The Floating Bridge of Dreams

 

Original Work by Takuji Ōno

 

Translation by Jen

 

Translatorís Note: This is still a rough draft, but at the moment itís in hiatus so I thought I might as well post what I have, since the DVD is already out. Also, this is based on the Le Cinq script, not on the actual performance the night it was recorded.

 

Scene 1: Hidden in the Mists

Koto music. From the left wing of the stage, Yūgiri (Genji's eldest son), Akashi no Chūgū (his daughter), and Nakanobu (Kaoru's chamberlain) appear.

Akashi no Chūgū: ... Brother. Is our father's health still, ah, is it still well?

Yūgiri: He seems to be about the same as when we met him previously in Saga.

Akashi: Then....

Yūgiri: But for tonight at least we must get him on his feet by all possible means.

Nakanobu: This way, please.

In the center of the stage, an aged Hikaru Genji is standing quietly. The Prelate of Yokawa is helping him to dress.

Akashi: ...Father.

She replaces the prelate in helping her father.

Nakanobu: (Addressing the prelate) ...Monk. How is His Grace of Rokujō's health?

Prelate: Sir. It is unchanged from the usual condition, and he has become very calm.

Yūgiri: Calm. ...We must allow his soul to continue calmly, and not be disturbed now. ...He has been reduced to this plight, his soul empty, like a puppet.

Akashi: It is so very sad. It is because of his constant anxiety over how Lady Murasaki passed away in anguish.

Yūgiri (in self derision): But it is no problem for him to be a puppet. So long as he is a beautiful puppet. ... Which clan should govern this capital? For the sake of making this clear, we must have father, Hikaru Kimi, reign over this capital for all eternity.

Niō no Miya and Onna Ichi no Miya (children of the current emperor and Akashi no Chūgū), and Kaoru (Hikaru Genji's youngest son) appear, accompanied by a gentlewoman. They are all very young children.

Young Niō no Miya: Grandfather!

Gentlewoman: Niō no Miya, please wait!

Young Niō: ...You promised me before that you would teach me the koto this time.

Hikaru: ...Koto.

Akashi: Father...?

Young Niō: Yes!

Young Onna Ichi no Miya: Ever since we learned that you had come home, grandfather, the only thing that Niō no Miya has talked about is the koto...

Hikaru: ... For the koto, Lady Murasaki would be better than I to-- Lady Murasaki. ...Lady Murasaki!

For an instant Onna Ichi no Miya is transplanted in Hikaru Genji's mind with Lady Murasaki, and he throws his arms around his granddaughter.

Young Onna Ichi: ...Grand...father.

Hikaru: ...No.

Yūgiri: ...Yes. She is not Lady Murasaki. ...More importantly, father. The offering ceremony will begin soon.

Hikaru: Offering ceremony...

Yūgiri: Yes, we must hold a memorial service for Lady Murasaki.

The stage rotates, and on the reverse side of the palace set there is a very intimidating scene. Civil officials robed in white are arrayed in rows.

Akashi: Now then, take the young imperials inside.

Gentlewoman: Yes, My Lady.

The gentlewoman lead the members of royal blood out toward the wings of the stage.

Hikaru: Do you think this should be allowed me? When I didn't allow Lady Murasaki to become a nun?

Akashi: Father.

Hikaru: No... I suppose it is *because* of this that we must hold the ceremony. The weight of the many crimes that I have committed, and the imperial court that I built up shall be laid in the coffin.

Hikaru Genji acsends the steps to the inner palace. However, he drops the prayer beads he held in his hand.

Young Niō: Grandfather!

Noticing this, Niō turns back and picks up the beads which have fallen to the foot of the stairs.

Hikaru: Niō no Miya, will you come with me?

Young Niō: Yes!

But Kaoru takes the prayer beads from Niō no Miya's hand and takes them to Hikaru Genji.

Young Kaoru: Niō no Miya, he is my father!

Hikaru: Kaoru, child of sin. Very well, the weight of your crimes are also....

Young Niō: ...Kaoru!

Genji takes Kaoru's hand, still clasping the beads, and they ascend the stairs together. Niō no Miya is left at the foot of the stairs, arm outstretched after them.

Young Niō: ...Kaoru!

Genji and Kaoru disappear into the palace. Niō no Miya and Onna Ichi no Miya are left on the stage. The young Onna Ichi no Miya moves to the wing, while her older self appears on the opposite wing.

Young Onna Ichi: The night of the offering ceremony, His Grace of Rokujō, who --as rumor would have it-- always shone with the same constant light...

Onna Ichi no Miya: That night was the last time that he was ever seen in public again.

Young Onna Ichi: The following year...

Onna Ichi: ...he passed away.

Five young dancing girls appear and surround Niō no Miya. Both he and the young Onna Ichi no Miya begin to sink down beneath the stage.

Young Onna Ichi: And the years passed...

Onna Ichi: ...The years passed...

Young Onna Ichi: ...We, who were so young, also...

Onna Ichi: ... at length reached the age of committing sins. ....Like His Grace of Rokujō, Hikaru Kimi.

The adult Niō no Miya rises from under the stage while Onna Ichi no Miya sings and the dancing girls dance. The stage rotates once more, returning us to the palace, where nobles are playing the koto.

Onna Ichi:
At length the light of the shining days overflows
Time passes
On nights when visits are paid
Sleeves overlapping
Crimes overlapping
Love ranging down long roads
The floating bridge of dreams


~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 2: Court Banquet

A court banquet, at night. After Niō no Miya has finally finished rising from below the stage, a group of male dancers appears. Among them are Yūgiri's sons, Emon no Kami and Saishō no Chūjō.

The kotos begin to play again.

Emon no Kami/Saishō no Chūjō:
A young maiden, a lonely god
Imperial feather-printed sleeves swaying
In the rich glow of the lamplight
Fanning the restless populace


Eventually Go no Miya (Niō no Miya's younger brother) arrives and joins Niō no Miya in a dance. But when Niō no Miya realizes who his unexpected partner is, he stops dancing. Sensing his mood, the dancers also stop, and eventually the music is silenced as well.

Go no Miya: Brother...?

Niō no Miya: What happened to Kaoru?

Go: Kaoru? ....Ah, yes. The Commander of the Right is--

Ni no Miya (Niō no Miya's older brother), the Prince of Ueno (a prince of a different province), and Shi no Miya (Niō no Miya's half-brother by a different mother) step forward.

Prince of Ueno: What is wrong, Minister of Military Affairs?

Shi no Miya: Stopping the banquet dance mid-way is--

Niō (sighing): I was caught in admiration.

Prince of Ueno: Caught in admiration?

Niō: ...Yes. Over there..., yes, by a dancing girl.

Prince of Ueno: What!

Niō: ... And then as I was pondering whether she was one I had seduced, I lost track of the sequence of the dance.

Prince of Ueno: But of course, this is very like our lecherous Minister of Military Affairs.

Ni: ...But it won't do. A court banquet isn't simply a banquet, it is one of the ceremonial offering functions of the emperor. ...It is acceptable to color the imperial court with a love affair, but try for moderation.

Niō: ...Yes. As you say, brother.

Ni: Right.

As everyone begins to mill around, Shi no Miya approaches Niō no Miya.

Shi: ...And, in truth, which dancing girl?

Emon no Kami (rebukingly): My Lord of Hitachi.

Niō: ...You will know directly. Yes, possibly even tonight.

Go: It's started again...

Niō: There is no one in the imperial court who does not know the scent that I perfume my robes with. As the dawn brightens, which princess will be permeated with my scent...?

Ni (rebukingly): Minister of Military Affairs.

