Japanese classical dance / The Tale of the Heike: Dance performance and Japanese story recitation, June 13

Tale of Heike Hisami

Mme. Hisami Wakayagi will be featured at “The Tale of the Heike: Dance performance and Japanese story recitation” at alumnae associations’ anniversaries program at Zenshuji temple in Little Tokyo on Sunday, June 13.

Cultural News, May 2010 Issue

To commemorate their anniversaries, the Rikkyo University Alumnae Association in Los Angeles (aka LA Rikkyo Kai) and the American Association of Japanese University Women (AAJUW) presents “The Tale of the Heiki: Dance performance and story recitation” at Zenshuji Buddhist temple in Little Tokyo on Sunday, June 13. The first show is already sold out. The second show at 3:30 p.m. is just added. Donation tickets are $20. Call (818) 219-5041 or (818) 431-0531.

LA Rikkyo Kai will mark the 50th anniversary. AAJUW will mark the 40th anniversary.

The dance performance and story recitation (in Japanese) will feature Hisami Wakayagi, Hisame Wakayagi, and Haruka Wakayagi as dancers, and Kima Hotta from Tokyo as reciter.

Tairano Kiyomori, Emperor Antoku, and the Battle of Dannoura are some of the famous episodes from the Tale of the Heike. There are also many stories depicting the Genji clan, opponents to the Heike clan, as collateral evidence.

In the world of Japanese dance, the spirit of Tairano Tomomori, Minamotono Yoshitsune and Shizuka Gozen are often portrayed as tragic themes.

Yoshitsune, the Genji general, deals massive damage to the Heike clan in a historically renowned ambush attack known as the Hiyodori Goe, or riding horses down a steep hill. However, detested by his older brother, Yoritomo, Yoshitsune is destined to become a fugitive, fleeting through various regions of Japan.

In order to travel through the Yoshino Mountains, where women were prohibited, Yoshitsune decides to send his wife, Shizuka Gozen, back to the city. He asks Sato Tadanobu, one of his loyalists from Ohshu Hiraizumi, to protect her on her journey. While they travel together, Tadanobu tells Shizuka Gozen about his older brother, Sato Tsugunobu, who died in war. Using a sing fan, the dancer portrays the events of the Yashima Wasr following the Hiyodori Goe episode. (Dance: Tadanobu performed by Hisame Wakayagi)

Upon hearing that Shizuka is back in the city, Yoritomo summons her to the city of Kamakura in an effort to track Yoshitsune down. Shizuka, arriving in Kamakura after a long journey from Kyoto, is unafraid of the warriors that surround her.

Prepared to give up her life, she boldly expresses her thoughts on Yoshitomo’s immoral and irrational acts against his brother Yoshitsune. Shizu no Odamaki is a dance Shizuka performed under Yoritomo’s orders. She praises Yoshitsune in her dance, knowing Yorimoto’a anger could cost her life. (Dance: Shizu no Odamaki performed by Haruka Wakayagi)

Yoritomo’s wife, Masako, is highly impressed with Shizuka’s bravery, and her husband grants her wish to save Shizuka’s life. Sometime before the above incident on March 24, 1185, the Heike clan, who lost the battle in Dannoura against the Genji clan, fled and scattered throughout the country.

There are many anecdotes regarding runaway Heike warriors in hiding, as well as stories about their wives, who lived under disguise hoping that someday the Heike clan would rise again. (Dance: Kanjo performed by Misami Wakayagi)


Hisami Wakayagi, Dancer: Hisami Wakayagi heads the Hana no Kai, a North American organization supporting the Seiha Wakayagi school of dance, and avidly promotes Japanese traditional dance in Japan, Europe and the U.S. She is a member of the Nihon Buyo Kyoukai (Japanese Traditional Dance Association), and teaches dance at various locations in Los Angeles. The Hana no Kai is now its 30th year, with a commemorative performances schedule next year.

Kima Hotta, Reciter: As an announcer at a commercial radio station in Japan, Kima Hotta works as successful DJ, host and interviewer and is an active member of the Nihon Roudoku Association (Japan Reading Association). With guidance from voice actor Masaaki Yajima and actor Haruhiko Jo, she creates a new genre called “stage rodoku” (stage reading). As part of her lifelong pursuit, she organized Rodoku (Reading) Network Japan to promote Japanese language.

Kyokkaku Kawamoto, Biwa player: She began her lessons at the age of eight with Kyokuso Komori of Kyokuho-kai in Tokyo and has been performing since she was ten years old. She came to the U.S. in 1977, then continued her studies with Kyokuho Otsubo and received a teaching degree in Japan. She performed with Kyokuho Otsubo on many occasions in Japan and in the U.S.