Hanjo (班女)

"Hanjo" is a Noh play, which is reportedly created by Zeami. While it is Kyoujomono (story of a madwoman) of a young girl, there is no part of kurui (a Noh dance pattern which expresses the disturbed heart). She always looks at a fan thinking of her lover, and her attitude is expressed with dance and Noh chant.

The fan is so impressive that it is called ogimonogurui (mad fan). As well as in Kinuta (Noh), a fan in autumn represented loneliness. "Hanjo" came from Ban Jie Yu of China. Ban was a lover of Emperor Cheng of the former Han Dynasty. Since she was taken from the Emperor's love by Cho Hien, she composed a poem, "Yuan ge Xing," in which she likens herself to a fan in autumn.

At Kyogen kuchiake (showing first the details of characters and circumstances in Kyogen play), Ai (the role of a kyogen actor in Noh) quickly explains the origin of the name, Hanjo, and her love with Yoshida no Shosho. Hanjo was a prostitute, and her real name was Hanago. She loved fans and was called Hanjo. Hanjo fell in love with Yoshida no Shosho, who was on his way to the east from Kyoto, and they exchanged their fans. Since Shosho has gone, Hanjo spent days looking at the fan and stopped serving at banquets. Therefore, she was expelled from the inn.

The waki (supporting role) (Yoshida no Shosho) appeared and explained that he came to Nogami from Kyoto again. However, Hanago, with whom he had promised was not there. He left a message "If Hanago ever comes to Kyoto, drop in" and headed for Kyoto.

Then the scene moves to Kyoto. There is issei (blowing pattern of the flute indicating the appearance of the shite [main character]) and atojite ("shite" performer that appears after nakairi) appears. She lamented for unobtainable love; however onlookers at a shrine teased her, saying "show your craziness today and amuse us." However, a man noticed the fan which was always kept with her. With his fan recalling her lover, Hanjo danced Jo-no-mai (introductory dance) (Naka-no-mai [middle dance] at the present day) with the Noh chant citing many old Chinese writings. The man talked to her (originally, letting subordinate talk), but she refused him because "it is a remembrance token of beloved man." Again he talked to her and they showed their fan to each other. She finally reunited with Shosho. 『それぞと知られ白雪の、扇のつまの形見こそ、妹背の中の情なれ、妹背の中の情なれ。』(Tome-hyoshi [closing stamps]).


Zeami's Noh', in "Yokyokushu (text of Noh play) vol.1, Japanese Classic Literature Systematic Edition, Iwanami Shoten, Publishers. Noh chants are quoted from the sixth line of p.344 and the last of two lines of p.347, in the fourth printing of the same document.

Related works

A Noh of Sumida-gawa River tells its tragic post-fin.

It became a theme of Modern Noh Plays written by Yukio MISHIMA.

[Original Japanese]