YUMI YAWATA

THE BOW OF HACHIMAN

 

a god play by kanze motokiyo zeami

 

translated by Ross Bender

 

 

From the beginning, ours has been a land

Where the gods protect the emperor.

The vow of this god in particular

Illumines the night

Like the light of the moon.

The waters of Iwashimizu flow ceaselessly,

And as long as the stream runs on

Living beings are released.

How glorious is the god's compassion!

Truly this is an auspicious time.



These lines express the true theme of the play. The work presents an image of Hachiman in his tutelary aspect; this is the Heian conception of the god, and that most closely associated with the Iwashimizu shrine and the protection of the emperor. Near the end of the play Hachiman is revealed as a Bodhisattva, the symbol of profound and eternal compassion. But the Bodhisattva is seen as having a political function: not only does he release living beings, but he protects the emperor as well.


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