(waki enters, walks to middle of stage and stands facing front, chants)

Darkness of this age

Light of the sun has been lost Darkness of this age Glow of the moon forgotten

Amida’s chorus
Rides heaven’s waves to save me

Waki: (stepping forward) I am a priest from Byodoin Temple. I am setting out on a journey to teach the Buddhist scriptures and the promise of Amida’s Paradise.

Amida sits
In his lakeside Phoenix Hall
Encircled by colored
Clouds of heavenly musicians
Great light of gold Shines upon the land of Uji

Waving in honor
Feather reed grass, deep rivers,
Low ridges of fog
Crowned with Red temple rooftops
Sound of ancient bells

Cicadas join in chorus
Summer surrenders
Lonesome leaves tossed on the path
Rustled by cart’s wheel

And before me – Kyoto

The capital lies
Peaceful under cerulean
Colored evening skies
And there before me
Is the grand pillared entrance

(circles upstage to waki spot)

Now I have at last reached Kyoto. And what an entryway! A great gate rising as a wall of cloud. Strange, how it seems as if it were trying to hide something…

(shite enters and stands at shite spot)

Here draws someone near - let me about this place and its history.

Shite: (chants)
Shadow of Suzaku

Evening cloak again draws over

(moves forward, pause)

Slowly mounting

(turns slowly to move left)

Clouds of silk brush past the moon
Its glow is a reflection
from a silver mirror

from a great mirror

(point to right, scoop and move forward)

The heavens’ dance is


The color of mystery,
Its music, the wind’s sigh
Memory of the Genjo strings
And times now past

(slowly turns to the left, gathering energy)

I witness the moon’s passing

(moves slightly left and forward, faces front)

Floating by like the
Countless ten-thousand years

All times pass into darkness
All light falls into darkness

Waki: This old man drawing near, he seems lost in some memory.

Shite: Good evening, worthy priest. Have you also come to view the luminous moon? I hear that Minamoto no Hiromasa used to come here to this Suzaku Gate, too; but unlike him I am not skilled in flutes. I come merely to view the skies.

Waki: It is a wonderful night. I am curious to know more about Minamoto no Hiromasa, the man who came to this gate.

Minamoto no
Hiromasa could conjure
From simple bamboo
Voices of heavenly souls

Strings also he played
Suffering long to study
Under the master
Men know as Semimaru.

Waki: Ah, Semimaru I know well. But, please, tell me how Minamoto no Hiromasa came to become his pupil.

Followed the lonely path
To that withered hut
Every day for three long years

Until, at last, he
Received them – sound of clear, blue
Springs’ refreshment and
Speckled birds of the forest -
Music of which our
World now cannot imagine.

Waki: He was truly a man dedicated to the learning of the arts!

Shite: Here, though, it was that Hiromasa met with his partner, a spirit, to play flute.

Under glowing moon,
He joined in concert with a
Stranger no one knew
From this spirit’s hand he won
The Hafutatsu

Meeting and exchange
With the spirits is a rare gift!

A flute of highest quality,
Design of twin leaves
Inscribed upon its surface
With the power to
Make the heavens ring with joy.

And it is also said:

(takes one step forward, and scoop fan)

Left to wait for golden dawn,

(opens fan)

Twin leaves collect dew

(raises fan before face)

Upon their red and green fronds

(shite brings fan overhead and drop to side)

Chorus: A work of art, this

(shite faces front)

When art was a man’s riches

Shite: And all were artists.

This Hiromasa,
A skilled kangen musician

Shite: Flute, hichiriki,

Chorus: Lute and koto all sang

Shite: at his thoughtful touch

Curious listeners

(shite turns and goes to rear of stage)

Behind bamboo and silk blinds
Gather for his concert,
The music legend still hails

(short lyrical dance)

Glorified in times
When butterflies danced to sho

But Hafutatsu’s
Voice no longer can be heard
Only forlorn winds
Rustling the pine branches

Smoke of change shrouds
The glory of the Heian
Mist of time obscures
The splendor of the ancients

Though I vowed that I
Would think no more of the past
Here I am, sleeves drenched

A long night to pass
Alone in the darkness
Coming or going
All will travel different paths
All wheels bound to different paths
(shite begins his exit)

No one outlasts the dew
Or Burns as flame unchanging
All wane as moonlight

Kyogen Interlude

(Aikyogen enters and moves to upper stage) Ai: I am a resident of Kyoto, on my way home for the day. I always pass down this way…

(turns to stage left)

But look! There is someone under the gate who appears to be a priest. Good evening, sir!

