This story depicts an old man’s love, a literary theme often depicted comically.
Yamashina no Shoji, an old gardener in charge of picking chrysanthemum leaves near the ground, falls in love with a beautiful wife of the emperor at first sight despite the difference of their status, and becomes lovesick.
The woman happens to hear it and sends a retainer to him to tell that if he travels around the garden 1,000 times carrying a heavy load, she will meet him.
Although she means to tease him, the old man is so happy and serious that he tries to lift up the load, in vain. He tries to do it again, while speaking of his lament and anguish over his love. He fails and dies in despair. When the woman feels pity for him, his departed soul with a fearful expression comes to her, speaks of his bitterness and torments her. In the end, he pardons her and vows to be her guardian.
This piece has some suggestive elements, but as is often with noh, they are not depicted openly. The audience is welcome to use their imagination to better appreciate this interesting piece. Chrysanthemum is the Imperial family’s crest.