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Ch 1: Paulownia Court

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The Tale of Genji - Chapter One - The Paulownia Court

Many thanks to Chandra Vita who facilitated this first in a series of discussions on the epic work The Tale of Genji from Heian Period Japan. 

Reference: http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Genji/00000012.htm

What follows is a synopsis of our discussion rather than moment by moment dialogue. This is meant to allow the topic to have the focus rather than the speakers so much. Please let me know if you do not agree with this methodology for future Discussion Postings.  We had a great turn out. Chandra, Veritas, Izumi, Anisa, Pomona, Kati and Okasan were there.

[7:06]  Chandra Vita: Thank you Okasan for giving me the opportunity to facilitate this first lesson in Japanese literature.... I am truly honored. Thank you sisters for beings here for this first class. I wish to begin by saying that I am by no means an expert in Japanese literature nor have I even mastered this one novel. Further, I will be candid in saying that I was selfish in choosing to facilitate this Chapter and background with you because I thought it would be easiest.
In the spirit of keeping it easy, let me please present some background on the text itself and then we will begin a discussion on Chapter 1. I have struggled with this text for months.
Back at Amatsu Mitsukai, I read and contemplated a chapter a day. It made little sense to me. I could not understand why this was any kind of “masterpiece.” At the encouragement of Okasan and knowing the prestige this novel enjoyed, I researched the book. While it seemed to make more sense, more importantly, I began to realize why it was that I was struggling so with the Genji.
Because of the custom and etiquette of the Heian era, none of the approximately 400 characters in the original text are given explicit names. Instead, they are referred to by their function or role such as “Minister of the Left” or an honorific, “His Excellency” or even a relationship such as “Heir Apparent” which might change as the story unfolds.
Further, there is no real plot to the story; events just happen and characters evolve just by aging.
[7:15]  Veritas Veloce: yes i founfd that... a bit like a vapor...have to keep chasing the story line
[7:16]  Kati Palen: Yes, politeness dictated such details from being revealed
[7:16]  Chandra Vita: Exactly Kati.
[7:16]  Pomona Writer: And we are not familiar with the titles or the implications of the period, the customs.
[7:17]  Chandra Vita: Hai sister that also I had to research things like Ministers of Left and Right.
[7:17]  Kati Palen: I have heard that modern translations nickname everyone
[7:17]  Veritas Veloce: i found it helpful to review the historical context
[7:17]  Chandra Vita: Definitel the historical context like Kati points out is very important.
[7:18]  Chandra Vita: Further, there is no real plot to the story; events just happen and characters evolve just by aging. However, contributing to the unity of the text, it is the consistency and development of these characters and their places within the story that we find the beginnings of a masterpiece. Though whether one were to call this the first novel or masterpiece of its kind is a subject of debate. Japanese people do not necessarily call it a novel (shosetsu); they call it a monogatari (a tale) and it is not the first of those.
In preparing a Hana no Sei project on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, I found reference to it is made in the Genji so we know it is by the author’s own account not “the first tale.”
[7:19]  Kati Palen: It is the first soap opera
[7:19]  Chandra Vita: Hai, it is definitely that.
[7:20]  Veritas Veloce: wasnt it also important because hiragana had eveolved...making it possible for a woman to write?
[[7:20]  Chandra Vita: Hai that also. This was a favorite passtime.
[7:20]  Veritas Veloce: the phoentic text, rather than Kanji
[7:21]  Chandra Vita: hai, you have done your homework sister.
[7:21]  Chandra Vita: While generally accepted as having been completed by 1021, there is subject of a debate over the novel’s actual authorship by Murasaki Shikibu. At least one translator has maintained that because of differences in style and mistakes in continuity between the earlier and later chapters, Shikibu may not be the only author.
[7:21]  Kati Palen: That makes sense given how long ago it was started
[7:22]  Pomona Writer: It was written over a long period of time.
[7:23]  Chandra Vita: Would anyone like to share their feelings about this work.
[7:24]  Okasan: i found this first chapter to be so full of pathos that I had to read it multiple times and try to put myself in the place of the various characters. In our modern works our authors do this for us.....perhaps to much ....little is left to our imagination. But I thought what would the mother have felt...Gengi's mother as she knew she was dying
[7:25]  Veritas Veloce: and sadly was so ostracized.
[7:25]  Okasan: and she also knew that her son was not in a favored position politically
[7:25]  Chandra Vita: She died at a very young age.
[7:25]  Okasan: what would become of her only child? I thought of the grandmother too and how she must have worried
[7:27]  Kati Palen: I thought the mother was really just a device for establishing his status -- which was son of emperor, but at the same time removed from the responsibilities of a high title - so that he would have the attraction of highest power, but the ability to move in secrecy - and the love we felt for his mother set our hearts as women to feel sorry for him or to love him so that he could be that much more charming and charismatic. It gave him freedom
[7:29]  Okasan: his mother was not the most well-presented courtesan however she had found the most favor which was fortunate
[7:29]  Kati Palen: So she had to be a secret or was just not elevated
[7:30]  Okasan: hai she was taunted and made fun of - tormented really
[7:30]  Kati Palen: so, Genji was beautiful son of emperor... ok so now he has a chip on his shoulder too!
[7:30]  Veritas Veloce: the emperor raised her status after death though..one rank
[7:30]  Kati Palen: I feel like she is his background -- a device to position hhim in the story
[7:31]  Okasan: yes and to set up the next event - Genji's LOVE!!
[7:31]  Kati Palen: to make him free to pursue his quest
[7:31]  Chandra Vita: and much love there is...including rape and kidnapping. So not always such a nice guy this Genji.
[7:32]  Okasan: but in this chapter he is very young ...how old does he get to be by the end of the chapter? 12 - so just a little boy really
[7:34]  Pomona Writer: I had trouble finding the complete text to read this book. I could not see it on our website, and searched the internet, but found only excerpts or summaries.
[7:34]  Veritas Veloce: you need a little wagon for the actual book itself
[7:34]  Chandra Vita: Oh I have a wonderful reference for you
http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Genji/00000012.htm
[7:36]  Chandra Vita: I have found to be particularly easy reading.
[7:36]  Kati Palen: Will we get a transcript of this later? So I don't hve to bookmark it now
[7:36]  Chandra Vita: It is the entire work and free on the web.
[7:37] Okasan: that is the one posted on our website
[7:37]  Pomona Writer: domo! I wish I had found that earlier.
[7:37]  Okasan: and yes i will post this lesson in the discussion section of the website. Pease everyone review this literature chapter in the Maiko section of the website
[7:38]  Pomona Writer: For some reason, I could not find the link on the website.
[7:38]  Okasan: choose Maiko, then choose literature
[7:38]  Izumi Itano: we have to review the whole book?
[7:39]  Okasan: hai I was hoping we would as part of learning Japanese culture. And we could do together
[7:39]  Chandra Vita: We learn much more about culture and literature when reading this text. Sometimes some historical context also helps. Sister Veritas you seem to be familiar with this period of history also.
[7:40]  Veritas Veloce: yes..i like the heian period
[7:40]  Chandra Vita: and why is that?
[7:40]  Veritas Veloce: well it was a special time in history...kyoto ruled - lots of art, and women began writing more beacsue hiragana was created
culture, poetry was resspected. It was more about culture rather than war
[7:41]  Kati Palen: Oh... one thing I thought was really interesting is how poetry was woven into court conversation and modified to fit the circumstance or just quoted in part because the audience knew the meaning.
[7:42]  Chandra Vita: The text makes reference to Yang Kuei-fei, can anyone tell us what the reference is about?
[7:43]  Pomona Writer: There was reference to a tale of sorrow.
[7:43]  Chandra Vita: Chinese historians tell us that during the T’ang Dynasty there were two women whose beauty surpassed that of all the others combined. Their names were Mei Fei and Yang Kuei-fei and both were mistresses of the Emperor Ming Huang and both were bitter enemies. The Emperor met Mei Fei first and made her his concubine, sure that no lovelier woman existed. But then he saw Yang Kuei-fei, the betrothed of his son, the heir apparent. The story goes on with striking similarity to the Genji. The text I referenced has much of the poetry woven in that. Judes book does not seem to contain.
Would anyone care to say something about some of the other characters?
[7:47]  Kati Palen: The ten year old girl? I actually haven't developed any thoughts about some of his less acceptable pursuits other than immediate anger. I know that there must be some historic context that gives it meaning but was struck by the calling out of her age
[7:48]  Pomona Writer: was the auther describing some of the unsavory scandalous aspects of the court life?
[7:48]  Okasan: are we still on chapter one?
[7:49]  Chandra Vita: There is reference to Fujitsubo though and there is the connection to the youngster. We should probably not get ahead.  How about all those ministers? Did anyone figure out their place?
[7:50]  Veritas Veloce: well they are all important ...to themselves !
[7:51]  Chandra Vita: That could be said for all the characters "in court." They seemed a haughty bunch. Totally self-absorbed.
[7:51]  Veritas Veloce: May we go back to one thng? Finding the links on the website......
just so everyone knows. Maiko, Literature, then at the very bottom of that (after section 12),,is the maiko assignement .... that is where the links is . Complete the Maiko Literature Quiz Read the Tale of Genji Send a notecard to Okasan, your Oneesan or mentor with the answer to this question: What was the name of the beautiful maiden that Genji first loved (hint - it is not his first wife)? When you have done all of the above - write a short note in the forums to say that you have completed this lesson and one thing you learned that impressed you.
[7:53]  Pomona Writer: Adomo sister, I finally realized that just now.
[7:54]  Veritas Veloce: yes some of the links in each lesson....are at the BOTTOM of the entire lesson...in the assignment sections....
[7:54]  Veritas Veloce: Ok Thanks...just a tip!
[7:54]  Chandra Vita: Thank you so much sister. Very helpful
[7:57]  Chandra Vita: I tried finding hidden meanings in the work but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. For example, the ministers, this thing about Left and Right, thought perhaps this was like in Parliment or something but Sadaijin, most commonly translated as "Minister of the Left", was a government position in Japan in the late Nara and Heian periods.
The sadaijin was the Senior Minister of State, overseeing all branches of the Department of State (Daijô-kan) with the Udaijin (the Minister of the Right) as his deputy. There seems that there may not really be any hidden meanings here and most things are to be taken quite literally. Is that true Okasan?
[8:00]  Okasan: not all literally no it is a story after all *smiles
[8:00]  Pomona Writer: SO hard to discern hidden meanings when we do not know the culture well.
[8:00]  Kati Palen: I didn't get that there was much hidden meaning in the court roles, though more like gossip
[8:01]  Chandra Vita: Are there hidden meanings in any of this? Are there metaphors?
[8:01]  Veritas Veloce: later on they are always talking about wisteria....that was the inspiration for my garden....but it is just wisteria.
[8:02]  Chandra Vita: But in this case it is Paulownia.
[8:02]  Okasan: are there hidden meanings Chandra?
[8:02]  Kati Palen: I haven't gotten that far, but perhaps it is symbolic of beauty and innocence or sexuality or whatever, although the intricacies of court life probably had connotations we cant read
[8:02]  Veritas Veloce: i think many of the court roles are just dressing for the story tho.... the main point being love , grief,
[8:02]  Chandra Vita: Not that I have found Mother. But I always look for such things.
[8:03]  Chandra Vita: Sometimes I miss the true point of things by being too literal.
[8:03]  Okasan: i think i was just so caught up in the grief of the Emperor and how long he hurt, I could have missed things. Now one thing did impress me. The coming of age ceremony where Gengi's locks were removed.

[8:04]  Veritas Veloce: TROUSERS! That made me laugh
[8:04]  Kati Palen: Yes, I didn't know they had such a ceremony
8:04]  Pomona Writer: or trousers at that time.
[8:04]  Kati Palen: it reminded me of European transition from childhood to adulthood much later, when a boy got to wear long pants
[8:04]  Pomona Writer: is that an error of translation? trousers?
[8:05]  Kati Palen: It is probably just the word choice for pants over gown or whatever kids wore-smock. I mean, the word doesn't really matter, it is about changing to adult clothes
[8:05]  Veritas Veloce: the"giving of trousers" ceremony
[8:06]  Pomona Writer: I have learned a LOT this morning, in many ways.
[8:06]  Chandra Vita: Perhaps this is a good point to end on.
[8:06]  Kati Palen: So he got his hair cut and got a pair of pants
[8:06]  Kati Palen: now he is a man
[8:07]  Veritas Veloce: Thank you for facilitating this lesson discussion Chandra
[8:07]  Chandra Vita: It was my pleasure.

