Keene translation: Tyler, Royall

About the electronic version
Keene translation: Tyler, Royall
Creation of machine-readable version: Charlotte Robertson and Winnie Chan
Creation of digital images:
Conversion to TEI.2-conformant markup: University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
University of Virginia Library.
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   Japanese Text Initiative

Note: Note: (ETC) The text has been given an id of KeeMats because this edition is commonly referred to as the Keene translation.
About the print version
Twenty Plays of the No Theatre
Royall Tyler

   1st Edition

Columbia University Press
New York

   Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies, number LXXXV

   Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.

Published: 1970

Revisions to the electronic version
August 1997 corrector Catherine Tousignant, Electronic Text Center
  • Added milestones to correspond with TylMats.

  • February 1997 corrector Winnie Chan
  • Added TEI header and tags.

  • Commercial use prohibited; all usage governed by our Conditions of Use:

    Page 18


        Matsukaze is a play of the third category. The original text was by Kan'ami, but it was considerably reworked by Zeami. In its present form it is a masterpiece, and its popularity has never faltered.

        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
    By the shore where the white waves break
    Are fishermen's sons, and we have
    No home we can call our own."

        Yukihira was moved to tears.

        Most of Matsukaze, however, appears to have been the invention

    Page 19

    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.

        Suma, the scene of Matsukaze, now lies within the city limits of Kobe. The play is performed by all schools of No.

    Page 20


    A VILLAGER (kyogen):
    MATSUKAZE (shite):
    MURASAME (tsure):







    Page 21


    [ 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. ]
    I have hurried, and here I am already at the Bay of Suma in Settsu Province. [ His attention is caught by pine tree. ]
    How strange! That pine on the beach has a curious look. There must be a story connected with it. I'll ask someone in the neighborhood. [ He faces the bridgeway. ]
    Do you live in Suma?

    [ The Villager comes down the bridgeway to the first pine. He wears a short sword. ]


        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 tree. ]


        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

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    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.

    [He 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.
    Murasame enters and comes down the bridgeway as far as the first pine. She wears the tsure mask. Matsukaze follows her and stops at the third pine. She wears the wakaonna mask. Each carries a water pail. They face each other.

    Matsukaze and Murasame

    A brine cart wheeled along the beach
    Provides a meager livelihood:
    The sad world rolls
    Life by quickly and in misery!


    Here at Suma Bay
    The waves shatter at our feet,
    And even the moonlight wets our sleeves
    With its tears of loneliness.

    [ Murasame goes to stage center while Matsukaze moves to the shite-position. ]


    The autumn winds are sad.
    When the Middle Counselor Yukihira
    Lived here back a little from the sea,
    They inspired his poem,
    "Salt winds blowing from the mountain pass. . . ."
    On the beach, night after night,
    Waves thunder at our door;

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    And on our long walks to the village
    We've no companion but the moon. 2
    Our toil, like all of life, is dreary,
    But none could be more bleak than ours.
    A skiff cannot cross the sea,
    Nor we this dream world.
    Do we exist, even?
    Like foam on the salt sea,
    We draw a cart,
    friendless and alone,
    Poor fisher girls whose sleeves are wet
    With endless spray, and tears
    From our hearts' unanswered longing.


    Our life is so hard to bear
    That we envy the pure moon
    Now rising with the tide.
    But come, let us dip brine,
    Dip brine from the rising tide!
    Our reflections seem to shame us!

    [ They look down as if catching a glimpse of their refiections in the water. The movement of their heads "clouds" the expression on their masks, making it seem sad. ]

    Yes, they shame us!
    Here, where we shrink from men's eyes,
    Drawing our timorous cart;
    The withdrawing tide
    Leaves stranded pools behind.
    How long do they remain?
    If we were the dew on grassy fields,
    We would vanish with the sun.
    But we are sea tangle,
    Washed up on the shore,
    Raked into heaps by the fishermen,
    Fated to be discarded, useless,
    Withered and rotting,
    Like our trailing sleeves,
    Like our trailing sleeves

    [ They look down again. ]

    Endlessly familiar, still how lovely
    The twilight at Suma!

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    The fishermen call out in muffled voices;
    At sea, the small boats loom dimly.
    Across the faintly glowing face of the moon
    Flights of wild geese streak,
    And plovers flock below along the shore.
    Fall gales and stiff sea winds:
    These are things, in such a place,
    That truly belong to autumn.
    But oh, the terrible, lonely nights!

