Plays DataBaseYōrō

Photo from National Noh Theatre

It was the time of the twenty-first Emperor Yūryaku. His majesty was informed of a rumor of a miraculous spring in Motosu of Mino Province (Present-day Gifu Prefecture) and dispatched an imperial investigator to find out about it. At the site, the investigator meets an old woodcutter and his son who had found the spiritual spring. When the imperial investigator asks, they tell the story of how they found the spring and how they started to call it "Yōrō no Taki Waterfall." When the parents drank the water that his son had found, the old parents felt mentally and physically refresh and vigorous. They therefore named the fall "Yōrō (taking care of elders)." In addition, the old man points the imperial investigator to the basin of the fall, introduces historical stories related to longevity and water, and praises the medicinal benefits of the waters of the Yōrō Fall. When the investigator is pleased to be able to give a great report to His Majesty, music is heard from the sky and flowers start to fall.

With these auspicious signs, a deity of a mountain, who claims to be an incarnation of Willow Bodhisattva, appears and dashingly dances to bless the peace of the world.

Although this is one of the kaminoh (Noh of deities) created by Zeami, it has a different structure from the other Zeami's kaminoh, such as "Takasago." This drama follows the pattern of kaminoh, which is that after the interlude, a deity appears and dances as a blessing. However, unlike the other dramas, in which a holy incarnation of a deity appears to narrate an ancient story, the mae-shite (first-half lead part) and tsure (the companion of shite) in this drama are the humans who found a spring. In this story, living humans experience the wonder of spiritual water of a waterfall.

What the father and son found in this drama is "medicinal water," which indicates sake (Japanese rice wine). Including the auspicious stories related to sake, such as the Seven Wise Men and a poem-making party, this drama gives you an impression that the medicinal water of Yōrō is beautifully clear sake. At the time of Zeami, unrefined, white rice wine predominated. Therefore, the image of pure, refined rice wine depicted in this drama must have particularly inspired and refreshed many people lived six hundred years ago.


Story Paper presents noh chant stories in modern speech, with story outlines, highlights and more using Adobe PDF format, which can print out and zoom in. Print out the pages and take them with you when you see the actual noh performance.

Yōrō Story Paper PDF Sample

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