Matsukaze by Kan'ami, reworked by Zeami.
The word matsukaze (wind in the pines) evokes for Japanese a feeling of exquisite solitude and melancholy. Suma Bay, the scene of the play, has similar associations, for it was the place where Genji was exiled. The account of Genji's exile, recounted in the "Exile at Suma" chapter of The Tale of Genji, was apparently inspired by the exile of Ariwara no Yukihira (818-893), a famous poet, courtier, and scholar. Yukihira's poem on his exile, found in the Kokinshu, is quoted in the play. Another source for the play is a story told in the Senshusho, a thirteenth-century collection of tales: One day, when Yukihira was walking along a beach near Suma he met some men spearing fish. He asked where they lived, and they replied,
"We who spend our lives
Yukihira was moved to tears.
Most of Matsukaze, however, appears to have been the invention of the playwright. It gives an impression of youthful vigor, but is constructed with care. Matsukaze's "mad scene" is made almost inevitable, and the lack of surprise only heightens the dramatic power. Only at the conclusion of the play does the reader (or, even more so, the spectator) realize how completely he has been gripped by the lyrical and dramatic tension, when he is released from the dream by one of the most effective wordplays in literature: Matsukaze and her sister Murasame (Autumn Rain) withdraw, and suddenly the chorus restores their names to their original meanings. The ghosts dissolve back into nature, leaving us alone, listening only to the wind in the pines. No more beautiful awakening could be imagined.
The play's imagery is built around the sea (salt, brine, the tide, waves, the sea wind), the moon, and pine trees. These, with the mountains looming in the background, compose an archetypal Japanese landscape. The moon, moreover, is a symbol of Buddhist enlightenment. Although it shines alone in the sky, it is reflected in many waters, just as the unified Buddha-nature is manifested in seemingly distinct beings.
AN ITINERANT PRIEST (waki):
A VILLAGER (kyogen):
SUMA BAY IN SETTSU PROVINCE
AUTUMN, THE NINTH MONTH
[ The stage assistant
places a stand with a pine sapling set into it at the
front of the stage. The
Priest enters and stands at the naming-place. He
carries a rosary. ]
I am a priest who travels from province to province.
Lately I have been in the
Capital. I visited the famous sites and ancient ruins,
not missing a one. Now I
intend to make a pilgrimage to the western provinces. [
He faces forward. ]
The Villager comes down the bridgeway to the first
pine. He wears a short
Perhaps I am from Suma; but first tell me what you want.
I am a priest and I travel through the provinces. Here on the beach I see a solitary pine tree with a wooden tablet fixed to it, and a poem slip hanging from the tablet. Is there a story connected with the tree? Please tell me what you know.
The pine is linked with the memory of two fisher girls, Matsukaze and Murasame. Please say a prayer for them as you pass.
Thank you. I know nothing about them, but I will stop at the tree and say a prayer for them before I move on.
If I can be of further service, don't hesitate to ask.
Thank you for your kindness.
At your command, sir.
The Villager exits. The Priest goes to stage center
and turns toward the pine
So, this pine tree is linked with the memory of two fisher girls, Matsukaze and Murasame. It is sad! Though their bodies are buried in the ground, their names linger on. This lonely pine tree lingers on also, ever green and untouched by autumn, their only memorial. Ah! While I have been chanting sutras and invoking Amida Buddha for their repose, the sun, as always on autumn days, has quickly set. That village at the foot of the mountain is a long way. Perhaps I can spend the night in this fisherman's salt shed.
kneels at the waki-position. The stage assistant
brings out the prop, a cart
for carrying pails of brine, and sets it by the
gazing-pillar. He places a pail
on the cart.
brine cart wheeled along the beach
at Suma Bay
Murasame goes to stage center while Matsukaze moves to
the shite-position. ]
autumn winds are sad.
on our long walks to the village
life is so hard to bear
fishermen call out in muffled voices;
They hide their faces. ]
Come, dip the brine
the seas flood and fall.
Think only, "Dip the brine."
We ready ourselves for the task,
But for women, this cart is too hard.
the rough breakers surge and fall,
haul our brine from afar,
folk hauled wood for salt fires
Ise Bay there's Twice-See Beach --
Matsukaze looks off into the distance. ]
days when pine groves stand hazy,
speak of Narumi; this is Naruo,
Murasame kneels before the brine cart and places her
pail on it. Matsukaze,
still standing, looks into her pail. ]
In my pail too I hold the moon!
How lovely! A moon here too!
Murasame picks up the rope tied to the cart and gives
it to Matsukaze, then
moves to the shite-position. Matsukaze looks up. ]
moon above is one;
[ She drops the rope. The stage assistant removes the cart. Matsukaze sits on a low stool and Murasame kneels beside her, a sign that the two women are resting inside their hut. The Priest rises. ]
The owner of the salt shed has returned. I shall ask for
a night's lodging. [
to Matsukaze and Murasame ]
[ standing and coming forward a little. ]
A traveler, overtaken by night on my journey. I should like to ask lodging for the night.
Wait here. I must ask the owner. [ She kneels before
That is little enough but our hut is so wretched we cannot ask him in. Please tell him so.
[ standing, to the Priest. ]
I understand those feelings perfectly, but poverty makes no difference at all to me. I am only a priest. Please say I beg her to let me spend the night.
No, we really cannot put you up.
to Murasame. ]
Please come in.
Thank you very much. Forgive me for intruding.
He takes a few steps forward and kneels. Murasame goes
back beside Matsukaze. ]
I wished from the beginning to invite you in, but this place is so poor I felt I must refuse.
You are very kind. I am a priest and a traveler, and never stay anywhere very long. Why prefer one lodging to another? In any case, what sensitive person would not prefer to live
here at Suma, in the quiet solitude. Yukihira wrote,
while ago I asked someone the meaning of that solitary
pine on the beach. I was
told it grows there in memory of two fisher girls,
Matsukaze and Murasame.
There is no connection between them and me, but I went
to the pine anyway and said
a prayer for them. [ Matsukaze and Murasame weep. The
Priest stares at them.
Matsukaze and Murasame
when a grief is hidden,
Tears of attachment to the world? You speak as though you are no longer of the world. Yukihira's poem overcame you with memories. More and more bewildering! Please, both of you, tell me who you are.
Matsukaze and Murasame
would tell you our names,
three years later,
Soon, we heard he had died, oh so young!
we both loved him!
Wind and Autumn Rain
foam on the waves,
night before I go to sleep,
hang it up. . ." 18
She starts to drop the cloak, only to cradle it in her
arms and press it to
She sits at the shite-position, weeping. The stage
assistant helps her take off
her outer robe and replace it with the cloak. He also
helps tie on the court
River of Three Fords 20
She goes to the tree. Murasarne hurriedly rises and
follows. She catches
Matsukaze's sleeve. ]
shame! For such thoughts as these
are talking nonsense!
I hear you are pining for me,
I had forgotten!
have not forgotten.
that word should ever come,
we await him. He will come,
Yes, we can trust
"I have gone away
Murasame, weeping, kneels before the flute player.
Matsukaze goes to the first
pine on the bridgeway, then returns to the stage and
the mountains of Inaba,
[ She steps back a little and weeps. Then she circles the tree, her dancing suggesting madness. ]
the gale howls through the pines,