(The Dôjôji Temple)


Noh Dojoji

A legend tells of a yamabushi mountain priest who during his travels often visited the home of a man who had a young daughter. The father once jokingly told his daughter that when she grew up she would marry the priest and she innocently believed him. Time passed, and when the priest visited again she was older and chided him for not claiming her as his wife. The priest turned her away, and when she became enraged, he ran away to D»j»ji Temple and asked to be hidden from her. The priests there lowered the temple bell and hid him in it. The girl followed him, but she got caught at the flooding Hidaka River without a boat to cross, so her jealous rage turned her into a serpent. The serpent swam across the river, found the lowered bell at the temple, and lashed itself around it. The bronze bell grew hot and the priest was roasted alive inside.

The noh begins many years later. The above incident has nearly been forgotten and the temple is at last dedicating a new bell to replace the one destroyed many years before. Though ordered by the chief priest not to let any women into the temple for the ceremony, the temple servants allow a shiraby»shi dancer to enter since such performers typically perform dressed as men, and the dancer promises to dedicate a dance for the temple bell. The woman is in fact the jealous spirit of the serpent-woman, and after a long dance, she leaps into the new bell bringing it down. After the chief priest is informed of the circumstances, he relates the story of the serpent-woman demoness, and when she appears from out of the bell in her true form, the priests confront her with prayers and the rubbing of rosaries and she is finally subdued.

From The Guide to Noh of the National Noh Theatre, Book 1 (A~G). National Noh Theatre, 2011. © Richard Emmert, Japan Arts Council.

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