Takasago 高砂
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Now a modern city on the Inland Sea (southwest of Osaka in Hyougo prefecture), most famous as the sea-coast setting for the *nou 能 play TAKASAGO 高砂. Takasago is mentioned in poetry of MAN'YOUSHUU 万葉集 and the preface to the poetry anthology KOKINSHUU 古今集 also notes that the site was already known in the 10c. for its legendary pine trees. In the nou play (which assumed its present written form in the 15c) the Takasago and Sumiyoshi 住吉 pine spirits are personified as an elderly peasant couple, wearing humble dress. Although separated by great distance, the spirit of the pine at Sumiyoshi (modern-day Osaka), pays nightly visits to his wife, the Takasago pine spirit, who lives on the coast at Takasago bay. Despite their hair white with age, the couple's bond gives them youthful energy and beauty. Thus the pines and corresponding elderly couple symbolize longevity and conjugal devotion. From the 17c, the Takasago spirit as an old woman holding a broom and Sumiyoshi as an old man with a rake usually standing under an aged pine tree have been painted or represented as figurines and displayed at celebrations of long life and good fortune, such as New Year's or weddings.


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