Character and Role of Yohyo

The character of Yohyo appears in the drama Twilight of a Crane by Kinoshita Junji. He was one of Japan’s foremost modern playwrights. His work consists of several plays based on Japanese folk tales and history, and often interrogates the interactions between war, guilt, and responsibility.

You can read the summery of Twilight of a Crane here.

You can read the character and role of Tsu here.

Yohyo is a simple, innocent but a gullible character who lives in a rural farming setting in Japan. He appears as the husband of Tsu, the protagonist of the play. Yohyo had saved her life when she was wounded by a cruel hunter’s arrow. He is a lazy person who most of the day, lies by the fire and dozes. Though he is lazy and gullible, he loves his wife unconditionally - until two villains, Sodo and Unzu poisons his mind to find a greener pasture in an unknown Disneyland. They are able to twist the love in the heart of Yohyo by showing a wealthy and gay life in the commercial city, Kyoto. This complication puts an end to the simple and fairytale like life of Yohyo and Tsu as she leaves him, broken hearted.

At the beginning of the story Yohyo appears as a simple and caring husband who deeply loves Tsu and plays with children to please them. His role-reversal begins with the idea of the commercial value of Senba – Ori, the magnificent piece of cloth woven by Tsu using her own feathers germinates in his mind. Yohyo has no idea of the duel personalities of his wife: form of a crane and human; and has no clue on how she makes such a beautiful garment. He, at the beginning seems to be deeply committed towards her and worries that she losing her weight after weaving the cloth. Therefore, he needs her to stop weaving the cloth; so, both of them agree to do so.

However, the two money minded villain characters in the play: Sodo and Unzu suspects the identity of Tsu and the origin of Senba-ori. They understand the commercial-value of the piece of cloth and plans to tempt Yohyo to ask his wife to weave more clothes and sell them in the market for a higher price. For that, they paint a picture that Yohyo and Tsu can earn a fortune and live a life on a featherbed in the city of Kyoto. After falling into the noose of money, Yohyo cannot think anything else but the money. This forces him to threaten Tsu to weave more cloths and threaten her has she not weave; he would leave her. She failing to pursue him to lead the simple life she craves, agrees to weave one last cloth just to please him.  During the course, Tsu’s real identity is revealed and Yohyo has broken his promise not to look at her in the loom. This creates a tragic end to their happy life as Tsu decide to leave him.

Through the character of Yohyo, Kinoshita shows the ill effect of commercialism which disables the simple lives of people. Not only Yohyo becomes a slave of money, but also loses his good qualities. The ultimate result is: he could achieve his materialistic gain but he loses the real goodness in his life.

You can read the essay Money vs Love in the play here.

Now let’s discuss the above information with reference to the text extracted from the play: Twilight of a Crane:


Deep - End Discussion with Quotations:


Children: (Scattering) Yohyo is getting angry! Ha ha! You’re a bit teched! cross.

Yohyo: (laughing) Ha, ha, ha! stay here I’ll play with you.

This shows the relationship between Yohyo and children. Children add goodness and innocence to the play. Here the mutual connection between two parties draws parallels showing that Yohyo too is a character with good virtues.


Oh dear, I almost forgot! Cold soup is no good for my sweet heart!

Yohyo’s caring devotion to his wife is shown here. He cares about her health knowing cold soup would make her sick. So he is going to boil that. His caring nature is visible throughout the first half of the play.


Unzu: Yes, (indeed) Yohyo is the luckiest man in the world get such a nice wife. Since she came here, he never does anything but, sleep by the fire-side all day long. How I envy him!

This reveals the lazy nature of Yohyo. He has no need to work as selling Senba-Ori gives them enough for living. This quote further shows the worldly challenges to the happy life of Tsu and Yohyo; jealous people like Sodo and Unzu do envy the freedom experienced by Yohyo. Jealousy may be another reason to tempt people to harm others’ lives.  


Yohyo: No, no……... I love Tsu. She is my darling!

Sodo: You do love her, don’t you? Well, then why not save up money for her by selling the cloth?

Yohyo: Yes, that sounds all right……... But every time she weaves the cloth, she loses weight.

Sodo and Unzu uses Yohyo’s love towards Tsu to pursue him to earn more money to live a better life. This shows how the commercial world using the emotion - love as a tool to persuade people to do things that they actually not necessary for their lives. (When we see the advertising field in the contemporary world, it is obvious) The other thing is, Yohyo knows that to get the cloth, Tsu sacrifices her weight (though he does not know the exact reason) This shows his concern about her. On the other hand, when he is haunted by the idea of a better life, that concern disappears like a dew before the sun. This reveals the ill effects of materialism in the modern world where there is no concern for good values like empathy.


Yohyo: well…. You see, Honey, I-I want to go Kyoto.

Tsu: Why!

Yohyo: To make a lot of money. So…..I want another piece of that cloth.


Tsu: (absent-mindedly) Money……Money…. Why do they want it so much?

Yohyo: Well…. because if we have money, we can buy nice things we want.

Tsu: Buy? What’s “Buy”? What’s nice thing? What do you want beside me?


Yohyo using the self-centered ‘I’ shows that he only concerns about what he requires. He has no concern what his beloved wife craves for. Tsu only needs a simple and happy life with Yohyo. She is worried that money would intervene their life and they are about to lose that calmness in their lives. This dialogue reveals what is the real ‘drive’ that makes people become slaves of money. That is desire to ‘buy nice things’: buying nice things has no end; once one buys a nice thing he needs a nicer thing which creates an unending circles of desires where they get trapped into. Tsu questions about what that nice thing is. Tue is a symbolic character of goodness and virtue. Her question implies is there any valuable thing in the world other than goodness?


Yes, you see, Tsu, no one can be indifferent to money.

This sums up what has happened to Yohyo. His mind is haunted by the concept that money can do anything. Therefore, no one says ‘no’ to money. This is the real ‘drive’ of money- creating a concept that money can buy anything in the world. He does not understand that there are more valuable things in his life than money.


Yes, I dislike you. I don’t like you. I’m not fond of you- you are a cross woman!


Yes, I’ll leave you- unless you weave the cloth.

Tsu: Oh, Heavens!

Weave the cloth! make the stuff! Right away! They say they can sell it at three or four times than before – it’s worth hundreds of dollars!

The climax of the play reveals the true nature of Yohyo while the ill-effects of materialism germinating in his brain. As a result of that, he loses all his goodness and caring nature. He tries to bargain what he wanted by means of her love upon him. He calls Tsu a cross woman and commands her to weave the cloth. This graphically shows that not the tongue but the money speaks in the form of his voice. This vivid example shows that: people can do worse things when they only consider about materialistic gains; even to their most beloved ones.


Tsu: Please, Yohyo, never, never look at me. Please, swear before the gods…. If you should watch me, It’d be the end of our relationship, you see?

Yohyo: Yes, I see. I’ll never look through.


Tsu’s real reason behind her departure is that she cannot appear in her human form as her true nature is revealed. Knowing this she gets the promise from Yohyo but amid of confusion, he fails to keep the promise. The resolution is Tsu has to depart creating a tragic end to their beloved relationship. Before her departure, she does her best to fulfil the desire of her wife.


The lesson of the play is to eye open the reader about the real values of life. It may be ruined by the too much of desires in life. Therefore, one must lead a simple and contended life to lead a happy and virtuous life. What is your idea about life? Comment and share the post if you find it useful. Visit our YouTube channel too to find video posts related to literature.  




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  1. very helpful ❤️

  2. Thank you so much. These informations are very very useful.You are doing a great service sir.Keep up this good work.Wish you all good fortune!!