Niō: Ahh, of course this is simply a fictitious tale.

Niō:
As the dawn sky is dyed a pale color, a hint remains hanging in the air
A sweetness permeates the mingled sleeves
The scents of the visitors alone,
Colors the nights in the capital

Flirtations begin, and love
We must think of how to prove it
The one who taught us all this,
Our model, is Hikaru Kimi
Of course this is simply a fictitious tale
Perhaps


Others:
Time and again
the extraordinary love affairs
caused a commotion

But no one believes
Such a fictitious tale


Everyone has traveled around to the silver bridge.

Niō: ...Well then.

Go: Brother, you couldn't be serious?

Niō (shouting toward the wings): Tokikata!

Prince of Ueno: He seems to have made up his mind.

Shi: This is all he ever does, you know.

Tokikata and Michisada come hurrying out.

Tokikata: ...My Lord Prince.

Niō: Tokikata, I am staying at court tonight.

Tokikata: Yes, My Lord Prince.

Niō: Michisada, see to the arrangements.

Michisada: Yes, My Lord Prince.

Niō: ...It won't live up to expectations, you know.

Niō no Miya leaves.

Michisada: ...Expectations?

He looks after his prince.

Shi: Well, there you have it.

Michisada: Again...?

Go: Ah, it must be hard; so many.

Tokikata: Did you know?

I've been by his side as his personal attendant for more than ten years

Shi no Miya/Prince of Ueno:
My goodness, well done!

Tokikata:
Today and tomorrow I'll be delivering love letters

Shi no Miya/Prince of Ueno:
My goodness, that's dejecting

Go:
He is such a gifted prince
He should be first among us
But all of his talents
Are utilized in love affairs
Such a waste


Michisada: If...

I weren't serving him,
He'd be a most interesting man


Shi no Miya/Prince of Ueno:
My goodness, that's true

They all depart.

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 3: Inside the Private Quarters of the Imperial Palace

Kosaishō no Kimi:
While napping I intended to dream of my lover
But in reality the dream is unfulfilled
Even though I returned the ubatama night robes
He does not come back
Someday, somewhere, I will meet again
His form which vanishes in the mist
Because I am thinking of him yet in my slumber


The music continues, while Niō no Miya makes his entrance.

Kosaishō: This scent...

Niō: Do you recognize it?

Kosaishō: Yes. .. I'm so happy.

Niō: Happy?

Kosaishō: Because you chose me, didn't you? From among all the dancers. ... I'm so happy I could boast and spread it all around the palace.

Niō: Be careful tomorrow! I burned incense to perfume my clothes with this scent for you. However, because of this I'll leave a lingering scent. On you.

Kosaishō: On me? ...How will you leave it?

He moves closer to her.

Niō: Like this. ... I won't let you go now.

Kosaishō: My Lord Prince.

She clings to him, throwing an arm about his neck. He is startled.

Niō: This is.... You are more passionate than I thought...

Kosaishō: Passion? ...It's just a job.

Niō: ...A job?

Kosaishō: Yes. (She raises her voice to a shout.) He's secured!

Niō is startled by her shout and pulls away.

Niō: W-What is this? What on earth?

His escape route is blocked by Onna Ichi no Miya's gentlewoman, Ben no Omoto.

Ben:
My Lord Prince, you are well come.

Niō: Huh? .... Ah, yes, I've come.

Seeing who is there, he turns to flee in another direction, but Onna Ichi no Miya's gentlewoman Chūjō no Omoto blocks him this time.

Chūjō:
My Lord Prince, it has been some time.

Niō: Y-yeah.... It has been a while, hasn't it...?

He goes for a curtain. Another gentlewoman who serves Onna Ichi no Miya appears, Senji no Kimi.

Senji:
My Lord Prince, this is not an exit.

Tokikata arrives.

Tokikata: My Lord Prince, are you all right?

Niō: Tokikata!

Tokikata: Now that I am here...

He tries to rush to rescue Niō, but another of Onna Ichi no Miya's gentlewomen, Nakatsukasa no Kimi, blocks his way.

Tokikata: Aaah!

Nakatsukasa: You told me I was the only one, but-!

Niō: What?

All around the room, women are appearing from behind curtains and coming in the doors.

Gentlewomen:
My Lord Prince, My Lord Prince
My Lord Prince, My Lord Prince
My Lord Prince, My Lord Prince
My Lord Prince, My Lord Prince


Four Ladies:
My Lord Prince

Tokikata: My Lord Prince!

Four Ladies:
My Lord Prince

Tokikata: My Lord Prince!

Niō: (Giving up) All right then, all right. Yes, I am "my lord prince". ... Who on earth is behind this? What is this behavior about?

Onna Ichi no Miya arrives, along with her gentlewoman Dainagon no Kimi.

Onna Ichi no Miya: It's because of how complacently you seduce the dancing girls. In any case, after you seduce her, you're intending to make her one of my ladies-in-waiting, aren't you?

Niō: ... Sister.

Onna Ichi: Look, if you will. It appears as if my hobby is collecting ladies-in-waiting.

Niō: It's a wonderful spectacle.

Onna Ichi: ... I won't tell you to stop your conquests, because you're valued as a second-coming of Hikaru Kimi. ... However, Hikaru Kimi took care of his ladies himself--

Niō: I am, after all, the third born, and a prince. Someone like myself has other things to take care of.

Onna Ichi: ... Anyhow. Dainagon.

Dainagon: Yes, My Lady.

Kosaishō: Seems that there will be time for your scent to spread after all.

Dainagon: ... Now then, I would like to receive everyone's complaints regarding His Highness, the Minister of Military Affairs. ... To begin, everyone please raise your hand.

The whole crowd begins talking at once, and raising their hands. Dainagon picks three or four, and they air their complaints. As she gets ready to choose yet another, Niō no Miya gets restless.

Niō: Please wait one moment! Are you still going to continue this?

Dainagon: ... Raise your hand if you wish to speak.

Niō: (raises his hand) Yes!

Dainagon: His Highness, the Minister of Military Affairs.

Niō: ... There is no doubt that there are ladies here with complaints. I am reflecting with all my heart. .... Ahhh, what have I done?

Niō begins to sing.

Niō:
Please, forgive me
for these sins of corruption
I gave such pain to you all
without thinking
My heart full of only sensual pleasures

However, if you had never met me
If you became tied to a diligent gentleman
Right now you would be so bored
Amidst endless days where nothing happens
You would forget completely even to dress up
In that respect, you never have time to grow bored with me, isn't that right?


Chūjō: I see. ... He certainly has a point.

Dainagon: You there! Don't let him deceive you!

Ben: But..., it's true!

Kosaishō: (In a small voice to Niō) You're a more interesting person than I thought.

Dainagon: Please regain your composures!

Kosaishō: I'll definitely play along.

When your only love in this fleeting world
is mixed with yawns, how disconsolate.


Dainagon: You! Are you intending to turn traitor?

Chūjō:
It is certainly true that up till now--

Senji:
--this unfaithful man--

Ben:
--has made me angry.

All the Gentlewomen:
But! If you compare it

Chūjō/Ben:
Even if I had someone who was only mine

Senji/Nakatsukasa:
If I had a love affair

Chūjō/Ben:
When things were dull--

Senji/Nakatsukasa:
--I'd want to be given a stimulus to set my heart beating

All:
What a shame if we managed to get everything.

Niō:
Not alone.

All:
There's no point in spending all your time just keeping occupied.

Niō:
Everything.

All:
This ephemeral world only passes once.

Niō:
I am here.

All:
Getting caught up in useless things
If it's My Lord Prince, even if he isn't mine alone...


