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Matsukaze

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  • Japanese: 松風 (matsukaze)

Matsukaze, often translated as "Pining Wind," is one of the more famous and canonically highly regarded Noh plays. A standard example of a third-category "Women" play, Matsukaze also possesses a deep aesthetic of mysterious and spiritual beauty, and is thus considered a prime example of mugen Noh and of the aesthetic of yûgen.

The plot of the play centers around two sisters, Matsukaze ("Pining Wind") and Murasame ("Autumn Rain"), who pine after a lost love, Ariwara no Yukihira. That they "pine" for him by a pine tree is not only a coincidental accident of the English, but also a double-meaning in the original Japanese, as "matsu" can either mean a pine tree (松) or to wait (待つ). The two women are salt-collectors, poor women who make a living by hauling seawater to be dried out to make salt that can then be used or sold; according to their story, based on the Tales of Ise, Yukihira met them while in exile from the capital, and developed a close relationship with them, but then simply left them when he returned to Kyoto.

Matsukaze takes a more prominent role over that of her sister. A bucket of seawater, in which the moon is reflected, represents her peace of mind, and emotional & spiritual detachment from the petty concerns of everyday life which might disrupt that peace of mind. Yet, disrupted and disturbed it is, by her longing for Yukihira.

The play seems to have been famous enough, and widespread enough, at least by the Edo period, that even a royal prince from the foreign kingdom of Ryûkyû is said to have danced Matsukaze on at least one occasion (in 1790).[1]

References

  • Gallery labels, Santa Barbara Museum of Art.[1]
  1. Miyagi Eishô 宮城栄昌, Ryûkyû shisha no Edo nobori 琉球使者の江戸上り, Tokyo: Daiichi Shobô (1982), 228-229.
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