"The Tale of the Heike" performed by Tsutomu Arao
Guest Artist Tsutomu Arao is one of Japan’s few living performers of the centuries-old Heikyoku, a musical telling of stories from the long tale.
"The Tale of the Heike" is the greatest of all samurai tales and one of the seminal works that have shaped Japanese literature, theater, art and film down to the present day. The Heike were the most powerful clan in the late 12th century, and had close ties to the Imperial Court. The story is about the battle between the Heike and another powerful clan, the Genji, and it ends with the total defeat of the Heike in the tragic sea battle at Dannoura.
Arao Tsutomu plays the biwa (a lute that originated in Persia or Central Asia, much like the Chinese pipa) while singing "The Tale of the Heike." He has established his own school of Heikyoku, and is also a special lecturer at Keio University, one of the oldest and most prestigious private universities in Tokyo. By the end of 2016, he had performed Heikyoku more than 900 times. He performs only on weekends and holidays since he works full time for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, Defense and Space Division. His most recent performance outside of Japan was at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in 2016 when he was one of the invitees from many countries around the world.