyogo Prefecture) / Sumiyoshi, Settsu province (Present-day Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture)
Source:Kokin Wakashu Season:Spring

SummaryAbout spirits of evergreen pine trees that pray for longevity and peace

A chief priest passing by Takasago Bay hears about the origin of the “Aioi no matsu” (paired pines) on Takasago and Sumiyoshi Bays from an old couple (mae-shite [main character of the first half] and tsure [supporting role of the shite]) who are sweeping under a pine tree. The couple describes the joy of happily ever after and living a long life. They then reveal that they are the spirits of the pine trees, invite the chief priest to Sumiyoshi, and disappear. Upon arriving in Sumiyoshi, the god of the Sumiyoshi Shrine (nochi-shite [main character of the second half]) appears in front of the chief priest and performs a dashing dance in celebration of a peaceful world.

With pine trees as the subject matter, this play has been considered the most auspicious and prestigious of the first category plays. It has also been known for a long time as a celebratory song sung at wedding parties, in the hope that the newly wed couple would enjoy the same good luck as the old couple in the play.

Watch videoGracefulness of an aging couple, and the youthful dance of a god

The couple calmly sweeps under the pine tree. The chief priest and others are moved hearing about the origin of the pine trees and the couple’s appreciation for them, and sail to Sumiyoshi singing, “Oh Takasago, spread the sail above this coastal skiff..” The god that had appeared dances dashingly under the moonlight.

Depicted location

Takasago Bay facing the Seto Inland Sea is a scenic spot known for its white sandy beach and a pine forest that stretches across it. It is home to the Takasago Shrine and the offspring of Aioi no matsu where this play is said to take place.
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Depicted season

The play is set in a beautiful evening under a setting sun, with the sound of a bell reverberating from the mountain top. It is an early spring scene, with the wind making the pine tree heard and the sound of the waves echoing.

Relevant culture

A happy old couple is also a model of the Takasago dolls that hold a broom and a rake as a symbol of longevity and happy marriage. Especially in western Japan, the dolls are given as a betrothal gift at the time of engagement.

April 12, 2014
National Noh Theatre
“Takasago (Takasago Bay),” Kongo School

Characters and Performers

Old man (mae-shite): Udaka Michishige
God of the Sumiyoshi Shrine (nochi-shite): Udaka Michishige
Old woman (tsure): Udaka Norishige
Tomonari, Shinto priest (waki): Fukuo Kazuyuki
Attendants (waki-tsure): Murase Dai
Attendants (waki-tsure): Murase Kei
Villager (ai): Nomura Manroku II
Koken (stage assistant): Hirota Yukitoshi, Hirota Yasuyoshi, Kumagai Shinichi
[Hayashi musicians]
Flute player: Isso Yukihiro
Shoulder drum player: Goto Kazuyuki
Hip drum player: Okura Shonosuke
Stick-drum player: Maekawa Mitsunori
[Jiutai chorus]
Rear row: Matsuno Yasunori, Sakamoto Tatsuro, Taneda Michikazu, Teshima Koji
Front row: Endo Katsumi, Mikoshi Fumio, Motoyoshi Masami, Kudo Kan