Niō:
If you--

All:
Even if it's only for an hour

Niō:
--love me--

All:
An hour of my heart beating fast

Niō:
I'll give you an hour where your heart will beat fast.

All:
I'll take it.

Niō:
So--

All:
Together with you

Niō:
With you

All:
Just like this.

Now it is Niō no Miya's turn to pick ladies one by one, who now shout compliments instead of curses. He leads them around and across the silver bridge. At last only Niō no Miya and Tokikata are left on stage. Michisada has slipped in.

Michisada: ...Goodness, they gave you a bad time.

Niō: Indeed.

Tokikata: When did *you* get here? What were you doing just now?

Michisada: Now, now....

Tokikata: You're an unctuous one. ...Anyhow, My Lord Prince. You shouldn't waste counsel from your older sister, the Princess.

Michisada: Now, now, there is no way to amend a path of love just begun. ...I've heard through the grapevine that even the Commander of the Right has a princess shut away in some remote villa, and he's not leaving her, even for an instant.

Niō: The Commander of the Right...? Kaoru?

Michisada: Yes.

Tokikata: That's right, isn't your father-in-law the Commander of the Right's chamberlain?

Michisada: Yes.

Niō: I am setting out for Uji now.

Tokikata: Wha-!?

Niō: Prepare a boat.

Michisada: By "Uji", do you mean *that* Uji?

Niō: ... A princess who could engross Kaoru to this extent? This is something that I must get a glimpse of.

He leaves.

Michisada: ...Aaah. And my father-in-law forbid me to speak about it.

Tokikata: You have a habitually lose tongue, so this is what comes of it.

Michisada: I wonder if it will be all right? If this has given him any bad ideas....

Tokikata: Don't be concerned. What my lord prince is worried about isn't the princess; it's the Commander of the Right.

Michisada: The Commander of the Right?

Tokikata: Because Lady Ōikimi passed away, and since then...

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 4: Uji - The Former Palace of the Eighth Prince

The stage lights up once more, showing Kaoru standing alone among changing autumn foliage. It is night in the mountains of Uji. Kaoru thinks and sings of his love, Ōikimi, who has passed away. An illusion of Ōikimi appears.

Kaoru:
Like the tuning of a koto
The silence of the night resounds
The sound of a damp drizzle
It seems to envelop me
Even now without end

The sound of the koto you played
That should have stopped on that day
Still resounds
Until that day comes
There are only words of farewell
Someday they shall be repeated once more, a tedium

If there are things which cannot be called back
Before one is aware of it, time passes
I have been left behind in this world

Like the tuning of a koto
The silence of the night resounds
Immobile in a damp drizzle
I am bound

The mountains of damp brocade seem to be dyed with color
The time which has passed halts my progress
No matter how often, I simply retread my path
Even now


The illusion of Ōikimi disappears, leaving behind her overrobe. The stage resolves itself into a room at the palace which belonged to the (now deceased) Eighth Prince. Kaoru's chamberlain, Nakanobu, arrives and kneels.

Nakanobu (softly): ...My Lord. I have come for you.

Kaoru: I know. (to Ukifune) Well then, I am going. There is a koto in the place I just was; please use it as you would like.

Ukifune, the woman that Kaoru is keeping here, appears through one of the curtains.

Ukifune: But, ah..., I have never learned the koto.

Kaoru: Well then, please learn it. ...What, it's in your blood. Surely you will learn it quickly? After all, without the sounds of a koto flowing through it, this palace is....

He places the overrobe about Ukifune's shoulders, and then Kaoru and Nakanobu depart, leaving Ukifune in the darkening room.

Ukon, Ukifune's gentlewoman, appears.

Ukon: ...Excuse me. Shall I bring a light?

Ukifune: It's fine like this. Thank you.

Ukon bows and retreats. Left alone, Ukifune adjusts the overrobe and stands. Niō no Miya slips in through one of the curtains and comes up behind her.

Niō (disguising his voice to sound like Kaoru): I wanted to gaze a little longer at you in your unlined kimono....

Ukifune (shocked): Eh?

Niō lifts his fan up to obscure his face in the dark.

Niō: Sh! ...Quietly. I just came back for something that I had forgotten.

Ukifune: Something forgotten? .... (to herself) This scent.... (to Niō) And? Then what could this thing be that you forgot?

Niō: That which you have snatched away from me, my heart.

Ukifune: Your heart?

Niō no Miya wraps his arms around her, but she escapes.

Ukifune: Your heart, sir, and other things, are not....

Niō: Do you doubt it, then? My--

Ukifune: My doubt is because we are meeting for the first time... My Lord Prince, Minister of Military Affairs.

Niō no Miya stops pursuing her.

Niō: ...When did you know?

Ukifune: Your scent... because the fragrance doesn't fade. The Commander of the Right's scent, yes, it permeates your soul.

Niō: I see. This scent that I burned to perfume my robes is only something that I created to mimic Kaoru.... But you are the first to notice.

Ukifune: ...Because I was frightened.

Niō: Frightened?

Ukifune: Of being noticed by you.

Niō: Little bean. ...But you seem to forget that they say my nature is to measure up to expectations. ...What's wrong? You should be running away quickly.

Ukifune: I don't have the energy anymore....

Niō: ...That's true. Besides, it's almost dawn.

Niō stands and goes to pull back a curtain and look outside. Ukifune steps forward into the light behind him.

Ukifune: ...From now on, please go and amuse yourself directly with My Lord, the Commander of the Right, without using me.

Niō: What?

He turns and sees her clearly for the first time. He is shocked.

Niō: Ōikimi...?

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 5: In the Palace

The cold halls of the palace, at night. Ni no Miya and Ukyō no Daibu, Emon no Kami and Saishō no Chūjō appear.

Ni no Miya: ...I am opposed. Making an Imperial progress to Uji during this year of poor harvest--

Saishō no Chūjō: It is *because* it is a year of poor harvest. We must not avert our eyes from people, lest it be turned into a point of attack against us.

Emon no Kami: For that purpose, the more opulent it is...

Yūgiri enters.

Yūgiri: What are you making a commotion over? You're inside the palace! ... Ni no Miya, in any case, it has already been decided. You may have objections, but as you will eventually become crown prince, you should make the effort of going.

Ni no Miya: With the expense of an Imperial progress, how many of the populace could you aid?

Yūgiri: Forgive me, but you are too shortsighted. ... If it were Hikaru Kimi, he would surely take the initiative, and support an opulent Imperial progress. To raise the spirits of the wilting populace, our statesmen...

Ni no Miya: ... I am not Hikaru Kimi! I've inherited that blood, but the Genji clan is the only one not supporting me!

Yūgiri: ...Ohh?

Ni no Miya throws down his shaku
Ļ and stalks from the room.

Ukyō no Daibu: My Lord Ni no Miya!

Yūgiri: Ukyō. What was the reason for this talk just now?

Ukyō: I don't know anything that could have caused it...

He bows deeply, and begins to leave.

Yūgiri: Ukyō, "supporting me"?

Emon no Kami: Ukyō, it is admirable that your heart thinks of Ni no Miya, but you must think of your own future as well.

Ukyō: Yes, Lord...

Saishō no Chūjō (threateningly): Ukyō!

Ukyō: I'm sorry.

Ukyō leaves.

Emon no Kami: Father.

Yūgiri: ... Fools. You will get nothing by provoking others. Think of skillful ways to manipulate the royal family which has inherited our Genji blood. ... Yes, like a puppeteer.

Saishō no Chūjō: Like a puppeteer...

Yūgiri: In any event, the Imperial progress to Uji must take place at all costs, so that we can make known the continued strength of our clan to the other families.

