According to the book, Japanese Nō dramas by Royall Tyler, Hanjo was written by Zeami himself and the honzetsu of the story is a famous Chinese story called Han Shōyo or Lady Han (which could be found in the Wakan rōei shū, or the “Collection of Japanese and Chinese poems for Chanting Aloud”). Zeami even mentions Lady Han in the story: “Gentleman: Well, what have you done with Lady Han’s fan? Hanago: You are quite mad! Are you now calling me Lady Han?” (pg. 115); as a result, showing that the characters are aware of the story of Han Shōyo and are comparing Hanago to Lady Han.
The characters in the order of appearance are: a post-station madam who is the ai, then the shite appears who is Hanago-a post station courtesan, then Yoshida minor Captain (the one that Hanago falls deeply in love and causes her to go crazy) who is the tsure, then his gentleman friend who is the waki, and finally Yoshida’s attendants who are wakizure.
The jo of the play, or the introduction, starts off with a post-station madam (who is the caretaker of Hanago) summarizing what went on before the play even started. She describes how Hanago was sent to entertain Yoshida Minor Captain one night and fell in love. They then exchanged fans as a sign of love and then parted. The original Lady Han made her round, white fan to calm her jealousy and anger for being betrayed by Emperor Sei. Hanago jus...
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...e Yūgao chapter when lady Yūgao sends her maid to deliver white moonflowers to Genji on a fan.
This story of Hanajo was the happiest nō play I had read so far. Even though Hanago went crazy, she was brought back to her love and even though the story ends before the happy end, it implies that they do end up together. However, looking at it through an analysis eye, Hanajo made a different shite from what is considered a normal shite. One of the big differences is that she was not a ghost. She did not have to die in the story and instead had her resolution during her life time. In a way, that is better for Hanago and Yoshida, but to the nō audience, I am sure they don’t find this one as moving as the other stories. There was little drama and no tragedy.
1. "Hanjo." Japanese Nō Dramas. Trans. Royall Tyler. New York: Penguin Group, 1992. 108-19. Print.
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