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  • Dōmyōji
  • Translated by Robert Borgen

The following translation is meant to illustrate issues in Japanese religion as discussed in the preceding article. Reading Dōmyōji also serves as a reminder that religious ceremony is numbered among the sources of noh, for the play is devoted to the world of faith, not the more human concerns that are often the themes of familiar plays. Dōmyōji is a noh "play," but it is hardly a noh "drama," for little in it could be described as "dramatic." Instead, it celebrates a specific religious institution and the saving powers of the god enshrined there. Accordingly, it has traditionally been classified along with well-known plays such as Okina and Takasago as waki or kami noh, "god plays" that once came at the start of a full-day program. Such plays are noted for their auspicious or pious sentiments and typically feature deities in their principal roles. This translation is based primarily on the Shinchō Nihon koten bungaku shūsei edition, although two lines from the Yōkyoku taikan edition have been incorporated (in brackets) because they facilitate understanding of the text. Most of the information in the notes to the text comes from these sources.

CAST (in order of appearance):
    The monk Sonjō waki
    Sonjō's attendant wakitsure
    A shrine warden shite (Act 1)
    The warden's attendant tsure (Act 1)
    The deity Shiradayū shite (Act 2)
    A celestial maiden (tennyo) tsure (Act 2)

SEASON Autumn, the ninth month

Act One

Sonjō enters slowly, accompanied by his attendant



To hear its name, meaning "The Good Light"

—To hear its name, meaning "The Good Light"—

We know it a temple of the Buddha.


I am the monk Sonjō from Tashiro in Sagami province. After praying for seven days before the Buddha at Zenkōji, I had an oracular dream, and in accordance with it, I have decided to go to Haji temple in Kawachi province.85


Although we renounced itlong agoyet in this world—long ago,yet in this world—once againwe have chosen to donour travel robes.Yesterday's mountainswe see behind us,our destination unknown.A sea of white clouds,visible in the western sky:86as the evening sun sets,from a gap in the concealing mist,its rays, a river flowing.This is Kawachi.We have arrivedin Haji village.We have arrivedin Haji village.


Because we hurried, we have now arrived at Haji temple. If we wait a while, someone will surely come and we can ask him to tell us the full story of this temple.


Indeed, that is what we should do.]

The shrine warden enters, followed by his attendant [End Page 57]


The long ninth month:the treetops have gainedtheir autumn color,so crimson leaves shinein Haji village!


The sky has clearedand the only remaining soundis the wind in the pines,in place of autumn showers.


I am an old man who serves the Buddhas and the kami at Haji temple, which takes its name from this village. How grateful we feel for their many various blessings! But, the vow of Tenjin, the Heaven-filling Deity, is particularly great. For simple people like us, who know our weakness, going to worship and encounter him at this shrine-temple is particularly reliable.87


Well, shall we go to worship?Well, shall we go to worship?Venerable, sacred,the pine lives for ten centuries,a thousand autumns.The pine lives for ten centuries,a thousand autumns.Frosts have come oftento grasses beneath.Though life be ephemeral as the dew,we have lived long,long serving the kami.As we walk the path to the shrine,and enter its fence,how grateful we are [End Page 58] for the profound vow!How grateful we arefor the profound vow!


Excuse me, shrine keeper, may I ask you something?



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