The stage rotates, showing the Uji River and various people making the Imperial progress, including Yūgiri and his sons.

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 6: The Uji River

The autumn foliage decorates the banks of the Uji River. A dragon-headed ship glides by, with the pilot and Kosaishō no Kimi in it. Kosaishō begins to sing "The Boat Polling Song" from The Puppet Chronicles.

Kosaishō:
Cutting and sewing, cutting and sewing
The living and the dead...


The nobles and civil officials pass along the river, including Yūgiriís sons, Tokikata, and Michisada carrying a branch with persimmons. Saishō no Chūjō and Emon no Kami knock one of Michisadaís persimmons off its branch, then pick it up and walk off with it. Niō no Miya, Kaoru, and Onna Ichi no Miya arrive, along with Nakanobu and Dainagon no Kimi, and a servant carrying a pine torch. Everyone else continues on their way, and passes off stage.

Niō: At last you show yourself.

Kaoru: Yes, because of your bullying.

Niō: When you're not here I have no rival, and it's dull. No one to compete with for the title of Genji Kimi Reborn.

Kaoru: You don't seriously compete.

Niō: What's that you say?

Niō pokes Kaoru with his shaku. Kaoru pokes him back. Niō pokes Kaou on more time. Then the two of them break into a mock swordfight, using their shaku.

Onna Ichi: Stop it, both of you!

The dragon-headed boat floats by, and Kosaishō no Kimi calls out.

Kosaishō: Do your best, My Lord Prince!

Niō: Right!

Nakanobu tries to send one of the servants in to break them up, but he gets whacked in the face and falls back. Finally, Nakanobu steps in himself and divides them.

Nakanobu: ... How nostalgic this is. When you were young, you often acted like this.

Onna Ichi: Because the three of us were raised together at the Rokujō.

Kaoru: ... Yes.

Onna Ichi: Back then the three of us kept no secrets from each other.

Onna Ichi no Miya begins to sing, and Niō no Miya and Kaoru join in, while everyone else departs. Behind them, in the river mists, their younger selves play together.

Onna Ichi:
We wrote down our wishes on the bamboo grass
And set our bamboo boats sailing together

Down the small river that ran through the garden
That time comes back to me


Kaoru: ...Did you know, after that, how you had captivated my heart?

Onna Ichi: ...

Niō: That is an awful secret. Anyway, it would have been better if you to continued keeping it to yourself. ...Thanks to you, that dreadful lady-in-waiting--

Onna Ichi: Niō no Miya.

Kaoru: ...That was my first secret.

Niō:
Joy...

Kaoru:
I remember...

Niō:
...
and sadness

Kaoru:
... of the past

Niō:
...seemed to be

Kaoru:
... only anger

Niō:
... ours.

Kaoru:
Though I couldn't express it

Niō:
Without noticing, I cast my eyes down

Kaoru:
I concealed my heart

Niō:
In my breast, even now

All Three:
The memories remain, unchanging

Onna Ichi no Miya departs, and Kaoru and Niō no Miya slowly follow her off stage. Kaoru pauses.

Kaoru: And you have none? No secrets from me?

Niō: Secrets?

Kaoru: ... No, let us leave it.

They exit.

Ni no Miya enters, with a daughter of the Kōbai Clan, Naka no Kimi.

Ni no Miya: No one can see us here.

Naka no Kimi: Shall we be safe?

Ni no Miya: I instructed your gentlewoman; all I wished was to see you.

Naka no Kimi: ...Yes.

Ni no Miya: ... I want you to wait just a short while more. Until I'm crown prince. ... The Genji clan my mother was born into and the Kōbai Clan that you were born into are in discord, but surely...

Naka no Kimi: ...Yes, I believe.

Ni no Miya: Ahhh. ...When you are here, that is the only time when I can lay myself bare.

The moonlit capital projects onto the white thread of the falls
Peering through the woven fence of mist
Your body seems as though it will disappear
When I touch your hand
It shivers
That is all that saves me
In the lightless depths of the castle
In the palace
Only this warmth...


Naka no Kimi:
Proof that we are living

Both:
If a parting comes
The night can last forever, simply like this


Just then, Emon no Kami, Saishō no Chūjo, Ukyō no Daibu, and the gentlewoman arrive. They are accompanied by armed men.

Naka no Kimi: Ah...

Ukyō falls to his knees.

Ukyō: My Lord Prince, Ni no Miya, forgive me.

Saishō: The seating has been arranged for the banquet, and because father wishes to share a place with you, I have come to bring you back.

Emon no Kami: Ni no Miya, you really must.

Ni no Miya (with a sigh): Yes.

Gentlewoman: Princess.

Ni no Miya walks away in one direction, while the gentlewoman puts a robe up to hide Naka no Kimi's face, and leads her away in a different direction.

Naka no Kimi: No!

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 7: Uji - The Former Palace of the Eighth Prince

Night.
Ukifune is seated in front of the koto, familiarizing herself with it. Niō no Miya enters through the curtains.

Niō: ...Has he returned?

Ukifune: ... Yes.

Niō: I see. Because he slipped away alone from the banquet. He has no patience!

Ukifune: And so you came yourself to check on him? ... Has something happened between you and the Commander of the Right?

Niō: ...Why?

Ukifune: Didn't you come to visit because you were worried?

Niō: Yes.... Don't say things so transparently. (Taking her hand.) ...Have you already lost all sense of caution?

Kogimi comes in through the curtains, chased by Michisada.

Kogimi: You've come again and again, countless times, and you never do anything with my sister--

Michisada: Hey! Watch how you talk to the prince!

Kogimi plops down by Niō no Miya and Ukifune for protection.

Niō: Leave it. I've forgiven him. You have it exactly right; I'm a harmless man by nature.

Michisada: But I fear I cannot nod agreement.

Kogimi: My Lord Michisada, are *you* allowed to talk that way--?

Michisada: You're impertinent, aren't you? ... Hey!

He stands Kogimi back on his feet. Kogimi races off, Michisada laughing and following him.

Niō: You're too noisy. Take it outside.

Michisada senses a presence behind the curtain.

Michisada: My Lord Prince. People do not have much confidence in you.

He sweeps the curtain back to reveal Ukon, Ukifune's gentlewoman, who has been kneeling just outside it.

Niō (warningly): Michisada.

Michisada and Kogimi leave, laughing. Niō no Miya and Ukifune are left alone.

Niō: Heavens... What a look you have on your face -- "Why haven't you gone yet?"

Ukifune: No.

Niō no Miya spots the koto.

Niō: Can you play?

Ukifune: I am only learning.

Niō: I see. ...How nostalgic. The sounds of wind and stringed instruments used to resound through this palace. Especially...

Ukifune: ...Lady Ōikimi's?

Niō: Above all, Ōikimi's specialty was the koto. ...You are Ōikimi's...?

Ukifune: Yes. When my mother worked as a gentlewoman in this palace--

Niō: I see...

Ukifune: ...I hear that at first the Commander of the Right had considered a plan for a katashiro
in the image of Ōikimi that he would keep here, for remembrance. And someone who was acquainted with me offered him a better option.

Niō: Absurdity. Perhaps they took Kaoru's nonsense seriously. A katashiro is just....

He begins to leave.

Ukifune: ... Is there such a great resemblance? Between her and I?

Niō: ... Ōikimi is gone. Do not pay such things any mind.

He leaves.

Ukifune:
The fishing lights twinkle in the starless sky
They dye the illuminated river surface; autumn-colored flowers
Disappearing off into the distance
Like the
katashiro floating downriver
Without knowing how long they will float along, arriving at last
That floating boat which is tossed; disturbed tendrils of seaweed
Countless nights of beautification
I cannot recall the days that have passed,
Nor myself


~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 8: The Upper Women's Quarters

Near Akashi no Chūgū's rooms. Akashi no Chūgū and Go no Miya appear.