    [ They hide their faces. ]


    Come, dip the brine


    Where the seas flood and fall.
    Let us tie our sleeves back to our shoulders


    Think only, "Dip the brine."


    We ready ourselves for the task,


    But for women, this cart is too hard.


    While the rough breakers surge and fall,

    [ Murasame moves upstage to stand beside Matsukaze. ]

    While the rough breakers surge and fall,
    And cranes among the reeds
    Fly up with sharp cries.
    The four winds add their wailing.
    How shall we pass the cold night?

    [ They look up. ]

    The late moon is so brilliant --
    What we dip is its reflection!
    Smoke from the salt fires
    May cloud the moon—take care!
    Are we always to spend only
    The sad autumns of fishermen?
    At Ojima in Matsushima

    [ Matsukaze halfkneels by the brine cart and mimes dipping with her fan. ]

    The fisherfolk, like us,
    Delight less in the moon
    Than in the dipping of its reflection;
    There they take delight in dipping
    Reflections of the moon.

    [ Matsukaze returns to the shite-position. ]

    Page 25

    We haul our brine from afar,
    As in far-famed Michinoku
    And at the salt kilns of Chika --
    Chika, whose name means "close by."


    Humble folk hauled wood for salt fires
    At the ebb tide on Akogi Shore;


    On Ise Bay there's Twice-See Beach --
    Oh, could I live my life again!

    [ Matsukaze looks off into the distance. ]


    On days when pine groves stand hazy,
    And the sea lanes draw back
    From the coast at Narumi
    10 --


    You speak of Narumi; this is Naruo,
    Where pines cut off the moonlight
    From the reed-thatched roofs of Ashinoya.


    Who is to tell of our unhappiness
    Dipping brine at Nada?
    With boxwood combs set in our hair13
    From rushing seas we draw the brine,
    Oh look! I have the moon in my pail!

    [ 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. ]


    The moon above is one;
    Below it has two, no, three reflections

    [ She looks into both pails. ]

    Which shine in the flood tide tonight,

    [ She pulls the cart to a spot before the musicians. ]

    And on our cart we load the moon!
    No, life is not all misery
    Here by the sea lanes.

    [ 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. ]

    Page 26


        The owner of the salt shed has returned. I shall ask for a night's lodging. [ to Matsukaze and Murasame ]
    I beg your pardon. Might I come inside?


        [ standing and coming forward a little. ]
    Who might you be?


        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 Matsukaze. ]
    A traveler outside asks to come in and spend the night.


        That is little enough but our hut is so wretched we cannot ask him in. Please tell him so.


        [ standing, to the Priest. ]
    I have spoken to the owner. She says the house is too wretched to put anyone up.


        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. ]

    I see in the moonlight
    One who has renounced the world.
    He will not mind a fisherman's hut,
    With its rough pine pillars and bamboo fence;
    I believe it is very cold tonight,
    So let him come in and warm himself
    At our sad fire of rushes.
    You may tell him that.


        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

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    here at Suma, in the quiet solitude. Yukihira wrote,

    "If ever anyone
    Chances to ask for me,
    Say I live alone,
    Soaked by the dripping seaweed
    On the shore of Suma Bay."

    [ He looks at the pine tree. ]

       A 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. ]
    This is strange! They seem distressed at the mention of Matsukaze and Murasame. Why?

    Matsukaze and Murasame

    Truly, when a grief is hidden,
    Still, signs of it will show.
    His poem, "If ever anyone
    Chances to ask for me,"
    Filled us with memories which are far too fond.
    Tears of attachment to the world
    Wet our sleeves once again.


        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

    We would tell you our names,
    But we are too ashamed!
    No one, ever,
    Has chanced to ask for us,
    Long dead as we are,
    And so steeped in longing
    For the world by Suma Bay
    That pain has taught us nothing.
    Ah, the sting of regret!
    But having said this,
    Why should we hide our names any longer?
    At twilight you said a prayer
    By a mossy grave under the pine
    For two fisher girls,

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    Matsukaze and Murasame.
    We are their ghosts, come to you.
    When Yukihira was here he whiled away
    Three years of weary exile
    Aboard his pleasure boat,
    His heart refreshed
    By the moon of Suma Bay.
    There were, among the fisher girls
    Who hauled brine each evening,
    Two sisters whom he chose for his favors.
    "Names to fit the season!"
    He said, calling us
    Pine Wind and Autumn Rain.
    We had been Suma fisher girls,
    Accustomed to the moon,
    But he changed our salt makers' clothing
    To damask robes,
    Burnt with the scent of faint perfumes.


