“Yashima” is a Noh play based on a samurai’s admirable story
A battle made people hate and kill each other. A life-or-death is shockingly cruel and inhuman.
However, ancient samurai tried to follow their spiritual beauty even when they were in a battle.
They cherished their aesthetic value more than their lives.
In this modern age, we can learn of various samurai’s admirable stories through classic Japanese literature.
A Noh play called, “Yashima” is one of them.
Yashima is a Noh play based on an episode related to Yoshitsune in The Tale of the Heike.
Yoshitsune(MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune) is known as the smartest samurai and an existent hero.
During the battle of Yashima, Yoshitsune carelessly dropped his bow in the sea.
His bow was floating toward the enemy fleets.
The enemy soldiers tried to pick it up using rakes.
Yoshitsune entered the sea on a horse to recover his bow while avoiding a shower of arrows.
Though his behavior was very risky, he could pic up his bow.
His servant warned him, “Value your fate! Everything is meaningless without your life… your bow is of no importance…it’s just a bow”.
Why was Yoshitsune attached to his bow regardless of the danger?
Yoshitsune was known as the smartest general, but he was not physically gifted.
So his bow was weak; he was not able to draw a tightly strung bow.
He was really afraid that his bow would have a poor impression on the enemy.
His pride prevented him from being made a fool of.
So, it was natural for him to refuse to consider losing his bow as an option.
His bow was worth more than his life.
His aesthetic value might make him a historical hero.
I think that living and dying beautifully were the same thing for ancient samurai.