Photo/IllutrationThe late Michiko Ishimure in 2016, left, and Fukumi Shimura, a living national treasure of traditional “tsumugiori” silk fabric weaving in 2015 who will produce the costumes for a Noh play by Ishimure (Asahi Shimbun file photos)

A Noh play based on a plot devised by the late Minamata disease activist and author Michiko Ishimure will make its debut this autumn.

Ishimure died Feb. 10 of complications from Parkinson's disease at the age of 90. The upcoming work represents her second attempt at bringing Noh to the stage.

Ishimure is known as the author of “Kugai Jodo” (Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow), and numerous other works. She also devoted her life to helping sufferers of Minamata disease, a neurological disorder caused by mercury poisoning, and promoting awareness of their plight. She was born in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture and moved to Minamata, also in the prefecture, soon afterward.

Kyoto resident Fukumi Shimura, her friend of 30 years who is designated by the government as a living national treasure of traditional “tsumugiori” silk fabric weaving, will be in charge of the elaborate costumes.

Ishimure wrote to Shimura, now 93, in autumn 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that she had the outline for a Noh play based on Amakusa shortly after the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637-38.

“It's my longtime secret wish to create a Noh work with you producing the costumes," she wrote.

The play is called “Okinomiya” (Palace in offing).

The story revolves around a girl called Aya who is orphaned in the Shimabara Rebellion and the foster sister of Amakusa Shiro, a Christian leader killed in the fighting.

Aya is chosen as prey for a dragon god to save a village suffering from drought. Aya sinks to the bottom of the sea, where her soul is rescued by the spirit of Shiro. After a while, the village is blessed with rains.

Ishimure had said that Aya doesn’t actually die but "returns to the origin of life at the bottom of the ocean,” adding that the story represented her prayers for "regeneration at a time when humans seem to be rushing headlong into self-destruction."

The play will premiere at the Kongoh Nohgakudou theater in Kyoto on Oct. 20 and the National Noh Theatre in Tokyo on Nov. 18.

It is also scheduled to be performed in Kumamoto Prefecture.