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).
Information about this picture in Japanese:
平家物語 巻６ 「小督」(こごう）
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This page added 96/12/03, last revised 96/12/03
Michael Watson, Faculty of International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University
e-mail to: watson[at]k.meijigakuin.ac.jp
address of home page: http://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/~watson/