    Then, three years later,
    Yukihira Returned to the Capital.


    Soon, we heard he had died, oh so young!


    How we both loved him!
    Now the message we pined for
    Would never, never come.


    Pine Wind and Autumn Rain
    Both drenched their sleeves with the tears
    Of hopeless love beyond their station,
    Fisher girls of Suma.
    Our sin is deep, o priest.
    Pray for us, we beg of you!

    [ They press their palms together in supplication. ]

    Our love grew rank as wild grasses;
    Tears and love ran wild.
    It was madness that touched us.
    Despite spring purification,
    Performed in our old robes,
    Despite prayers inscribed on paper streamers
    12The gods refused us their help.
    We were left to melt away

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    Like foam on the waves,
    And, in misery, we died.

    [ Matsukaze looks down, shading her mask. ]

    Alas! How the past evokes our longing!
    Yukihira, the Middle Counselor,

    [ The stage assistant puts a man's cloak and court hat in Matsukaze's left hand. ]

    Lived three years here by Suma Bay.
    Before he returned to the Capital,
    He left us these keepsakes of his stay:
    A court hat and a hunting cloak.
    Each time we see them,

    [ She looks at the cloak. ]

    Our love grows again,
    And gathers like dew
    On the tip of a leaf
    So that there's no forgetting,
    Not for an instant.
    Oh endless misery!

    [ She places the cloak in her lap. ]

    "This keepsake
    Is my enemy now;
    For without it

    [ She lifts the cloak. ]

    I might forget."

    [ She stares at the cloak. ]

    The poem says that
    And it's true:
    My anguish only deepens.

    [ She weeps. ]


    Each night before I go to sleep,
    I take off the hunting cloak


    And hang it up. . ."

    [ The keepsakes in her hand, she stands and, as in a trance, takes a few steps toward the gazing-pillar. ]

    I hung all my hopes
    On living in the same work with him,
    But being here makes no sense at all
    And these keepsakes are nothing.

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    [ She starts to drop the cloak, only to cradle it in her arms and press it to her. ]

    I drop it, but I cannot let it lie;
    So I take it up again
    To see his face before me yet once more.

    [ She turns to her right and goes toward the naming-place, then stares down the bridgeway as though something were coming after her. ]

    "Awake or asleep,
    From my pillow, from the foot of my bed,
    Love rushes in upon me."
    Helplessly I sink down,
    Weeping in agony.

    [ 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 hat. ]


    The River of Three Fords
    Has gloomy shallows
    Of never-ending tears;
    I found, even there,
    An abyss of wildest love.
    Oh joy! Look! Over there!
    Yukihira has returned!

    [ She rises, staring at the pine tree. ]

    He calls me by my name, Pine Wind!
    I am coming!

    [ She goes to the tree. Murasarne hurriedly rises and follows. She catches Matsukaze's sleeve. ]


    For shame! For such thoughts as these
    You are lost in the sin of passion.
    All the delusions that held you in life --
    None forgotten!

    [ Both step back from the tree. ]

    That is a pine tree.
    And Yukihira is not here.


    You are talking nonsense!

    [ She looks at the pine tree. ]

    This pine is Yukihira!
    "Though we may part for a time,

    Page 31

    If I hear you are pining for me,
    I'll hurry back."
    Have you forgotten those words he wrote?


    Yes, I had forgotten!
    He said, "Though we may part for a time,
    If you pine, I will return to you."


    I have not forgotten.
    And I wait for the pine wind
    To whisper word of his coming.


    If that word should ever come,
    My sleeves for a while
    Would be wet with autumn rain.


    So we await him. He will come,
    Constant ever, green as a pine.


