Jigoku no kusemai

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  • Japanese: 地獄の曲舞 (jigoku no kusemai)

Jigoku no kusemai (lit. "kusemai of Hells" or "Hell Dances") is a kusemai dance in which the dancer reenacts, or represents through her dance, four of the Six Realms of Buddhist existence: Hell, the realm of hungry ghosts (gaki), the realm of beasts, and the realm of warrior spirits (shura).

The dance originally stood on its own, as a piece in the kusemai repertoire. It was later adopted into the Noh repertoire, e.g. being used in the Noh play Hyakuman. Zeami later revised the play, changing out Jigoku no kusemai for a different, new kuse section. However, Jigoku no kusemai was then employed by Zeami's son Kanze Motomasa, in the play Utaura, which tells the story of a shaman reunited with his son.


  • Shelley Fenno Quinn, Developing Zeami, University of Hawaii Press (2005), 58.