Soga Monogatari


Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Soga Monogatari - 曾我物語
The Story of the Soga Brothers - 曽我兄弟

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The Soga Monogatari, or Tale of Soga,
is a warrior tale based on the story of Kudo Saemon Suketsune who, on order to get the inheritance of his uncle Ito Sukechika, had his cousin Kozu Saburo Sukemichi murdered in 1175. Eighteen years later, on the 18th day of the Fifth month of 1193, Sukemichi's two sons,
Juro Sukenari (1172-93) and Goro Tokimune (1174-93), killed Suketsune during a hunting party on Mt. Fuji.
Juro was killed in the ambush but Goro was captured. Although Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-99), applauding the brothers' bravery and loyalty, wanted to pardon Goro, Suketsune's son demanded and got his execution.

The tale focus on the conflict between the shogunal authority and the brothers loyalty to their father, highlighting the clash between the brothers' heroic vendetta and the feudal system which condemns them. The story was extremely popular in the Edo era and it was adapted for Nô, Bunraku and Kabuki, where several hundreds plays based on the Soga world were written and performed in Edo for centuries. It is still a custom in Kabuki to perform at least one sogamono every New Year.

Of all these play the Soga no Taimen (The Soga Brothers' Audience with their Enemy or Confrontation), from an anonymous playwriter and first performed in 1676, became the most popular.
source : www.man-pai.com

Utagawa Hiroshige : Soga monogatari zue

Pictures of the Soga brothers story of revenge

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曽我の傘焼まつり Festival
Soga no Kasayaki Matsuri
Burning the umbrellas of the Soga brothers

Festival in Odawara, Soga-danitsu, Temple Joozen-Ji
小田原市曽我谷津592 城前寺
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Tora Gozen 虎御前(とらごぜん) Lady Tora
安元元年(1175 - ?)
Ooiso no Tora 大磯の虎 Lady Tora from Oiso
Lady Tora, Lady Tiger
She was born in the year of the tiger, on the month of the tiger at the hour of the tiger, hence her name, says the legend. (Reality says she was born in the year of the sheep.)

She was a prostitute and the lover (some say, the wife) of Juro.
After his death, she became a nun and spend her life praying for his and his brothers soul. After a pilgrimage to famous temple Zenkoji 善光寺 in Shinshu (near where Issa lives later on ) she went back to Oiso to the temple Koraiji-San 高麗寺山 in Hiratsuka / Oiso near Komayama 高麗山(こまやま).

CLICK for original LINK and more photos
安藤広重 Ando Hiroshige, Tora ga Ame

Tora ga Ame 虎ケ雨 / 虎が雨 Tears of Lady Tora
She cried on the death of Juro (Juuro 十郎) on May 28.
It rains in Oiso town every year on the 28th of May.

CLICK for original LINK
歌川広重 Utagawa Hiroshige, Toragozen



kigo for the New Year

hatsu soga 初曽我 First Soga Performance

Kabuki and Haiku


kigo for mid-summer

tora ga ame とらがあめ【虎が雨】 "rain of Lady Tora"
tora ga namida ame 虎が涙雨(とらがなみだあめ)tears of Lady Tora
Soga no ame 曽我の雨(そがのあめ) "rain of the Soga"

. . ..... Soga matsuri 曽我祭(そがまつり)
festival of the Soga brothers  

Satsuki kyoogen 五月狂言 (さつききょうげん)
Kyogen in the fifth lunar month
..... 皐月狂言(さつききょうげん) 

Soga no kasayaki 曽我の笠焼 (そがのかさやき)
Soga brothers burning their paper umbrellas

Sogadon no kasayakai 曽我どんの傘焼(そがどんのかさやき / そがどんの傘焼き)
Umbrella Burning Festival

On the 28th day of the fifth lunar month in 1193, the Soga brothers burned their paper umbrellas, used them as torches on the way down from Mount Fuji to fight the enemy.
Festivals are held on this day, for example in Odawara and in Kagoshima.
It is one of the three great festivals in Kagoshima, where it is celebrated on the fourth Saturday in July, along the river Kotsukigawa 甲突川. It has a long tradition in Kagoshima, former Satsuma han.


. Hekinan - Ohama clay dolls 碧南大浜土人形 Aichi .

曽我十郎 Soga Juro clay doll
about 31 cm high. Made by 美濃部 泰作 Minobu Daisaku


kyoodai no kao miru yami ya hototogisu
kyoodai ga kao miawasu ya hototogisu

A 'hototogisu' called;
The brothers turned
And looked at each other.

Kyorai 去來
trans. Blyth

Blyth explains that this is based on a well-known revenge story involving the Soga brothers. Blyth then says:

"Here Kyorai imagines the two brothers as they approach the tent of Suketsune [upon whom they are seeking revenge]. A 'hotototgisu' suddenly cries, as if in omen of the coming death, and the two brothers instinctively turn their faces to each other in the darkness."
source : translatinghaiku

