Anonymous, "Abstraction [Za-Zen],"
a__-minute Japanese comedy in English, translated from the Japanese original by Basil Hall Chamberlain (English playwright, Japanologist, translator of English-Japanese, b. October 18, 1850-d. 1935), set in a room in a private house in Kiyauto, Japan, 14th- or 15th-century,
© in public domain;
• in The Universal Anthology: A Collection of the Best Literature, Ancient, Mediæval and Modern, edited by Richard Garnett, Léon Vallée, Alois Brandl (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Clarke Company, Limited, 1899; New York, Merrill & Baker, 1902), pp. 370-380, LCCN 01025722;
• script/rights available free.
A Husband (m), __, seeking an affair; Taraukuwazhiya [pronounced Tarokaja] (m), __, family servant; His Wife (f), __, suspicious.
A Husband has tried to elude his wife for a tryst with a girl called Hana from a tea house in Nogami. He says he has been having dreams that he must make a pilgrimage to offer up prayers on his behalf and His Wife’s. He will travel to every Shintau shrine and every Buddhist temple throughout the land. She wants him to pray at home, but he explains he will perform the devotion of abstraction, whereby one places his head under the ‘abstraction blanket’ to forget all things past and to come, which will require a week or two. She allows him only a day and a night. This will only work, he says, if no woman sees the devotion. She agrees not to disturb him. The Husband summons his servant Taraukuwazhiya and instructs him to pretend to be the Husband at devotion. After a threat of a beating, the servant agrees. The Husband places the ‘abstraction blanket’ over Taraukuwazhiya’s head and leaves to meet Hana. His Wife peeks in; to her, the blanket is too uncomfortable, so she offers tea, for which the blanket must come off. The servant demurs. She insists and pulls off the blanket. Under threats, the servant admits his master has gone to see Miss Hana. She forgives the servant. The Wife places the blanket over her own head. The Husband returns after his tryst and tells the blanketed figure all that had transpired before he pulls off the blanket. His Wife is furious and pursues him around the room. He protests that he did pray at the Temple of the Five Hundred Disciples, in Tsukushi, several hundred miles away. He runs away. Enraged, His Wife swears not to let him escape.
• “One of the foremost Western interpreters of things Japanese. Born of a distinguished family in Southampton, England, on 18 October 1850. Educated in Europe and England. His father intended him to be a banker, but at age 18 he became ill. His physician recommended travel, and Chamberlain landed in Japan on 29 May 1873. He taught at the Imperial Naval School in Tôkyô from 1874 to 1882. His most important position, however, was as professor of Japanese at Tôkyô University beginning in 1886. It was here that he gained his reputation as a student of Japanese language and literature. His many works include the first translation of the Kojiki into English (1906), A Handbook of Colloquial Japanese (1888), Things Japanese (1890), and A Practical Guide to the Study of Japanese Writing (1905). With W.B. Mason he wrote A Handbook for Travellers in Japan (1891), which went through numerous editions. He retired to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1911. [Japan, An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Japan, Kodansha Ltd., 1993]”—Basil Hall Chamberlain, http://www.trussel.com/hearn/chamber.htm, accessed May 5, 2007.
• Script digitized August 30, 2005, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.;
14th- or 15th-century, infidelity, Japan, marriage, revenge.