is a play of the third category by Kanami
, revised by Zeami Motokiyo
. One of the most highly-regarded of Noh
plays, it is mentioned more than any other in Zeami's own writings, and is depicted numerous times in the visual arts.
The two main characters are the lingering spirits of the sisters and , who once lived on the Bay of Suma
in Settsu Province
, where they ladled brine in order to make salt. A courtier, Middle Counsellor Ariwara no Yukihira
, dallied with them during his exile to Suma for three years. Shortly after his departure, word of his death came and they died of grief. They linger on as spirits or ghosts, attached to the mortal world by their sinful (according to Buddhist doctrine) emotional attachment to mortal desires; this is a common theme in Noh.
The play opens with a traveling priest asking a local about a memorial he sees. The local explains that the memorial is to the two sisters. This is followed by a scene in which the sisters, ladling seawater into their brinecart at night, become fascinated by the sight of the moon in the water, and try to capture it.
The priest dreams that he meets them when asking for lodgings. After revealing their identities, they explain their past, and grow overcome with their love and longing for Yukihira. Matsukaze, after donning the courtly hunting robe and hat left her by the courtier, mistakes a pine for her love, and Murasame joins her briefly in madness, before recovering, passing on from the mortal world of... Read More