The next chapter is "The Broom Tree"

[END]


Posted on Sunday, June 8, 2008, 09:17 AM (UTC -6)

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Ch 2: The Broom Tree

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The Tale of Genji - Chapter Two - The Broom Tree

This class was again facilitated by Chandra. Attendees included Okasan, Pomona, Kati, Anisa, Veritas and Lysandra (White Tiger). The class stared at 7:06 a.m. ended 8:07

Okasn: I just wanted us to have a discussion about game plan for this huge task (Tale of Gengi). There is a suggestion on the table to pass the responsibility around among us for the facilitation role and also to combine some chapters to say 3 a week - and then the facilitator would summarize and perhaps choose ONE topic from the chapters to discuss. Thoughts?
Veritas Veloce: i think more chapters a week is good
Pomona Writer: sharing responsibility is good,too.
Veritas Veloce: its alot of work to prepare or a class.
Kati Palen: I found this: 
http://www.amherst.edu/~pwcaddeau/pwc_A27_Genji.html#SYLLABUS
It is a syllabus for a class on the novel. It is broken up by themes and the reading support the themes, obviously. It is still 13 weeks too. I would suggest we skip side readings and modify it.
Veritas Veloce: what about 10 chapters a week
Okasan: I don't think i'll be able to read 10 a week but i can try
Pomona Writer: What if the next person in line for the responsibility takes whatever next chunk of the book and presents it as she feel comfortable. That person must tell the others ahead of time, of course.
Kati Palen: or we could come up with topics that cover chapters
Okasan: that is what i had suggested... for instance let me give an example.  If I were to faciliate next time, I would say read the next 5 chapters, then at class I would present a summary of them, and ahead of time let everyone know that i would be focusing on whatever ONE point for the class
Veritas Veloce: that sounds reasonable..then if people arent hear the can read the class notes on the website?
Pomona Writer: sounds reasonable.
Okasan: so we would not double present later in the week. We'd have this on Sundays, Hana no Sei on Tuesday, and we are ready to start doing some regular hours in the Teahouse
Pomona Writer: so the presenter does not have to do it twice.
Okasan: right Pomona - it is a lot of work
Chandra Vita nods.
Okasan: so who would like to do next lesson?
Pomona Writer: I can do it.
Veritas Veloce: i can do in July

Discussion followed and it was decided that Pomona would do chapter 3-7 on June 22. No class on June 29 as that is our Grand Opening. Kati will lead for chapter 8 - 12 on July 6. We will plan further on that day.
Okasan: we are eating into poor Chandra's time. Thank you for offering to take these on Pomona and Kati! (and Veritas offered too - we'll nab her in July!)

Chandra begins the lesson: When does chapter 2 take place and ... Where does it take place and ... Who are the principle characters and ... What is chapter 2 about? So can anyone tell us when this is all about?
Pomona: What men think about women. or what they SAY about women
Chandra: When first?
Pomona Writer: Genji is 17
Okasan: he is still a guards captain
Chandra: Hai by Japanese years perhaps 16 by ours. What time of year?
Pomona Writer: summer
Veritas Veloce: he is in sanjo with his friend...Tono Chujo
Chandra: yes does summer have a significance?
Okasan: Chrysanthemums
Veritas Veloce: the court was quiet...so not busy
Pomona Writer: a time of more freedom
Chandra: Hai and lots of rain.
Pomona Writer: late summer, if chrysanthemums -it's hot, humid, languid
Chandra: Travel is limted so lots of time to just sit around and gossip. Does the name of the chpater have significance? The Broom Tree?
Pomona Writer: I wondered about that. Does it, Sister?
Chandra: The title of this chapter refers to a chinese poem about a tree that one can see in the distance but never reach. So seemingly typical of Genji in this and succeeding chapters, he chases after another man's wife but cannot get her to give in. Hence, comparison to and naming of the chapter, the broom tree. We can probably speak to the characters whern we ask what is the chapter about.  Anyone?
Pomona Writer: Learning about what other men say about women.
Veritas Veloce: well they are discussing their views on women
Chandra: Hai Who is ?
Pomona Writer: Genji learns what others think, and he copies some of their behavior
Kati Palen: aren't they all thinking about the hard to get woman like the broom tree? just out of reach
Chandra: They semm to discuss all matter of woman.
Kati Palen: but they go through them and discard them
Veritas Veloce: seems they are dicussing positive and negative attributes
Pomona Writer: those men don't seem easily satisfied by women's personalities. Also there was the overtone of social position, which seemed to enhance or detract from the woman's desirability.
Chandra: What were some of the desirable traits?
Pomona Writer: they had different opinions, for sure.
Veritas Veloce: a good reuptation
Pomona Writer: It was all an elaborate game.
Chandra: Youth and beauty were important but also..
Pomona Writer: not seeming too jealous
Chandra: Many artistic accomplishments such as painting or playing an instrument well. poetry and conversation are especially important. Sounds like a good geisha. hee hee
Pomona Writer: attending to the man, but not being too possesive.
Veritas Veloce: and different qualities for a wife....vs. a dalliance...
Chandra: hai Wives should be trainable always be sensitive to her husband's moods, and always try to please him.
Okasan: one trait that was desireable was expressed like this: For someone who is not alive to the particular quality of each moment and each occasion, it is safer not to make a great show of taste and elegance; and from someone who is alive to it all, a man wants restraint. She should feign a certain ignorance, she should keep back a little of what she is prepared to say
Pomona Writer: I kept thinking -- this was written by a woman -- what would a man's writings say?
Chandra: Perhaps not exactly the same.
Pomona Writer: Also -- no matter how the woman acted, she was not perfect.
Chandra: Or perhaps she knew men very well and not diffenet at all.
Kati Palen: so these are musings about what a man thinks, by a woman something to keep in mind a woman with a lot of time to write
Pomona Writer: really a no-win situation for the women both men and women were trapped their reality of that period of time, yes. and the reality of their social position.
Veritas Veloce: they just knew it was what it was.
Okasan: also what was interesting to me was that a woman should be accepting of the man's dalliances, but of course and even a note in there of how the man should forgive a woman's
Chandra: The ability to forgive absolutely is woman's most important attribute.
Kati Palen: Forgive me sisters, I must leave. I will check the notes later.
Chandra: We were speaking of forgiveness?
Chandra: With Genji's behavior women needed a lot of forgiveness. How smart should they be?
Veritas Veloce: no too smart......
Chandra: But smart. A cultivated disposition. May I ask, sisters... what happens later in the chapter?
Veritas Veloce: the end was "shocking"
Pomona Writer: He end up with a young boy, after raping the boy's sister.
Chandra: hai, But before that. Traveling taboos drive Genji to spend the night at the house of a provincial governor (the governor of Kii/Iyo).
Pomona Writer: the issues about the stepmother were confusing to me. The taboos also were not clear.
Chandra: Hai that is why I asked about when this takes place. This season. It was not considered good luck to go out in the rain.
Pomona Writer: it seemed Genji did not take them seriously, but took them into account when manipulating other people.
Chandra: He takes nothing seriously I think. During the evening, Genji becomes interested in the governor's young stepmother. At one point he just walks into her room and carries her off to spend the night in his room.
Pomona Writer: he described her as young and vulnerable.-not willing

Chandra: Neither the lady nor her servants can stop him, his rank is too high.
Pomona Writer: right - he used his power to manipulate
Chandra: she realizes the inappropriateness of the situation and she spends the entire night crying. It is at this time that Genji conscripts her 12 year old brother ("you'll be my son") and has him delivering secret messages to his sister.
Pomona Writer: it has elements of being a cautionary tale for women.
Chandra: Oh Pomona I think it gets much more of the same...Though she answers these formally, the sister is not receptive to his advances, and this time she is sleeping in a room with many other woman.
Pomona Writer: for her own protection, I thought.
Chandra: Yes I think so. But being the person Genji is In one translation, at the end of the chapter Genji is rejected by the lady Utsusemi, and so invites her younger brother who had been serving as messenger to spend the night with him instead. "Well, you at least must not abandon me." Genji pulled the boy down beside him. The boy was delighted, such were Genji's youthful charms. Genji, for his part, or so one is informed, found the boy more attractive than his chilly sister. It is always his charm that seems to make up for the multitude of sins.
Veritas Veloce: he seems a bit..... not very discriminating
Pomona Writer: well, he is learning about life.
Okasan: Karibara Yekken was a scholar of this time.  I just wanted to reply to Pomona's earlier point. He cautioned that young women should not read this book because of its immoral overtones - so it was x-rated even in Edo period of Japan! But the question i have is this...is there value to us continuing reading it? What will we gain?
Chandra: I have learned more value about th culture than the story. I think it is good.
Veritas Veloce: well it is a classic
Pomona Writer: Since we study this period, we should read it to know about what was going on.
Chandra:  more value from.
Veritas Veloce: and tells us about the Heian period
Okasan: the value will be if we focus on the culture rather than on Genji himself
Chandra: This is said over and over again.... it is a masterpiece.
Pomona Writer: true-- he is a device
Veritas Veloce: and significant because it was writeen by a woman of the court...in hiragana
Chandra: He is a scoundrel. But so what?
Okasan: so can we focus more on the culture and traditions we can learn from it?
Veritas Veloce: and we learn about their protocol in rank etc.
Pomona Writer: right -- he is the device, the lens, though which we can look at the people there.
Okasan: for instance bad luck to go out in the rain - i didn't realize that :)
Pomona Writer: me neither! But the taboos were mentioned.
Veritas Veloce: Kyoto is very raininy in the season
Chandra: I find "reading" and "studying" the work much more valuable than anything.
Pomona Writer: I definitely think we should persevere with this book.
Okasan: you have done a great job of reviewing the background
Chandra: May I offer one final thing? This book has so many spinoffs and something on the screen will elucidate to that and demonstrate again the importance of the work. Genji-mon or Genji crests are 54 different rectilinear emblems, each associated with one of the 54 chapters of the Genji. These were apparently first derived from traditional incense ceremonies and games. In this participants burned combinations of 5 primary scents from 25 different packets, each marked with a unique symbol. Eventually, these 25 symbols were expanded to 54, corresponding to the Genji chapters. The game challenged players to identify the scents of these burning incenses. Some were the same and some were not. 
Pomona Writer: when did this take place, in modern times?
Chandra: No I think in the Edo time and continued for centuries. Players of the game had to identify which were which and designate their answers in these crests. The lower right hand crest is todays chapter 2. All scents were different. At opposite corener upper left....Scent 1 and 5 wer the same and 2, and 3 and 4. That is how the game was played. And while I have more it is probably time to end.

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Ch 3 - 7

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The Tale of Genji Chapters 3 - 7

Class discussion was led by Pomona Writer who presented an excellent review of the material through Voice and scripted notecards. Following this presentation we had a wonderful discussion.

Attendees were: Pomona, Veritas, Kati, Chandra, Josephine, Lysandra, Corwyn and Okasan. What follows is a copy of the scripted notes and discussion.This is Pomona’s view of Genji, with much taken from various internet sources. 

This is NOT a scholarly presentation – I’m merely reporting what I’ve been reading.   

Please forgive any misprounciation -- I have no experience in listening to Japanese.

Let it be said that reading Tale of Genji has made me very interested in Japanese history! 

Since I’m interested in cultural changes, you must be patient with my musings here. 

I will first talk a little about the cultural background, then give a brief review of the Tale of Genji so far. 

The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) is a classic work of Japanese literature attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in about 1000 AD.

In my own imagination, I wonder if these stories were “published” by passing them around in serial form as they were written. 

If this was the case, each “new installment” would have been eagerly awaited!

The society described is an aristocratic culture at the peak of the Heian Period. (794 - 1185).

The Heian period is relatively stable, peaceful and prosperous. 

Japan had evolved from a primarily agricultural land to a more sophisticated culture. 

This was before the military and political power of the samurai groups.

Most important had been the earlier introduction of the Chinese writing system.  

Writing revolutionized Japan – there had not been any writing system before then. 

Thus, written history now begins in Japan – as well as social poetry and letters. 

By the time of Genji, foreign influences had been absorbed and consolidated into Japanese society.

Buddhism from China and Korea had been introduced in about 500. 

There were close connections with the Chinese and Korean courts, and influences from those countries.

The Heian culture now included literature, philosophy, art, architecture, science, medicine, and  statecraft.

The Yokibito (aristocracy) had more power at this period than they did earlier or later.   

At the time of Genji, in about the year 1000, there were about five thousand Yokibito in a land of about five million.

The word “Yokibito” literally translates as "the good people" but could be better rendered as "The Beautiful People" or "The Fortunate Ones".

The Imperial Family and the powerful Fujiwara Clan were the powerful rulers of Japan at this time. 

Nominally, ruling power lay with the emperor.  But in fact,  the actual power was wielded by the Fujiwara nobility.    There is tension shown between these groups in Tale of Genji.

The Yokibito, with their free time and seeming wealth, are able to encourage literature, painting, music, and the decorative arts.  

A distinctive national style emerged during the Heian Period   The art and writings of this time first expressed human emotions and complexity of human interactions.

In this setting, Genji moves freely.  I believe his often scandalous adventures merely illustrate the society of the times.   Some would call the society "decadent."   It reminds me of the goings-on in Roman aristocracy before the fall of Rome. 

It’s a world where a family’s power can provide (or not provide) various kinds of safety for individuals. 

Children and women are easy prey unless protected.

 Those with high rank do not hesitate to use their power for their personal gratification. 

I haven't been able to learn where the wealth was or how it was gained.  Is it land based?   Where does Genji himself get his money?  Does he even have money? 

It would be interesting to learn what role monetary wealth plays in the power structure of the aristocracy.   I found the following quote online at http://www.jref.com/culture/heian_period_era.shtml

Quote:   “Heian period economics” 

“While on one hand the Heian period was indeed an unusually long period of peace, it can also be argued that the period weakened Japan economically and led to poverty for all but a tiny few of its inhabitants.   ...... 

