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Genzai Play: Hanjo as a Mugen


In Yukio Mishima’s timeless tale, the protagonist Hanjo is waiting for the return of her lover. She falls into a state of insanity, and when he finally does come back, everything has changed. Ingulsrud playfully explores this story through different actors who take on each character role in turn throughout three sections. This text uses many literary techniques to create an unorthodox reading experience – it can be difficult at first glance as readers struggle with dense prose that features numerous techniques such as personification, allegory, and metonymy writing styles (a word or phrase with similar meaning). However, it is commonly regarded as one of Mishima’s most influential works, which has been central to the development of modern literature in East Province.

Background information of the stories characters and dressing code

To best understand the work, readers must learn how to recognize the performances of each character due to the masks and costumes. Unfortunately, it is not easy to make out who is who without a lot of trial and error. In reference to Tayler, the costumes for the characters are often an odd mix of traditional Japanese clothing with Western clothing (V.1). This can make it difficult for readers to identify which characters are men and women. For example, in the second section, Ing Ulsrud’s wife wears a red dress with blue trim while his sister wears a pink kimono with white trim. It is also challenging to figure out why certain characters wear masks during particular work passages. Mishima’s mother-in-law appears wearing a mask that obscures her face and reveals only one eye and mouth in one scene.

In explaining why this play is significant, we must first discuss its central theme: love. The protagonist waits for someone she knows will never come back to her in this play. She spends most of her time in a lonely room that has been decorated with all sorts of items from her past–things she will never see again as they were taken away from her as soon as she reached out to touch them. Throughout this, she suffers immensely because all she can do is wait and remember how much better it was when they were together–when they were happy together. But this state of being can only continue so long before she grows more insane by waiting endlessly for him to return–waiting until she becomes unrecognizable to herself–and ultimately dies waiting for him because there was nothing left but memories.

The stories Short Synopsis

Hanjo is a short piece of prose written by Japanese author Yukio Mishima. It is an exciting piece and subsequently reused to covey various life messages about love—the Temple of Dawn. Hanjo tells the story from the perspective of an unnamed woman who waits for her lover to return after going away on a business trip without telling her where he has been or when he’ll be back (Tayler V.1). She becomes obsessed with him, believing that she can stay alive because their love makes them “one” even if they are apart physically-and this belief gives birth to all sorts of fantasies about torturing herself and other people just like how Jesus tortured himself at Gethsemane before dying on the cross since this scene was later adapted into popular anime film Princess Mononoke. Things only worsen until she completely loses all sense as time goes by.

The Play as a Mugen

The story begins with a Yujo named Hanago who lived in an inn at Nogami in Mino Province (the present-day Nogami Sekigahara-Cho, Fuwa District, Gifu Prefecture) during ancient times. One day, a man called Yoshida no Shōshō, clothed in a suō, stopped at the inn on his route to the eastern provinces, and it was there that he met Hanago, who would become his lifelong companion. He described to Hanago, who is clothed in a Karaori, why he was traveling, and during their daily contacts, they each fell in love. Before his journey, they exchanged fans to mark his assurance of a better future. He is currently on his way to Japan (Tayler V.1). As a result, Hanago has been spending his days staring at the fan and fantasizing about Shōshō ever since. The mistress of the inn at Nogami, who had been serving the meal, had become dissatisfied with Hanago, who was now known by the nickname Hanjo. Hanago is then escorted out of the inn by the staff.

As Yoshida no Shōshō returns from his voyage across the eastern province, he pays a second visit to the inn, this time in expectancy of encountering Hanago for the second time. When he discovers that Hanago no longer resides in the area, he is disappointed. He then resolves to return to Kyoto to pray at the Shimogamo Sanctuaries in the Tadasu Forest, located in the heart of the city (Tayler V.1). After being expelled from the inn, Hanjo, also known as Hanago, appears by chance at the shrine clothed in a mizugoromo and a divinity school mask. As a result of her obsession with Shōshō, Hanago becomes insane Hanjo and eventually reaches Kyoto. Because Shōshō knows more about it than anybody else, he becomes skeptical.

After Hanjo had prayed to the divinity to grant her desire for affection, one of the Shōshō retainers demands that Hanjo provide entertainment for him and his friends by performing her lunacy. Hanjo becomes distraught as a response to this insensitive request. She regretted his careless comments and danced while conveying her despair, all while holding the fan she traded with Shōshō as a memento of their relationship (Tayler V.1). With each wave of her lover, she becomes further delirious. Hanjo confesses her feelings for him, which have grown more passionate as time has passed since they last saw each other. She sobs in agony, and she drops tears. During all the dancing, Shōshō pays close interest to Hanjo and requests that she displays her fan for him. Shōshō and Hanago are walking down the street when they notice each other’s admirers and realize they are the loves they were looking for. The couple is overjoyed at the prospect of reuniting. Hunjo, on the other hand, vanishes since he did not appear in his full form as Hanago.

Themes Used in the Story

Yukio Mishima penned “Hanjo,” a poetic, intense letter of love and betrayal that has taken on a life of its own. Written as a bilingual trio, with the actors rotating through each character role in the production, Ingulsrud’s direction unveils Mishima’s story as a timeless tale of love, loneliness, and betrayal. Tayler states that the prose is dense and complex and features numerous literary techniques that make it difficult for readers to follow along at first glance (V.1). In recent years, Yukio Mishima penned “Hanjo,” a poetic, intense letter of love and betrayal that has taken on an almost mythological-like status. Written as a bilingual trio with the actors rotating through each character’s role, Ingulsrud’s direction unveils Mishima’s story as timely and timeless. The prose is dense and complex and features numerous literary techniques that make it difficult for readers to follow along at first glance.


Yukio Mishima’s Hanjo is a play about the birth of a new Japan. Though the characters are not Japanese but rather a young woman and her father, it is still a play about the country.

The primary symbolic representation in Hanjo is the mask. The masks are both a physical representation of the characters and an internal image to help them interact and understand themselves as individuals. The shows are also used to help them achieve their goals and even alter their identities.

There are many costuming considerations in this play as well. The costuming demonstrates the different stages of the characters’ development while they are on stage. Though they are not always wearing masks, the costumes and masks are essential tools for them on stage to achieve their goals. For example, in the first scene of the play, where she is firstborn to her mother, she is wearing a white yukata with a black-and-white pattern and a white mask. This sets up her personality as an innocent person who needs protection from the world. Later, she is dressed in a kimono with a black-and-white pattern when she gets bigger. This shows her transition from innocence to maturity.

Works Cited

Tayler, Royall. 403 Forbidden,


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