Ikuta Atsumori

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Ikuta Atsumori is a Noh play by Konparu Zenpô, generally identified as a second-category play (a "warrior" play). The plot centers around the young son of Taira no Atsumori, who is seeking his father.

Along with Hatsuyuki, Kurokawa, and two others unknown today, Ikuta Atsumori was identified by Zenpô or his followers as his five muchû ("dreaming") plays.[1] Like these other plays, Ikuta Atsumori deviates in a few significant ways from the standard pattern of earlier Noh plays.


The play begins with the waki character, a priest & follower of Hônen, explaining that he adopted a baby boy ten years earlier. He relates that when he told his congregation about the boy, one of the women listening claimed to be the boy's mother, and said that his father was the young samurai Taira no Atsumori, who was killed in the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani the previous year. (Atsumori's own story is told in Zeami's play Atsumori.) Hearing of this, the boy decides to undertake a week-long prayer session, in search of his father. As the action of the play begins in earnest, it is the seventh day of that week, and the boy has been told by the kami of the shrine that he can find his father in the province of Tsu.

In the second act, the priest and the boy travel to Tsu, and in a forest known as Ikuta, the ghost/spirit of the slain warrior Atsumori appears. He and his son reunite, and he expresses his regret that he should appear in such a diminished manner, his clothing not reflective of the true heights of the glory of the Taira clan. He then explains that it is because of the son's filial piety that he has been permitted reprieve from hell (presumably, the Realm of Eternal Battle, or shura no dô) for this one night. Eventually, though, agents from hell come to take Atsumori back; he resists for a time, dancing a dramatic battle dance, but eventually succumbs and exits.


The first act, unusually, features no shite actor. As in Zenpô's play Hatsuyuki, this allows a greater opportunity for a kokata (child actor) to perform; unlike Hatsuyuki, which unusually lacks a waki, Ikuta Atsumori contains a relatively typical waki role.

In contrast to Zeami's Atsumori, in which the warrior is tied to the mortal realm as a ghost and is unable to pass on because of his "attachment to an irreversible past,"[2] in Zenpô's play, Atsumori is portrayed as a somewhat more complex character. Further, as is typical in Zenpô's fûryû Noh, but not in earlier pieces, the action takes place in multiple settings: act one at the shrine, and act two in the woods at Ikuta. Travel is certainly a common feature in earlier plays, but generally takes place at the beginning of a play, where the waki explains he has traveled and arrived at the current location.


  • Beng Choo Lim, "Performing Furyû Nô: The Theatre of Konparu Zenpô," Asian Theatre Journal 22:1 (2005), 39-40.
  1. Lim, 48.
  2. Lim, 40.