"One reason the samurai were able to take power was that the ruling nobility proved incompetent at managing Japan and its provinces.”

“By the year 1000 the government no longer knew how to issue currency and money was gradually disappearing.

"The lack of a solid medium of economic exchange is implicitly illustrated in novels of the time, for instance messengers are rewarded with useful objects, e.g. an old silk kimono, rather than paid a fee.”

“The Fujiwara rulers also failed to maintain adequate police forces, which left robbers free to prey on travelers."

 (end of quote)

So (my comment) -– in some ways, the height of the Heian society in literature and polite society was also the beginning of the end for the aristocracy.

Religion  ---   Buddhism is one of the religious beliefs at this time. 

In the Tale of Genji, People often refer to “a bond in a former life”. 

They evidently not only believe in this type of bond, but also use it as an excuse for their own behavior!  

However, the religious terms used in this translation are not consistent, and that could be a study in itself.

Brief review of Chapters 1 and 2:   

We have seen in Chapters 1 (The Paulownia Court) and 2 (The Broom Tree) that Genji is the beautiful love-child of the Emperor and a lower ranked lady. 

The Emperor does not have enough power to protect Genji’s mother or to elevate her to be his companion. 

Genji is doted upon by the Emperor.   He grows to be talented, handsome and fairly powerful.  Everyone appears to love (or fear) him.  His behavior is excused. 

We see some growth in Genji’s attitudes through experience.  He does begin to fear gossip and bad reputation to some extent. 

Although Genji marries a highborn wife of good family, he seeks sexual liaisons with various women and children.

He gathers ideas about women from his contemporary male friends.

CHAPTERS 3 - 7.    I used the chart that our sister Chandra provided to try to keep track of Genji'a activities -- it's confusing!

The chart is at http://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/~pmjs/resources/genji/genji-chart.html   It's still confusing!

In CHAPTER 3 (The Shell of the Locust),

Genji grieves over the governor’s wife whom he has raped and who tries hard to avoid another sexual visit from him.  He has taken her garment, “the locust’s shell”. 

He uses her little brother as a go-between to try to get to her.  His efforts lead him to sexual encounters with the lady’s female companion (also a person of some importance) and the little brother. 

He sees “how dangerous these adventures can be.”

In CHAPTER 4 ( Evening Faces),

Genji visits his old nurse and her son Koremitsu (apparently Genji’s retainer).  He is distracted by a mysterious family in a nearby house. 

The lady is gentle and quiet, and he pursues her. She will not tell him who she is.  During one of their nights together – she DIES! 

He wonders if he is being punished for a guilty love.  Koremitsu arranges services and burial for the lady.  Genji has “suffered a defilement” and needs to be absolved. 

He finds out that the dead lady had been the lost beloved of his friend Lord Tono Chujo, who had borne a daughter Tono Chujo called  “the wild carnation”. 

Tono Chujo had longed to find the lady and his child.  But Genji does NOT tell him what happened or of the child’s existence.

Genji still tries to contact and be with the “Locust Lady”, and feels he has “learned the pain of a forbidden love.”

In CHAPTER 5 ( Lavender),

In the spring, Genji suffers from maleria and goes to the mountains to be cured by a sage  by rituals. 

He hears of a nun living nearby who takes care of a very young girl – Murasaki. 

He spies to see her and decides she looks like Fujitsubo, the lady he longs for.  

He made plans that “the child must stand in the place of the one whom who so resembled.” 

But her guardian aunt -- the nun -- will not relinquish her to Genji. 

He learns the child is the daughter of Prince Hyobu and the nun’s late sister, and therefore also the niece of Fujitsobo (whom she resembles).

Genji sees Fujitsobo (who is his stepmother) again, and she become pregnant.  She becomes very ill and is no longer available to him.

After Murasaki's aunt dies, Prince Hyobu, who is Murasaki’s father, plans to take her back into his house.

Genji abducts her secretly the day before the father arrives.  No one knows where she has gone!  

Genji states that he will not be able to take her after she returns to her father so he needs to get her now  --“if he were to take her from her father’s house, he would be called a lecher and a child thief.” 

(my comment)  Somehow he is NOT a “lecher and a child thief” if he abducts her before her father takes charge of her!

Genji learns that

“Murasaki was the perfect companion, a toy for him to play with.  He could not have been so free and uninhibited with a daughter of his own.  There are restraints upon paternal intimacy.  Yes, he had come upon a remarkable little treasure.”

In CHAPTER 6 (The Safflower),

Genji thinks over his past affairs.  He looks for another woman who is of lower rank with whom he can be happy.

An attendant tells him of a “lonely helpless person”, a princess, the daughter of the late Prince Hitachi.  A meeting is arranged. 

The princess is ill, poor, and not beautiful.  Genji helps her in some ways, giving her clothing and food.

However, he finds more enjoyment playing with the little girl Murasaki, who he keeps hidden away.  

In CHAPTER 7 (An Autumn Excursion),

The Emperor and his court prepare to go to Suzaku palace.   Fujitsubo (who is pregnant) will not be going.  

So that Fujitsubo may see the festivities, the Emperor holds a rehearsal where drama, music, and dancing are performed. 

(Here is a link to a website with costumes of the times, which I found useful in picturing some of these dances.    http://www.iz2.or.jp/english/fukusyoku/wayou/index.htm  )

Genji and Tono Chujo dance “Waves of the Blue Ocean” to great acclaim.

The trip is successful and the performances beautiful.  Genji and Tono Chujo are both promoted in rank. 

Genji’s wife finds out about Murasaki, and reacts strongly.  She is highborn and proud and disapproves of Genji’s affairs. 

Genji says that if his wife knew that Murasaki was "only a mere child” she would not be so angry. 

Murasaki’s father (Prince Hyobu) still does not know where she is. 

Prince Hyobu and Genji are both attracted to each other, and wish “they were not of the same sex”.

Genji still longs for Fujitsubo, who tries hard to avoid him. 

Fujitsubo’s child is not born (as expected) in the 12th month.  He is instead  born two months later, in the 2nd month. 

(my commment -- does this mean the child is NOT really Genji's son?)

The little prince looks like Genji.  The child is officially Genji’s half-brother.  It is possible the child is Genji's son.  But only Genji and Fujitsubo worry about the connection.  

The Emperor is delighted with the baby.   As the son of the high born Fujitsubo, this prince could be a crown prince (unlike Genji, who had a lower ranked mother).

Genji plans to visit his legal wife, but instead returns to living with Murasaki.  This is viewed disapprovingly by everyone.

He continues having affairs with court women, even an old woman named Naishi.  Tono Chujo spies on Genji again, and teases by discovering them and taking some clothing.   He does not "tell all" but saves his knowledge to use later.

Fujitsubo is made Empress.  Genji is promoted by acquiring a seat on the Council of State. 

The Emperor plans for his own abdication, and hopes that the baby prince will become crown prince.  Fujitsubo's powerful family could protect and promote him. 

The Emperor’s first wife, Kokiden, was very angry at being passed over, and fears her oldest son will not become crown prince.

The little prince grows to look more and more like Genji, but no one suspects he might be Genji’s child.

The End.   -- THANK YOU for listening to my presentation. 


Posted on Sunday, June 22, 2008, 08:41 AM (UTC -6)

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Chapter 8 - 12

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Tale of Gengi Discussion-Ch 8-12

Class discussion was led by Suzanne Logan and Kati Palen who presented an excellent review of the material through Kati's research. This presentation cleared up many questions for the class and we had great discussion.

Attendees were: Veritas, Kati, Chandra, Josephine, Lysandra, Corwyn, Izumi, Inarra and Chamonix Liebling from Blue Lotus, Jungleer, Corwyn and Okasan. What follows is a copy of the scripted notes and exerpts from the discussion.

Okasan: shikomi please join us
[7:05]  Josephine Bellic: Hai, Okasan, as you wish.
[7:05]  Lysandra Goodnight: as You wish, Okasan
[7:06]  Lysandra Goodnight lowers to her knees upon the cushion.. smoothing out the silk over her lap
Okasan: it is good to see everyone. Kati sent me a card as she said that sometimes with her rl situation things can happen. So we can wait for a bit and have a shikomi politeness discussion or manners if you will because this is a good example.
[7:09]  Lysandra Goodnight flushes a bit and lowers her eyes.
Okasan There is nothing to be embarrassed about you both did beautifully, staying to the side...and deferring to your sisters. That is right waiting for an invite to the table is good from me or the most senior geisha present. I want you to feel a part of the group in these class discussions. If you have looked at the material please feel free to join in. When we are before public...you try to keep more still. We will be seeing Memoirs of a Geisha on Tuesday night
[7:12]  Lysandra Goodnight smiles.. looking forward to that
Okasan: though parts of the movie are not accurate....(there is a special situation revolving mizuage)
[7:12]  Veritas Veloce reminds all. that Tuesday will start at 6PM, one hour earlier than ususal for tuesday
Okasan: you may study how the shikomi role played out in the movie
Okasan: we welcome our Hogosha today too !
[7:13]  Lysandra Goodnight looks a but curious at the term "mizuage"
[7:13]  Izumi Itano blushes
Okasan: hmmm
[7:14]  Josephine Bellic: Does it mean ritual deflowering, Okasan?
[7:14]  You: hai
[7:14]  Josephine Bellic nods, and bows her head.
[7:14]  Lysandra Goodnight blinks serveral times, rapidly
[7:14]  Lysandra Goodnight blushes then
Okasan: not typically practiced in all geisha houses
We then completed some introductions.

Okasan: we are going to get started because we have much to discuss. I will lead the discussion in Kati's absence.  We have been reviewing the Tales of Genji, the first "novel" if you will, in the world. It is a very complicated web of a tale to read with many characters and not written in a style we are familiar. So a difficult read. That is why we are helping each other.

So to recap. Recap of Chapters 1-7:

From childhood, Genji is seen as an extraordinarily beautiful and lovable child. He is the son of the emperor Kirisubo and an "Intimate" -- a mistress from a lower class. The emperor loves her dearly but is not able to raise her to consort, and so does the best he can by her and raises Genji. Genji's mother dies when he is three. Later he falls in love with his father's new wife, the Fujitsubo Consort (who everyone says looks like Genji's dead mother); and enters into an arranged marriage with Aoi, the daughter of the influential Minister of the Left. Aoi is older than Genji, and though the marriage is politically advantageous, she does not interest him. When Genji is a young man he has a discussion about women with several companions, including his best friend Tono Chujo (who is his wife Aoi's brother). The author introduces the theme of "the hidden flower" — the sweet and accomplished maiden tucked away in an unexpected place. At least half of the women Genji subsequently becomes involved with (including the heroine Murasaki) are hidden flowers.
Bad Genji!
After a number of affairs, Genji begins an affair with the Rokujo lady (who is seven years older than Genji, and widow of the deceased crown prince) while at the same time nursing a hidden passion for his stepmother Fujitsubo. During that time Genji has another hidden flower affair with Yugao, who is killed by the vindictive wandering spirit of the jealous Rokujo lady. [7:24]  Izumi Itano thinks so many affairs..
When he is 18, Genji manages to have a forbidden tryst with his stepmother Fujitsubo. She conceives a child as a result of this union. Later, after an illness, Genji travels in the mountains for his health and discovers 10-year-old Murasaki, a hidden flower niece of Fujitsubo. Struck by her resemblence to Fujitsubo, he is entranced, and ultimately takes the child away to rear her as the perfect woman. Genji and Tono Chujo dance "Waves of the Blue Ocean" for an imperial excursion. Guilty with her transgression and aware that she is pregnant, Fujitsubo can hardly bear to watch. The young Murasaki, playing with her dolls, is happily ensconced in Genji's private house. Fujitsubo bears a son who is thought by the world to be the emperor's child, but in fact is Genji's. Fujitsubo is elevated to the rank of empress. Genji visits his wife Aoi who is very cold to him. [7:25]  Chandra Vita cannot believe how beautifully summarized the tale is related.
Okasan: so you can see how complicated Genji's life has been until now.
Kati did a wonderful job with the notecards...all credit goes to her...and I will give each a copy of this after the lesson
*smiles and on to our next chapters!
Chapters 8 - 12
Chapter 8: The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms ? - Women playing a board game
There is a pic here but i did not have time to put this into a viewer so you will have to view it later
One day in spring, Genji (now 20 or 21) attends a banquet under the cherry blossoms.
Later that night he looks for someone to seduce and wanders around the women's rooms to see who he can find. He happens upon a young lady whose sweet voice draws him to investigate. She comes to the door and he catches her sleeves and closes the door behind them. She is surprised and resists him. He tells her not to bother to call anyone as he always gets to do what he wants and it is no use. She recognizes his voice and gives in to him.
Before they part they exchange fans. He has no idea who she is as she won't tell him her name, but he hopes she is not one of the sisters of the Kokiden Consort (mother of the crown prince, known as a horrible, vindictive woman).
After they separate, he can not stop thinking of the lovely girl and pens this poem: "I had not known the sudden loneliness Of having it vanish, the moon in the sky of dawn."
[7:29]  Chandra Vita raises hand. I did not exactly understand this "exchnging of fans."

