Sotoba Komachi – Ichido no Shidai (Komachi at Stupa)

This piece depicts later days of Ono no Komachi, a well-known beautiful poetess in history.

A priest bound for the capital of Kyoto gets across a very old female beggar near Kyoto. She says she is 100 years old. As she sits on a fallen Buddhist wooden stupa, the priest blames her for sitting on the sacred monument. The woman does not apologize but rather refutes, citing Buddhist teachings and philosophical ideas. Their debate is the highlight of the first part of this piece.

When the priest asks her name, she said she is an old Ono no Komachi. She remembers her high days and deplores her reduced life now. She then suddenly becomes crazy and begins begging on the street. She is meanwhile haunted with the departed soul of Fukakusa no Shosho, an aristocrat who died as a result of visiting a young Komachi for 99 consecutive nights to woo her, and performs his anguished travel.

Historically, it is not clear when and how Komachi died. Beautiful young women are often called Komachi after her traditionally.