Notes on the Principal Characters Introduced in Part One

Tsuneo IBUKI, age 33,
-University Professor
_ Heian Literature Specialist
_ Senior colleague to Akio TOGANO
_ Married with a child

Toyoki MIKAME, age 33
_ Ph.D., Psychology
_ Amateur Folklorist
_ Interested in devil possession, Japanese folklore
_ Bachelor

_ Died 4 years ago in avalanche on Mt. Fuji
_ married to Yasuko TOGANO
_ son of Mieko TOGANO
_ twin brother of Harume, an eerily beautiful young woman with a face like a Zo no

_ daughter of head priest of well-known temple
_ married into powerful Niigata landowner family
_ husband deceased…more on this later!!
_ "a woman of far greater complexity than anyone realizes"

Yorihito YAKUSHIJI, head of renowned Noh family
_ is dying of stomach cancer, wasted away, face like a Noh mask
_ wanted to show Mieko his mask collection, especially female masks

Yoritaka YAKUSHIJI, son of Yorihito
_ young, muscular
_ shows masks to Mieko, Yasuko, Ibuki and Mikame
_ puts on Zo no onna mask upsetting Yasuko who sees Akio’s face
it’s coldy beautiful, haughty cruelty frozen on its face

The Masks of Part One:

Zo no onna mask; here also
_ it’s coldy beautiful,
_ a beautiful woman with haughty cruelty frozen on her face
_ long eyelashes, smile of disdain-------connects with--------------> Harume

Ryo no onna mask. Here, too.
_ a National Treasure, but the most chilling mask of all
_ associated with Rokujo Lady by Mieko in her essay
_ Yorihito especially wanted Mieko to see it because of interest in spirit possession
_ sunken cheeked, it has a deeply inward look of utter tranquility
_ as though its deepest energies are turned inward
_ relates to Mieko who is like a quiet mountain lake with waters underneath rushing to a waterfall
_ she has a peculiar power to move events while she remains motionless

Masugami mask; see here as well.

Mask of a young, madwoman. 'Tangled hair', such as the wispy strands lying this way and that on this mask, refers in Japanese poetry to a distraught mind. Other evidence of perplexity and heightened emotion can be seen in the deep diagonal creases above the nose bridge, the slight hollows or dimples on the forehead and cheeks, and the tension around the eyes, nose, and mouth. The lips are pulled in a broad, but tight smile, and the lower eye lids swerve upward at the outer corners. Thin eyebrows are faintly visible among the loose strands of hair.

Fukai Mask; here, too.

A mask representing a middle-aged woman torn by separation from a loved one, either man or child. Gentle and mature, fukai's face is filled with a melancholy that comes from experience and feeling. The features are deep cut, with crevices along the lower cheeks and deep-set eyes with heavy eyelids and drooping corners. The well modulated lips neither smile nor frown. The fleshy face has a protruding forehead and chin, creating a slightly concave silhouette. (

Another Fukai Mask

All Three Mask types on One Page


More on the character of Mieko

_ She’s like the face on the Noh mask, wrapped in her own secrets
_ Japanese women long ago had this look
_ Mieko might be one of the last women who lives this way still
_ Something devious is going on in her mind
_ the secrets inside her mind are like flowers in a garden at night time
_ secret charms—her talent as a poet only a sort of costume
_ a lonely, sophisticated, proud figure but not necessarily jealous


Nonomiya-ki: "An Account of the Shrine in the Fields"

_ Sympathy with the Rokujo Lady—Mieko identifies with her; she is like "a loyal sister"
_ Rokujo Lady is driven by her past, her hurt pride and ambition
_ her possessing spirit haunt’s Genji and his women
_ it’s an Aggressive strategy for dealing with male infidelity
_ her spirit alternates between Lyricism and Spirit Possession unlike the
Akashi Lady who turns to literary creation as her outlet