THE ZEN SUBSTITUTE
The dance-drama "Migawari Zazen", or "The Zen Substitute", was adapted from the
Kyogen farce "Hanago" and was first performed in 1910. The simple set, a large, stylized pine painted on the rear panels, mimics that of the classical Noh
theater, and many of the stylizations
of speech and movement are borrowed from Kyogen. "Migawari Zazen's" easy to
understand, universal comic theme of the strong-wife,
weak husband has made it popular both in Japan and overseas.
The daimyo Ukyo wishes to visit his mistress Hanago, but his over-
loving, quick to anger wife, Tama no i, will not allow him to leave the mansion.
He comes up with a story that he has been plagued by terrible nightmares and
wishes to perform zen meditation to help them go away. His wife is not to
check up on him while he does so. Tama no i reluctantly agrees, but only allows
him one evening alone.
Ukyo calls his servant, Taro Kaja, and orders him to take his place under the large
robe used during meditation. Ukyo can now slip out, but it will still look from the outside as if he is
meditating. Taro Kaja fears what will happen if Tama no i finds out,
but Ukyo is insistant. Everything set in place, Ukyo sets off for a night of romance.
Just as Ukyo feared, his wife could not stay away. She comes to offer him
refreshments and discovers Taro Kaja under the robe. She will forgive him only
if he allows her to take his place under the robe.
Ukyo returns, giddy with pleasure. Not knowing that it is his wife under the
robe, he describes the events of the night in great detail.