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Ninnaji and Otherworlds in the Nō Tsunemasa

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AbstractThis essay discusses the Nō Tsunemasa in connection with narratives about the life of the warrior Taira Tsunemasa, killed during the Genpei War, and his biwa lute, Seizan. A mugen Nō (“dream Nō,” in which the main character, the shite, is a ghost) in one act, the play exhibits an unusual structure: it is the enactment of a memorial musical service for the dead Tsunemasa, set at Ninnaji, the temple at which he served during his youth, rather than at the locale where he died, the more common setting for such plays. Focusing on Ninnaji as the setting for the play, I discuss how its structure as a performance of a service creates connections with several other scenes of virtuoso biwa performance found in Tsunemasa’s life story. I argue that the play’s use of the meaningful site of Ninnaji—arguably the center of Shingon practice and a temple at which royal princes served as Omuro, or “prince-abbot”—creates complex ways of addressing the character of Tsunemasa historically and within the performance traditions of Heike monogatari recitation and the Nō.

Affiliations: 1: University of


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1. Abe Yasurō阿部泰郎 Shukaku hōshinnō to Ninnaji goryū no bunkengakuteki kenkyū 守覚法親王と仁和寺御流の文献学的研究 1998 Tokyo Benseisha
2. Brazell Karen Vladeck Heinrich Amy"“Subversive Transformations: Atsumori and Tadanori at Suma.”" Currents in Japanese Culture 1997 New York Columbia University Press 35 52
3. Hare Thomas B. Zeami’s Style: The Noh Plays of Zeami Motokiyo 1986 Princeton University Press
4. Kajihara Masaaki梶原正昭, Yamashita Hiroaki山下宏明 Heike monogatari (ge) 平家物語 (下). Shin Nihon koten bungaku taikei 新日本古典文学大系45 1993 Tokyo Iwanami Shoten
5. Komoda Haruko Tokita Alison McQueen, Hughes David W."“The Musical Narrative of the Tale of the Heike.”" The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music 2008 Aldershot Ashgate 89 92
6. Nelson Steven G. Tokita Alison McQueen, Hughes David W."“Court and Religious Music (1): History of Gagaku and Shōmyō.”" The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music 2008 Aldershot Ashgate 36 44
7. Rimer J. Thomas, Chaves Jonathan Japanese and Chinese Poems to Sing: The Wakan Rōeishū 1997 Columbia University Press
8. Sanari Kentarō佐成謙太郎 Shoin Meiji Yōkyoku taikan 謡曲大観 1963Vol vol. 3
9. Shirasu Masako白須正子 Ryōshuku no hana 旅宿の花 1982 Tokyo Heibonsha
10. Tokita Alison McQueen, Hughes David W. Tokita Alison McQueen, Hughes David W."“Context and Change in Japanese Music.”" The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music 2008 Aldershot Ashgate 1 34
11. Tomikura Tokujirō冨倉徳次郎 Heike monogatari zenchūshaku 平家物語全注釈, chūkan 中巻 1967 Tokyo Kadokawa Shoten
12. Tyler Royall The Tale of the Heike 2012 New York Viking
13. Wakitani Hidekatsu脇谷英勝 Morinaga Michio森永道夫"“Taira no Tsunamasa to Tadanori: Heike monogatari, senzaiwakashū, uta awase, kahi, yōkyoku, yōseki o chūshin ni 平経正と忠度―平家物語・千載和歌集・歌合・歌碑・謡曲・謡蹟を中心に.”" Geinō to shinkō no minzoku geijitsu: Morinaga Michio sensei koki kinen ronshū 芸能と信仰の民族芸術―森永道夫先生古稀記念論集 2003 Osaka Izumi Shoin 205 232
14. Waley Arthur The Nō Plays of Japan 1922 New York Dover
15. Yamashita Hiroaki山下宏明 Biwa hōshi no Heike monogatari to Nō 琵琶法師の「平家物語」と能 2006 Tokyo Hanawa Shobō

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