Nakakuni discovers Kogo in Saga. Illustration of a famous scene from Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike), book 6 section 4 "Kogo"

Emperor Takakura (1161-1181) was married to the daughter of the Taira dictator Kiyomori but falls in love with a low-born court attendant called Kogo. When Kiyomori threatens to get rid of his daughter's rival, she flees to Saga outside of Kyoto. The grief-stricken Emperor asks Nakakuni to search for her. Nakakuni sets off, knowing only that she is living in a house with a "single-doored gate" in Saga. He finally hears the sound of her koto, playing a melody that expresses her love for the Emperor. Nakakuni takes out his flute and plays a melody in response. This lyrical moment is a favourite with artists. The example we see, from a Meiji period ukiyoe, is at the end of a long tradition. The playwright Zenchiku wrote a fine noh play based on this episode which I recently translated. [Full-text of article can be downloaded here.]

Illustration by Ogata Gekko (1896).
kaisetsu (Japanese)

Information about this picture in Japanese:

平家物語 巻6 「小督」(こごう)

Kiyomori's daughter: Tokushi, better known by her Buddhist name Kenreimon'in.
Born 1155?, she married Emperor Takakura at the age of 11, gave birth to the future Emperor Antoku in 1178, and took the title Kenreimon'in in 1181. She took the tonsure in 1185 soon after the destruction of her clan at Dan-no-ura in which her mother drowned herself with Antoku rather than be captured. The Heike ends with a description of Kenreimon'in's death in 1191, assured of rebirth in paradise.

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This page added 96/12/03, last revised 96/12/03
Michael Watson, Faculty of International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University

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