Tsuru Kame (Crane and Tortoise) (鶴亀)

"Tsuru Kame" is a program of Noh, traditional masked dance-drama. It is a joyous program which prays and celebrates universal peace and everlasting state.

It is the shortest program which is played today and is known as a program for a beginner.

Structure of the Play

[Category] The first group noh (Waki noh [noh at the side])

[Season] New Year

[Location] China

[Author] Unknown

[Characters]
Noh shite (main role): emperor
Noh Tsure (subordinate role attached to the shite) (or Kokata): crane, tortoise
Noh waki (supporting role): minister
Noh waki tsure: retainer

Summary

On New Year's day at the imperial court of capital of Tang, the first Sechi-e (seasonal court banquet) of the year was held. In the palace of magnificent splendor, the emperor receives celebration from government officials and nobilities, and all people gather there. After celebration, the crane and the tortoise dance to celebrate longevity of the emperor. The emperor feels good about it and has people play bugaku (traditional Japanese court music accompanied by dancing) and dances by himself, then returns to Chosei-den Hall (the Hall of Everlasting Life).

The popular part for celebration quotes is; 'The sand of the garden is covered with gold and silver. The sand of the garden is covered with gold and silver. It is filled with gems. Hundreds of thousands of brocades and doors made of lapis lazuli. Beams are made of shining white seashells, and bridges are made of agate. There are a crane and tortoise on the shore of the pond. The view of the palace is as exquisite as the one of Mt. Horai. The grace of the Emperor is so precious.
The grace of the Emperor is so precious.'

Whole Program (by the Hosho School)

Shite: Welcoming the advent of Chinese New Year,
New Year's rituals are the first celebration of the four seasons.

Waki: At the Furo-mon Gate (Gate of Eternal Youth). The Emperor looks at the shining sun and moon.

Shite: Many officials, ministers, and aristocrats crowded around. Touching their heels and sleeves each other.

Waki: The number of the gathering crowds easily exceeds over 100 million.
Shite: In houses of commoners, people exclaim their adoration for the Emperor
Waki: Since all raise their voices in their worship of the Emperor at once, their voices
Shite: Are echoing even in Heaven and reverberating powerfully. Jiutai (Noh chorus): The sand of the garden is covered with gold and silver. The sand of the garden is covered with gold and silver. It is filled with gems. Hundreds of thousands of brocades and doors made of lapis lazuli. Beams are made of shining white seashells, and bridges are made of agate. There are a crane and tortoise on the shore of the pond. The view of the palace is as exquisite as the one of Mt. Horai. The grace of the Emperor is so precious.
The grace of the Emperor is so precious.'

Waki: It is my honor to be allowed to make a proposal to Your Majesty. Following the custom of every year. It would be wonderful if you order the Crane and Tortoise to dance. And host a party of dance and music at Gekkyu-den Palace (the Moon Palace) afterwards.

Jiutai: A tortoise lives ten thousand years. And a crane lives one thousand years. As well.

Jiutai: There are many examples of auspicious things which enjoyed ever-lasting prosperity. There are many examples of auspicious things which enjoyed ever-lasting prosperity. What is a good example: Hime-komatsu (a type of pine tree). When green tortoise dances and performs.
A red-crowned Crane offer a one-thousand-year
To the Emperor. If they come into the garden. The grateful Emperor therefore performs a secret dance amusingly.

Jiutai: White sleeves (of the celestial people) in the Moon Palace. White sleeves (of the celestial people) in the Moon Palace change like sleeves of lovely flowers. In autumn, they change like crimson foliage moistened in drizzling rain. In winter, they swirl like brisk snowflakes. The robe of swirling sleeves is pale purple. When the aristocrats play the music of Geishoui (feathered dress with a rainbow skirt) together. The Emperor is delighted and blesses the mountains, rivers, trees, and grasses, everything in His land so they will enjoy richness and thousands of generations of prosperity. Then the palace officials and the bearers of their palanquin increase the pace of its progress. To Chosei-den Hall, whose name means the longevity of His Majesty. To Chosei-den Hall, whose name means the longevity of His Majesty. His Imperial Majesty returns to Chosei-den Hall. How auspicious it is.