Takasago (Noh play) (高砂 (能))

"Takasago" is a Noh play (classical Japanese dance theater). It is a very joyous Noh piece that cherishes matrimonial love and long life and celebrates life itself, relating both to Aioi no Matsu (twin pines: Japanese red pine and Japanese black pine that share their roots).

The following ageuta (segment of sung, metered poetry beginning in the upper register) that is sung by the priest and his companion after the dialogue with the ai (role of the Noh kyogen actor) is one of the standards performed at wedding receptions: "Takasagoya (Hallelujah!), hoist the sail on this boat, hoist the sail on this boat, on the rising tide coming with the moon, through surfs on the lee of islands of Awaji, passing by the distant coast of Naruo, already I reach Suminoe, already I reach Suminoe."

Structure of the Play

Main role: Okina (old man)
Secondary main role: Ona (old woman)
Supporting role: Shinto priest from Aso no miya Shrine, Kyushu.

A Shinto priest (supporting role) from Aso no miya Shrine in Kyushu has come to an inlet in Takasago, Harima Province. The pine standing at the inlet amid the mild spring breeze is beautiful. The sound of bells from afar can be heard. An elderly couple (main and secondary roles) come and start to sweep under the shade of the tree. The old man, quoting from Kokin Wakashu Kanajo (preface of Kokin Wakashu written in kana by KI no Tsurayuki), preaches that the pine tree in Takasago and one in Suminoe are Aioi no Matsu (pines sharing a life), that they are a husband and wife even though they are far apart, and speaks of the eternity of pine trees and harmoniousness of spousal-aioi (play on word 'aioi' – the first to share a life, and the second to become old together). They say all living things, and in fact, all things in nature are attracted to the way of waka (traditional poems of thirty-one syllables). Here the elderly couple reveal that they are spirits of pine trees in Takasago and Suminoe, and they get on a small boat and disappear, their sail filled with the tailwind.

The priest also sets sail on the high tide (here the famous lines "Takasagoya..." are sung), and arrives at Suminoe after the spirits of the pine trees.

Answering the poem "A long time has passed, even from my perspective; how many generations has that princess pine on the banks of Suminoe been" (Ise Monogatari [The Tales of Ise]), the deity of Sumiyoshi Myojin appears in an assumed form and gallantly dances the Kami mai (god dance) under the beautiful moonlight.

"The music of a thousand autumns soothes the people, the music of ten thousand years extends life; the breeze of the Aioi pines, how joyous the sound of the breeze, how joyous the sound of the breeze" (tome-hyoshi [closing stamps]).

[Original Japanese]