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Plays DataBase Nomori (The Field Guard) StoryPlays DataPhotoStory
 


Please click top right button for detailed information, photo story.


Noh Photo from National Noh Theatre
Photo from National Noh Theatre

synopsis
A yamabushi (Shugendō mountain ascetic), who has devoted himself to austere spiritual training at Mount Haguro in Dewa Province, is traveling to the mountains of Ōmine and Kazuraki. On the way there, he arrives at the village of Kasuga in Yamato Province. While he is waiting for a passer-by to ask about local sightseeing spots, he is approached by an old man who guards the fields in Kasuga. When the mountain ascetic asks the old man about a pond, he is told that it is called the Field Guard’s Mirror. The old field guard explains that the Field Guard’s Mirror reflects the image of a field guard but at the same time, there was once such a mirror in the possession of a spirit demon who resided in this field. The spirit demon transformed himself into a human being who guarded this field during the daytime and rested inside a mound in the field at night. Furthermore, the mountain ascetic asks if this pond is the same as the pond described in the poem about the mirror of the field guard who found the hawk. The old field guard provides an explanation about that as well. The mountain ascetic asks the field guard to show him the mirror, but the guard refuses his request, saying that the field guard’s mirror is a terrifying object, formerly in the possession of a spirit demon. Instead, he offers to show him this mirror-like body of water and vanishes into a mound.

After listening to the villager tell the story of the Field Guard’s Mirror, the mountain ascetic offers prayers before the mound into which the old man disappeared. Then, the spirit demon appears, holding the mirror in his hand. The spirit demon uses the mirror to show the mountain ascetic all four quarters of every region from the heavens above to the hells below. Finally, the spirit demon stomps his feet down on the ground, rending a gash in the surface of the earth through which he returns to the abyss.


highlights
According to legend, Zeami wrote this play after being inspired by this Japanese poem: “I want to get hold of / The Field Guard’s Mirror / That reflects the whereabouts of the hawk. / The mirror might tell me / Whether my love / Is thinking of me or not.” This poem is found in Shin Kokin Waka-shū (New Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern) and other books of poetics.

The first half of the play skillfully incorporates into the storyline the legend and ancient accounts of the field guard’s mirror. The old man’s narration is replete with refined sentiments, such as in the scene where he compares the pond to a magic mirror that can reflect everything everywhere. A spirit demon appears in the second half of this drama. Zeami divided actors’ demon roles into two categories: saidōfū (“delicately moving style”) and rikidōfū (“forcefully moving style”)” The “delicately-moving” demons are embodiments of human obsessions or transformations of vengeful spirits of the dead. The “forcefully moving” demons are representations of forces of nature—completely natural entities. Zeami viewed the roles of forcefully moving demons less than favorably. Although the demon in this play is of the forcefully moving type, he is portrayed so ingeniously that the audience will find his character engaging.

While the elegant narrative of the old man in the first half of the play and the vigorous dance of the spirit demon in the second half present a strong contrast, this drama brings them together and develops the story with consistently skillful artistry.


STORY PAPER : Nomori (The Field Guard)

Story Paper presents noh chant stories in modern speech, with story outlines, highlights and more using Adobe PDF format, which can print out and zoom in. Print out the pages and take them with you when you see the actual noh performance.

pdf [Nomori (The Field Guard) : Story Paper PDF : 460KB]
Nomori (The Field Guard) Story Paper PDF Sample

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