是句ハ五月廿八日夜、曾我兄弟の互に貌見合ける比、時鳥などもうちなきけんかしと*、源氏の村雨の軒端にたゝずび給ひしを、紫式部がおもひやりたるおもむきをかりて*、一句を作 れり。先師曰、曾我との原の事とハきゝながら、一句いまだ謂おほせず*。其角が評も同前なりと、深川より評有。許六曰、此句ハ心餘りて詞たらず。去來曰、心餘りて詞不足といハんハはゞかり有。たゞ謂不應也*。丈草曰、今の作者ハさかしくかけ廻りぬれバ、是等ハ合點の内成べしと、共に笑ひけり。

source : www2.yamanashi-ken.ac.jp


makoto naki sato wa furanu ka tora ga ame

it does not fall
on this insincere village -
Rain of Lady Tora

toshiyori no ore ga sode e mo tora ga ame

on the sleeve
of this old man too -
Rain of Lady Tora

Kobayashi Issa

* the sleeve of a kimono served as a hankerchief in olden days and is used as a symbol for shedding tears, wiping them with the sleeve of a kimono, especially done by the ladies in the old love stories.


ne-oshiroi ka ni tachi ni keri tora ga ame

the fragrance
of her white night powder -
Rain of Lady Tora

Hino Soojoo 日野草城

Tr. Gabi Greve


歌川広重「大磯 虎ヶ雨」
- source : The Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints -


Tear, tears (namida) Japan. Träne, Tränen

Daruma Pilgrims in Japan



Gabi Greve - Issa said...

- Kobayashi Issa -

shoojiki no kuni ya raise mo tora ga ame

this land, Japan --
endless, effortless nature
rains Tora's tears

This hokku follows the hokku about Tora's tears in Issa's diary for the 6th month (July) of 1825 and translated in the previous post. It sheds more light on how Issa feels about "Tora's rain of tears," rain that often falls on 5/28 of the lunar calendar.

Read the full comment of Chris Drake.

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

waga io wa tora ga namida mo nure ni keri

my hut, too
drenched by the Tiger's

According to tradition, if it rains on the 28th day of Fifth Month, the raindrops are the tears shed by Tora ("Tiger"), the wife of one of the Soga brothers of medieval times. Yuasa explains: "In the twelfth century Sukeyasu was murdered by Kudô Suketsune, and the murdered man's sons Tokimune and Sukenari had vowed from childhood to avenge their father's death. When the elder brother Sukenari parted from his wife Tora before setting out with his brother to kill Suketsune, her tears were so copious that ever after rain fell on that day."
The Year of My Life: A Translation of Issa's Oraga Haru (Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1960; 2nd ed. 1972) 75.

David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

hana no ame tora ga namida mo majirubeshi

blossoms rain down --
surely Tora's tears, too
fall among them

This hokku is from lunar 2/25 or March 21 in 1808, when Issa was living in the city of Edo. On this day Issa went to view cherry trees at the height of their blossoming, and his diary says it was a fair day, so the cherry blossom rain here means that so many petals were continually falling and fluttering down all around Issa that it seemed to be raining. The petal rain apparently fell so hard and long on this day that the sky seemed to be weeping at the loss of the petals and reminded Issa of the many tears shed by the medieval woman Tora Gozen, which were believed in legend to fall in the form of rain almost every year on lunar 5/28.
- snip -
Tora also seems to have been a shaman as well as a performer and courtesan, and she was believed to have strong spiritual power. For example, according to legend she once prayed for rain, and her prayers were soon followed by a rainstorm. This power may have become connected in the popular imagination with the image of her deep and strongly emotional love for Soga Jūrō, which caused her to weep uncontrollably after his death, and the two images may have come together in a persistent folk belief, perhaps spread by generations of wandering Buddhist nuns. According to this belief, when rain falls on lunar 5/28 (around the end of June or the beginning of July) it is the tears of Tora crying in the other world, where her love continues and her tears still flow almost every year on the date of her lover's death. Since the 5/28 date falls during the rainy season, there is a high probability of rain on this day, and the strength of Tora's deep love is more often than not visible in the form of tears. Issa may have seen one of the many Kabuki plays about Tora and Soga Jūrō, and he is obviously moved by the historically-based story even though he must know the the legend about Tora's rain of tears is only a legend. In this hokku Issa feels that Tora's love, even in the other world, is surely so strong that her tears must be falling not only on 5/28 but also in the second month, when cherry blossoms bloom and pitifully fall all too soon as hard and as plentifully as rain.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

- 賢台山 Kentaizan 法乗院 Hojo-In 賢法寺 Kenpo-Ji
法乗院えんま堂 Hojo-In Enma-Do -
江東区深川2-16-3 / Kōtō ward, Fukagawa, 2 Chome−16-3
In the compound is a
曽我五郎の足跡石 stone with the footprints of Soga Goro

In the compound is also 初代市川八百蔵の墓
Grave if the Kabuki actor 市川八百蔵 Ichikawa Yaozo
The Second Ichikawa Yaozo in the Role of Soga no Goro

Gabi Greve said...

Toragaishi, tora ga ishi, 虎御石 / Toragoishi 虎子石 Tiger Stone
Temple 延台寺, Endai-Ji, Oiso, Naka District, Kanagawa

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Okayama
A surigesa 摺袈裟(すりげさ) is a special robe of a Buddhist priest.
The Surigesa kept at 法泉寺 the Temple Hosen-Ji are originally a treasure from 修禅寺 the Temple Shuzenji in Izu.
The legend relates to 曽我兄弟 the Soga brothers.
Elder Brother 曾我五郎 Goro placed one on the grave of his junger brother 曾我十郎 Juro,
to help him get out of the hell and into the Buddhist paradise.
There is also a story about an old couple of foxes, which lived in the back mountain of the temple.
The priest gave them Surigesa amulets to help them go to the Buddhist heaven.
Now the foxes are venerated at 得脱稲荷 the Fox shrine Tokudatsu Inari in the temple compound.