    Yes, we can trust


    his poem:


    "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 dances. ]


    Into the mountains of Inaba,
    Covered with pines,
    But if I hear you pine,
    I shall come back at once."
    Those are the mountain pines
    Of distant Inaba,

    [ She looks up the bridgeway. ]

    And these are the pines
    On the curving Suma shore.
    Here our dear prince once lived.
    If Yukihira comes again,
    I shall go stand under the tree

    [ She approaches the tree. ]

    Bent by the sea-wind,
    And, tenderly, tell him

    [ She stands next to the tree. ]

    I love him still

    [ She steps back a little and weeps. Then she circles the tree, her dancing suggesting madness. ]

    Page 32


    Madly the gale howls through the pines,
    And breakers crash in Suma Bay;
    Through the frenzied night
    We have come to you
    In a dream of deluded passion.
    Pray for usl Pray for our rest!

    [ At stage center, Matsukaze presses her palms together in supplication. ]

    Now we take our leave.
    The retreating waves
    Hiss far away, and a wind sweeps down
    From the mountain to Suma Bay.
    The cocks are crowing on the barrier road.
    Your dream is over. Day has come.
    Last night you heard the autumn rain;
    This morning all that is left
    Is the wind in the pines,
    The wind in the pines.

    Page 33


    1. From the poem by Yukihira, no. 876 in the Shinkokinshu: "The sleeves of the traveler have turned cold; the wind from Suma Bay blows through the pass."

    2. A modified quotation from the poem by Hokyo Chumei, no. 187 in the Kin'yoshu: "Pillow of grass -- as I sleep on my journey I realize I have no companion but the moon."

    3. The words "salt sea," which can also be translated "brine," lead to mention of the brine cart even though the cart does not logically belong in the context.

    4. From the poem by Fujiwara Takamitsu, no. 435 in the Shuishu: "In this world which seems difficult to pass through, how I envy the pure moon!"

    5. The following description is generally inspired by the "Exile at Suma" chapter of The Tale of Genji.

    6. Ojima is one of the islands at Matsushima, a place renowned for its scenic beauty. Both names are conventionally associated in poetry with ama, fisherwomen.

    7. The following passage is a tsukushi, or "exhaustive enumeration," of place-names associated with the sea, including allusions and plays on words. This passage was apparently borrowed from an older work, a play called Toei that was set by Ashinoya Bay. Michinoku is a general name for the northern end of the island of Honshu. Chika was another name for Shiogama ("Salt Kiln"), and sounds like the word meaning "near."

    8. Akogi is the name of a stretch of shore on Ise Bay. The pulling in of the nets and the hauling of the wood for the salt kilns at Akogi were frequently mentioned in poetry.

    9. Futami-ga-ura (Twice-See Beach) is a word evocative of Ise and often used in poetry for the meaning of its name.

    10. Narumi was often mentioned in poetry because of its dry flats that appeared at low tide.

    11. Ashinoya (modern Ashiya) and Naruo are two places near Suma. Ashinoya means literally "reed house."

    12. Derived from the poem in the 87th episode of the Ise Monogatari: "At Nada by Ashinoya, I have no respite from boiling brine for salt; I have come without even putting a boxwood comb in my hair."

    13. The line recalls the poem quoted in note 12, but it is used because
    Page 34

    of the pivot-word tsuge no, "of boxwood," and tsuge, "to inform." Similarly, kushi sashi, "Setting a comb (in the hair)," leads into sashi-kuru nami, "in-rushing waves."

    14. Poem no. 962 in the Kokinshu.

    15. Derived from a poem by Fujiwara Tameuji, no. 361 in the Shingo-senshu: "The fishermen of Suma are accustomed to the moon, spending the autumn in clothes wet with waves blown by the salt wind."

    16. Literally, "purification on the day of the serpent." The ceremony was performed on the first day of the serpent in the third month. Genji had the ceremony performed while he was at Suma. The streamers were conventional Shinto offerings.

    17. A slightly modified quotation of the anonymous poem, no. 746 in the Kokinshu. It is also quoted in Lady Han.

    18. The first part of a poem by Ki no Tomomori, no. 593 in the Kokinshu. The last two lines run: "When I wear it there is no instant when I do not long for him."

    19. The first part of an anonymous poem, no. 1023 in the Kokinshu. The last part runs: "Helpless, I stay in the middle of the bed."

    20. The river of the afterworld.

    21. A paraphrase of the poem by Yukihira, no. 365 in the Kokinshu. Another paraphrase is given in the following speech by Murasame, and the poem is given in its correct form below. In Japanese matsu means both "pine tree" and "to wait.'

    22. The poem by Yukihira mentioned in note 21.