Raiden (Noh) (雷電 (能))

Raiden (written in two Chinese characters meaning thunderbolt) is one of noh-gaku (noh and kyogen) works. This Raiden is a noh work made based on an episode that Michizane SUGAWARA was relegated to Dazaifu, died, became thereafter thunder, and cursed the Imperial Palace precincts. This story introduced elements from Taiheiki (a collection of war stories in the old days in Japan), Kitano-tenjin-engi-emaki (a series of picture books of stories about Michizane SUGAWARA and Kitano-tenjin shrine), etc., and it is said that Raiden also influenced a kabuki work, Sugawa-denju-tenarai-kagami created in the later days. Raiden is otherwise known as Tsumado.

Structure of the Play

Hossho-bo, a Buddhism priest in Mt. Hiei was the teacher of Michizane SUGAWARA.
When Hossho-bo was praying to invoke divine help for the world, the ghost of Michizane appeared and said 'I was relegated and died due to a false charge and, therefore, I will become thunder and have my revenge on the Imperial Court precincts.'
He added asking 'Though the Imperial Court will invite you, Hossho-bo to expel the evil sprit, please do not go there even if you are called.'
Hossho-bo answered 'Because Mt. Hiei is a place for the emperors to pray, I can not refuse their invitation at the third visit of their messenger.'
Listening to the answer, the ghost of Michizane bit a pomegranate offered in front of the principal icon of the temple into pieces and spit the pieces onto the door of the temple and the door burned. When Hossho-bo put out the fire using his supernatural power, the ghost of Michizane ran away. The above is the first half of the story. In the second half of the story, the ghost of Michizane which transformed into thunder rushed around wildly in the Imperial Palace precinct and fought the supernatural power of Hossho-bo. Finally, Michizane was given a spiritual name of 'Tenjin (god in heaven)' from the Imperial Court and he thanked and went away riding on a black cloud.

The lord of Kaga Domain, the Maeda clan who were the big supporters of Hosho-ryu school said that they were descendants of Michizane SUGAWARA and, taking into account this fact, the noh schools perform the story changing the scene in which the ghost of Michizane becomes raijin, a thunder god, and rushes around wildly to a scene in which the ghost dances to celebrate the Imperial Court. Though this modified work was listed as a shosho (special direction) 'Maiiri (with dancing)' in programs in Edo period, this is an ordinary direction at present. The name of the song is not written as 'Raiden' which causes an image of a thunder god but is 'Raiden (in other two Chinese characters meaning coming to a palace)'.

First Half

Noh shite (the leading part): Ghost of Michizane SUGAWARA
Noh waki (a supporting part): Hossho-bo

Enter Hossho-bo, the supporting part, and he calls himself 'the head priest of Enryaku-ji temple in Mt. Hiei'. He says 'I have been praying to invoke the divine help as a 100-day session and today is the day for the session to be concluded and, therefore, I will hold a Buddhism service called 'Nio-kai (the guardian god meet)'. Enter the ghost of Michizane SUGAWARA, the leading part, and he knocks on the door. When Hossho-bo glances through a gap, he is greatly surprised because Michizane SUGAWARA who he thinks is dead is standing there, however, he invites Michizane into the room. Hossho-bo was the teacher of Michizane since Michizane was young and they were in a close relation as a teacher and a student and, therefore, the two sincerely converse.
Hossho-bo says 'I hear you died in Chikushi Province. Therefore, I have been holding a memorial service.'
The ghost of Michizane appreciates the association between the teacher and the student just like that of parents and a child. It is sung by the noh background singing the memory that 'when I was a child, I had no father and no mother but I received the teaching of the priest (Hossho-bo) in Mt. Hiei and I studied "inviting the moon to the window of the beauties of the nature, collecting fireflies, knowing clearly the minds of the summer insects, with the woods of writing brushes having many branches, and without depletion of the fountain of words"'.

However, Michizane asks Hossho-bo saying 'After I died without fulfilling my dreams during my life, I think I will obtain the permission from Bonten-taishaku (the highest-rank gods), become thunder, and brutally kill Ason who entrapped me. At that time, you, priest, my teacher will be ordered to come to the Imperial Court, but, please never come.'
Hossho-bo answers 'Even when the Imperial Court orders me to come there, I will not go at the second order. However, I live in odo (the land governed by the emperors) and I can not refuse to go at the third visit of the messenger.'
At this time, the face of Michizane suddenly changes to a face just like a evil sprit and Michizane bites pomegranate offered in front of the icon of the temple into pieces and spits the pieces onto Tsumado (door) and the pomegranate quickly turns to flames and burns. When Hossho-bo makes In (shapes made with fingers to invoke supernatural power) and chants Shingon (words to be chanted to invoke divine help), the fire is put out and, in the smoke of it, the ghost of Michizane SUGAWARA rushes away to the noh stage and enters inside the curtain.


Noh-kyogen-kata (noh-kyogen player): A follower of Hossho-bo

On the stage without shite and waki who are taking a break, enter the follower acted by a kyogen-kata (kyogen player), and he speaks a rough plot of the first half and, thereafter, says 'Michizane went to the Imperial Palace precincts and is doing bad things. As I expected, the imperial messenger went to the priest (Hossho-bo) and ordered the priest to come to the Imperial Palace precinct and pray to expel the evil spirit. The priest first refused the order but, receiving the third messenger, the priest thought there was no choice and went there. Every body, please be ready.'

The second half

Ato-shite (the leading part for the second half): Raijin (the evil spirit of Michizane SUGAWARA)
Waki: Hossho-bo

On-stage assistants carry ichi-jo-dai (a platform of the size of one tatami mat) which represents the Imperial Palace precincts and set it on a noh-noh stage and a noh-noh stage. Enter Hossho-bo, waki, and sits on the ichi-jo-dai at wakiza (stage-right, beside a column) and starts to chant a sutra.
Overlapping this, noh background singing starts singing the description of the scene 'How mysterious. The sky is covered with black cloud and the lightening strikes in all the directions (omitted) shaking continuously, and the thunder god and thunder presents its appearances.'
Enter Raijin, thunder god, the second half leading part with the singing on the background. Raijin has the appearance of oni (an evil spirit).
Hossho-bo says to Raijin 'You, Michizane, was a vassal who received the obligation from the Emperor until yesterday, wasn't you? Be calm.'
Raijin rushes around wildly saying 'You, stupid, Priest. You gave up me and, therefore, I'm not afraid of even you, Priest.'
However, no lightening strikes the space where the priest is.
Raijin rushes like 'If Priest is in Shishinden building, the thunder sounds in Kokiden building. Whey Priest moves to Kokiden building, the thunder sounds in Seiryoden building. When Priest moves to Seiryoden building, the thunder moves to Nashitsubo building and Umetsubo building. In the daytime, the thunder moves around the palace in darkness and the two meet.'
On the state, two ichi-jo-dai are used as the setting representing the palace buildings, and shite, Raijin and waki, Hossho-bo fiercely fight.
After all, Hossho-bo pushes Raijin into a corner and reads 'Senju-darani sutra' and, when he finishes reading, Raijin prostrates himself at Hossho-bo saying 'That's all and please forgive me.'
The Imperial Court presented a name 'Tenjin-shinko (god in heaven belief)' to the ghost of Michizane. The ghost of Michizane was pleased and the noh comes to an end with the singing below in the background.
Grudge during the life and happiness after death. That's all and let me go in the air riding on a black cloud.'

[Original Japanese]