A Beautiful Robe

BEN_2839There is an interesting short episode which has been played in Noh (Japanese traditional play). Here is the story:

There we see a long green stretch of pine trees along the beach with white waves washing in from the Pacific ocean. Basking in the morning sunlight, a local fisherman, Hakuryu, was strolling on the beach, when suddenly a good aroma reached him out of thin air. There he finds a beautiful robe hung on a pine tree.
“Wow, this is excellent!”
When he attempts to take it home, a celestial maiden appears from behind the tree and says, “Wait a minute. That is my robe.”
“What are you talking about? This belongs to me because I found it. This is going to be my family heirloom.”
“That is the feather robe of a celestial maiden, which humans donʼt need. Please return it to me.”
“Oh, if this is so unusual, I want to keep it all the more.”
“What a sad remark you make! Without that robe I canʼt fly in the air. I canʼt even go home to the realm of celestial beings. Please return it to me. Iʼm begging you.”
“No!” Hakuryu spurned her plea. The celestial maiden just kept crying. The way she vibrates out of deep grief looks so pathetic that Hakuryu feels sorry for her.
“OK, then, I can give it to you in return for a celestial dance. Do you agree?”
“Sure. Let me show you a celestial dance. But in order for me to do that, first I need that robe.”                                                                                                                        “No. Once I give it to you, you will fly back to the celestial realm without performing the dance,” suspects Hakuryu. The celestial maiden replies calmly,“You are wrong. Such doubts belong only to the world of humankind. There is no deceit or lies in the celestial realm.”                                                        “Oh, Iʼm so embarrassed to hear that,” says Hakuryu impressed much by her words.

Upon receiving the robe from Hakuryu, the celestial maiden starts her performance in which she plays beautiful music and puts the dance to tunes. And she gradually ascends into the sky while singing and eventually disappears in the haze beyond the peak of Mount Fuji.


Drawing by abbysoekarno, 2011.




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