Go no Miya: Mother!

Akashi no Chūgū: It has already been decided.

Go no Miya: But--

Akashi: ... Minister of Central Affairs, you are being arrogant.

Niō no Miya enters.

Niō: What has happened?

Go no Miya: Brother. ... The rank of minister of ceremonies has been conferred onto our brother Ni no Miya.

Niō: Minister of ceremonies? ...Then--

Akashi: Minister of ceremonies is a government appointment with status. It is not insufficient.

Niō: But now he can no longer become crown prince. What mistake has he made that--

He stops abruptly.

Akashi: ... You knew, didn't you? Then why didn't you stop him?

Niō: ... He was with the daughter of the Cabinet Minister of the Kōbai clan...

Go no Miya: The Kōbai clan's--?

Niō: But for only that...

Akashi: Only that? ... Minister of Military Affairs, please re-examine your position. ... The emperor will make you the next crown prince.

Niō: ... Impossible. Inconceivable.

Akashi: I will not listen to any answers from you. That is how things have progressed.

Ni no Miya appears.

Ni no Miya: It is as mother says, Niō no Miya.

Ni no Miya bows to his mother, but she turns away and leaves without acknowledging him. Go no Miya steps after her.

Go no Miya: Mother...

Ni no Miya: ...The emperor knows your talents. Moreover, Hikaru Kimi believed in your promise.

Ni no Miya hands Niō no Miya the sheathed sword he has been holding.

Niō: What is this?

Ni no Miya: I do not know if it is authentic or not. This sword is said to be Kamitsumiya Taishi's. ...With this I once dreamed of controlling the world; like Kamitsumiya Taishi, like Hikaru Kimi.

Niō: ..."Once".

Ni no Miya: I had thought that some of Hikaru Kimi's gift was passed on to me... But it appears that I made an assumption.

Go no Miya: Brother....

Niō: Then, the Kōbai daughter?

Ni no Miya attempts to depart without answering.

Ni no Miya: ...Well then.

Niō no Miya stops Ni no Miya from departing.

Niō: Brother. Brother, can you allow this to happen?

Ni no Miya: There is nothing to be done.

Niō: Don't be so helpless. ... I don't need this thing. Even at this point, if I sought to mediate with the Chancellor of the Right--

Ni no Miya: "This thing"! ... I cannot detach myself as strongly as you. I'm different from you. I cannot return to those unrealistic days.

Go no Miya: Brother.

He leaves. Kosaishō no Kimi had been passing by when she spotted them. She had paused, half-hidden, in a doorway. Now she tries to pass nonchalantly by.

Niō: (to himself) ...To me, strength and all that is... (he turns) What are you doing?

She stops.

Kosaishō no Kimi: ... Aren't you sharp-sighted. ... I'm going out. Away from this boring place. Neither you nor anyone else has come to visit me. Liar. ... What? You look as if you're going to just disappear.

Niō notices a small bell that she's carrying, half-hidden up her sleeve, and changes the topic.

Niō: ... That is from Persia. You can't procure it any more.

Kosaishō: ... Aren't you sharp-sighted.

She rings it in his face.

Kosaishō: A reward to see me on my way. This much. Because the truth is, I was engaged to make a conquest of you and see you chastened. But now I have to go, because the Uji shrine will be finished soon.

Niō: ...The Uji shrine?

Kosaishō: That's right. I'm a member of the puppeteers. I have obligations.

Niō: I see.

Kosaishō: Well then, My Lord Prince.

Niō: ....Right.

She lays her hand on his shoulder as she passes by. He covers it with his own. When she moves to leave, his grip tightens. She looks at him for a silent moment.

Kosaishō: ... Hey, My Lord Prince. Do you want to go with me?

Niō: Go? To where?

Kosaishō: Well, you don't want to be here, do you?

She pulls her hand away gently.

Kosaishō: There's a world outside the palace. A world you don't know, My Lord Prince. ... So then--

She holds out her hand to him. After a moment of hesitation, he takes it.

