Episode 4: Yoshitsune Ballads and Tomoe Drama

A 19th century woodblock print of Yoshitsune and Benkei fighting with swords via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

We’re talking about two central genres of Medieval Japanese literature—the warrior ballad and Noh drama. We’ll see two characters from The Tale of the Heike again, including the valiant female warrior Tomoe. This time, she’s a mournful ghost.

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Ataka at The-Noh.com (free online)

“The Story of Yoshitsune” in Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600, Columbia, 2008.

Tomoe at The-Noh.com (free online)

Warrior Ghost Plays from the Japanese Noh Theater: Parallel Translations with Running Commentary, Translated by Chifumi Shimazaki, 2010.

Yoshitsune: A Fifteenth-Century Japanese Chronicle, Translated by Helen Craig McCollough, Stanford, 1966.

Find Out More

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner, illustrated by Gareth Hinds, 2016. (YA narrative nonfiction biography of Minomoto Yoshitsune)


“Tomoe Gozen: Badass Women in Japanese History” at Tofugu.com

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • Lecture 7: The Rise of the Samurai
  • Lecture 9: Samurai Culture in the Ashikaga Period
  • Lecture 10: Japan at Home and Abroad, 1300-1600
  • Lecture 12: Japanese Theater: Noh and Kabuki


Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

De Bary, Theodore, et. al, eds. Sources of Japanese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600, Columbia, 1964.

McAlpine, Helen and William. Japanese Tales and Legends, Oxford, 1989.

Mori, Masaki. Epic Grandeur: Toward a Comparative Poetics of the Epic. State University Press of New York, 1997.

Oyler, Elizabeth. “Gio: Women and Performance in the ‘Heike Monogatari’.” Harvard Review of Asiatic Studies, 2004.

Shirane, Haruo, ed. Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Columbia, 2008.

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