Okasan: thoughts anyone?
[7:30]  Josephine Bellic: I considered it to be like...trading phone numbers, Okasan. Or business cards.
Okasan: many fans had messages inscribed on them, sometimes poetry, but yes....something like that Jo
[7:31]  Chandra Vita smiles. The phone # is what I thought/
[7:31]  Lysandra Goodnight: sometimes the exchanging of small favors like the fans are a simple acknowledgement that something has passed between two people. It forms a connection through the symbolism. Well it's a culture steeped very heavily in ceremony in almost every aspect of life.

Okasan: and as to the mysterious lady....There are many references to the misty moon throughout the story, and when he tries to learn her identity later, refers to her as "the lady of the misty moon."  Ultimately, it turns out the lady is indeed one of Kokiden's sisters -- called Oborosukiyo. This fact will come back to haunt him in Chapter 10. Anything else on this chapter 8 ?
Okasan: those of us here who have not been privy to Gengi's antics may be somewhat in shock at his treatment of women. But basically ever since man hood was upon him he enjoyed using it and never missed a chance to do so.
[7:35]  Chandra Vita thinks that he will soon start to pay for his antics.
Okasan: Chapter 9: Heartvine
This is one of the great chapters in The Tale of Genji -- famous for "the carriage scene." Rokujo lady is introduced into the story again. She is unhappy with Genji's lack of attention and his mistreatment of her, as if she were a common woman. She is a great and proud woman, and can hardly bear the pain of the embarrassment it has caused her. And now some of the greatest advice that one man can offer to another.  The emperor warns Genji to treat her better, and not anger women: "You should treat any woman with tact and courtesy, and be sure that you cause her no embarrassment. You should never have a woman angry with you."
[7:37]  Veritas Veloce thinks that is sage advice
[7:37]  Corwyn Allen nods but is amazed Genji never learned so simple and obvious a lesson
[7:37]  You: not good when women get angry...not good
[7:37]  Lysandra Goodnight giggles behind her hand
[7:38]  Corwyn Allen nods know what it's like to have a headache. *smiles at Geigi
Okasan: Later, during the Kamo Festival, Rokujo lady is humiliated in her carriage by the carriage of Genji's wife Aoi when she tries to discretely attend the procession so she may see Genji. After their coaches clash, the servants of Aoi, Genji's wife, force Rokujo lady to move her coach from a vantage point overlooking a parade in which Genji is a participant. The flying colors on the coaches, the servants'excitement, Rokujo's fury, and Aoi's confusion heighten the tension. It is a deeply embarrassing experience for Rokujo, and greatly magnifies her feelings of unhappiness and pain.  Genji's wife, Aoi, who is pregnant, becomed possessed by the wandering spirit of the Rokujo. Aoi becomes critically ill and everyone is very worried. Genji starts to wonder why he has been so remiss in his feelings and behavior toward Aoi. There is a hair-raising moment where Rokujo speaks to Genji through Aoi, and he recognizes it is she. The exorcists have failed and Aoi appears to be ready to die, calling Genji to her side. She is clearly not herself -- she seems languid and peaceful. He tries to comfort her and in a voice unlike her own she says:
"No, no. I was hurting so, I asked them to stop for a while. I had not dreamed that I would come to you like this. It is true: a troubled soul will sometimes go wandering off." The voice was gentle and affectionate.
"Bind the hem of my robe, to keep it within, The grieving soul that has wandered through the skies."Genji is aghast.  Soon thereafter Aoi gives birth to Genji's son Yugiri, and dies. Genji mourns for many months and is hardly himself. Ultimately, Genji turns his attention back to the young Murasaki and abruptly changes the nature of their relationship to a sexual one. She must have been about 12 I think?
[7:41]  Izumi Itano: :O
He begins to see her as old enough for marriage and suggests she become his wife. She is shocked by his amorous advances. So discussion on this chapter?
[7:42]  Lysandra Goodnight: Genji has been like a father to her so yes the situation must seem very awkward to her at this point
[7:42]  Izumi Itano thinks how poor this little girl was
[7:42]  Veritas Veloce: it was interesting to see how Rokojo spirit came to speak thru Aoi....
[7:42]  Chandra Vita: The book seems to take a sharp turn here.
[7:42]  Suzanne Logan nods to all of the comments
[7:42]  Lysandra Goodnight: I'm a bit confused....
[7:42]  You: yes Lysandra?
[7:43]  Inarra Onmura asks what was Genji trying to find through all of these women?
[7:43]  You: other than liking girls?
[7:43]  Lysandra Goodnight: well.. Aoi was always cold and distant to Genjii... woudl hardly be civil to him let alone let him touch her... where in the narrative does he get her pregnant?
[7:43]  Lysandra Goodnight: I was doubting the child might be his
Okasan: we have talked of that a little....One of the things is that Gengi's mother died when he was very young and his father was devastated. He found a woman who looked so like her, even in mannerisims, Fujitsubo..and Genji fell in love with her. Some would theorize that his escapades with other women were an outlet for his forbidden love for his step mother - even Murasaki - the little girl......Fujitsobo's niece looked like her
[7:46]  Chamonix Liebling: may i comment, Logsansan? Most of this seemed to occured before he was 18 wthout any guidaince from mother or father. until his father finally gave advice, after many missteps. His youthful passion was unbridled and misdirectled. Sounds like a young Elvis, looking for his mother, and instead locking up the young Priscilla in order to create his mother again.
Okasan: Chandra, you made a comment that there is a sharp turn here
[7:48]  Chandra Vita: Hai here Genji actually starts to feel sometihng of remorse for all his shinanagans. But in the end , Ch 12 we see he does not really think he has done anythng wrong . Still bad things stwart to happen to him.
[7:50]  Chamonix Liebling: Question, Logansan, when was this novel written?
Okasan: Class? When was the novel written?
[7:51]  Chandra Vita: 1000
Okasan: it is more than 1000 years old
[7:51]  Inarra Onmura: 1000 years ago
[7:51]  Chandra Vita: 11 th century?
[7:51]  Chamonix Liebling: before Edo period?
[7:51]  Inarra Onmura: It is the anniversary this year.
[7:51]  Chandra Vita: Hien period pre Edo.
It was at this point that Kati was able to come and finish leading the class discussion.

[7:52]  Kati Palen: Friends, I am so so very sorry. I had a hard time getting away this AM
Deepest apologies.
Okasan: we were just discussing Chapter 9 and ready to start 10. Would you like to continue Kati?
[7:54]  Corwyn Allen: For those who asked, the Heian period lasted from 794 - 1185 CE.
Followed by the Kamakura, Muramachi, Azuchi-Momoyama and finally EDo periods

Kati: Chapter 10: The Sacred Tree
The Rokujo lady, horrified at her soul's wandering, decides to remove herself from the situation and accompany her daughter to Ise, as the lovely girl had been appointed Ise Virgin. It is very interesting that she is aware of her spirit going out from her body, no?
I did some side reading about possession and women during this period being a device for gaining control over their husbands!
[8:00]  Lysandra Goodnight: I find it interesting that her spirit wanders while she is still alive.
[8:00]  Kati Palen: Yes... AND that she is aware of it - so strange
Anyway, although they had stopped speaking after Aoi's death, Genji is distressed by her decision and tries to talk her out of it. She doesn't respond to him, afraid of rekindling anything with him. He goes to visit her a number of times at Ise, but she won't see him. Finally she takes pity on him and allows him to exchange a message with her. Genji passes a branch to her and says: "With heart unchanging as this evergreen, This sacred tree, I enter the sacred gate."
She replies: "You err with your sacred tree and sacred gate. No beckoning cedars stand before my house." She rejects him
[[8:03]  Chandra Vita: Kati don't you think the book really starts becoming more poetic, lyrical and really quite beautiful. FINALLY?
[8:03]  Kati Palen: Oh, I cried during Aoi's death. I finally started reading so much beauty into it. I thought it had just taken me a while to get it. But the descriptions of Aoi's form and hair and Genji's realization that he shouldn't have neglected her -- really moved me
If you have not read Chapter 9, I suggest it is a good place to start getting the emotion of the writing
[8:05]  Chandra Vita: Like a differnt author almost.
Kati Palen: I would like to offer, since this has gone so long today, the choice of whether I should continue, or give you the notecard? We are getting to a really interesting part...but I understand if you need to get the card from me now
Okasan: we were 20 min late getting started
Kati Palen: I will give it to you now, and then if you need to leave, you can. And I will continue after that
The group made a decision to continue.

[8:07]  Kati Palen: I am going to move on. There is so much to cover Also in this chapter, the old emperor (Genji's father) dies, and Kokiden's son becomes the Suzaku Emperor.
Before he dies, the emporer elevates his child by Fujitsubo (Yugiri -- really the child of Genji and Fujitsubo) to heir apparant, and appoints Genji his guardian. This only serves to more deeply anger the Kokiden consort, who had been passed over by the emperor for Fujitsubo when the child was born. This is important, because it secure's Genji's line
After his father's death, Genji deeply wishes to see Fujitsubo again, but she rebuffs him and chooses to become a nun. Genji honors her wishes and their relationship becomes more formal. He puts aside his love for Fujitsubo out of respect for her wishes. He is learning something, no? 

While at court Genji renews his affair with Oborozukiyo (younger sister of Kokiden). What a delicious challenge... he has not learned THAT much. One night they are caught together by her father, and Kokiden sees this as an opportunity to get even with him for being the late emperor's favorite, and plots to have him banished. Genji has to retreat into self-exile, which is the topic of Chapter 12
Kati Palen: Chapter 11: The Orange Blossoms
It is very short and seems to serve no purpose...Genji is depressed at his situation and longs to escape. He visits one of his father's lesser consorts and finds comfort with her -- an older, childless woman. The orange blossoms falling in her garden remind him of bygone days and he is moved to tears by their scent. And he is flooded with memories of childhood
I imagine him spilling his guts to this surrogate mother for the moment.  In this brief chapter, Genji is able to find some release from his pain and his worries are relieved, if only for a moment. BTW, when you get the notecard, there are woodblock prints associated with each chapter. This chapter does not have one. I do not know why. They are from the 18th century, so perhaps it was lost
[8:13]  Chandra Vita: I have one for that chapter.
[8:13]  Kati Palen: Ooh! OK
Moving on: Chapter 12: Suma
Feeling himself out of favor at court, Genji prepares to leave for self-imposed exile to Suma where he stays for two years. Although he writes to all his ladies, Murasaki is the one he misses most. The narrative dwells at length on the poignancy of his misery and suffering as he languishes in the wilds and longs for home and those he has left behind. His friend Tono Chujo visits Genji and tells him what has been happening at court. He tells him that the Minister of the Right and his faction abuse their political authority. And the emperor Suzaku has gotten an eye ailment. He says people have been thinking that all of the unhappy matters were caused as the punishment for banishing Genji. But Genji doesn't have any grudge at the emperor. He is owning his situation. He is honorable.  Several days later, Suma has a thunderstorm. Even the exorcist's prayer cannot stop the downpours with thunderbolts. When a thunderbolt hits Genji's residence, he sees the ghost of the former emperor Kiritsubo, his father, standing in the smoke. Even after Kiritsubo died, he has been worried about his son, Genji.  Kiritsubo says that Genji should leave from Suma immediately getting on a ship that will come from other place. And Kiritsubo says that he will go to Kyoto in order to talk with the emperor Suzaku. There is a lot of drama in the storm scene. It is considered one of the great moments of the epic. The thunderstorm has gone next day.
[8:17]  Inarra Onmura: Nature mirroring emotions.
[8:17]  Kati Palen: Akashi-no-Nyudo who was a former provincial governor of Akashi sends a ship to meet Genji.  Nyudo invites Genji to Akashi, who goes with him in order to follow the words of his father Kiritsubo. Many scholars suggest that the storm is the purification of Genji's karma. Which begs the question of whether or not the work is a morality tale.
I would have prepared a section on this interpretation, but ran out of time. The thought is that the relationship with the Kokiden consort was the beginning of the bad karma
[8:18]  Chandra Vita: I saw it more as the heavens disagreeing with Genji when he says he did no wrong.
[8:18]  Kati Palen: Yes. That is something that I have seen mentioned, but it could be the same thing.... he is being taught a lesson, or cleansed..And I did not further reading into the work, so I have no idea if it worked. That is it for what I prepared
Our time ended congratulating Kati for a job well done and thanking her for providing such wonderful clarification and references for our use.

The references from Kati's card may be found in the Maiko Literature Lesson References.

Next week: Okasan will take her turn with Tales of Genji and lead the discussion on Chapters 13-17 - Sunday, July 13, 2008. We will meet in the main room of the Okiya.

Posted on Sunday, July 6, 2008, 09:48 AM (UTC -6)

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Chapters 13 - 17

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Tale of Genji Chapters 13-17

We had a good discussion group today though we started late because we had a visit from Genji himself and also the evidence of his previous visits...showing three of our beauties acting out the "family way". It was great fun and Okasan was amused!

Present were: Pomona, Kati, Josephine, Lysandra, Corwyn, Kokoro Fasching as our guest.

