Yuya (Noh play) (熊野 (能))

"Yuya" is one of the most representative Noh pieces. The playwright is unknown although some say it is Zenchiku KONPARU. "Yuya" is described on "Kabuzuinoki" (The Essence of Dance and Song) written by Zenchiku. "Yuya" is written in different kanji characters at the Kita school.
It seemingly expands on the scenes from "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike) Vol.10 'Kaidokudari.'

In the play, the deity Kumano Gongen and Imagumano are mentioned as 'having the same name as me.'
Therefore, the main character's name is probably 'Kumano,' except in the Kita school, although it is called 'Yuya' based on on-yomi (Chinese reading of kanji) here.

Although it deals with material that could have dramatic developments, it does not become confrontational. It gently follows the main character's mood changes through spring sceneries. As a genuine Noh play among all Noh plays, it has long been praised in the phrase "Yuya and Matsukaze (Noh play) are like cooked rice" (meaning "Yuya" and "Matsukeze" are masterpieces and just like cooked rice – never boring no matter how many times you eat it, in fact tastier with every chew).


It is the heyday of the Taira family; the play starts with a spirited nanori (announcement of one's name) of the waki (supporting role) (TAIRA no Munemori). Munemori's favorite concubine, Yuya (shite [main role]), receives a letter telling her that her mother's condition has worsened. Having read her weakened mother's letter, she asks Munemori to excuse her to visit her home in Totomi Province. However, Munemori would like to see this year's cherry blossoms together with Yuya, and thinks of cheering her up with the view ("At least this spring, I think of her as my companion to view the cherry blossoms, and keep her by my side").

Although Yuya feels depressed thinking about her mother, the sight of Kyoto in spring that she sees along the way brings joy to her eyes. Eventually, the gissha (ox-drawn carriage) arrives at Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The banquet for cherry blossom viewing starts. Meanwhile, Yuya prays at the Buddhist temple. Yuya is eventually called to the banquet, and recalls her duty as a mistress. At Munemori's suggestion and in order to please the guests viewing the cherry blossoms, Yuya reluctantly performs a dance (Naka-no-mai [middle dance]) praising Kiyomizu in cherry blossom season. However, unfortunately a passing shower scatters the blossoms. Seeing this, Yuya makes a poem.

What can I do; although the spring of Kyoto is also beautiful, the blossoms in the familiar East are falling
Munemori is deeply touched by this and immediately allows her to take time off. Yuya is grateful for what she considers a virtuous deed of Kanzeon and quickly departs for her home town before Munemori has a chance to change his mind.
On the way to the eastern country,'
The guard at the gate of Osaka, where Yuya was eventually to rest,'
Sympathized with her devotion and opened the gate,'
As the sun rose Mt. Osaka could be seen,'
Where the geese leaving the city's flower's behind are headed.'
That is the northern land of Koshi,'
Is it reluctance I feel at returning to the east,'
Is it reluctance I feel at returning to the east.'
(Tome-hyoshi [closing stamps]).

Related Spot

Grave of Yuya

Gyoko-ji Temple, Ikeda, Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Yuya no Nagafuji Matsuri is held annually on May 3, the death anniversary of Yuya Gozen's death.

There is a legend that Yuya planted the wisteria, which is a designated national natural treasure.

Audio Materials

CD: Nohgaku theatre "Yuya," Columbia Music Entertainment: Nearly all the music is included, in Noh performance style.

Related Documents

The story seemingly expands on the scenes from "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike) Vol.10 'Kaidokudari.'

It was adapted to Yamada school's koto (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings) music "Yuya" by Kenkyo YAMADA, nagauta (epic song with shamisen accompaniment), Kato bushi (theatrical music) and itchubushi (style of shamisen music).

It was featured in "Modern Noh Plays" written by Yukio MISHIMA.