Aoi No Uye

Waley, Arthur

About the electronic version
Aoi No Uye
Waley, Arthur
Creation of machine-readable version: Winnie Chan
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University of Virginia Library.
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   Japanese Text Initiative

Note: Footnotes in the print source have been moved to the end of the electronic document and numbered consecutively. For descriptive purposes, words and phrases preceding footnote markers in the print source have been added to the notes at the end of the electronic document.
About the print version
Aoi No Uye
The No Plays of Japan
Arthur Waley

   1st Edition

Alfred A. Knopf
New York

   Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.

Published: 1922

Revisions to the electronic version
August 1997 corrector Sachiko Iwabuchi, Electronic Text Center
  • Added milestones to correspond with ZeaAoin.

  • January 1997 corrector Winnie Chan
  • Added TEI header and tags

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    Final checking: David Seaman

    Page 143


        At the age of twelve Prince Genji went through the ceremony of marriage with Aoi no Uye (Princess Hollyhock), the Prime Minister's daughter. She continued to live at her father's house and Genji at his palace. When he was about sixteen he fell in love with Princess Rokujo, the widow of the Emperor's brother; she was about eight years older than himself. He was not long faithful to her. The lady Yugao next engaged his affections. He carried her one night to a deserted mansion on the outskirts of the City. "The night was far advanced and they had both fallen asleep. Suddenly the figure of a woman appeared at the bedside. "I have found you!" it cried. "What stranger is this that lies beside you? What treachery is this that you flaunt before my eyes?" And with these words the apparition stooped over the bed, and made as though to drag away the sleeping girl from Genji's side." 1

        Before dawn Yugao was dead, stricken by the "living phantom" of Rokujo, embodiment of her baleful jealousy.

        Soon after this, Genji became reconciled with his wife Aoi, but continued to visit Rokujo. One day, at the Kamo Festival, Aoi's way was blocked by another carriage. She ordered her attendants to drag it aside. A scuffle ensued between her servants and those of Rokujo (for she was the occupant of the second carriage) in which Aoi's side prevailed. Rokujo's carriage was broken and Aoi's pushed into the front place. After the festival was over Aoi returned to the Prime Minister's house in high spirits.

        Soon afterwards she fell ill, and it is at this point that the play begins.

        There is nothing obscure or ambiguous in the situation. Fenollosa seems to have misunderstood the play and read into it complications and confusions which do not exist. He also changes the sex of the Witch, though the Japanese word, miko, always has a feminine meaning. The "Romance of Genji" (Genji Monogatari) was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu and was finished in the year 1004 A. D. Of its fifty-four chapters only seventeen have been translated. 2 It furnished the plots of many No plays, of which Suma Genji (Genji's exile

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    at Suma), No no Miya (his visit to Rokujo after she became a nun), Tamakatsura (the story of Yugao's daughter), and Hajitomi (in which Yugao's ghost appears) are the best known.

        There is some doubt about the authorship of the play. Seami saw it acted as a Dengaku by his father's contemporary Inuo. He describes Inuo's entry on to the stage in the role of Rukujo and quotes the first six lines of her opening speech. These lines correspond exactly with the modern text, and it is probable that the play existed in something like its present form in the middle of the fourteenth century. Kwanze Nagatoshi, the great-grandson of Seami, includes it in a list of Seami's works; while popular tradition ascribes it to Seami's son-in-law Zenchiku.

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    Princess Rokujo.
    The Saint of Yokaro.

       (A folded cloak laid in front of the stage symbolizes the sickbed of Aoi.)


        I am a courtier in the service of the Emperor Shujaku. You must know that the Prime Minister's daughter, Princess Aoi, has fallen sick. We have sent for abbots and high-priests, of the Greater School and of the Secret School, but they could not cure her.

        And now, here at my side, stands the witch of Teruhi, 3 a famous diviner with the bow-string. My lord has been told that by twanging her bow-string she can make visible an evil spirit and tell if it be the spirit of a living man or a dead. So he bade me send for her and let her pluck her string. [ Turning to the Witch, who has been waiting motionless. ]
    Come, sorceress, we are ready!

    [ comes forward beating a little drum and reciting a mystic formula. ]

    Ten shojo; chi shojo.
    Naige shojo; rokon shojo.

    Pure above; pure below.
    Pure without; pure within.
    Pure in eyes, ears, heart and tongue.

    [ She plucks her bow-string, reciting the spell. ]

    You whom I call
    Hold loose the reins

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    On your grey colt's neck
    As you gallop to me
    Over the long sands!

