|Togawa Yukio (story)
Hiraiwa Yumie (script)
Kineya Rokuzaemon XIV, Kineya Rokuzaemon XV (music)
The play was written in 1968 for Namino Kuriko, the daughter of Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVII, who was a Shinpa actress. She first performed it in a special dance recital, playing the falcon, but later, in July 1971, appeared in it at the Kabukiza, with her father as the falconer.
An elderly falconer lives with his young white falcon, Fubuki ("snow storm") in a remote and mountainous part of Japan. It is winter, and, trudging through the snow, the headman of a neighbouring village visits them, imploring the falconer to use his bird to kill a marauding fox that is plaguing his village. The falcon has never tackled a fox before. "What do you think, Fubuki?" asks the falconer. The falcon agrees to take on the job.
The falconer and Fubuki set out, and soon spot fox prints in the snow, near to the village. Fubuki is set free to attack, but after a fight, the more experienced fox overcomes her. The falconer repeatedly calls to his bird, but as night falls he is forced to return home alone.
A few days pass, and the falconer is lonely without Fubuki. Suddenly, his falcon appears on the hanamichi, and although badly injured completes the journey home. The falconer is overjoyed to see her again.
Months later it is spring, and the falconer has nursed Fubuki back to health. He tells her that she must prepare herself to fight the fox again, since a falcon that is afraid of its prey can never be called "sovereign of the skies" - and also, unless she succeeds, he will never be regarded as a master falconer.
It is winter again before Fubuki and her master search for the fox once more. When he is found, there is another fight between Fubuki and the fox in a dance which is the central highlight of the work. Fubuki has learnt by her mistakes, and this time it is she who is victorious. The master falconer watches as his proud falcon soars up as the true "sovereign of the skies".
Summary written by Marion Hudson (July 2011).
The fox (left) and the falcon (right) in "Tsume˘"
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