Kinuta, which is also known as The Fulling Block, is a noh play written by Zeami. The characters, which appear in this play, are: The Husband, a local squire (waki), His Sword-bearer (wakizure), A maid, Yugiri (tsure), The Wife (maeshite), A Manservant (ai), and The Spirit of the wife, after her death (nochijite). The Jo, or introduction of the play, begins with the very first line of the Husband (waki), because it establishes the basis of the play and introduces the shite, or the Wife:
“You have before you a squire from Ashiya in Kyushu. Presently I am staying in Miyako, where I have a lawsuit of mine to look after. Although I had not thought I would be in Miyako long, this year is already my third, and I am very worried about my wife and my home. For that reason, I mean to send my maid, Yugiri, down to Ashiya” (Tyler 160).
The Husband then sends Yugiri, the maid; to Ashiya to announce that he would surely be home by the end of the year. The Jo comes to a conclusion as the maid arrives in Ashiya to deliver the news to the Wife. Within the Jo, the dilemma of the play is slowly unveiled and receives a better understanding in the Ha, where the Wife (shite) enters and recites a poem:
“Snug beneath mandarin duck covers,
lovers still grieve that they must part;
fish of the deep, pillowed side by side,
they yet fear the sundering waves.
And I, whose love has turned away,
though living still, can only suffer
the rush of memories; my sobs
cry that I have not forgotten.
Tears spill from sleeves life rain
that never ends for this stricken heart! (Tyler 161).
Within this poem there is underlying imagery, which further defines the dilemma of the play and the grievance of the Wife. The mandarin duck and the fish, or turbot, are images of animals that are often paired with their mate. The imagery of ‘wet sleeves’, which is found in past literary works, is also utilized to further display her melancholy and grievance of the couples’ separation. This separation has caused the Wife to encounter anxiety, which led her to believe that her husband no longer loves her. Furthermore, the play’s duality of love and hatred is established. As the play continues, the Wife’s psychological state is further revealed and it is evident that she is no longer in her right mind. “…Were they a dream, these three autumn years; were they a dream, these three autumn years; I should wake from sorrow, yet do not” (Tyler 162). Here, the Wife is no longer able to distinguish her reality from her dreams. I do not find fault with her anxieties, absent state of mind, and beliefs that her husband no longer loved her, because in the past, if a husband did not return to the wife after three years, it was believed that the couple was divorced.
Later in the play, as the Wife and the Maid continue their interactions, they hear someone in the village beating a fulling block. The fulling block was used to beat the silk of a robe to restore its luster (Tyler...