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This is a piece of genre Jiuta in the style of Tegotomono from the Ikuta Ryû - 生田 School. This piece was composed for Koto by the person Ichiura Koto. This piece was composed for Shamisen by the person Minezaki Koto.

History (Tsuge Gen'ichi):

Echigo-jishi (‘Echigo Lion Dance’) is a jiuta piece composed by Minezaki Koto of Osaka, a prolific composer of the late eighteenth century. Yaezaki Kengyo (1766?-1848) of Kyoto later arranged it for koto and shamisen ensemble. It is considered to be one of the main sources for a popular nagauta piece of the same title.

The idea for the piece is taken from a traditional folk performing art called Echigo-jishi (also known as Kakubei-jishi since it was created by a man called Kakubei from Kanbara in the Echigo province, present Niigata Prefecture). In this dance a man wearing a carved lion-head, which is considerably stylized and gorgeously lacquered in vermilion and gold, does an acrobatic, comical, ceremonial dance as an auspicious lion. The tegoto (instrumental interlude) section in two parts depicts the lion dance itself.

One structural feature of the text is an enumeration of the noted products of the Echigo region, such as eels, hemp rope, cambric (Ehicgo-jofu), cotton crepe (Ojiya-chijimi) and herbs (toki and oren), as well as, of course, the lion dance. On the surface, this presentation does not follow a single line of logic. But on another level, the seemingly unrelated words have amorous associations which reveal a sub-stream of playful love flowing through the piece. Consequently, the text contains complicated puns and subtle allusions, which are virtually untranslatable. The present translation attempts to preserve the meaning of the text.

Poem (translated by Tsuge Gen'ichi)

The seacoast
Along the Koshiji road (1)
Is noted for many things:
For example, the famous songs
Of the lion dance (2)
Filled with country dialect
And amusing jokes.
The region is also famous
For fisher boys
From Naoe Bay
Who braid seven eels (3) together
With hemp rope
To pull the hearts
Of their lovers
Living in the distant village
Of Komeyama.
Who would complain
About going so far
To pick fresh parsley (4)?
These boys, like baby eels
Sliding through water grass
In the Itoi River,
Have emotions as thick as oil,
And attachments
As sticky as lacquer.
Their vows of eternal love.
Like those at Mt. Sue no Matsu (5),
Are pure as white hempen cloth (6).
The chic taste of the region
Can be seen in
The revealing
Sheer cotton crepe ‘kimono’ (s) (7)
And is reflected as well
In the flute and drum music
Of the lion dance.

A fresh maiden of seventeen
Gathered bamboo branches
From the hill over yonder
And cut them neatly
In bundles of seventeen.
The cross-sections together
Are as pure and pretty as herself,
Napping and dreaming
Of flowers in full bloom.

The meaning of her dream is auspicious,
For though the costume of the Echigo lion
Has no fancy peony decorations (8)
When the lion dances,
There blooms an aura
Of ‘wealth and honor,’ (9)
There blooms and aura
Of ‘wealth and honor.’

(1) The old road which ran through the Hokuriku area in northwestern Japan.
(2) In the original text, the expression shiro usagi (‘white rabbit’) is given. However, this is generally believed to be a later corruption of shishi-uta (‘song of the lion dance’). The present translation has restored the alleged original.
(3) The original text refers to the yatsume-unagi (lit. ‘eight-eyed eel’ or a kind of lamprey). The number seven is introduced through word play.
(4) Toki and oren are kinds of parsley. Toki contains a pun on ‘distant’ and oren, a pun on ‘meeting.’
(5) Derived from its complementary meaning of ‘waiting forever,’ sue no matsu is conventionally used in poetry as a lover’s pledge.
(6) Echigo-jofu
(7) Ojiya-chijimi
(8) The peony (botan) is associated with the Chinese style lion (shishi, or kara jishi).
(9) ‘Wealth and honor’ is the translation of fuki, which is a pun on fuki, a kind of Japanese rhubarb.
samazama naredo
inaka-namari no
katako majiri
shira-usagi naru
kotonoha wo
so no koto
naoe-ura no
ama no ko ga
nanatsu ka yatsume-
unagi made
umuya amiso no
tsunade towa
koi no kokoro mo
komeyama no
tooki uwaki de
ooren no
nani itoigawa
itouwo no
motsure motsururu
kusaura ni
abura urushi to
suematsuyama no
shironuno no
chijimi wa hada no
dokoyara ga
miesuku kuni no
fuuryuu wo
utsushi-taiko ya
fue no ne ni
hiite utoo ya
shishi no kyoku
Mukaikoyama no
eda fushi soroete
kiri wo komaka ni
juushichi ga
muro no koguchi ni
hirune shite
hana no sakari wo
yume ni mitesooroo


Yume no urakata
echigo no shishi wa
botan wa motanedo
fuuki wa ono ga
sugata ni sakase
sugata ni sakase

Echigojishi appears on the following albums

Fujii Kunie Sokyoku Jiuta No Sekai 1 None

Japan Revisited

Koto and Shamisen Gendai Meikyoku Shu 05

Koto Music of Japan, The

    Echigojishi is a folk song based on an ancient Lion Dance performed in the festivals of Echigo in the Eastern part of Japan. Echigojishi was written by Kinto Minezaki in the eighteenth century and has been passed on by generations of talented koto artists.

Koto no Miryoku - Disk 2

Sankyoku Home Practice - Chuden 1 Aoki Reibo II Satô Chikaki Ota Satoko
Sasa no Tsuyu - Ikuta Ryu Sokyoku Tokusen - Vol 4

Shamisen Genroku Hanami-Odori None

Sokyoku Jiuta Taikei 22 Shimabara Hanzan Yonekawa Fumiko Yonekawa Fumiko II

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018