 

~~~*~~~*~~~

 

Scene 9: Uji Rice Festival

Uji Shrine in the moonlight. Streamers are hanging from the gates.

Niō no Miya and Kosaishō run across the stage holding hands. After they have gone again, commoners come up through the audience, dancing. Two men sing.

Common Man (Singer):
The rustling leaves of bamboo grass

Both:
Sansassaa

Common Man (Singer):
The boiling river waves

Common Man:
Sansassaa

Common Man (Singer):
The sounds of flocking geese

Common Man:
Sansassaa

Common Man (Singer):
Branches of sakaki on display

Commoners:
Sansassaa

Common Man (Singer):
The everlasting Uji, passing through the fishing weirs

Common Man (Singer):
The course of the waves of the sacred river

Common Man (Singer):
The cuckoo calling out in the Iwase Forest

Both:
Hidden behind the trees

Commoners:
Sansassaa

Niō no Miya and Kosaishō enter again. Kosaishō has changed into an everyday garment of the kind worn by the other commoners, and is carrying a kimono. Two puppeteers (Kiku and Inu) dressed like priestesses approach them.

Kiku: What's happened?

Inu: I thought you weren't ever coming again.

One of the male puppeteers approaches them.

Jidōmaru: ...Hey.

Kosaishō: (to Niō) Wait a moment. (to Jidōmaru) Actually, brother--

Jidōmaru: What have you been doing? Where have you been?

He rips the kimono from her hands roughly.

Kosaishō: Give that back!

She tries to take it, but snatches at only air. Niō no Miya steps into their view.

Niō: Hey, are you all right?

Jidōmaru: (to Kosaishō) ...Where did you latch on to this one? (to Niō) ...The puppeteers have their own customs. If you have a complaint, take it to the shrine's...

Kosaishō: (to Niō) ...It's fine; that's how things are. ...More importantly, hey, there's going to be something worth seeing at the shrine, starting soon.

Just then, someone walking by snatches Niō no Miya's sword and runs off with it.

Common Woman: A donation!

Common Man: One treasured sword!

Common Man: Almsgiving!

Common Woman: We will accept it!

Common Man: Thank you very much!

Common Men: An offering... An offering...

Niō: Hey, wait!

Kosaishō begins to sing, joined by the two priestesses. Another folk dance begins. Niō no Miya runs through it, chasing after his sword, which is being passed from hand to hand in a dizzying pattern.

Kosaishō:
Living quietly in the mountains
Uji, repeatedly obscured by fog
The mountain fog comes to Mizugaki
Concealed in the mountains, concealed in the water
Here you can cleanse your hands


Ritual Dancers (men): Yoohai, yoohai

Inu:
A night for lonely gods, the Moon sleeps alone

Kiku:
Yearning for the currents of the river of forgetfulness

Inu:
The path you pole the boat along

Kiku:
Rejuvenating water, sansassaa

Niō no Miya at last recovers his sword, and the people scatter and disappear. The priestesses draw close to him.

Yoshi: O, My Lord Prince. Wouldn't you like to see the puppeteers' craft?

Niō: ...Puppeteers?

Inu: Yes. The marionette.

The stage rotates, revealing a marionette strung up from the shrine gates. The puppet is slowly drawn upright, and at last Niō no Miya realizes that it is in the form of Hikaru Genji.

Niō: ...My Grace of Rokujō. Hikaru Kimi!

Drawn irresistibly towards it, Niō no Miya is startled when the puppet begins to move in frightening ways.

Hikaru (Puppet): Lady Murasaki...? Why do you flee from me?

Niō no Miya is the one fleeing. But suddenly Niō no Miya begins to move as if the puppeteers are manipulating him as well.

Yoshi (Puppeteer): If you entrust your body to us...

Inu (Puppeteer): ...You'll be able to live more comfortably.

Niō takes his sword and cuts the threads entangling him. With that action the puppet stops moving, and the puppeteers disappear. All that remains are Niō no Miya, and Kosaishō, who is visibly worried about him.

Kosaishō: Are you all right? You didn't seem to have the disposition to become intoxicated by the puppeteers' craft, but...

Niō: Puppeteers' craft...

Kosaishō: I get it! All you were talking about was this thing.

She hands him the sheath to his sword. He grabs it and shies away from her.

Niō: It may just be a thing, but this is the form of my brother's dreams.

After a moment of silence, Kosaishō turns away slightly.

Kosaishō: ...Well them, I have to be going.

Niō: ..."Going"? Where?

Kosaishō: Who can say? Eguchi, perhaps, or Murotsu.... Itís not for me to decide.

Niō: I see.

Kosaishō: Hey, My Lord Prince. Being unable to live as you wish, it's the same everywhere.

She walks off stage.

Niō:
A bleak quagmire seems to fill my path,
Clinging to my legs so that I cannot flee

When did it begin?
An unconscious realization
I still cannot see, my chest pounds
Tomorrow, again, I will commit unforgivable crimes
Each time they are described they disappear into thin air
The smallest oppositions;
Only playing the fool and averting my eyes

With the transient nature of temporal things,
I have let my life slip by
And yet still my chest aches
Distant memories that I intended to forget

Even now a small bit remains
Searching for fragments of the dream
From a time when I believed
Bewildered in the dark of the night,
Amidst the fog


~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 10: Uji - The Former Palace of the Eighth Prince

Ukifune is hunched over her koto, plucking out a simple, mangled melody. Niō no Miya pauses for a moment to listen, then speaks.

Niō no Miya: ...Not very good.

Ukifune: Yes, truly.

Niō: You didn't play at all before this?

Ukifune: After my mother was installed as a second wife in the Eastern Provinces, there weren't any more elegant things.

Niō: I see.

Ukifune: ... The Commander of the Right is no doubt vexed.

Niō: ... Not particularly, so there's certainly no need to push yourself too hard. Simply imitating Ōikimi, isn't that similar to pulling the strings on a puppet?

Ukifune: But, though you might say that, there's nothing else.... Other than continuing to play like this, there's nothing that I can do...

She plays single-mindedly. Niō sits beside her, chastened.

Niō: ... I'm sorry. In all honesty, I don't know what the right thing to do is. ...But it is the same even for him. Undoubtably, Kaoru also doesn't know what should be done. That's why he's just fumbling along, trying not to commit the same errors he did with Ōikimi.

He wipes away Ukifune's tear with a gentle hand.

Niō: ...So warm. You'll be lost, made a puppet--

He suddenly lunges forward and pulls the koto plectrum from her fingers, dropping them in their box.

Niō: You should stop playing the koto and doing these things. If Kaoru demands to hear you, I'll become your katashiro and play in your place.

He reaches his arms around from behind her, and plays a few notes.

Ukifune: My Lord Prince...

Ukifune wilts into him. Niō realizes how close they are and pulls away.

Niō: ... I'm sorry, please forgive Kaoru. For him and I, the sound of the koto is a relic of the days of our youth, when we were beside Lady Murasaki. As yet the memory brings back the joy we experienced then.

He begins to sing.

Niō:
Since when has my heart
Come to be hidden
Even in joy
As if I were ashamed
Beneath these layers of silk?


Ukifune:
The truth is
That the difficult times
Continue


Niō:
And I've forgotten
Whose hand
I'm clinging to


Niō: It's as if the puppet's strings have been cut.

Ukifune: Yes. As if my lord prince's perfume has permeated everything.

Niō: Tonight I didn't burn any incense to scent my robes...

Ukifune: You're trembling.

Niō: Yes. ... This is the first time that I have done something like this. ... Committed a crime. ... I may not look it, but I have managed, all my life, to avoid it. ... In avoiding only the tangible crimes, I let everything slip by. ...But I can't stop myself any longer.

Niō:
Concealed by a curtain of silk
Remove the barrier; stay like this


Both:
I want to lay you bare
Even if it's a crime


They embrace, but the dawn arrives. Niō tenderly lays her outer robe around her shoulders and reluctantly departs. Suddenly, Kaoru is there.

Kaoru: Has anything happened?

Ukifune: ... No.

Kaoru: I had meant to stay for some time, but I remembered something I must do in the capital. I'll send Nakanobu with a letter.

Ukifune: ... Yes.

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 11: In the Palace

The scene changes to the palace at night.

Kaoru: ... That fragrance.

That fragrance hanging in the air is not mine
Without any shadow of a doubt
I know well his....


A curtain in the palace wall rises, revealing Yūgiri and his sons, his daughter, and civil officials in the background.

Yūgiri: ...So then, His Highness, Niō no Miya has taken up with this princess you have been keeping?

Kaoru: Yes. The matter of the emperor considering Niō no Miya as the next crown prince...?

