Donald Shively first considered the topic of “Buddhahood for the nonsentient” (sōmoku jōbutsu) as a theme in Nō plays back in 1957. In subsequent years there have been several major studies published on sōmoku jōbutsu in Japanese and one major study in English. This new research enables a more complex understanding of how popular conceptions of sōmoku jōbutsu play themselves out in Nō involving nonsentient beings, and in particular how the concept of Buddhahood for the nonsentient intersects with the possibility of enlightenment for women. The article takes as a case study the Nō play Kakitsubata, in which an iris, manifesting as a young woman attains enlightenment and release from her obsessive attachment to her deep purple color, which for her signals that she is the most important and beloved of the katami (fetishized poetic mementos) associated with Ariwara no Narihira, a Heian poet deified in the medieval period as the Bodhisattva of Song and Dance. In this play, as in others by Konparu Zenchiku, the solution that the playwright presents performatively to this doubled problem of salvation is ambiguous, but may well be representative of the popular understanding of the ontological and soteriological status of both nonsentient beings and women in late medieval culture.
KleinSusan BlakeleyYamamotoTokurō山本登朗MostowJoshua“Ai no kokoro: Yōkyoku Kakitsubata no bunsetsu 愛の色―謡曲「杜若」 の分析 The Color of Love: An Analysis of the Noh Play Kakitsubata.”Ise monogatari: Sōzō to hen’yō『伊勢物語 創造と変容』[Ise monogatari: Creation and Transformation]2009TokyoIzumi Shoin147178