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Tale of Genji Exploration in Kyoto, July 2014

In July 2014, I took advantage of my company's long vacation program and stayed in Kyoto for over three weeks. The leave system is called refreshment leave, and it is an unpaid leave that can be taken for up to four consecutive weeks. I chose a townhouse north of Nijo Castle for my stay. Since I had time, I wanted to walk and see the old traces of Kyoto, so I walked quite a bit, but being in Kyoto in the middle of summer was definitely worth it. In order to decide on a theme, I visited several places inspired by The Tale of Genji, which I will summarize below.

① Shoseien

This is part of the remains of the residence of Toru Minamoto (12th prince of Emperor Saga, 822-895), who is said to be the most right-wing model for Hikaru Genji. His residence was called Rokujo Kawara-in, and it is said that he built a garden on the grounds of 40,000 square meters that imitated the landscape of Mutsu Shiogama, where he was once appointed (Mutsu's inspector general), and Shosei-en Garden is a remnant of that. It seems that it has been a villa of Higashi Honganji Temple since the Edo period, but it is surprising that a garden of this scale and high quality has been maintained in the middle of Kyoto. The garden was created by Jozan Ishikawa, a member of the Matsudaira clan who took part in the Osaka Natsunojin and seems to have had contact with Kobori Enshu, but both were military commanders and had a taste for garden design, so what did they talk about?

②Yugao's Grave

Yugao is a woman that Hikaru Genji met when he visited his nanny's house when he was young. In fact, the story goes on to say that she was the girlfriend of his rival Tono- Chujo and had a young child named Tamakazura. It was a smart move to have the grave placed at the estimated location.

③ University dormitory ruins

You can understand the relationship with the Tale of Genji by reading the signboard in the photo, but to add more information, Yugiri, the son of Hikaru Genji (the grandsan of Emperor Kiritsubo), was the so-called second generation prince, and due to the On-i system, he could been ranked lower than Jushii(the second grade of lower 4th). The story goes that he started from 6th rank even though he had the right to start from the 4th rank. Although he gave up his privilege out of a parental desire for his child to acquire proper skills, it may be a bit of a smack against the upper aristocrats by Murasaki Shikibu, who is from the middle class aristocrat.

④Dairi(Imperial Palace) mark

It is said that the Dairi has suffered 16 fires in the approximately 400 years since Heiankyo was established. In the first year of Antei (1227), records of the Old Imperial Palace died out and the Emperor began to live in the residential Imperial Palace. The internal affairs function of the imperial court became a mere facade, and the shogunate and manor lords (aristocrats including the imperial family, temples and shrines) effectively ruled and divided the entire country, but each era entrusted the "right to govern" to a ruler. This country is unique in that it has an imperial system that has maintained its authority for 800 years. The Jokyu War occurred six years before this last Dairi fire, and the three retired emperors Gotoba, Juntoku, and Tsuchimikado were exiled.

⑤Ichijo Oji Ruins

Hikaru Genji is unusually popular with women, but Rokujyo Miyasudokoro has a lot of pride and looks down on his lawful wife Aoi no Ue, not to mention that she turns Yugao into a living spirit and curses her to death. A long time ago, a certain senior told me that a man's jealousy is more scary than a woman's jealousy. What do you think? In the past and even today, securing a place to watch Kyoto's festivals is difficult (This big street was raised in the tale, where Rokujo Miyasdokoro and Aoi no ue made dispute to secure better location to watch festival).

⑥ Usukumo Imperial Palace (Jikein)

Hikaru Genji lost his mother when he was young, and he admired his stepmother (Fujitsubo Chugu) for a long time, but in the end, he made a mistake and even had a child (Kaoru), but out of all his journeys, he loved her the most. Part of the poem is quoted in the name of a temple in the Muromachi period of the 15th century, which shows that this book has been read enthusiastically for a long time.

⑦ Ono Takamura/Murasaki Shikibu Grave

I'm curious as to why the graves of Murasaki Shikibu and Ono Takamura are side by side, but I've never seen a very good explanation. According to one theory, Murasaki Shikibu is going to hell after writing a lewd story that resembles gossip, so we should ask Enma-sama(Hades king) to stop that through Takamura Ono (He is thought to be Enma-sama's friend).

⑧Huzoku Museum (near Nishi Honganji Temple)

This is a must-see for fans of The Tale of Genji, as each famous scene is displayed in the form of dolls.

⑨Daikakuji Temple

Daikaku-ji Temple used to be the villa of Emperor Saga (the father of Toru Minamoto), and in The Tale of Genji, Hikaru Genji built a temple on this side.

⑩Seiryoji Temple

Remains of Toru Minamoto's second home.

⑪Nonomiya Shrine 

Saigū is a priest who serves the gods at Ise Grand Shrine in place of the emperor, and the princess was appointed to the priest. In the Tale of Genji, the daughter of Rokujo Miyasudokoro and Emperor Kiritsubo's younger brother was chosen, and she departed at Nonomiya Shrine. Rokujo MIyasudokoro's ex-boyfriend, Hikaru Genji, went to see her and her daughter as they cleanse themselves earlier. After finishing the assignment as Saigu, Hikaru Genji adopted the daughter and installed her as the empress of Emperor Suzaku (Hikaru Genji's biological son). Anyway, human relationships are too complicated.

⑫ Uji Ten Chapters and History Museum

In Uji, I wasn't able to get as many photo opportunities as I had hoped due to the rain, but I thoroughly enjoyed the classic Byodo-in temple and the ruins of Yorimasa Minamoto, the third rank of Gen-sanmi, and immersed myself in the world of Uji Jujo. Hikaru Genji, who was worried about his mother-in-law and had a child (Suzaku Emperor), similarly suffered a tragedy (comedy?) when his wife (Onna Sannomiya) had an affair with Kashiwagi and they had a child (Kaoru). Ujijujo is a world of love and impermanence that unfolds between generations of children and grandchildren. I went around in a hurry, but if I have a chance to go next time, I would like to go around Uji more slowly on a sunny day.

A book I read somewhere says that weddings began to be held properly after Kamakura era, and that it was created by the samurai society. However, this era was not completely free-spirited.

Both Michinaga and Murasaki Shikibu accused Izumi Shikibu of being unfaithful, so it seems that they had a certain level of moderation and ethics. What hasn't changed over time is that jealousy can be used as energy.

⑬Rossanji Temple

It is believed to be the site of Murasaki Shikibu's father Tametoki Fujiwara's residence, and is one of the possible locations for writing The Tale of Genji. Finally, I decided to end my trip by looking at this place. It made me smile to imagine her writing about the characters and story while looking out at the small, neatly maintained garden.

In one corner of the garden, there is a monument with a poem written by Murasaki Shikibu's only daughter, Daini Sanmi.

Murasaki Shikibu only wrote novels for Genji, but he was one of the famous poets, and his daughter inherited the same lineage. Sadaie chose the parents and children out of best 100 poets.



Thank you for coming!

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