INVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts KabukiINVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts Kabuki

PlaysLeading Plays

Momijigari(Viewing the Autumn Leaves)

Dances

Summary

The Noh play of the same name was reworked into this Kabuki version, which is a dance-based sequence presented with three types of musical accompaniment (takemoto, nagauta and tokiwazu). In the story, Taira no Koremochi, visiting Mount Togakushi to enjoy the maple trees and other autumn colors, battles a she-demon from the mountain.

At a viewing party in Mount Togakushi that he organizes, Koremochi encounters what he first believes is a beautiful princess named Sarashinahime. He drinks the sake she offers and becomes very drunk. We later learn that Sarashinahime is a demon. She attacks Koremochi, but he eventually overcomes her using the legendary sword “Kogarasumaru”.

A major highlight is that one actor dances as two distinct characters. In the first half, he dances as a princess characters called “Akahime” (a typical-looking princess due to her red costume). In the second half, she changes into a she-demon and fights violently against Koremochi.

Highlight

November 1990
National Theatre, Large Theatre
“Momijigari”
Sarashinahime: Nakamura Jakuemon IV

The highlight of a dance Sarashinahime performs is her use of two fans. The common name is 'Nimaiogi'. The actor Danjuro IX struggled to perfect this choreography, performing it for the first time. Its movements are bolder than usual for the dance of a princess. Immediately after this scene, Sarashinahime reveals her true character as a demon and she spies on the drunk and sleeping Koremochi.