Yūgiri: Of course, I am aware of it. Unfortunately, Ni no Miya is faint of heart.

Kaoru: Then if it happens that the girl has the blood of the deceased Eighth Prince flowing in her?

Yūgiri: The Eighth Prince... Hikaru Kimi's younger brother?

Kaoru: That is correct. Although he opposed Hikaru Kimi and fell from power, if we assume that you intend to make Roku no Kimi, your daughter, Niō no Miya's empress....

Yūgiri:
If a princess of the royal family...

Roku no Kimi:
A princess?

Yūgiri:
...
Is her competition...

Roku:
It cannot be!

Yūgiri:
...
My daughter cannot become empress

Roku:
No!

All:
The Minamoto clan-!

Roku:
Father!

Another curtain is raised, revealing Akashi no Chūgū, her sons, and the gentlewomen.

Akashi: ... What a thing to happen!

Kaoru: For myself, I think it would be best to go in accordance with Niō no Miya's heart, but then I am not certain if the Genji side will be appeased or not. Past precedent--

Akashi: Niō no Miya.... Commander of the Right, you did well to inform us.

What would become of
The authority of the Imperial Family
Without the backing of the Minamoto?


All:
We cannot lose it

Kaoru:
Now I can no longer turn back
I have stirred up the unseen powers
Entirely like a puppeteer
There isn't time to agonize
Over what I am doing
In my impatience

I have stirred them up


Minamotos:
This stream is...

Imperials:
...Broken

Kaoru:
Stopping time

Minamotos:
If it isn't stopped

Imperials:
We will fall

Kaoru:
The means

Minamotos:
The power to control everyone

Imperials:
The order

Kaoru:
He doesn't have it

Minamotos:
He no longer will have it

Kaoru:
He incited me

Minamotos:
Incited

Imperials:
No return

Kaoru:
Whirling emotions

Minamotos:
Emotions

Imperials:
Stop them

Kaoru is alone.

Kaoru:
Was that anger?
Without knowing it
The aching wound
Had me all the more agitated


: No, there is one thing that I understand. What makes my heart shake so is the expression she had that night, the one she has never shown to me. An expression that I have been trying to forget, one that is the same as *hers*.

At that moment, the form of Kaoru's mother, Onna San no Miya, appears. She seems cold and distant. Then Kaoru's true father, Kashiwagi, also appears. When she meets Kashiwagi, Onna San no Miya becomes more human. They dance.

Kaoru: Mother!

Niō no Miya and Ukifune's intertwined forms rise up from the stage. Caught between the apparitions, Kaoru anguishes. Finally, Onna San no Miya and Kashiwagi's forms disappear.

Kaoru:
Why...?
I loved them
And yet why does everyone
Become overpowered by the current

The violent movements of my heart
Are not anger
Because even now
I am fascinated by them


The empty space Niō no Miya and Ukifune were moving in resolves itself into the former palace of the Eighth Prince.

Niō: Well then, next time I shall bring you to the capital. Until then, please endure somehow.

Ukifune: Yes.

Niō: ...

Ukifune: ...My Lord Prince.

He holds her close.

Niō: No, rather, the one unable to endure is I. Because as I say that I shall come for you, my state is such that I seem to be clinging to you.

Ukifune: That is fine, so long as ... Because you desire me for myself, My Lord Prince.

He lets her go.

Niō: Well then, without a doubt--

Ukifune: ...Yes.

Niō no Miya leaves. Ukifune is in a meditative pose when Kaoru suddenly approaches her. Noticing him, she turns away and hurries to leave.

Kaoru: ...Have you perhaps heard the stories of... my mother?

Ukifune: My Lord, Commander of the Right. ...I'm going to fetch a light now--

Kaoru: No, please listen as you are now.

Ukifune: ...Yes.

Kaoru: It happened early in her marriage to Hikaru Kimi. My mother was tangled in a relationship which was not a trifling matter with a certain young nobleman. ...In other words, my real father is not Hikaru Kimi.

Ukifune: Not Hikaru Kimi...

Kaoru: That is correct.... That young nobleman passed away shortly after I was born. Perhaps that is why, for as long as I can remember, my mother had already cut her hair and spent her days absorbed in Buddhist teachings.

Ukifune: ...Why are you telling me such things?

Kaoru: Since I was a small child, my mother was simply like a katashiro, with no bond of blood to me. How rarely then did she show me an expression of warmth or kindness. ...Last night, and tonight as well. The look on your face is the same--

Ukifune: What...?

Kaoru: When I saw that I wondered if someone had told you the story of my mother...

Ukifune: My Lord Commander!

Kaoru stops her from leaving.

Kaoru: Please wait! ...I am not thinking to criticize you. Rather, I am regretful. ...That I couldn't draw out from you any form other than that of a katashiro.


Ukifune: Oh...

Kaoru: I wanted you to give *me* a look like that... Yet I lost to the fear in my heart, so I took without holding out my hand.

Ukifune: ...Forgive me, please, My Lord Commander.

Kaoru: I am the one requesting forgiveness. ...For a chance to start over once again.

Ukifune: My Lord Commander, I-- You only use me as a substitute for Ōikimi. And...

Kaoru: Let us forget everything.... So, please, somehow, find it in you to assent. With that, everything can be saved. ...That will be good, will it not?

Strength leaves her, and she bows her head to Kaoru's shoulder with a dead look in her eyes.

Ukifune: ...Yes.

Kaoru: ...Really? ...Aa, tonight came for this reason alone.

The place where the Moon waits is wet with autumn rain

Ukifune:
Without thought

Kaoru:
The lingering night mist flows by

Ukifune:
I abandoned myself to him

Kaoru:
The evidence disappears in the rain and the fog

Ukifune:
I was involved in the sin, but

Both:
I saw now for the first time

Kaoru:
These vows we have exchanged
Allow us to start over once more
I will hold fast
For that purpose
I will not fear sin


Ukifune:
It was both of us
Who were involved
Unforgivable


Nakanobu enters.

Nakanobu: My Lord.

Kaoru releases Ukifune, who leaves.

Nakanobu: My apologies. ...I have been questioning my son-in-law Michisada since last night, but--

Michisada: It is as I told you before. There is nothing more-!

Kaoru: That you know?

Michisada: ...Yes.

Kaoru: Bring him in.

Ukifune's little brother, Kogimi, is brought in.

Kogimi: Lord Michisada!

Kaoru: I know that you and Kogimi are connected to the prince. What I want to know is, how, how does the prince intend to take her away?

Nakanobu: Michisada, answer honestly.

Michisada: My Lord Commander of the Right. And. What do you intend to do-?

Nakanobu: Michisada!

Kaoru: The prince and I are friends who were raised as brothers. It is nothing to be anxious over. ...Ah, there is another way to go about this.

Kaoru departs.

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 12: Onna Ichi no Miya's Bedroom

In the palace.
Niō no Miya is walking about in Onna Ichi no Miya's bedroom when she stops him.

Onna Ichi: ...You cannot. ...You cannot persist in this.

Niō: ...This is the most lightly-guarded area. No one comes to your room.

Onna Ichi: It is futile. It is not like you.

Niō: Entirely. In that respect, you and I resemble each other well. ...Doing nothing futile, or rather, being afraid--

Onna Ichi: Being afraid?

Niō: Yes. Of the sin of giving our love to someone. ...That is why I continue to send ladies to you as ladies-in-waiting, so that you would continue as an unmarried woman, and continue to refuse offers. ...Because of fear.

Onna Ichi: Are you saying you aren't afraid now?

Niō: Of any kind of sin, completely.

Onna Ichi no Miya tries to snatch away Niō no Miya's sword, but he pushes her away. Niō no Miya tears off her outer robe. She falls to her knees, and he kneels to grab her wrist.

Niō: Did you know that I loved you before Kaoru did?

He stands up.

Niō: You are unmoved, aren't you. This is why Kaoru also never reached out for you.

Onna Ichi: Can you live with your heart laid bare? In this palace? It will be the same for her, if you bring her here.

Niō: Sister, you are the one fit to be crown prince.

Tokikata enters.

Tokikata: My Lord Prince.

Niō: Tokikata? Is the boat ready?

Tokikata: Yes. ...But.

Niō: What is wrong?

Tokikata: When they couldn't learn where the lady was going, the ladies-in-waiting at the villa-- And it appears that the Minamoto servants are hunting for her.

Niō: What...?

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 13: The Uji River

Around the stage and the silver bridge, people are running in search of Ukifune.

Civil Official: Find her!

Ukon: Princess, Princess!

Kogimi: Sister!

Military Officer: Find her!

Ukon: Princess, Princess!

At last they come to the Uji River. It is winter. Niō no Miya appears, pursued and surrounded by Minamoto retainers.

Niō: Move!

They draw their swords.

