My way of appreciating “Saigyo-zakura”

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“Saigyo-zakura” is a spring-like Noh play.

Actually, it is performed between March and May.

Saigyo-zakura has a particularly quiet and static mood.

If you appreciated it without prior knowledge, you would fall asleep in the middle of the play.

In other words, Saigyo-zakura is not suitable for a novice in Noh.

This time, I will write some points so that you will appreciate Saigyo-zakura.

“Saigyo” was a famous poet in the middle ages in Japan, and “Zakura” means the cherry blossom.

At first, I will introduce its story in brief.

Some townsmen visited Saigyo’s hermitage to see his cherry blossom tree.

Saigyo welcomed them.

But he actually wanted to do the cherry blossom viewing quietly by himself.

Saigyo lamented, “the beautiful cherry tree is to blame because it let people get close to this place”.

That night, an old man showed up in Saigyo’s dream.

He was the spirit of the cherry tree, and he said to Saigyo, “The cherry tree is in no way to blame as it is just a plant”.

The spirit started to perform a dance.

Saigyo was captivated by it.

At last, the spirit mentioned some cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto to Saigyo, and he disappeared.

This is the story of Saigyo-zakura.

We Japanese tend to imagine that the spirit of some kind of flower is the sharp of a beautiful woman.

In Saigyo-zakura, the spirit of the cherry tree is the shape of an old man.

So that cherry tree must be old.

It stimulates my imagination.

I think that the author of this Noh play is  a genius.

I can imagine that the old cherry tree keeps blooming beautifully until the end of its life.

It has a noble gentility.

The spirit’s dance expresses it well.

It is a kind of expression of impermanent beauty. 

So I can feel reluctant to part with falling cherry blossoms through the play.

Saigyo-zakura is a very profound Noh play for me.

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