Matsukaze (Noh play) (松風 (能))

"Matsukaze" is a Noh play (classical Japanese dance theater). It was written in the Muromachi period. It is thought that the original version written by Kanami was rewritten by Zeami. It is an excellent work of autumn based on an anecdote in "Senjusho (a compilation of Buddhist tales from the 13th century)" and "Genji Monogatari (the Tale of Genji)" which depicts the deep friendship between a kikoshi (young nobleman) banished to Suma and ama (fisherwomen). It is also based on a poem of ARIWARA no Yukihira in "Kokin Wakashu (a collection of ancient and modern Japanese poetry)."

Structure of the Play

Noh Shite (main role): The spirit of Ama Matsukaze (fisherwoman Matsukaze)
Tsure (secondary main role): The spirit of Ama Murasame (fisherwoman Murasame), Matsukaze's younger sister
Noh Waki (supporting role): A traveling priest
Ai (facilitator): Sato no otoko (a man from the village)
An artificial pine is placed at front center.

It is explained by dialogue between the Waki and Ai that the seaside pine is a historic spot of the sisters Matsukaze and Murasame. An artificial car to carry seawater barrels is brought out, and after a cry the sisters Matsukaze and Murasame appear. Murasame is holding a water barrel. The sisters dance and sing about the days of love with ARIWARA no Yukihira. Matsukaze sits down on a shogi (a folding camp stool) in front of an otsuzumi (a big drum) and Murasame sits down behind her.

The Waki priest asks them for a night's lodging at the house of ama. Circumstances surrounding the love between the kikoshi ARIWARA no Yukihira who was banished to Suma and the ama sisters are narrated in their conversation. Their single-minded love never came to a head because the sisters' beauty and unrestrained love could not defeat their difference in status. Here the sisters sit down comfortably, confiding that they are in fact the spirits of the sisters of the past.

The Atojite (Shite of the latter half of the play), wearing the rememberances of Yukihira - an eboshi (formal headwear for court nobles) and kariginu (informal clothes for court nobles) – dances with the Tsure, remembering Yukihira and their impossible love. The Naka no mai (moderate-tempo dance), beginning with the poem 'Although I leave you and go to Inaba Province, I will return immediately if I hear you wait for me like the pines growing at the peak of Mt. Inaba (play on word – wait and pine are both pronounced "matsu"' (ARIWARA no Yukihira), eventually turns into the Ha no mai (very high-tempo dance) as the sisters become more passionate. The spirits disappear as day breaks.

"With the sound of returning waves, yamaoroshi (wind blowing down a mountain) is blowing to Suma Bay at the back." "No signs of dreams are left when the day is dawning with voices of the birds over sekiji (way to barrier)." "I heard Murasame is there, but this morning I can find only Matsukaze (also means wind in pines), I can find only Matsukaze" (tome-hyoshi [closing stamps] by Waki)."

This Noh play has been praised together with Yuya (Noh). There are nice contrasts between spring in Yuya and autumn in Matsukaze, and also flowers in Yuya and the moon in Matsukaze.


Kanamikankei no Noh (Kanami-related Noh)', the first book of 'Yokyokushu (collection of Noh songs,' Japanese Classic Literature Systematic Edition by Iwanami Shoten Publishers
The quotations are the last three lines on page 65 (fourth issue).

Related Works

Yukihira also wrote the poem 'If someone unexpectedly asks about me, answer that I live miserably dropping tears like dropping salt water from landed marine plants at Suma Bay.'

Like Yuya (Noh), Matsukaze was used as a subject matter of many classical performing art works. See Matsukaze and Murasame.

[Original Japanese]