    [ The living phantasm of Rokujo appears at the back of the stage. ]


    In the Three Coaches
    That travel on the Road of Law
    I drove out of the Burning House . . .
    Is there no way to banish the broken coach
    That stands at Yugao's door? 5
    This world
    Is like the wheels of the little ox-cart;
    Round and round they go. . . till vengeance comes.
    The Wheel of Life turns like the wheel of a coach;
    There is no escape from the Six Paths and Four Births.
    We are brittle as the leaves of the basho;
    As fleeting as foam upon the sea.
    Yesterday's flower, to-day's dream.
    From such a dream were it not wiser to wake?
    And when to this is added another's scorn
    How can the heart have rest?
    So when I heard the twanging of your bow
    For a little while, I thought, I will take my pleasure;
    And as an angry ghost appeared.
    Oh! I am ashamed!

    [ She veils her face. ]

    This time too I have come secretly

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    In a closed coach.
    Though I sat till dawn and watched the moon,
    Till dawn and watched,
    How could I show myself,
    That am no more than the mists that tremble over the fields?
    I am come, I am come to the notch of your bow
    To tell my sorrow.
    Whence came the noise of the bow-string?


        Though she should stand at the wife-door of the mother-house of the square court . . . 7


        Yet would none come to me, that am not in the flesh. 8


        How strange! I see a fine lady whom I do not know riding in a broken coach. She clutches at the shafts of another coach from which the oxen have been unyoked. And in the second coach sits one who seems a new wife. 9 The lady of the broken coach is weeping, weeping. It is a piteous sight.

        Can this be she?


        It would not be hard to guess who such a one might be. Come, spirit, tell us your name!


    In this Sahā World
    10 where days fly like the lightning's flash
    None is worth hating and none worth pitying.
    This I knew. Oh when did folly master me?

        You would know who I am that have come drawn by the twanging of your bow? I am the angry ghost of Rokujo, Lady of the Chamber.

    Long ago I lived in the world.
    I sat at flower-feasts among the clouds. 11

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    On spring mornings I rode out
    In royal retinue and on autumn nights
    Among the red leaves of the Rishis' Cave
    I sported with moonbeams,
    With colours and perfumes
    My senses sated.
    I had splendour then;
    But now I wither like the Morning Glory
    Whose span endures not from dawn to midday.
    I have come to clear my hate.

    [ She then quotes the Buddhist saying, "Our sorrows in this world are not caused by others; for even when others wrong us we are suffering the retribution of our own deeds in a previous existence." ]
    [ But while singing these words she turns towards Aoi's bed; passion again seizes her and she cries: ]

    I am full of hatred.
    I must strike; I must strike.

    [ She creeps towards the bed. ]


        You, Lady Rokujo, you a Lady of the Chamber! Would you lay wait and strike as peasant women do? 12 How can this be? Think and forbear!


        Say what you will, I must strike. I must strike now. [ Describing her own action. ]
    "And as she said this, she went over to the pillow and struck at it." [ She strikes at the head of the bed with her fan. ]


        She is going to strike again. [ To Rokujo. ]
    You shall pay for this!


        And this hate too is payment for past hate.

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        "The flame of anger


        Consumes itself only." 13


        Did you not know?


        Know it then now.


    O Hate, Hate!
    14 hate so deep that on her bed
    Our lady 15 moans.
    Yet, should she live in the world again, 16
    He would call her to him, her Lord
    The Shining One, whose light
    Is brighter than fire-fly hovering
    Over the slime of an inky pool.


    But for me
    There is no way back to what I was,
    No more than to the heart of a bramble-thicket.
    The dew that dries on the bramble-leaf
    Comes back again;
    But love (and this is worst)
    That not even in dream returns, --
    That is grown to be an old tale, --
    Now, even now waxes,
    So that standing at the bright mirror
    I tremble and am ashamed.

        I am come to my broken coach. [ She throws down her fan and begins to slip off her embroidered robe. ]
    I will hide you in it and carry you away!

    [ She stands right over the bed, then turns away and at the back of the stage throws of her robe, which is held by
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    two attendants in such a way that she cannot be seen. She changes her "deigan" mask for a female demon's mask and now carries a mallet in her hand.
    [ Meanwhile the Courtier, who has been standing near the bed: ]


        Come quickly, some one! Princess Aoi is worse. Every minute she is worse. Go and fetch the Little Saint of Yokawa. 17


        I tremble and obey.

    [ He goes to the wing and speaks to some one off the stage. ]

        May I come in?

    [ speaking from the wing. ]

        Who is it that seeks admittance to a room washed by the moonlight of the Three Mysteries, sprinkled with the holy water of Yoga? Who would draw near to a couch of the Ten Vehicles, a window of the Eight Perceptions?


        I am come from the Court. Princess Aoi is ill. They would have you come to her.