Tale of Genji
Amatsu Okiya
July 13,2008
chapters 13 - 17

Recap of Chapters 1-7:

From childhood, Genji is seen as an extraordinarily beautiful and lovable child. He is the son of the emperor Kirisubo and an "Intimate" -- a mistress from a lower class. The emperor loves her dearly but is not able to raise her to consort, and so does the best he can by her and raises Genji. Genji's mother dies when he is three. Later he falls in love with his father's new wife, the Fujitsubo Consort (who everyone says looks like Genji's dead mother); and enters into an arranged marriage with Aoi, the daughter of the influential Minister of the Left. Aoi is older than Genji, and though the marriage is politically advantageous, she does not interest him. When Genji is a young man he has a discussion about women with several companions, including his best friend Tono Chujo (who is his wife Aoi's brother). The author introduces the theme of "the hidden flower" — the sweet and accomplished maiden tucked away in an unexpected place. At least half of the women Genji subsequently becomes involved with (including the heroine Murasaki) are hidden flowers.

After a number of affairs, Genji begins an affair with the Rokujo lady (who is seven years older than Genji, and widow of the deceased crown prince) while at the same time nursing a hidden passion for his stepmother Fujitsubo. During that time Genji has another hidden flower affair with Yugao, who is killed by the vindictive wandering spirit of the jealous Rokujo lady.
When he is 18, Genji manages to have a forbidden tryst with his stepmother Fujitsubo. She conceives a child as a result of this union. Later, after an illness, Genji travels in the mountains for his health and discovers 10-year-old Murasaki, a hidden flower niece of Fujitsubo. Struck by her resemblence to Fujitsubo, he is entranced, and ultimately takes the child away to rear her as the perfect woman. Genji and Tono Chujo dance "Waves of the Blue Ocean" for an imperial excursion. Guilty with her transgression and aware that she is pregnant, Fujitsubo can hardly bear to watch. The young Murasaki, playing with her dolls, is happily ensconced in Genji's private house. Fujitsubo bears a son who is thought by the world to be the emperor's child, but in fact is Genji's. Fujitsubo is elevated to the rank of empress. Genji visits his wife Aoi who is very cold to him.

Recap: 8 - 12

   Genji seduces the Lady of the Night of the Hazy Moon (Oborozukiyo). This woman is a sister of the emperor's Kokiden consort, a woman belonging to a rival political faction. Kokiden was jealous of Kiritsubo when she was alive, jealous of Fujitsubo, and of course vindictive toward Genji.
 
  Genji tries to seduce his cousin Asagao to no effect. The Rokujô lady is humiliated in her carriage by the carriage of Genji's wife Aoi when she goes to watch the Kamo Festival Pageant, Aoi is possessed by the wandering spirit of the Rokujô lady. Aoi gives birth to Genji's son Yûgiri, and soon thereafter dies. Genji turns his attention to the young Murasaki by abruptly changing the nature of their relationship to a sexual one.
 
  The Rokujô lady, horrified at her soul's wandering, decides to leave Miyako, accompanying her daughter who has been appointed Ise Virgin. The old emperor (Genji's father) dies, and Kokiden's son becomes the Suzaku Emperor. Genji renews his affair with Oborozukiyo. Genji tries mightily to see Fujitsubo again, but she rebuffs him and takes religious vows. Genji is caught in flagrante delicto with Oborozukiyo and Kokiden plots to have him banished.
 
Finally, feeling himself out of favor at court, Genji prepares to leave for self-imposed exile to Suma where he stays for two years.  Although he writes to all his ladies, Murasaki is the one he misses most. Tô no Chûjô visits. Genji does a purification and a fierce storm arises from nowhere.

and so we begin at Chapter 13

13 Akashi 
  Akashi continues without a break from the previous chapter. Storm rages and Genji, 27 years old, fears for his life.  A messenger comes from Murasaki with distressing news of the storms effect on the City. "The government has come to a halt." Genji prays for help and the storm fury increases...lightening strikes a gallery off Genji's own rooms. The gallery burns.  Finally the storm ends and Genji sleeps. His father visits him in a dream instructing him to leave Suma. A Novice arrives and takes Genji to his coastal village of Akashi as his guest. The Novice has a daughter "the Akashi lady" whom he is so anxious to have connected to a great lord from the city, that he arranges a meeting between Genji and his daughter...even to the point where he penned a note from her in response to Genji's overture (she was holding back answering).  So Genji has his liaison with the Novice's daughter, the Akashi lady. He sees her nightly. When Genji has to leave the Akashi lady is overcome with grief. The emperor summons Genji back to Miyako where he is reunited with Murasaki. He is rewarded a new office "Acting Grand Counselor".
 
14 The Pilgrimage to Sumiyoshi     Miotsukushi
This next chapter is often remembered for the series of poetic exchange. The syllables "mi-o-tsu-ku-shi" occur hrere in this exchange and primarily means "channel marker". A channel marker was a pole set in an estuary bottom to mark the channel, but they also convey "give my all" (for love).

Genji is 28 - 29 years-old. Genji has gone to the Sumiyoshi Shrine, near Naniwa, to thank the god for his blessings. Perchance the Akashi lady arrives the same day on her own pilgrimage to Sumiyoshi. She passes on on through to Naniwa because the beach is so crowded with Genji's entourage. When Genji realizes what has happened, he goes on a "sight-seeing" trip to Naniwa. There he sees the Horie Channel with its channel markers and he is inspired to to write to her:
"I who give my all for your love have my reward, for to find you here,
where so deep a channel runs, prove the power of our bond."
She responds,
"Lacking any worth, I have no title to claim any happiness,
shat can have possessed me, then, so to give my all for love?"

There are 27 characters in this chapter. Genji holds a Rite of the Eight Discourses for his father - the Late Eminence in an effort to save him from sinking so low from his sins. Genji acted as advisor to his half-brother, Suzaku the Emperor, who discussed all manner of Court business with him. But Suzaku the Emperor, abdicates in favor of the young prince who is Fujitsubo's (and Genji's) son. He also confronts Oborozukiyo, the Mistress of Staff explaining is love for her and his pity that her times had been so hard. He wished she had given him a child. She was so shamed and wondered why she had caused the dreadful scandal with Genji that ruined her life as well as Suzaku's. Genji's fortunes rise and he succeeds from Grand counselor to Palace Minister. Meanwhile, in Akashi, the Akashi lady has borne Genji a daughter, and Genji would like to bring them both to Miyako. As to Murasaki's feelings, "Memories of their endless love for each other down the years, and of the letters they had so often exchanged, told her that all his affairs were simple amusements, and the matter passed from her mind." But as she continues to listen to him explaining about the Lady Akashi, Murasaki feels the first shadows of the uncertainty that will eventually destroy her. The Rokujo lady, The Haven, as she is called falls terribly ill, becomes a nun. On her deathbed, the Rokujô lady entrusts her daughter (Akikonomu, the Ise Princess) to Genji's care. After much planning, Genji manages to have her moved to Court and presents the concept to his Lady Murasaki in that "she will be a good companion for you."
 
15 A Waste of Weeds     Yomogiu
  The red-nosed Safflower Princess falls on hard times. Her home is in great disrepair. She weeps thinking of Genji. Jiju, her attendant of many years leaves her mistress - the poverty is too much. Genji responds by taking care of her—much to everyone's amazement since she is in such disrepair herself. Genji knows he has been remiss in calling on her but always other things have taken precedence and he has made excuse after excuse. Finally one day as they are riding in his carriage they go near to her garden and he is once again reminded. Now it is a very wet path as the plants are all heavy with dew. But he trudges onward and finally they do have a chance to visit. She always knew he would call on her again and this visit gives her new hope and happiness. He has her garden tended to and home repairs done over the next two years and then moves her to his East Pavillion. He looks in on her and treats her with kindness.


16 At the Pass     Sekiya

Seikya means "barrier post" as in staffed by a guard. It likely refers to the Osaka Barrier between Kyoto and the eastern provinces. The spot is the scene for this very short chapter. At the Pass takes place toward the end of the period covered by "The Pilgrimmage to Sumiyoshi" from the ninth into the tenth or eleventh month.
Genji is now 29 and here we have another encounter with the lady of the cicada shell.....you remember her... the Iyo Deputy's wife, whom Genji had "known" awhile back - the lady Utsusemi. After His Late Eminence passed away, the Iyo Deputy was appointed to Hitachi and he invited his wife, Utsusemi, to come with him. She and Genji had not communicated in years. It so happened that Genji was on pilgrimage and at the same time and the two parties met on the road. There were so many carriages that it was difficult for all to pass. Genji's group pulled off the road, unyoked the oxen so the Hitachi group could pass. Genji passed words to Utsusemi's brother...the one he had relations with from before. He passed such words as here meant for his sister. "Coming and going, I found here no barrier to these tears of mine--perhaps they may seem to you the slope's ever-welling spring."
Genji continued to pester her with new messages and all the while Hitachi suffered from ill health. On top of this another admirer of hers - the Governor of Kawachi applied flattering advances. The pressure was too much and without a word she became a nun.

17 The Picture Contest     E-awase
The word Eawase means "picture contest" and two competing sides submit paintings in pairs for judgment. The one in this chapter follows an established pattern for poetry contests.  So it was also much like our matching games of today.... in fact there is a cute one I found online for you to try:
http://www.nissan.co.jp/CUBE/PARTS/eawase/eawase.html

This chapter takes place from spring to autumn, a year or so after the time covered by The Pilgrimage to Sumiyoshi.
Genji is 31 years old and now a Palace Minister. Murasak, Genki's love is 23 years old.

Genji's ward, Lady Akikonomu, is presented at court. She is a target for His Eminence's affections. (Retired Emperor Suzaku In). Genji sees a gift that Suzaku sends to Akikonomu and is concerned as to how she might answer him. Genji saw to it that her needs were met. He His friend Tô no Chûjô also has a daughter there and the rivalry between these two young women is illustrated by "the picture contest." The contest went all night - sharing paintings back and forth...not just the ones the ladies painted but also from personal collections.
In the end, Genji's side, the Left won the contest.... "Genji's paintings revealed with perfect immediacy, far more vividly than anything they had imagined during those years when they pitied and grieved for him, all that had passed through his mind, all that he had witnessed, and every detail of those shores that they themselves had neer seen. . .Emotion and delight prevailed, . . the Left had won."


Schedule
7/27    18-27 = Okasan

8/3     28-32
8/10     33-37
8/17     38-42
8/24    43-47
8/31     48-54


Posted on Sunday, July 13, 2008, 11:37 AM (UTC -6)

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Chapter 18 - 27 (July 27, 2008)

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Today's class was attended by Lysandra, Josephine, Chandra, Kati, Veritas and Okasan. Okasan facilitated the discussion and presented the chapter synopsis.

RECAP OF FIRST 17 CHAPTERS
Genji was the beautiful love child of the Emperor Kiritsubo no Mikado and a low ranking courtesan, Kiritsubo no Koi. 
Though low in rank, she was highly esteemed
This was the greatest love story in my opinion. He loved her so much - she was so precious to him and to lose her so young with a baby there.....heart wrenching.
The Emperor’s grief at her death knew no bounds. Finally he met a woman so like her, Fujitsubo. She entered the palace at age 16 when Genji was 11. Genji fell in love!
GENJI GROWS UP
Genji was considered an unusually beautiful child. He shared himself freely with women and at least one young male we know of. Resistance on anyone’s part was futile…if he was determined – the relationship happened – sometimes forced, sometimes aided by others. 
Okasan recalls he visited our okiya too!!!
[7:29]  Lysandra Goodnight giggles
Okasan frowns at her wayward girls
[7:29]  Josephine Bellic giggles behind her hand.
[7:29]  Veritas Veloce laughs
[7:29]  Chandra Vita giggles.
[7:30]  Lysandra Goodnight: :::giggles:::
Okasan: tsk tsk!!!
Okasan: and then to pull the joke on Okasan
Okasan shakes her head in mock irritation!
[7:30]  Lysandra Goodnight fights back laughter at the memory of that day
GENJI's RESPONSIBILITY
[7:31]  Josephine Bellic bites hher bottom lip trying to laugh harder.
Being the son of a low-ranking woman, Genji could not become Emperor
[7:31]  Chandra Vita thinks of all days to miss. But she saw photos on the news at 11.

