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Title:Taiheiki, Volume 35, “The Tale of the Kitano Wake” and Emperor Go-Daigo’s Vengeful Ghost;
Author(s):Otsubo, Ryosuke
Emperor Go-Daigo
Medieval Japanese literature
Abstract:In Taiheiki(太平記), volume 35, the passage “The Tale of the Kitano Wake(北野通夜物語)” describes how a hermit, court official, and Buddhist priest meet at a wake at the Kitano Shrine and relate tales from Japan, China, and India as a critique of the chaotic times. Though embedded in Taiheiki, a historical chronicle of the upheaval between the northern and southern courts, “The Tale of the Kitano Wake” describes an entirely fictitious episode. Therefore, on first reading, this passage may seem to be a trialogue independent from the developments in the surrounding story. In fact, “The Tale of the Kitano Wake” was later made into an independent picture scroll. However, a careful examination of the word choices in the previously overlooked opening line proves that this passage is closely related to Emperor Go-Daigo(後醍醐天皇), particularly his vengeful ghost. Furthermore, in the later versions of the Taiheiki made by the middle Muromachi period, a monk appears who has secretly listened in on the trialogue in “The Tale of the Kitano Wake.” This monk was a real historical figure involved in the memorial services praying for blessings on Emperor Go-Daigo's soul in the next world after his death. The form of the later passage wherein the monk appears also supports the relationship of the passage to Go-Daigo's ghost. In this way, “The Tale of the Kitano Wake” bears a close relationship with the ghost of Go-Daigo. In addition, the ghost of Go-Daigo plays an important role in the compositional arc of Taiheiki, leading to the conclusion in which the powerful Shugo daimyō(守護大名) is destroyed and peace is declared. Though “The Tale of the Kitano Wake” may initially appear unrelated to developments in the surrounding story, focusing on the relationship with the ghost of Go-Daigo throws into sharp relief the connection of the passage to the composition arc of Taiheiki.
Issue Date:2018-03-06
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-11

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