        It happens that at this time I am practising particular austerities and go nowhere abroad. But if you are a messenger from the Court, I will follow you.

    [ He comes on the stage. ]


        We thank you for coming.


        I wait upon you. Where is the sick person?


        On the bed here.


        Then I will begin my incantations at once.

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        Pray do so.


    He said: "I will say my incantations."
    Following in the steps of En no Gyoja,
    Clad in skirts that have trailed the Peak of the Two Spheres, 19
    That have brushed the dew of the Seven Precious Trees,
    Glad in the cope of endurance
    That shields from the world's defilement,
    "Sarari, sarari," with such sound
    I shake the red wooden beads of my rosary
    And say the first spell:
    Namaku Samanda Basarada
    Namaku Samanda Basarada. 20

    [ during the incantation she has cowered at the back of the stage wrapped in her Chinese robe, which she has picked up again. ]

        Go back, Gyoja, go back to your home; do not stay and be vanquished!


        Be you what demon you will, do not hope to overcome the Gyoja's subtle power. I will pray again.

    [ He shakes his rosary whilst the Chorus, speaking for him, invokes the first of the Five Kings. ]


    In the east Go Sanze, Subduer of the Three Worlds.

    [ counter-invoking. ]

    In the south Gundari Yasha.


    In the west Dai-itoku.

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    In the north Kongo


    Yasha, the Diamond King.


    In the centre the Great Holy


    Fudo Immutable.
    Namaku Samanda Basarada
    Senda Makaroshana
    Sohataya Untaratakarman.
    "They that hear my name shall get Great Enlightenment;
    They that see my body shall attain to Buddhahood."

    [ suddenly dropping her mallet and pressing her hands to her ears. ]

        The voice of the Hannya Book! I am afraid. Never again will I come as an angry ghost.


    When she heard the sound of Scripture
    The demon's raging heart was stilled,
    Shapes of Pity and Sufferance,
    The Bodhisats descend.
    Her soul casts off its bonds,
    She walks in Buddha's Way.


    [1] Genji Monogatari (Romance of Genji), chap. iii., Hakubunkwan Edition, p. 87.

    [2: only seventeen have been translated] By Baron Suyematsu in 1881.

    [3: witch of Teruhi] A miko or witch called Teruhi is the subject of the play Sanka Takusen.

    [4: I drove out of the Burning House. . .] Rokujo has left the "Burning House," i. e. her material body. The "Three Coaches" are those of the famous "Burning House" parable in the Hokkekyo. Some children were in a burning house. Intent on their play, they could not be induced to leave the building; till their father lured them out by the promise that they would find those little toy coaches awaiting them. So Buddha, by partial truth, lures men from the "burning house" of their material lives. Owing to the episode at the Kamo Festival, Rokujo is obsessed by the idea of "carriages," "wheels" and the like.

    [5: the broken coach / That stands at Yugao's door] One day Rokujo saw a coach from which all badges and distinctive decorations had been purposely stripped (hence, in a sense, a "broken coach") standing before Yugao's door. She found out that it was Genji's. For Yugao, see p. 142.

    [6: I have come secretly] Rokujo went secretly to the Kamo Festival in a closed carriage.

    [7: Though she should stand. . .] Words from an old dance-song or "saibara."

    [8: that am not in the flesh] "That am a ghost," but also "that have lost my beauty."

    [9: one who seems to be a new wife] Alluding to Aoi's pregnancy.

    [10: Sahā World] A Sanskrit name for the "world of appearances."

    [11: at flower-feasts among the clouds] I. e. at the Palace.

    [12: lay wait and strike as peasant women do] It was the custom for wives who had been put away to ambush the new wife and strike her "to clear their hate."

    [13: "The flame of anger consumes itself only] From the Sutrālankära Shāstra (Cat. No. 1182).

    [14: Her] Rokujo's.

    [15: Our lady] Aoi.

    [16: live in the world again] I. e. recover.

    [17: Little Saint of Yokawa] The hero of the "Finding of Ukifune," a later episode in the Genji Monogatari.

    [18: En no Gyoja] Founder of the sect of the ascetics called Yamabushi Mountaineers.

    [19: the Peak of the Two Spheres] Mount Omine, near Yoshino, ritual ascents of which were made by Yamabushi.

    [20: Namaku Samanda Basarada] Known as the Lesser Spell of Fudo. The longer one which follows is the Middle Spell. They consist of corrupt Sanskrit mixed with meaningless magic syllables.

    [21: "They that hear. . . shall attain to Buddhahood] From the Buddhist Sutra known in Japan as the Hannya Kyo. It was supposed to have a particular influence over female demons, who are also called "Hannyas."