Summary of the Play Twilight of a Crane by Junji Kinoshita

Twilight of a Crane belongs to the modern Japanese dramatic tradition. It is a play adapted from a Japanese folk-tale by Kinoshita Junji and translated into English by Taskeshi Kurahashi. It is about a woman who is really a crane becomes the wife of a mortal man in gratitude and love for saving her life. The story is woven around two major characters: Tsu and Yohyo, the husband and wife. There are two villainous characters namely Sodo and Unzu. There are children who play as cameo characters to highlight the theme of the play. 

At the beginning of the play the Yohyo is introduced as a humble villager who loves his beloved wife immensely and enjoys his simple life playing with children. Tsu, the transformed character into a human form is introduced as a beloved, responsible wife who brings happiness and prosperity to Yohyo’s life. They live a contented life in association with children who symbolically represent innocence. 

Their simple life turns into twilight due to the two vulgar friends of Yohyo namely Sodo and Unzu. They come to know about the valuable clothe woven by Tsu which gives the bread and wine to their family. This special clothe is called by the villagers as Senba-ori which means it comes from the heaven. The two money minded friends identify the high commercial value of it and intend to exploit this opportunity to flourish themselves. 

They decide to entice Yohyo towards earning profits by selling the Senba-Ori and lead a life of luxury. They intended to give only a little portion of the real price of the clothe. After hearing this, Tsu thoroughly protests this knowing what money can do to their simple lifestyle. She takes efforts to protect her husband from the bad influence of his friends. 

She explains that weaving more clothes would affect her health reducing her body weight. Yohyo who is blinded by the unseen sparkle of money, becomes furious and threatens to leave her. He further insults her calling her a cross woman. Tsu becomes worried and tells her husband not to be so unkind to her. However, she decided to weave two more clothes to satisfy him. During the process, Yohyo breaks his promise of looking at her in her real form of the crane. Therefore, she fails to stay further in human form as well as she has only few feathers to fly back to the nature. She insists him keep one clothe as a token of her love. Ignorant Yohyo dreams a new life in Tokyo with her not knowing that he had broken her heart and lost her forever. The play ends with a tragic mood of Tsu leaving her heart broken husband.


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