But he rose to the rank of Palace Minister by the 18th chapter where he was now 31 years old
Genji’s children:  Reizei, 13, Emperor, son of Genji and Fujitsubo, Yugiri is 8, son of Genji and Aoi
Akashi no Himegimi, 3, daughter of Genji and Akashi no Kimi
GENJI 18
That should be Chapter 18. There is a lot of coming and going in these next 10 chapters and some intrigue and i'm pretty upset with Gengi by the 27th chapter!!!
Okasan growls
but let us continue
Genji had moved the Lady of the Falling Flowers to the East Pavilion and reserved the East Wing for the Akashi Lady. Though he pleaded with her to move back to the city with him, the Akashi Lady was fearful of how she might be treated as a commoner in the Estate. But her daughter could have a chance at a better life if she went with her father (Genji). The Akashi Lady was so very torn about what to do. Genji and she were very close during this time. I loved the sentence, “they spent all night assuring each other in all ways of their love.” That just spoke volumes to me - and really in one way ....Genji is interesting in his choices
[7:36]  Chandra Vita thought very eloquent.
He could have any of the court ladies perhaps that he wanted.
[7:37]  Kati Palen: He likes the "hidden flower"
But it is as if he searches the by-ways for the most unique women... untainted by the learned culture of court life
[7:37]  Lysandra Goodnight: Her self depreciation to me, at least, showed a great nobility in this matter.. for one raised in a countrified household.
hai...she seemed well attuned to what might happen to her
Gengi’s lady (Murasaki) was quite put out with him for she knew he was with another during his absences. We also see that Murasaki has some possessiveness now toward Genji - to the point that he says, "you really mean to make an issue of this don't you?!"
[7:39]  Kati Palen: Is this where she says his ax handle will fall off before he returns?
[7:39]  You: *laughing loudly
[7:39]  Chandra Vita: lol
[7:39]  Josephine Bellic: LOL!!
[7:39]  Suzanne Logan covers her mouth behind her sleeve
[7:39]  You: yes i believe so!!
[7:40]  Lysandra Goodnight suddenly realizes what she meant by that and blushes deeply
GENJI 19
This is a chapter of gaining for Genji as he brings his daughter home and gaining for Murasaki as well as she takes in the child and thoroughly enjoys playing her – almost as if she were her own. Remember that Murasaki has not had any children and the court is beginning to make comments...saying, 'it really is too bad that she has not one of her own." But it is a chapter of great loss as well. I cried.
[7:41]  Veritas Veloce nods thinking of the sadness.
[7:41]  Lysandra Goodnight nods and dabs a tear away with her sleeve
The poem on the slide is one that Genji expresses in his grief for Fujitsubo. In this chapter we lose the following: His Excellency the Chancellor (Sadaijin) age 60-65.
He was the former minister of the left. Genji, though sad for the loss was also concerned that it would bring him more work to do! <<Genji the survivor>>
Her Cloistered Eminence, mother of the Emperor, stepmother of Genji, Fujitsubo age 37. His majesty the Emperor, Reizel, age 14, son of Fujitsubo and Genji does not know his real father is Genji. This had troubled Fujitsubo. Genji was with her when she died. The text says, “… He had succumbed to the abyss of his sorrow.”
Ironically she died while he was speaking to her. At last she found peace. Now ... A monk who had served the family many years told Reizel the truth of his paternity.
This was shocking because Reizel was not a lawful descendant to the throne, but the son of a commoner, Genji. His Highness of Ceremonial passes the same day (Asagao’s father) Shikibukyo no Miya. His Majesty notes that he would like a quieter life and thinks his reign is coming to an end. Genji of course counsels him against this. He does NOT want more work to do!
other thoughts on this chapter?
[7:46]  Kati Palen: The bad luck is being blamed on Genji being the secret father of the emperor
[[7:47]  Chandra Vita: I think it is interesting and quite beautiful that we see how poetry plays a rather common place in daily life. It is part of conversation.
hai... two good observations - for Kati's point....the man on the throne was not lawful and that was part of the monk's motivation for telling him the secret
[7:48]  Lysandra Goodnight: even though he was the grandson of an Emperor..
hai but of commoner paternity - for Genji was never recognized
[7:49]  Lysandra Goodnight: Well wasn't it also so that Fujitsobo's spirit could rest .. that the burden of the secret would be lifted from her soul.. right?
[7:49]  Kati Palen: I just noticed the "fortune" aspect of it
[7:49]  Kati Palen: or karma
[7:49]  Chandra Vita nods.
[7:49]  Kati Palen: It was something the young emperor had to think about
[7:49]  Veritas Veloce: please explain Kati
[7:49]  Kati Palen: and consult Chinese history
[7:49]  Veritas Veloce: oh
[7:50]  Kati Palen: He looked for a precedent
[7:50]  Kati Palen: and could find none in Japan
[7:50]  Kati Palen: And so looked to relieve his position by elevating Genji, which I thought made no sense really
[7:50]  Lysandra Goodnight: I found it interesting that he would consider that finding none in Japanese history could have meant that they were better at keeping such secrets
[7:50]  Chandra Vita: That is the thing with common law even in the East.
[7:51]  Suzanne Logan nods
[7:51]  Veritas Veloce: sometimes people were'adoptrd' into positions too.
[7:51]  Kati Palen: I need to look in the book, but I wonder if it is here that the author comments these things are not for her to speak of
[7:51]  Veritas Veloce: *adopted... so that could remedy the situuation
[7:52]  Lysandra Goodnight: Social standing had a lot to do with "backing" by powerful patrons for family... I noticed.
[7:52]  Lysandra Goodnight: or*
[7:52]  Kati Palen: as a woman, not able to comment on matters of state
[7:52]  Kati Palen: sorry, separate thread
The text - monk speaking: "this is why Heaven is now issuing so many disastrous warnings and why there is such unrest in the world. It was one thing when you were too young to understand, but now that you are at last of age and competent to comprehand all matters, great or small, Heaven is proclaiming your offense."  "Everything seems to begin with one's parents. I was afraid that you might never know what the transgression was, and that is why I have told you what I myself had resolved to forget."
So there is a lot going on here and good to keep that piece of drama in mind
[7:54]  Kati Palen: There were several mentions of generational karma in here which is not something I knew about
so lets move on ...much to cover *smiles
GENJI 20
In this chapter Genji initiates a courtship with Her Highness, the former Kamo Priestess (Asagao). Also in the house is Her Highness, the Fifth Princess, Asagao’s aunt.
This lady resists him however and the chapter ends with him once again recalling Fujitsubo and reflecting on the misery he had lain upon her during her short life
He set up shrines…but was careful to say for whom they were…lest people would talk. I apologize for the brief synopsis of each chapter.

[7:56]  Veritas Veloce: its perfect!
[7:56]  Chandra Vita: It is wonderful Okasan.
[7:56]  Veritas Veloce: gives much clarity
[7:57]  Chandra Vita: yes can see forest through trees.
GENJI 21
Otome (‘maiden’) refers to a girl chosen to be a Gosechi dancer. There isn't much information about these dancers, but i did see this dance troup website. Wouldn't it be wonderful to attend ?? These were one of the few dances in the 8th century performed by a woman. This picture is from the Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company.
The Maidens begins the spring following The Bluebell chapter and continues into autumn of the following year. Genji is age 33-35, and is now “His Grace, the Chancellor”. Genji’s son, Yugiri is 12-14, The Advisor.
[7:59]  Veritas Veloce thinks the kimono is fabulous
[7:59]  You: oh i know!!
[7:59]  Lysandra Goodnight nods in agreement
[7:59]  You: it is very very expensive!
[7:59]  You: but i love how the dancer is caught in this so we can see the kimono draping
In this chapter, Genji sends a poem containing the word otome to the Gosechi Dancer. His son, Yugiri, is attracted to another younger Gosechi dancer and sends her a poem containing the same word - like father like son
Mourning for Fujitsubo has passed and new clothes are donned just as the world itself put on new colors for the Kamo Festival – also known as the Aoi Festival.
It is celebrated even today in mid-May. The name of the Aoi Festival originated from the tradition of offering geraniums (aoi) to the gods, and decorating the temple, attendees and ox carriages with geranium leaves. It is a festival to promote the ripening of the grain and dates to the time of the Kinmei Emperor…nearly 1400 years ago. 
Genji continued to work on Asagao to soften her heart. Yuri has his “coming of age” ceremony and is admitted to the Academy doing very well there. The purpose of this was to slow down his eligibility for a position of responsibility. Genji moves himself and his ladies to a new build on the Rokujo Estate.
GENJI 22
Now we take a little twist in the story. So happening at the same time... but this added drama creeps in, the story of Tamakazuma. Tamakazura was pursued by a young gallant, Taifunogen, who fell in love with Tamakazura and arranged a one-sided marriage. The family escaped to Kyoto. Years later they were reunited with Ukon (Yugao’s maid from long-past and now Murasaki’s gentlewoman).  Ukon told Genji what happened and he adopts Tamakazure, age 21, as his own daughter and assigns the Lady of the Orange Blossoms (Hanachirusato) to take care of her. Genji sees her for the first time when she moves into the West Wing and is very pleased. He regrets that he had not been more in her life.  So it is interesting that Genji decides to keep this information to himself - no? That his friend's long lost daughter is now in his care??? 

Lysandra:  hai... why would he not tell Tono Choju of this?
well... because he had his typical motives - the tiger does not change his stripes and he remains insatiable
[8:06]  Kati Palen: Is it because he wants to possess another hidden flower? He is a collector of women

[8:07]  Lysandra Goodnight: or this silly competitive nature between them.. one more thing he can hold over his friend.. "one -upmanship"
[8:07]  Kati Palen: at least he houses them with charming furniture
[8:07]  Suzanne Logan smirks...yes keeps them likek charming furniture too
 but there is a point in this chapter we can take on for ourselves for our presentation as geisha
[8:08]  Lysandra Goodnight: his dalliances are shameful... but at least he takes care of those he dallies with... for the most part
Toward the end of the chapter we are told how easy it is for a woman to please,
“to please, a woman need only be poised, calm and self-assured.”

 GENJI 23
 This chapter follows “The Tendril Wreath” which ends at the close of the year when Genji is 35. The Warbler’s First Song begins the first month of the following year.
[8:09]  Josephine Bellic mutters that it's easy to be calm, self-assured when one is being used as one of many toys, then clears her throat and refocuses her eyes on the screen.
[8:09]  Suzanne Logan looks at Josephine-chan
[8:10]  Lysandra Goodnight glances at her sister.... and silently agrees with her...
 yes... perhaps... and as geisha ...part of our entertainment is to continue the illusion
Yuri is captain.. 

The Akashi lady sends a gift to her daughter – who is now 8 years old – with a poem:
“One who through the years has clung to a single hope, O let her today pine no more and hear at least the little warbler’s first song.”
Genji helps his daughter to write back to her mother
“Many years have passed since she was taken from you, yet the warbler still knows that she will not forget the pine whence she first took flight.”
Okasan smiles at Chandra - more of the poetry you mentioned Chandra
Genji also calls again on Suetsumuhana, Her Highness of Hitachi (the red-nosed one). He finds her wearing near rags and cold despite she could have whatever she wished. Her hair too has turned white and he is saddened and dismayed at her appearance….adjusting the curtains closed between them. He orders kimono from the closets for her. Genji is not heartless at least.
GENJI 24
Chapter 24 begins about two months after the end of The Warbler’s First Song and continues the story of Tamakazura into the fourth month.
We have two captains to consider – the sons of To no Chujo (Kashiwagi – 20 – 21) and Genji (Yugiri – 15). This chapter takes us away into the celebratory viewing of beautiful gardens as Genji and Murasaki welcome Her Majesty, the empress (Akikononmu – 27). 
I love some of the descriptive language like:
The trees near and far, their branches merging in veils of brocade into the mist,”
isn't that beautiful?
[8:14]  Veritas Veloce: These images are exceptional, Okasan
[8:14]  Chandra Vita: This is what makes the book worth reading for me.

