ORIGINS OF THE SEMBON EMMADO KYOGEN
The traditional comic plays performed every late spring during "Golden Week" holidays at the season of Fugenzou cherry trees of double blossom, also a traditionally famous kind of flower attached to the temple, constitute one of Kyoto's three Dainembutsu or Buddhist Kyogens, skits originally devised and staged to teach Buddhist doctrines to ordinary people in an enjoyable and easily remembered way. The Semmbon Emmado, so popularly called but whose formal name is Injo-ji temple, was founded about 1000 years ago in the Heian Era and dedicated to Emma or Yama, the ruler of the Buddhist nether world, who is believed to judge humans at the time of death. It has played a significant role in the cultural life of the citizen in Kyoto over the past centuries. Priest Jokaku, disciple of renowned scholar priest Eshin of Mount Hiei(Enryaku-ji temple) is said to have promoted Buddhism with such Kyogen. Eshin is the auther of Oujo-yoshu, the classic book of Buddhism which is quite famous for really
describing the nether world in detail. Almost all of the actors wear mask. A few probably older plays have been performed in body language just like the other two Dainenbutsu Kyogens at Mibu-dera and Saga Shaka-do (Seiryo-ji)Temples, accompanied with
a¡¡gong, a small drum and flute. The Emma and the dead whi is finally saved are characters in a brief mime which you see as the first play of every day in the season. Most of the repertories are comedies with spoken words in almost similar but some different ways of representation from Kyogen of No play, that are non folk performing arts. In olden days, near this temple, that is, at one of the outskirts and therefore the places for graveyard in Kyoto, the righteous warrior Tametomo vanquished thieves and ne'do-do-wells campimg at the district. That Tametomo was taken into the final, ritual-like piece on the last night of every season, as hero who gives the healing and saving results with his weapon stick on whitch holy words are written. In 1984, Emmado Kyogen was invited to the National Theater in Tokyo as a representative folk performing art. We hope you enjoy this performance of a unique and foscinating spectacle.