Plays DataBaseUtou (Murrelet)

Photo from National Noh Theatre

A monk, who travels around provinces, stops by Tateyama in Etchū Province (present-day Toyama Prefecture) on his way to Soto-no-hama in Mutsu Province (present-day Aomori Prefecture). Then, an old man appears and asks the monk a favor. Surprisingly, the old man is the ghost of a hunter, who lived in Soto-no-hama but passed away last year. The ghost requests the monk to visit the house where his wife and child live in Soto-no-hama and console his soul by offering a sedge rain coat and hat. The monk, who is upset with this unexpected request, responds to the ghost that he is not sure if he shall accept this request as he cannot say something which may sound untrue. Then, the old man starts to detach a sleeve off his jacket, asking the monk to use this as evidence. After giving the sleeve to the monk, the old man’s ghost disappears.

When the monk arrives at Soto-no-hama, he visits the hunter’s family. Astonishingly enough, the jacket of the deceased is missing a sleeve. And the sleeve the monk brought is a perfect match with the missing sleeve. After offering a sedge coat and hat on the altar, the monk starts praying. Then, the ghost of the hunter appears and confesses that he is suffering in another world because he kept harvesting and killing animals in this world. One of the animals he killed was a murrelet. In the abyss, the murrelet transformed into a raptor and tortured the hunter. Showing a scene of torture, the ghost pleads for the monk’s help and disappears.

This ghastly piece gloomily depicts the sadness and forlornness of life. The title, “Utou (Murrelet),” refers to the name of a bird which is said that when the parent bird cries “utou” then the chick responds “yasukata.” The lead role, a hunter, uses this habit; he invites and hunts the bird by imitating their calls. By killing animals using cruel methods, he committed a deadly sin and was sent to Hell. However, he could not support his family unless he earned his living by the brutal job of hunting. This is a tragedy of human beings, which have to take other lives in order to live. This piece clearly describes this forlornness with sharp and sophisticated movements and spirited chanting. It will impress upon the audience how deep and powerful a Noh piece can express events and emotions. No one will forget the description of Hell in the last scene.

STORY PAPER : Utou (Murrelet)

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Utou (Murrelet) Story Paper PDF Sample

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