Kamo (Noh) (賀茂 (能))

Kamo is one of the Noh works. Another description is '加茂 (kamo)' and old name is Yatate kamo. It is a Noh work that expresses the engi (history) of Kamomioya-jinja Shrine elegantly and valiantly. The writer of the work is unknown, though some say Zenchiku KONPARU wrote it. The name of the work often appeared in '能之留帖' written by Nakataka SHIMOTSUMA who was an amateur Noh actor in the late Sengoku Period (period of warring states). As Tokitsune YAMASHINA gave a commentary to it by the order of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, it is also a Noh play that has been loved since the period.

Structure of the Play

The Noh play starts with the scene that a shinto priest of Muro in Harima Province goes up to Kyoto and makes a visit at Kamo Shrine. A stage setting of a white platform with white arrows sticking in it and props are set on the stage by koken (stage assistant).

The first part

The characters

Noh shite (main role), Sato no onna (woman of village)

shitetsure (subordinate to main role), Sato no onna

Noh waki (supporting role), the shrine priest of Muro

wakitsure (companion who appears with the supporting actor in a Noh play), followers (two)

The shinto priest of Muro expresses his route up to Kyoto by Noh utai (Noh song) called 'michiyuki.'
Arriving at Kamo Shrine, the priest sees a platform with a white arrow sticking it built on the riverside. He wonders if there is special reason for such thing to exist here.
Then two young women appear there and sing 'We have come to this riverside of Kamo to draw clear water.'
They try to draw water to offer the god. The priest asks the women.
I'm a priest of Muro and it seems that you enshrine a god by building a platform and sticking an arrow into a piece of white cloth, but is there any special reason for doing so?'
One woman starts to tell the history of the shrine by saying that the arrow is the goshintai (the God or God's body). A woman named Hada no Ujinyo who used to live in this place drew water from the river mornings and evenings to offer the god. One day a white arrow drifted ashore from upper stream and hit upon the water bucket. Taking it home, she put it on the eaves of her hermitage, and she got pregnant and gave birth to a boy baby. Asked by the people who his father is when the boy was three, the mother answered that this arrow is his father. Upon the answering, the arrow suddenly turned into a thunder and up went to the heaven and become the figure of a god.
Wakeikazuchi no kami (the god of thunder) is the boy's father.'
Another woman says, 'The boy and his mother has now turned into two gods, and the three gods are enshrined as the three gods of Kamo. The women quote a waka (Japanese traditional poem of thirty one syllables) by KAMO no Chomei in Shin Kokinshu (Japanese literary anthology) 'ishikawaya semi no ogawa no kiyokereba (if the stream in Semi is clear)' and then they start to dance. They quote the names of the rivers of Kibune-gawa River, Oi-gawa River and Kiyotaki-gawa River one after another, sing old poem related to the rivers and dance together. The priest asks the women who on earth they are. Then the women answers by saying, 'We will tell you only our names. We may be royal gods related to the white arrow of mayumi (archery).' and leave the scene.

Ai kyogen (comic interlude in Noh)


waki (supporting actor), the shinto priest of Muro

Kyogen ai kyogen, Massha (small shrine belonging to the main shrine) no Kami

And Massha no kami appears on the stage. Massha no kami recites the engi of Kamo in kyogen style which was told by Sato no onna a little while ago. Massha no kami says that the god of Kamo is pleased with the priest's visit and he will dance because he was ordered to dance by the god.
Massha no kami dance happily 'mai-goto kyogen mai-goto (instrumental dances).'

The latter part


Nochi-shite (the leading role in the latter half of a Noh play), Wakeikazuchi no kami

Nochi-zure (the companion role in the latter half of a Noh play), Tennyo (heavenly maiden)

waki, the shrine priest of Muro

After a little while, a tennyo appears and dances Tennyo no mai (the heavenly maiden's dance. After the tennyo dances a little while, Wakeikazuchi no kami appears.
The god names himself saying 'I am the god of Wakeikazuchi in charge of protecting the Imperial palace.'
The god plays Taikomono (music of Noh with Taiko, a drum) valiantly singing 'When the time of Narukami arrives, gokokuhojo (bumper crop of cereals) protects the land.'

[Original Japanese]