Tales of Heike

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Written in the middle of the thirteenth century, The Tales of Heike was a warrior tale (gunki monogatari) about the tragic fall of the Taira clan. During the Genpei war(1180-1185) two families battle for control over the capital, the Taira/Heike clan and the Genji/Minamoto clan. Although the majority of the tale highlights the defeats of the Heike clan, there are numerous tales of the downfalls of various warriors in the Minamoto clan. In book nine, chapter four titled “The Death of Lord Kiso” the reader is introduced to Lord Kiso or Minamoto Yoshinaka, a member of the Minamoto clan who was attacked and killed by his own family. Lord Kiso and what was left of his army met and together took a final stand against their enemies. His remaining warriors were of the strongest and most powerful of his army, warriors with strength that could not be compared with regular men. Among all the warriors that stood with Lord Kiso in that final battle, no warrior has had readers grip with mystery as Tomoe, Lord Kiso only female samurai warrior. Tomoe is presented in The Tales of Heike as beautiful, fierce, and more powerful than most of the other male warriors in Lord Kiso regiment. Tomoe because she was a woman was denied the honor of a warrior’s death. What happens to Tomoe after she “fled somewhere in the direction of the eastern provinces” is a mystery, but there are various noh plays and stories that tried to fill in the blanks of Tomoe life (Shirane, pg.738) . In the noh play, Tomoe is presented very differently than the Tomoe presented in The Tales of Heike. An assessment of the noh play Tomoe and The Tales of Heike Tomoe reveals that the character was transformed from strong and beautiful warrior in The Tales of Heike version, to a v... ... middle of paper ... ... of Heike, is replaced by female spirit with an air of loneliness, sadness, and regret. The noh play took away Tomoe’s integrity as a warrior and replaced it with a pale idea of her greatness. A samurai, who could defeat a thousand men, rode with valor, and display the power that Tomoe should not have to wander the world in death looking for pacification. Like Lord Kiso, Tomoe should have her own shrine. In future depictions of her life Tomoe deserves to be portrayed as the person she was brash, brave, and godlike, just as she was portrayed in the Tale of Heike. Works Cited The Tale of Heike." Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Ed. Haruo Shirane. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. 736-39. Print. "Tomoe | Theatre Nohgaku Blog." Theatre Nohgaku Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. .

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