- Author: Konparu Zenpô
- Japanese: 初雪 (hatsu yuki)
Hatsuyuki (lit. "first snow") is a Noh play by Konparu Zenpô centering on the story of a pet chicken. A mugen nô ("dream" play, or ghost play), it is an example of Zenpô's fûryû Noh style, in which plays are more lively, more complex, and more purely narrative than earlier Noh plays.
Plot & Construction
Hatsuyuki is a beautiful white chicken, a pet belonging to the shite character, the daughter of the head-priest of Izumi Shrine.
One day, the daughter is told by a serving girl named Yûgiri (an actor in the ai-kyôgen role) that her precious chicken has died. The daughter, grief-stricken, then organizes a week-long prayer session to pray for the enlightenment of Hatsuyuki's spirit. In the second act, following the end of the prayer session, the spirit of Hatsuyuki, the chicken, appears and performs a celebratory dance.
Today, it is common for the chicken's spirit to be played by the same actor as the daughter, as a nochishite role. However, originally, it was standard for the chicken to be played by a child actor (kokata). This is but one of several ways in which this play stands out as unusual among the Noh repertoire. Zeami himself advised that playwrights should take care to give all the most significant lines and parts to the shite; here, Zenpô gives the closing dance, a dramatic and spectacular kyû section normally given to the shite, to a kokata, who in dancing this part upstages the shite. On a practical level, Zenpô states that he did this in order to help provide opportunities for young actors to perform; yet, still, it stands out against Noh norms.
This play is further unusual in that it features no male characters, and no waki; since waki actors typically do not wear masks, a waki actor would have had to play a male role. Scholar Beng Choo Lim has suggested that this indicates that the all-female cast of characters in this play was a deliberate choice.
- Beng Choo Lim, "Performing Furyû Nô: The Theatre of Konparu Zenpô," Asian Theatre Journal 22:1 (2005),
- Lim, 48.