now think how you might use that - perhaps in your dance performances or emoting. The imagery is exquisite!
Here was another i liked
“willows trailed bright green fronds and blossoms cast ineffable perfumes upon the air.”
One can almost smell the wonderful scents
It is as if the author wanted an excuse to display her talent at descriptive writing. I would encourage you to bookmark this chapter
[8:16]  Lysandra Goodnight: simalie and metaphore seem to play a great part in the language of the era
Review this and use in your performance making
Now...Genji’s ward, Tamakazura is alluringly beautiful and many young men send her gifts trying to win her. But Genji and Ukon censor the letters.  And even Genji – I know this is so different for him – looks upon her with those thoughts of his as he craves her for himself! She gives no indication of noticing his attentions however. He presses her further, but she is repulsed and embarrassed.
CHAPTER 25
[8:18]  Lysandra Goodnight mutters "hmph.. dirty old man"
In this chapter, Genji gives one of Tamakazura’s suitors, His Highness of War (Genji’s brother – Hotaru Hyobukyo no Miya) a glimpse of the maiden in the light of the fireflies
hai Lysa-chan i quite agree!
[8:19]  Chandra Vita whispers licentious.
and promotes voyeurism
This chapter begins where the previous one ends and covers the fifth month. Genji acts very forward with his ward who resists him, even to the point of saying
“Yes search as you please through the tales told of the past: you will never find in all the world a father with feelings resembling yours!”  I thought this was a good boundary setting gesture on her part
So many men attracted to poor Tamakazura – her brother, her adoptive father, Genji, and even her real father His Excellency, To no Chujo. Of course none of these except for Genji realizes the truth. Strange that he never said anything….
CHAPTER 26
almost done ladies
“The Pink” directly follows the previous chapter “The Fireflies”. The title is reminiscent of To no Chujo’s account of Yugao and her daughter in “The Broom Tree”.
The chapter begins on a very hot day. Genji and his son Yugiri were cooling themselves in one of the pavilions when several of To-no-Chujo’s sons came to call on them and they at a meal of fresh fish from the West River and Kamo River. Genji was amused to hear accounts that To-no-Chujo had recently found his stray daughter. This of course is a different daughter though. Genji had been upset with To-no-Chujo for preventing the love of his son Yugiri for To-no-Chujo’s daughter Kumoi-no-kari. Later To-no-Chujo speaks to Omi-no-kimi and hears how she rattles of her prayers, he reprimands her to slow down. She answered him back that it was basically in her nature to speak so fast. She is kind of sassy too. I liked her.  Her narrow forehead and torrential way of speaking off-set her good points. To-no-Chujo thinks it best to send her to be the Consort’s “jester”. The chapter ends in an odd manner of an exchange of poetry between the To-no-Chujo’s daughter the Consort (Kokiden no Nyogo) and Omi-no-kimi. There is this strange insinuation as Omi-no-kimi prepares herself with the most brilliant rouge, primped and preened her hair and perfumes her garments in incense. The text reads, “…and made herself quite attractive in her way. No doubt she did all sorts of extraordinary things when they were together.”
So what do you think of that?!?
[8:24]  Chandra Vita: hmmm.
[8:24]  Suzanne Logan smiles...
[8:24]  Lysandra Goodnight: interesting insinuation
[8:24]  Chandra Vita: Sculdugary.
[8:25]  Lysandra Goodnight: then again.. could just mean they played "dress-up"
Okasan: sisters will be sisters i suppose - perhaps...all innocent
[8:25]  Chandra Vita: Mother!
Okasan: i just thought an interesting few last comments
Finally our last chapter for today!
CHAPTER 27
This chapter follows “The Pink” as it takes place in the seventh month - the first of autumn.
At this point, Okasan became a little confused and could not remember a reference. But the point she wanted to make that it was over koto playing that Tamakazura began to see some of the good things in Genji. Genji lies with Tamakazura and yet does not stay the night – fearful of how people might talk. The Captain (Yugiri), The Secretary Captain (Kashiwagi – To no Chujio’s eldest son, and the Controller Lieutenant (Kobai – To no Chujio’s second son) come to serenade. The Secretary Captain is especially taken with her – how could he know she was his sister?) And so ends the reading of this section.
Okasan: at any rate the plot thickens - and there are yet secrets to be discovered

Next week: Chapters 28 through 37 courtesy of Geisha Nao-mi


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Chapter 28-33 - 8/3/08

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TALE OF GENJI
Amatsu Shima Okiya
Chapters 28-33
Kati Palen
08/03/08

Attendees: Okasan, BaiHu, Lysandra, Chandra, Kati, Hogosha Allen-san

BACKGROUND

We are reading The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu -- written over a thousand years ago in Japan. Although created at the turn of the eleventh century, the work can be read today because the characters' thought and feelings remain as fresh as ever (according to translator, Royall Tyler). "The Tale of Genji must be the oldest novel still widely recognized today as a masterpiece."

I would like to share, as background, the introduction from Liza Dalby's summary of The Tale of Genji, on her website:http://www.lizadalby.com/TofM%20TofG.html

This extraordinary work of literature consists of 54 more or less independent chapters knitted into a loosely structured whole. Prince Genji, the shining one (Hikaru Genji in Japanese), is the dominant character through four-fifths of the book. He is the handsome and charismatic prince born to a minor consort of the emperor in an era set in the vague historical past from the point of view of the author. Japanese readers regard the first 41 chapters as the main part of the tale, dividing that into Part One (Chapters 1-33) which deals with the romantic adventures and events of Genji's early life, and Part Two (Chapters 34-41) after Genji has attained worldly success but a darker side of his character begins to color the story. This part culminates in the death of his wife Murasaki, the woman who meant the most to him. A transitional section of three chapters (thought by some to be spurious) bridges to the final section, known as the ten Uji chapters, in which Genji's descendents take over the narrative. The chapters in The Tale of Genji derive their titles from the poems contained therein.

Before I begin, please note, I have opted to not summarize the full ten chapters I expected to, when I volunteered for this assignment. Upon diving into the reading, I felt more comfortable ending with the natural break that occurs at the end of what is considered to be Part One (after Chapter 33). I have ended my summary with that chapter.

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CHAPTER 28: The Typhoon / Nowaki
Nowaki ("tempest") means the typhoon winds of early autumn. The chapter's key event is a typhoon.

The Typhoon takes place in the eight month, immediately after the time of the previous chapter, The Cressets. Genji is 36.

The chapter begins with a violent wind that ravages the flowers in the lovely autumn gardens, and puts the women in a distracted state. In the confusion and hurry to do what they can to save the flowers, the ladies have set aside the screens on the eastern bridgeway, allowing Yûgiri a glimpse of his stepmother, Murasaki. Genji (remembering his own transgression with his stepmother) has never allowed his son to have any contact with Murasaki, and when the young man sees her is transfixed by her beauty. He tries to hide the fact he has seen her from Genji, but Genji is able to guess that he probably has seen her, so lost in thought is the boy. Later, Yûgiri is disturbed when he accidentally sees his father in an intimate scene with Tamakazura, as he believes she is his half sister (Genji is still keeping alive the notion that she is his daughter, although she is the daughter of his friend/rival, Tô no Chûjô).

Word about Tamakazura: Tamakazura’s existence is enough to stop the flow of the novel and threatens the stability of both Genji's house (Rokujo-in) and the court, since nearly every man becomes consumed by thoughts of her. 
(
http://www.stanford.edu/group/sjeaa/journal3/japan1.pdf)

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CHAPTER 29: The Imperial Progress / Miyuki
Miyuki means "imperial progress." In this chapter Emperor Reizei goes on a winter outing to Oharano just southwest of the city. The word appears (as a wordplay on miyuki, "snow") in a poem that Genji sends in reply to one by the Emperor.

"Never as today can the slopes of Oshio, where repeated snows weigh upon the forest pines, have seen true magnificence."

The Imperial Progress begins in the twelfth month of the year covered in the previous six chapters and goes through the second month of the following year. Genji is 37.

In the Twelfth Month there was a royal outing to Oharano. All the ministers and councilors and whole court had turned out for the occasion. The princes and high officials were beautifully fitted out. Even the skies seemed intent on favoring the occasion, for there were flurries of snow. The procession left the palace in the early morning. Carriages of viewers lined the streets all the way to the river Katsura. The princes of Rokujo and Tamakazura were among the spectators. Tamakazura paid special attention to the Emperor Reizei, her own father, To-no-Chujo, Prince Hotaru and General Higeguro. The emperor in his red robe, who resembled Genji, attracted Tamakazura. It was her opinion that no one compared with him.

At the beginning of the Second Month, Genji set out for Sanjo to inquire about Princess Omiya, who had been ill. At that moment, he told her everything: that the father of his adopted daughter Tamakazura was Tô no Chûjô. 
Surprised with this news, she called the minister who came over with his many children to see Genji. Genji told him about Tamakazura’s past and asked him to do the honor of tying the ceremonial apron for her. They laughed and wept and the earlier stiffness disappeared. It was very late when they went their separate ways.

Tamakazura dons her train under the sponsorship of her own father, Tô no Chûjô -- which is a blessing because he was already sounding like he wanted to court her as well. It was good to get it all out in the open and get her name established properly.
 
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CHAPTER 30: Thoroughwort Flowers / Fujibakama
Fubjibakama here translated "thoroughwort" is a wildflower that puts forth clusters of tiny, light mauve flowers in autumn. The chapter derives its title from the fujibakama mentioned by Yûgiri in a poem addressed to Tamakazura (and tied to a spray of fujibakama in bloom).

"Here is thoroughwort laden with the very dews that soak your own field. O have pity on me, then, if only just to be kind"

This chapter covers the eighth and ninth months of the same year as "The Imperial Progress". Genji is still 37.

Tamakazura feels pursued by many men, and not knowing who to trust, skillfully manages to keep them all at bay (including Genji). Needless to say, when Yûgiri presents her with the pleading poem, along with a bunch of thoroughwort / fujibakama, she rejects him. They have a discussion about the purple color of the flowers.

"Oh, if after all, the dew you have brought me here came from a far field, then these flowers' light purple might earn you kindness at least" (There is no such tie between you and me. If there were, the light purple of these flowers might promise you at least kindness, but it does not.)

The way the color purple comes into play in this chapter, made me look into how important purple is in the entire work. In the Heian period, purple was considered a royal color and a color where the different hues symbolized different states of intimacy, personal ties, and lasting passion. In doing a little digging I learned that Genji's primary loves have flower names associated with the color purple:

Fujitsubo = wisteria
Murasaki = roots of this plant boiled to get the color lavender, and the word "murasaki" is associated with the color
Aoi = futaba aoi plant, has purple flowers. Can be used to make a deep purple dye.
Just a suggestion...

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CHAPTER 31: The Handsome Pillar / Makibashira

Makibashira means "pillar of fine wood": here, a house pillar probably of Japanese cypress. This chapter is named “makibashira” because Higekuro’s daughter leaves behind a poem tucked away in a pillar as she leaves her home.
This chapter begins in the eleventh month of the same year as the previous chapter, and covers roughly the twelve succeeding months. Genji is 37-38.

Tamakazura is made Mistress of Staff and at the same time given in marriage to Higekuro ("blackbeard") by Genji. This is in lieu of sending her to court to be a mistress to the Emperor. Painfully aware of her standing in the world, she hadn't wanted to be put in the position of a lower mistress under his jealous wife and Consort (very afraid of ridicule). Although this clears her reputation and helps her position, she is not happy with anything about her situation, and mopes about all the time. Hijekuro, on the other hand, is beside himself in love with Tamakazura and begins to neglect his first wife, who is conveniently mentally instable (thus easy to dismiss). In one scandalous episode, Higekuro's first wife dumps a censer of ashes on his head while in a jealous rage. She assumes that this ends their relationship, and so takes their children and goes home to her mother's house.

The eldest daughter of  Hijekuro is devastated, and doesn't want to leave before she can see her father. “It upset her to think of leaving the pillar on the east side, against which herself she had leaned so often” This quote demonstrates her attachment to her home. The pillar was a place of reliability and strength because she could lean on often. The poem that she leaves behind:

“I am leaving now a home that has long been mine: O handsome pillar, You whom I have loved so well, please do not forget me yet!”

“The handsome pillar my still recall your love, but what then? I ask: what is it I leave behind that could ever make me stay?”

The daughter speaks to the pillar of wood as if it were a person because she does not want her home to forget her. She is leaving her home and may never return and she has not known any other place to be home. This source of strength and reliability is taken away from her and she will not forget her love for her home.

The description of Higekuro's first wife leaving her husband in a jealous fit, and the suffering of the children, was deeply moving. It seemed very contemporary. Down to the image of the girl lying across her bed mourning the absence of her father:

"...(she) lay facedown nearby, wondering how she would live without seeing her father. What if I were to go away forever and not even say good-bye? she thought. She seemed quite unwilling to move."

On another note: Another reference to PURPLE in this chapter: Tamakazura has an exchange with the Emperor after she has been married off to Higekuro: He writes to her:

"Why is it my heart thirstily welcomes the hue of murasaki when the dye takes so poorly, and we really cannot meet?

("Why have I become so fond of you?" Light murasaki is associated with affections of the heart. As the dye is difficult to manage it plays on "hai aigataki" -- does not take the ash [the mordant in the dying process] and aigataki "difficult to meet")

Could the color not have darkened? (Could we have not become closer?)

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CHAPTER 32: The Plum Tree Branch / Umegae

"Umegae" is the title of the saibara song sung at the festive gathering by one of Tô no Chûjô's sons. It follows The Handsome Pillar, chronologically. Genji is 39.

Genji prepares for an exceptional ceremony for his daughter's donning of her train. Genji himself, Murasaki and other esteemed and sensitive ladies of his estate create incense blends for the occasion, and hold a competition. 
Horatu (His Highness in War) is visiting, and is asked to judge the competition. He proves himself to be a poor judge (according to Genji).

Later, it is decided that Genji’s daughter will go to court. Genji takes great care to collected books and scrolls for her library. He invited the finest calligraphers to create masterpieces. Selecting poems from these admired anthologies, Genji tried several styles of calligraphy himself, with fine results. He tried formal and cursive Chinese and the more radically cursive Japanese "ladies hand". He secluded himself as before in the main hall for concentration. He had with him only two or three women whom he could count on for comments. He seems to be enjoying his job, taking a brush between his teeth.

Tô no Chûjô has missed the opportunity to send his own daughter Kumoi no Kari into imperial service, and now regrets not giving her to Genji's son Yûgiri.
 
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CHAPTER 33: New Wisteria Leaves / Fuji no Uraba

Fuji no Uraba ("new wisteria leaves") appears in an old poem quoted by Tô no Chûjô when in this chapter he approves Yûgiri's marriage to his daughter, Kumoi no Kari. New Wisteria Leaves follows the previous chapter, chronologically. Genji is still 39.