Niō: Do not stand in my way! ...Stand down!

Emon no Kami and Saishō no Chūjō arrive.

Emon: Be careful! We must return the prince unharmed to the palace; that is your duty.

Officer: Now!

They manage to overpower Niō no Miya. Suddenly, Tokikata arrives.

Tokikata: My Lord Prince!

He sees the men grabbing hold of his prince.

Tokikata: What are you doing, drawing your swords on your better-?!

Tokikata breaks through the circle, and pulls the men away from Niō no Miya. But he is overpowered by the crowd, and Saishō no Chūjō slams him in the head with his sword hilt.

Saishō: You-!

Niō: Stop!

Tokikata: ...Uhh.

Saishō no Chūjō hits him again.

Saishō: Interfering--!

Tokikata: My Lord Prince!

Niō: He was only following my orders.

Kaoru appears, and Emon no Kami notices him.

Emon: Commander of the Right. The prince's route was exactly as you said it would be.

Kaoru: I looked into it beforehand.

Niō: Kaoru...

Kaoru: ...Minister of Military Affairs. If you please, turn back now.

Niō: Kaoru, I intended to apologize afterward...

Kaoru: ...Minister of Military Affairs. If you please.

Niō: Kaoru. I only want to know where she has gone.

Kaoru: If it's where she has gone, the Minamoto troupes are already-! ...Moreover, do you intend to make her a fresh corpse for the palace?

Niō: But, then, what will you do when she is brought back? If things continue as they are, nothing of herself will remain. This is different from how Hikaru Kimi kept Lady Murasaki!

Kaoru: *I* will do it well! I will do it better than Hikaru Kimi!

Nakanobu enters, accompanied by the Prelate of Yokawa.

Nakanobu: My Lord!

He waits for Kaoru to calm down and turn to him.

Nakanobu: My Lord, this holy man-- Speak your piece.

Prelate: ...Yes. My son rescued a woman on the bank of the Uji River. In my opinion, I fear that it is likely that-

Nakanobu: The simple colors of her robe, and other things. They match what the ladies-in-waiting tell us.

Niō: On the banks of the river... She couldn't have...!

Prelate: At the time of her rescue, her hems were stiff. ...I fear it is likely that she made a conscious decision to drown herself.

Kaoru: Drown herself?

Nakanobu: ...In any case, she is unharmed, correct?

Prelate: Yes. She is at my sister's hermitage.

Emon: ...Did you hear?

Saishō: Yes.

Emon no Kami and Saishō no Chūjō prepare to leave.

Niō: Wait, where are you going?

Saishō: It is hardly worth explaining.

Emon: The support of the Genji clan extends to the imperial lineage of the empress as well. You musn't be the only one hindering us and causing problems, prince.

They confront each other.

Kaoru: Drown herself. ...Meaning she tried to put an end to her own life?

Nakanobu: My Lord.

Kaoru lunges at Niō no Miya.

Kaoru: This is your doing! ...Yours!

Nakanobu: My Lord!

Nakanobu holds Kaoru back. Niō no Miya drops his sword. Tokikata picks it up.

Kaoru: Yours...

Niō: ...Yes, you are correct. ...This is my doing.

Saishō: (to his men) Let's go.

Soldiers: Understood!

Niō: Wait.

Emon: My Lord Commander of the Right, even we cannot always be on our best behavior.

Niō: Best behavior?

There is an odd note in his voice.

Emon: ...Yes.

In response, Niō takes his sword from Tokikata. In a surprise move, he holds it to his own throat.

Tokikata: My Lord Prince!

Niō: But now that my older brother has been made a Master of Ceremonies, even this body of mine must be valuable. Since it is the body of a prince with the blood of Hikaru Kimi, of the Minamotos, ...who will be the next crown prince.

Saishō: Prince...

Niō: Or do the Genjis intend to sever their link to the royal lineage?

Saishō: ...Brother.

Niō: Emon no Kami, Saishō no Chūjō. Stand down!

Emon: ...Understood!

Saishō: (to his men) ... Stand down. Stand down!

The soldiers put up their swords and disperse.

Niō: ...Kaoru.

Nakanobu retreats.

Kaoru: And do you intend to snatch her away from me, like this?

Niō: ...No, I won't rob you of anything. There is nothing more--

Niō draws close to Kaoru.

Niō: Kaoru. ...You and I, we can't contact her. We need to leave her, as she desires. ...You and I, haven't we clung to the weaknesses in our hearts sufficiently?

I woke from a long dream
Now, when I cannot return
Although the wound in my chest aches
As though it would burst open
I turn
Wounded all the more
If someone is there

In a meaningless dream
Bewildered in the unlit darkness
At last I felt warmth
I snatched at it without hesitation

Convinced it is my only salvation
I continue to cling
And I was convinced
That I could save her as well
Fixated only on the rewards of the body
The sins, too, are only mine, altogether

I cannot cling...


Kaoru:
I cannot cling...

Niō:
...
Any more

Kaoru:
ÖAny more

Niō:
This dream...

Kaoru:
I cannot return...

Niō:
...
is over

Kaoru:
...to the dream

Niō:
To the transient world...

Kaoru:
To the real world...

Both:
...
I must return

Kaoru: This does not mean that I consent.

Niō: Yes... Then I shall order you. This is the imperial decree and conduct decided by the one who shall be crown prince, the imperial son of the throne.

Kaoru: ...Minister of Military Affairs.

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 14: Inside the Private Quarters of the Imperial Palace

Once more, as at the beginning, Onna Ichi no Miya appears on one side of the stage, and her younger self on the other.

Onna Ichi:
The light overflows
Time passes
On nights when visits are paid
Sleeves overlapping
Crimes overlapping
Love ranging down long roads
The floating bridge of dreams


Young Onna Ichi:
The sound of the bell rings out
Over the surface of the river
Love ranging down long roads
The floating bridge of dreams


As the music ends, the young Onna Ichi no Miya turns and begins to walk off stage. Coming along the path in the other direction are Michisada and three ladies with their faces obscured. As Michisada passes her, the young Onna Ichi no Miya trips and falls. One of the women gently helps her to her feet, and then she hurries off stage.

Michisada and the women, Ukifune and Ono no Imōtoama (the Prelate's sister, a nun) walk onto the silver bridge.

Michisada: You can see it now. That place you can see now is where the acharya resides.

Ukifune: ...Yes.

Ono no Imōtoama: But is this truly what you wish? If you continue, your hair...

Michisada: In any event, we will do as she wishes. That is the prince's command. A path to a quiet life.

Ukifune: ...Let us go on.

Ukon: Yes...

They continue on, and pass out of view. On center stage, Nakanobu and the Prelate of Yokawa appear.

Nakanobu: Then she has continued on to Yokawa.

Prelate: Yes. To become a nun.

Nakanobu: If you would like to watch the prince's accession to crown prince...

Prelate: Such a grand position is too august for one such as I. Though you are very generous.

Nakanobu: ...Well then, the lady...

Prelate: I can sense the emotions which afflict her. However, delaying things cannot change the crimes which are committed.

Nakanobu: ...Yes.

The Prelate departs.

Niō (from off stage): She has gone?

The curtain rises, showing Niō no Miya in formal costume.

Nakanobu: Yes.

Niō: By all rights, I should have asked Kaoru's staff, but no one else came to mind.

Nakanobu: ...Yes. However, for Kaoru's sake as well, severing all ties in this way is the best path. ...Or so I think, but...

Niō: ...You waver?

Nakanobu: ...Yes.

Niō: There is nothing to waver over. I am the one who gave the order. All you have done is follow it.

Nakanobu: My Lord Niō no Miya.

Koto music begins to sound.

Niō: The appointed time has come. I must go.

Nakanobu: Yes.

~~~*~~~*~~~

Scene 15: The Floating Bridge of Dreams

The staircase from the first scene is revealed, and the nobles and civil officials mount to take their places.

Niō: I must go. ...Along with the pitiful others who have committed sins. Into this imperial shrine. To contain me, my sins.

He faces the stairs. Suddenly, he drops his prayer beads.

Kaoru (from off stage): My Lord Prince.

Kaoru enters and picks up the beads.

Niō: Kaoru. ...She has gone on a journey. They say she will cut her hair. We cannot follow her any longer. ...It doesn't matter if you curse me. I will shoulder your sins along with mine. For as long as sins occur, I, who will become the imperial son of the throne shall--

Kaoru: ...My Lord Prince. I will bear you company.

He hands the beads to Niō no Miya. Niō no Miya receives them, and begins to ascend the stairs. Kaoru follows. The curtain falls, as if locking them away.

 

The End

 

~~~*~~~*~~~

 

Notes:

 

(1) shaku (): a scepter in the shape of a flat wooden object

(2) katashiro (形代): a paper, cloth, wood, etc. representation of a sacred object; a paper doll used in Shinto purification rites