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To commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the death of Sugawara no Michizane, the celebrated Heian-Period scholar-politician, the National Theater is presenting “Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Sugawara Certifies a Disowned Disciple to Perpetuate His Line of Calligraphy).” One of three bunraku masterpieces created in 1746 by Takeda Izumo and collaborators, the play will be performed in its entirety through May 26.

Michizane (845-903) was a prodigy who, at age 11, surprised his scholar father, Koreyoshi, by composing excellent Chinese-style poems. He served at the court of Emperor Uda, and after being appointed Kurodo no To (Head of the Imperial Officers) in 891, he continued to rise fast, competing with Tokihira, son of the influential Fujiwara no Mototsune. Emperor Uda trusted Michizane to the extent that it was he alone whom he consulted when he contemplated abdicating in favor of Daigo in 893.

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