Japanese Text Initiative
Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
PLOT. -- The ghost of Kumasaka makes reparation for his brigandage by protecting the country. He comes back to praise the bravery of the young man who had killed him in single combat.
Where shall I rest, wandering weary of the world? I am a city-bred priest, I have not
seen the east counties, and I've a mind to go there. Crossing the hills, I look on the lake of Omi, on the woods of Awatsu. Going over the long bridge at Seta, I rested a night at Noji, and another at Shinohara, and at the dawn I came to the green field, Awono in Miwo. I now pass Akasaka at sunset.
[ in the form of an old priest ]
I could tell that priest a thing or two.
Do you mean me? What is it?
A certain man died on this day. I ask you to pray for him.
All right; but whom shall I pray for?
I will not tell you his name, but his grave lies in the green field beyond that tall pine tree. He cannot enter the gates of Paradise, and so I ask you to pray.
But I do not think it is right for me to pray unless you tell me his name.
No, no; you can pray the prayer, Ho kai shujo biodo ri aku; that would do.
[ praying ]
Unto all mortals let there be equal grace, to pass from this life of agony by the gates of death into law; into the peaceful kingdom.
[ saying first a word or two ]
If you pray for him, --
[ continuing the sentence ]
-- If you pray with the prayer of "Exeat" he will be thankful, and you need not then know his name. They say that prayer can be heard for even the grass and the plants, for even the sand and the soil here; and they will surely hear it, if you pray for an unknown man.
Will you come in? This is my cottage.
This is your house? Very well, I will hold the service in your house; but I see no picture of Buddha nor any wooden image in this cottage -- nothing but a long spear on one wall and an iron stick in place of a priest's wand, and many arrows. What are these for?
[ thinking ]
Yes, this priest is still in the first stage of faith. [ Aloud. ]
As you see, there are many villages here: Tarui, Awohaka, and Akasaka. But the tall grass of Awo-no-gahara grows round the roads between them, and the forest is thick at Koyasu and Awohaka, and many robbers come out under the rains. They attack the baggage on horseback, and take the clothing of maids and servants who pass here. So I go out with his spear.
That's very fine, isn't it ?
You will think it very strange for a priest to do this, but even Buddha has the sharp sword of Mida, and Aizen Miowo has arrows, and Tamon, taking his long spear, throws down the evil spirits.
The deep love --
-- is excellent. Good feeling and keeping order are much more excellent than the love of Bosatsu. "I think of these matters and know little of anything else. It is from my own heart that I am lost, wandering. But if I begin talking I shall keep on talking until dawn. Go to bed, good father, I will sleep too."
He seemed to be going to his bedroom, but suddenly his figure disappeared, and the cottage became a field of grass. The priest passes the night under the pine trees.
[ He begins his service for the dead man. ]
I cannot sleep out the night. Perhaps if I held my service during the night under this pine tree --
There are winds in the east and south; the clouds are not calm in the west; and in the north the wind of the dark evening blusters; and under the shade of the mountain --
-- there is a rustling of boughs and leaves.
Perhaps there will be moonshine to-night, but the clouds veil the sky; the moon will not break up their shadow. "Have at them!" "Ho, there!" "Dash in!" That is the way I would shout, calling and ordering my men before and behind, my bowmen and horsemen. I plundered men of their treasure, that was my work in the world, and now I must go on; it is sorry work for a spirit.
Are you Kumasaka Chohan? Tell me the tale of your years.
[ now known as Kumasaka ]
There were great merchants in Sanjo, Yoshitsugu, and Nobutaka; they collected treasure each year; they sent rich goods up to Oku. It was then I assailed their trains. Would you know what men were with me?
Tell me the chief men; were they from many a province?
There was Kakusho of Kawachi, there were the two brothers Suriharitaro; they have no rivals in fencing. 1
What chiefs came to you from the city?
Emon of Sanjo, Kozari of Mibu.
In the fighting with torches and in mêlée --
-- they had no equals.
In northern Hakoku?
Were Aso no Matsuwaka and Mikune no Kuro.
No, Chohan was the head there. There were seventy comrades who were very strong and skilful.
While Yoshitsugu was going along in the fields and on the mountains, we set many spies to take him.
Let us say that he is come to the village of Akasaka. This is the best place to attack him. There are many ways to escape if we are defeated, and he has invited many guests and has had a great feast at the inn.
When the night was advanced the brothers Yoshitsugu and Nobutaka fell asleep.
But there was a small boy with keen eyes, about sixteen or seventeen years old, and he was looking through a little hole in the partition, alert to the slightest noise.
He did not sleep even a wink.
We did not know it was Ushiwaka.
It was fate.
The hour had come.
Have at them!
[ describing the original combat, now symbolized in the dance ]
At this word they rushed in, one after another. They seized the torches; it seemed as if gods could not face them. Ushiwaka stood unafraid; he seized a small halberd and fought like a lion in earnest, like a tiger rushing, like a bird swooping. He fought so cleverly that he felled the thirteen who opposed him; many were wounded besides. They fled without swords or arrows. Then Kumasaka said, "Are you the devil? Is it a god who has struck down these men with such ease? Perhaps you are not a man. However, dead men take no plunder, and I'd rather leave this truck of Yoshitsugu's than my corpse." So he took his long spear and was about to make off --
-- But Kumasaka thought --
[ taking it up ]
-- What can he do, that young chap, if I ply my secret arts freely? Be he god or devil, I will grasp him and grind him. I will offer
his body as sacrifice to those whom he has slain. So he drew back, and holding his long spear against his side, he hid himself behind the door and stared at the young lad. Ushiwaka beheld him, and holding his bill at his side, he crouched at a little distance. Kumasaka waited likewise. They both waited, alertly; then Kumasaka stepped forth swiftly with his left foot, and struck out with the long spear. It would have run through an iron wall. Ushiwaka parried it lightly, swept it away, left volted. Kumasaka followed and again lunged out with the spear, and Ushiwaka parried the spear-blade quite lightly. Then Kumasaka turned the edge of his spear-blade towards Ushiwaka and slashed at him, and Ushiwaka leaped to the right. Kumasaka lifted his spear and the two weapons were twisted together. Ushiwaka drew back his blade. Kumasaka swung with his spear. Ushiwaka led up and stepped in shadow.
Kumasaka tried to find him, and Ushiwaka slit through the back-chink of his armour; this seemed the end of his course, and he was wroth to be slain by such a young boy.
Slowly the wound --
-- seemed to pierce; his heart failed; weakness o'ercame him.
At the foot of this pine tree --
-- he vanished like a dew.
And so saying, he disappeared among the shades of the pine tree at Akasaka, and night fell.