Jinen Koji (Noh play) (自然居士 (能))

"Jinen Koji" (Jinen the Lay Monk) is a Noh piece by Kanami. It is believed that Zeami also retouched the piece. A preacher of Buddhism, Jinen Koji saves a young child from a human trafficker by geizukushi (displaying all [or many] of one's repertoire). It is a brilliant Noh piece with dramatic composition typical of Kanami.


Noh shite (main role): Jinen Koji
Kokata (child's role): Child (boy or girl depends on school)
No waki (supporting role): Human trafficker
Wakitsure (companion appearing with the supporting role): Accompanying human trafficker
Noh kyogenkata (Actors who perform lighthearted plays that are often staged between the more serious Noh pieces): Man around Ungo-ji Temple

Structure of the Play

In the opening Kyogen (farce played during a Noh play cycle), the ai (role of a kyogen actor in Noh) explains that we are at Ungo-ji Temple and today is Kechigan (the last day) of Nanoka seppou (seven days of sermons) by Jinen Koji (a boy monk of hanzoku [monk living as ordinary people]). Receiving words from the ai, Jinen Koji, the shite, appears on stage. A poor child appears and asks for a memorial service for his/her parents, offering a garment. Jinen Koji and viewers shed tears for the attitude of the child.

During the scene, the waki, a human trafficker, appears at ichi no matsu (first pine on the Noh stage) and forces his way into the sermon to abduct the child, whom he has bought. Jinen Koji perceives that the child had gotten the garment by selling himself to the human trafficker. Jinen Koji stops preaching, knowing the past 6 days will be wasted but placing greater importance in distinguishing right and wrong. He chases after the human trafficker, who binds the child with rope and leaves on a boat, and tries to admonish him.

Jinen Koji catches up with the human trafficker at the shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu and throws the garment at him but the human trafficker does not budge as there is a rule that he will not return anything that has been purchased. Jinen Koji also insists that there is a rule that cannot return to his hermitage if he fails to save a person. The human trafficker threatens Jinen Koji, saying 'you will get hurt if you do not listen,' but Jinen Koji does not budge saying 'that is also the ascetic practice of sacrifice'.
Even when threatened with death Jinen Koji does not give, saying 'I will not get off the boat even if it means I am killed.'

Confounded, the human trafficker decides to have Jinen Koji perform a dance in return for the child. Jinen Koji performs a Naka no mai (dance) and Kakko no mai (dance with a small drum), both about boats, and happily succeeds in taking the child back to Kyoto.

[Original Japanese]