This time, we will go to Kyoto. One of the most popular cities in Japan. The No.1 sightseeing place that most tourists from other countries want to go to. I guess Kyoto is a kind of symbol of old traditional Japan. There are many tourist spots, temples, shrines, castles and old streets. Today we’ll talk about another special sight. This sight introduces traditional folk performing arts with masked characters.
There are three sketch comedies with masked characters, named “Nenbutsu Kyogen”. “Mibu Kyogen”, “Saga Nebutsu Kyogen” and “Senbon Enma-do Nenbutsu Kyogen”. “Kyogen” is performed in the intermission of Noh performances. In contrast to Noh, they tend to be comedic. It means just a play, too. And “Nenbutsu” is a Buddhist invocation. So, “Nenbutsu Kyogen” is a play in which stories are based on the daily lives of average people to propagate Buddhism. Two of these, “Mibu Kyogen” and “Saga Kyogen” are pantomime, but only “Senbon Enma-do Kyogen” has dialogue.
Mibu Kyogen 壬生狂言
Date: 3rd February, 29th April~5th May, 3 days around 10th October
refer→https://www.discoverkyoto.com/event-calendar/may/mibu-kyogen-mibu-dera/ discover Kyoto
Saga nenbutsu Kyogen 嵯峨念仏狂言
Date: 1st Sunday & 2nd Saturday & Sunday April, The Sunday nearest 26th October
refer→http://www.greentour-kyoto.net/events/saga-kyogen/ green tour Kyoto
Senbon Enma-do Kyogen 千本ゑんま堂狂言
Date: 3rd February & 1st~4th May
Location: Senbon Enma-do (another name, Injoji-temple)
refer→https://kansaifinder.com/event/senbon-enma-do-nenbutsu-kyogen/ Kansai Finder
First, let to introduce today’s guide
Now, I’ll call today’s guides. They are the most popular characters in Japanese National artwork treasures.
They seem to have come.
Now, let’s go to the venue
*This article is written based on writer’s experience at 4th, May, in 2018 and a booklet.
I am a monk of this temple. I shall hold a memorial service with a bell. So, I tell my apprentice monks to carry a bell here. Ichiro-bo and Dabutsu-bo, come here. Are you here?
Here we are.
Here we are. This bell is too heavy.
I’m pleased that you came so quickly. I have not held a memorial service with a bell for long time. So, I want to hold the ceremony. Then, there is something important I have to tell you. Women can’t come here. Do you understand?
Yes, my master.
Why did the master tell us that we must never invite any women?
I don’t know. But we must be obedient to my master.
Is anyone home?
Hey, Dabutsu-bo, get up. This is no time for sleeping. There is someone behind the door. Go check quickly.
Who will come at such a time? May I ask your name?
Sorry for contacting you at this late hour. I am a shirabyoshi dancer and I live near. I have heard a memorial service with a bell. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to dance for a bell?
Oh, what should I do? Hey, dear Ichiro-bo.
You are noisy. What happened?
There is a shiradofu at the door!
Do you happen to know shiradofu? It’s a dancer.
Stupid. If you said that, it would be a shrabyoshi.
Oh, my mistake. That is shirabyoshi. She is there.
No. We can’t invite any women.
But have you met a living Amida?*( like an angel in a sense)
Mmm…If you insist. If would be fine if dancing was all, but we have to return her as soon as possible after dancing.
Oh, my gosh! What happened?
Oh, no. The bell has fallen down. Where has she gone? We have a situation! Go for Shisho-bo.
I thought so. The reason why I told you not to invite any women is that this bell is cursed by an ogre. Probably, The woman is an incarnation of an ogre. I shall break the spell.
Wow! An ogre really has appeared.
Help me Buddha!
An ogre! Drive it away!
Oh,no! An ogre has come here. Help me!
Go away! Namu, Buddha.
Please Buddha! Namu Buddha! Namu ami dabutsu….
“Botan-jishi” (Peony Lion)
I am a Daimyo (Lord) living around here. Recently, I am in trouble because a Shishi (Chinese lion) has damaged the peonies in my garden. So, I will call my retainer, Taro-kaja and make him crush the Shishi. Are you here?
I am here.
I’m pleased that you came so quickly. Look at this garden.
How beautiful the peonies are.
Yes. But a Shishi came here and damaged the peonies. Catch the lion.
Yes, my lord.
This is difficult. I have to be patient.
It is stronger than I thought.
Yes. I’ll try to catch the lion with this device. Oh, it is stronger than I thought. I’m no match for a Shishi.
Well, I wonder what am I going to do now? OK, I’ll try to imitate the Shishi.
I wonder if he can catch the Shishi. How did it go, Taro-kaja? What are you doing? Why are you imitating the Shishi? Oh, no! Stop, this is me!
I won’t let you go. Yarumaizo! Yarumaizo!
“Kanzaki watashi” (Kanzaki river ferry)
I am a tea house owner living around here. Would you like a cup of tea?
I would like to have a cup of tea. Anyway, is this the right way to go to Sakai?
Yes. You should take a boat on the Kanzaki river just ahead.
I have little money. How can I escape from here?
Hey! Where will you go? Wait! Yarumaizo!
I’m sorry. Please forgive me….
Do you have enough money? How will you cross the river?
I will walk around or swim across the river.
No. That river is not easy to swim across and it is very deep. OK. I’ll teach you how to ride on the boat for free. The boatman loves cleverness and Waka (Japanese poems). So, you may say to the boatman that so and so…..OK?
That’s good to know. Huh? Oh no! I have forgotten the words. Things will work out. Hey, may I ride on the boat please.
I can’t give a ride to such a poor monk.
I am with 3,000 people. Let’s go! Thank you.
Are you alone? Where are the rest of the 3,000 people?
I told you that I am with 3,000 people, it means I’ll pay for 3,000 people. Right?
I see. All right.
Then, Mr. boatman. What do I see over there?
Ah, those are the human bones of people who didn’t pay for the boat ride.
I got myself into a mess….
“Sennin-giri” (Saving a Thousand souls)
Well, let’s start getting ready to go home
No. Don’t you know how much it costs to stay in a hotel in Kyoto city this week? The capsule hotel usually costs about \ 3,000, but it costs over \ 7,000 this week.
We’re looking forward to you being our guide again if we have a chance. See you next time, bye!
You can see the scroll “Choju-Jinbutsu-giga” (Unfortunately, it is a replica, though. The original is stored in Tokyo and the Kyoto National museum.) and you can get many copies of these paintings. And, this temple is famous for its beautiful autumn leaves.
Access: It takes about 50 minutes from the center of Kyoto by bus, and 15 minutes on foot from the bus stop.