Waki: Greetings! You wouldn’t happen to be a man familiar with Kyoto, would you?

Ai: Oh, in fact I live here. Did you have something to ask about this city?

Waki: I was curious about the flutist named Minamoto no Hiromasa. Do you know of him?

Ai: Well, I know some of the stories people tell, but it is hardly anything. Still, if you would like to know, I will tell you.

Minamoto no Hiromasa of the Third Rank was the grandson of Emperor Daigo. Hiromasa lived to an old age, mastering all of the traditional instruments –flute, hichiriki, lute, and koto.

There is a story which speaks of how he secretly traveled to Osaka Barrier every night in order to hear Semimaru play the lute. His persistence paid off. One beautiful night, Semimaru was moved to play his songs; and Hiromasa, being unable to keep from speaking, told Semimaru how he had been coming to hear him for three years. Semimaru was overjoyed and taught him the two secret pieces ‘Ryusen’ and ‘Takuboku’.

It’s also told that Hiromasa went as far as Rasho gate, alone, to retrieve Emperor Murakami’s lute when it was taken by a demon. He was a very brave man, faithful and true. They named him the Autumn Lord after the Palace which he guarded so faithfully.

Now, on nights like tonight, Hiromasa, the Autumn Lord, came to Suzaku Gate to play his flute. He was joined by a strange figure who never spoke, but played wonderfully. One evening, they exchanged instruments. The spirit’s flute, which Hiromasa was given, is also known by its name Hafutatsu. It is said that the flute now remains at Byodoin Temple.

Waki: Indeed, I can say that it does. I actually come from there and have seen it myself.

Ai-kyogen: Is that so?

Waki: Yes. It is quite intriguing that I leave Byodoin and find myself in the spot where that flute was passed onto Minamoto no Hiromasa. What kind of karma could that be, I wonder? I think I shall take the time tonight to pray for his soul before moving on.

Ai: It would be kind of you.

Waki: Thank you for the trouble you took in retelling the story.

Ai: It was my pleasure. Let me know if you have further questions.


(waki circles to face front)

The moon has since sank
Behind the rim of the hills
And suddenly, these
Long shadows pull me down.
Let me rest my back
Against the gate’s firm pillar

(waki turns to stand in waki spot, kneels)

Chorus: Oh, how quickly dreams engulf me

(shite enters and stands in shite spot)

Shite: (moves forward)
The heavens opened
Upon arrival in this world

Chorus: two flutes and two sho

Shite: a zither, lute, and drum

Chorus: Played celebration

Shite: In return, I offer

(raises folded fan)

Praise with the song of this flute.

(turning to side, lowers fan)

May it please the gods

(faces forward)

Who fill Yamato’s vast land

Chorus: The sound of song as

Shite: Sweet as scent the of rich perfume

Chorus: Carried through long halls

Shite: Where robes rustle, strings whisper

(circles back to center rear of stage)

Chorus: Thoughts of those old times

Wells up in my heart
Spills over into wistful song,
Toast of the past’s drink (shite kneels)
At a late evening party

(lyrical dance)

Green robe-sleeves, red crowns,
And a chrysanthemum hat

Chorus: Tone of lute and flute

Shite: Tossed by storms, “Blue Ocean Waves”

Palace of song
Court of elegant music
Lord Autumn, guard her gate,
Calming fearful nights with
Breath of the twinleaves,
Solfege chanted by the wind
Lulling age-old spirits
Mikado’s musician
Called to holy chambers
Then, waits on Kaguya’s moon
Marker of time’s change
Even red autumn leaves scatter
Over cicada fields

Autumn may die, but Lord Autumn,
Stands Suzaku watch
He, aged as these gateway beams,
Towering pillars
Gate where dreams play in shadows
Left in the darkness
Splendor of the Golden Age
Faded in the mist

Shite: (kneeling)
Splendor of the kangen lord
Faded as the dew
A lightless moon’s silhouette

A distant fading shadow
Gone to join the spirits who

(shite rises)

Sing secret chorus

(shite turns to begin to exit)

Echoes of the past
Grow weak and at last fail
In this age of darkness
Can one hope to awaken?
Can one hope to awaken?

(shite pauses on bridgeway, slowly turns and looks up)

Music of heaven
Born by heralds on colored clouds

(shite turns back and continues exiting)

Wield Amida’s light
Gate to the Western Pure Land
Gate to the Golden Pure Land

(shite exits)

.Megan McCarty - September 2007.