Amid all the preparations for Genji's daughter to go to court, Yûgiri is melancholy. He can only think of Kumoi no Kari. He believes that her father, Tô no Chûjô, will never approve their marriage -- because of his long held grudge about an earlier, inappropriate intimacy between Yûgiri and Kumoi no Kari. However, Tô no Chûjô arranged a banquet of wisteria, which was full in bloom. He invited Yûgiri. Tô no Chûjô had begun to grow restless when finally  Yûgiri arrived. When the moon came out, the wine was served. Pretending to be very drunk, Tô no Chûjô admired Yûgiri who had waited long and well to obtain permission to marry his daughter. The long-standing ill feeling between them disappeared. That was a romantic happy ending for Yûgiri and Kumoi no Kari, who had been separated for six years. Yûgiri immediately seeks her out and stays all night -- as if they had been lovers for many years.  They have longed for one another for so long that they fall into a very comfortable relationship right away.

When Genji's daughter by the Akashi lady enters court, her adopted mother, Murasaki attends her. After a few days she returns home, and the Akashi lady replaces her, and the two meet for the first time. They get along fine. The Akashi lady has a brilliant court debut. The emperor pays a visit to Genji's Rokujô Mansion. Genji and Tô no Chûjô renew their friendship, which had been somewhat spoiled by rivalry over the past few years. Genji begins to plan for his 40th birthday, and muses that everything he would have wanted to accomplish in life has been accomplished. He is at the height of his glory.

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Chapt 34-38

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Sunday, August 10, Tale of Genji Bookclub, facilitated by Chandra Vita. Attendees included: Okasan, Josephine, Lysandra, Chandra and Allen-san (Hogosha)

Next week facilitatators will be Izumi Itano and Okasan

Today we begin Part 2 of The Tale of Genji.

As our sister Kati so wonderfully described to us last week:

Part 1, which is Chapters 1-33, deals with the romantic adventures and events of Genji's early life.

Today we begin Part 2 and in Chapters 34-38 we see a darker side of Genji begin to emerge.

Genji’s death is not described, but actually occurs at the end of this part between the forty-first and forty-second of the fifty-four chapters.

Today we will not try to review chronologically, again, all that went before in the same way that we did some weeks before since...

there is no one here today who has not or would not have already read those chapters.


The thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth chapters are the longest of the book.

Together they amount to about a sixth of the text.

Through them and the rest of Part 2, darkness gathers over Genji's private life as his public career reaches a zenith.

Genji's great love, Murasaki, falls ill and dies...

...the little princess whom he marries late in life is caught in adultery that results in the birth of Kaoru.

The Genji may be seen as a grand Buddhist parable.

The great sins of Genji's life involve sex but especially the one act of adultery with his father's best-loved wife and now it is pay-back time.

So the workings of karma, the Buddhist concept of cause and effect, are apparent.

What Genji did, he now has done onto him

Having just studied something of aesthetics in a lesson on iki,

one might also consider how perhaps aesthetics also fits into almost every facet of the narrative and

how even this relates to the so important Buddhism of the time.

In the Genji, beauty is found in the transitory...
in the uncertain...
in the fragmentary...
and in the inherently sorrowful aspects of the world.
 

Sakura blossoms--the quintessential image of Japanese aesthetics
with their delicate, multi-petaled flowers, which...
just as in the other worldly glories...
in a matter of days, can turn color, fade, and be scattered in the wind.

This the mournful reminder of not only the brevity of life and fortune...
but of the uncertainly and fickleness of the human heart.
In the Genji,
the essence of nature and human life tends to be grasped in terms of their end...
in their dying moments rather than in their birth or creation.

The season which seems to predominate in the Genji is autumn.
Autumn, a time when in nature, all the melancholy hues seem to wither and fade away.
True especially in Part 2.
This work is so often concerned with nature and the nature of things.

Being left a widow after little more than two years of marriage, Murasaki recalls in her own diary:

“As I watched the rather drab scene at home, I felt depressed and confused.

For some years I had existed from day to day in listless fashion, taking note of the flowers,

the birds in song,

the way the skies changed from season to season,

the moon,

the frost, and the snow,

doing little more than registering the passage of time.”

One would be hard pressed to find a major work of fiction, East or West...
in which nature is the continuing presence as it is in the Genji...

not only contained in a lyrical and concrete sense but in its magnificent symbolism and use of metaphor and simile.

On nearly every page, our attention is brought to the seasons...
...their trees and flowers...the phases of the moon.

Images of nature and the passage of the seasons are beautifully and tightly interwoven with the fabric of the characters of this work.

These things that have come to make this work for me...

One of the best books I have ever read.

Given the opportunity, this is a book that I will read many more times and by as many different translators as I can find.

I would also urge you if you are not so enamored with the Genji, consider the diary of its authoress.

It is fraught with much of the same beauty of the Genji but

without the same cryptic nature and certainly....

without the distasteful sculduggery of its hero.

Wakana no jo - New Herbs (Part I) #34

The ceremony of the initiation of the Third Princess takes place in this chapter as well as the birthday celebration of Genji’s 40th birthday.

Ironically, Genji’s birthday is celebrated on “The Day of the Rat.”

Tamakazura came with some new herbs that promised long life.

Her young and beautiful face reminded Genji of his old age and his lost days.

Towards the middle of the Second Month, the Third Princess came to Rokujo to marry Genji.

The Third Princess was a niece of Fujitsubo.

The resemblance to this aunt, so famous, should not be ignored.

Understandably, this was an unsettling time for Murasaki.
But she concealed her feelings and helped with all the arrangements in Rokujo.

Given his nature, and even aware of the impropriety,
Genji had wanted to see Oborozukiyo again.
He went to see her secretly and
remembering a certain wisteria party we read about in an earlier chapter,
Oborozukiyo could not refuse him.
The following morning, Genji gave her a spray of wisteria saying

"I have not forgotten the depths into which I plunged.”

Later in the chapter, Murasaki makes an offering in Genji’s honor and commissions a reading of the sutras for the protection of the realm.

There is much music and dancing and, for the old members of the audience...
it evoked the image of young Genji and To-no-Chujo’s dance long before,

"Waves of the blue Ocean". Genji was in tears as memories flooded back.

Princess Akashi gives birth to a boy.

A gift from the old Akashi monk was delivered with his letter saying that the birth of the prince was determined according to his dream. What he had done and his prayer in the past was to fulfill the dream. As it had become true, he would like to withdraw from the world and go off into the deep mountains. The old nun’s grief was limitless.

Kashiwagi was very disappointed that the Third Princess who had gone to Genji and that he still had feelings for her and later in the springtime,

Kashiwagi sees the princess for the first time.. a look that betrays his feelings and the harbinger of another forbidden love.

Wakana no ge - New Herbs (Part II)
   
In the next chapter, or Part II of Wakana no ge - New Herbs

Four years go by uneventfully.

The son of the Akashi princess becomes the crown prince after,
on the occasion of his illness, the emperor withdrew to his crown prince. 

The dream of the Akashi people had nearly been accomplished.
Genji went on pilgrimage to thank the god of Sumiyoshi with the Akashi people and Murasaki.

Early in the New Year, a concert with the lady Akashi playing the lute,
the lady Murasaki the thirteen-stringed koto, the Akashi princess the sho piper and
the Third Princess played the seven-stringed koto.

It looked like the magnificent concert symbolized the glory of the Rokujo.

But, on the following morning --
Murasaki had a high fever and a dark change began.

The disease of Murasaki was heavy.
Genji was at her side all the day.
On the other hand, Kashiwagi, still thinking of the Third Princess
and with his yearnings growing stronger, he succeeds in entering her bedroom.
But his feeling was far from simple pleasure.
Out of passion, it was a terrible thing to betray Genji whom he respected.
A feeling of guilt overwhelmed him.

Because of her sin, the Third Princess was not well.
Hearing the report of her illness, Genji came to see her in Rokujo.
However, then a messenger came from Nijo that the lady had expired.
Genji rushed off to Nijo where he finds a priest just leaving.
Genji prayed to let her stay just a little longer and asked the priest to pray again.
As though his intense prayer might have reached to the Buddha,
the evil power of the late Rokujo lady disappeared.
Murasaki narrowly escaped death but remained very ill in bed.

Genji’s feelings for her are most apparent where with tears in his eyes he says,

"I as almost afraid at times that I too might be dying."

Genji knew of the relation between the Third Princess and Kashiwagi and Kashiwagi and was reluctant to visit Rokujo.
Persuaded by his father, the Minister (To-no-Chujo), and strongly invited by Genji himself, he set out.

However, losing the will to live, Kashiwagi contracted a fatal disease.
Though Genji’s manner was amiable toward him, each word seemed to Kashiwagi a sharp blow.
Genji fiercely surveyed Kashiwagi.
Lamenting his life, wishing it had gone differently, he still thought of the Third Princess. In a letter he pleaded to her to write him even one word of pity.
Finally, he receives the princess’s note that said only,
"You speak of the smoke that lingers on and yet I wish to go with you".

 

Kashiwagi - Oak Tree
   
The Third Princess was delivered of a boy who was named Kaoru.
However, Genji’s coldness hurt her deeply.
As the result of many a despondency the Third Princess runs off to become a nun.
This pushed Kashiwagi nearer death and he eventually passes away.

Kunichika: 54 feelings #37, Kashiwagi (1884) 

In the Third Month, the ceremony of the fiftieth day was taking place.
The child was elegant and charmingly different from other children.
Looking at the face of child, Genji shed tears for Kashiwagi, who had not lived to see his own son.
He wept for the boy who had to bear the burden of such a secret in his future.
Old Genji felt sorry for himself too as he held in his arms some else’s son.

Yugiri frequently visited the widow of Kashiwagi, the Second Princess
He reproaches her cold attitude giving her the intertwined branches of an oak
(a symbol of Kashiwagi) and a maple with a poem:
"By grace of the tree god let the branch so close to the branch that withered be close to the branch that lives".
Susumushi - The Bell Cricket #38

The Third Princess dedicated to a chapel, a holy image of Buddha made of sandalwood.
The sight of the chapel moved Genji to tears.
He wrote a poem that:
"the separate drops of dew on the leaf of the lotus would share a lodging in the next world."
She answered coldly: "Together, you say, in the lotus dwelling to come.
But may you not have certain reservations?"

Genji tried to comfort the Third Princess who was leading the lonely life of a nun.
But in his depths, he could not give her up.

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Genji 39 - END

Chapter 39 was facilitated by Izumi Itano

Chapter 39
Evening Mist

This chapter says about Yugiri , a gentle man faithfull to his wife. However, hislove for the second Princess was true and deeply.

The Princess followed her mother Ichijo Lady to live in Ono Villa. Ichijo was possesed by an evil spirit so she had to take treatment in Ono Villa.

So, one night of the Eight Month he decided to visit her using her mother's illness as an excuse.

When he arrived at her house, he tried to seduce her and make her give herself to him.

The Princess held herself and she resisted Yugiri but a terrible thing happened in the morning.

Her mother's healer saw Yugiri leaving the princess's room.
Of  course that event led to stained her honor. So her mother sent a letter to him , requesting him to come and marry her.

However, Yugiri didn't come. Seeing how her daugther's reputation and honor have ruined she passed away.

But the truth was that Yugiri never recieved that letter. Because is wife hid it out of jelousy.

When Yugiri found out about Ichijo's death , he helped with the funeral.

Finally he couldnt live with the thought of what happened so he went back to Ono.

He tried through the servant to convice the Princess about his feelings, but she didn't accept him.

A month after Ichijo's death, rumors already had spread around.

Yugiri unable to ignore  that , he decided to do like her dead mother wanted.
So he made preparations to accept her into the Ichijo house
.

40 - Minori - The rites
 Murasaki had been in bad health for almost four years. She wanted to be a nun to prepare herself for the next world. Although Genji himself wanted to be a priest, he refused to listen to her wish, fearing separation from her. It was the tenth day of the Third Month, when the cherries were in bloom. On her request, services for the lotus sutra were performed. Looking out upon this magnificent scene longingly, Murasaki thought of how little time she had left.

On one cool autumn evening, Murasaki enjoyed a private talk with Genji and the Empress Akashi. The following morning, she faded away. Distraught at her death, Genji requested Yugiri to call someone to administer vows. Yugiri replied: "It is too late to do so. Changing her figure would make the sorrow deeper." But he summoned several of the priests and asked them to do whatever could still be done.
 
41 - Maboroshi - The Wizard
Genji spent life comforting his easily disturbed feelings. Only memories of Murasaki came to him. The spring, Murasaki’s favorite season, came around again. "My cherry", Niou said proudly, who was also her favorite boy. Looking at his pretty face, Genji could not stop smiling. Niou was his one companion.

Genji sometimes visited the Third Princess, the Akashi lady, and the lady of orange blossom, which gave him a vicarious hint of Murasaki. There still seemed to be one lady to whom he was not indifferent. That was Chujo, who had worked for Murasaki. It was about the time of the Kamo festival; when he came in she was having a nap. Genji said, picking up a sprig of hollyhock, "It is so long since I have had anything to do with it", to the lady, who made haste to put herself in order.

The Tenth Month was always a time of gloomy winter showers. Genji felt more lonesome than ever. Looking up into the evening sky helplessly alone, he envied the wild geese overhead, which were returning home. "O wizard flying off through boundless heaven, find her whom I see not even in my dreams." The inconsolable days went by, and his longing for Murasaki increased.