Famous Plays

Famous Plays: NohTadanori(The Warrior-Poet Tadanori)

Category: Second Number of scenes:Two Location:Suma Bay, Settsu province (Present-day Kobe City and Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture)
Source:The Tale of the Heike, Genpei Seisuiki Season:Spring

SummaryAbout the great passion a military commander displays as a poet

An old man (mae-shite) is making an offering to a cherry blossom tree on Suma Bay, and a traveling priest asks him if the priest can stay overnight with him. By quoting a waka poem, the old man answers that no accommodation surpasses staying in the shade of the cherry tree for the night. He asks the priest to perform a memorial ceremony for Taira no Tadanori, the warrior who composed this waka poem, and then disappears. In the evening, a ghost of Tadanori (nochi-shite) appears in the form of a warrior. He requests that the priest pass on a message to the judge who selected poems for an anthology, i.e., that Tadanori’s name be published as the composer of one of the poems chosen for the anthology. The ghost describes the last moments before he died in battle and disappears.

According to “The Tale of the Heike,” the following poem was written on a strip of paper that was carried by Tadanori who lost in battle: “Overtaken by darkness I will lodge under the boughs of a tree. Flowers alone host me tonight.” Drawing on this poem, this play depicts the great passion that a Heike warrior known for his bravery displayed as an outstanding poet.

Watch videoA battle scene between two roles played by the same shite

A ghost of Tadanori that appears in the form of a warrior describes life before his death. The shite plays the role of both Tadanori and the warrior on the opposing side in some scenes, for example, when Tadanori is defeated in battle or when the strip of paper with Tadanori’s poem is discovered.

Depicted location

Suma is a beautiful but lonely seaside area that is also depicted in “The Tale of Genji.” This is where the Heike clan suffered a major defeat due to a surprise attack launched by the Genji clan in the Battle of Ichinotani and where Taira no Tadanori is said to have been conquered.
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Depicted season

The setting is a tranquil spring beach where the waves are gentle and plovers are crying. Smoke from drawing seawater and burning salt disappears into the sky, and the cherry blossoms in bloom on the mountain are beginning to fall.

Relevant culture

In Japanese, there is a term which means “getting a ride for free” which is read “tadanori” but uses different kanji characters from the name “Tadanori.” For this reason, the official title of Tadanori, “Satsuma no kami,” was long used as a jargon to mean “zero-fare ride.” In the Kyogen play “Satsuma no Kami (The Lord of Satsuma),” a monk tries to get away with not paying the ferry fare by saying, “I am a noble of the Heike clan, Satsuma no kami Tadanori.

April 11, 2015
National Noh Theatre
“Tadanori (The Warrior-Poet Tadanori),” Konparu School

Characters and Performers

Old man (mae-shite): Takahashi Shinobu
Ghost of Taira no Tadanori (nochi-shite): Takahashi Shinobu
Traveling priest (waki): Norihisa Hideshi
Retainer priest (waki-tsure): Noguchi Yasuhiro
Retainer priest (waki-tsure): Tateda Yoshihiro
Villager (ai): Noguchi Takayuki
Koken (stage assistant): Takahashi Hiroshi, Honda Yoshiki
[Hayashi musicians]
Flute player: Akai Keizo
Shoulder drum player: Ko Masaaki
Hip drum player: Kakihara Hirokazu
[Jiutai chorus]
Rear row: Komparu Yasuaki, Tsujii Hachiro, Yoshiba Hiroaki, Yamai Tsunao
Front row: Honda Fuyuki, Inoue Yoshiaki, Komparu Norikazu, Goto Kazuya