Ataka – Kanjincho, Takinagashi-no-den (Barrier Station at Ataka)

This is one of the most popular, dramatic noh pieces and adapted into kabuki. The story features medieval warlord Yoshitsune and his loyal retainer Benkei. Benkei, the leading character, is charismatic, while Yoshitsune is performed by a child.

Yoshitsune, Benkei and their company are moving to the Mutsu province in northern Japan, escaping from the capture of Yoshitsune’s influential elder brother Yoritomo. To go through the Ataka barrier, they are dressed like yamabushi (mountain ascetic) to pretend to be traveling to collect donations to rebuild the Todaiji temple. Barrier guard Togashi is keen enough to stop the company and asks Benkei to prove they are genuine yamabushi. Benkei creates a statement of the donation campaign in mind on the spot and recites it by seeing what looks like a written statement. Togashi is convinced and releases the company, but he soon becomes suspicious of Yoshitsune and stops him. Benkei hits him with a stick treating him like a retainer to escape the difficult situation. The company departs at last, but Togashi catches up with them and says he wants to serve sake to them in a gesture of apology. The company drinks in a tense atmosphere. Benkei dances to entertain Togashi and manages to leave.

Whether or not Togashi knows who they are actually is a point of this story.