Sacred Texts  Shinto  Buddhism  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 142 p. 143


AT the age of twelve Prince Genji went through the ceremony of marriage with Aoi no Uye (Princess Hollyhock), the Prime Minister's daughter. She continued to live at her father's house and Genji at his palace. When he was about sixteen he fell in love with Princess Rokujō, the widow of the Emperor's brother; she was about eight years older than himself. He was not long faithful to her. The lady Yūgao next engaged his affections. He carried her one night to a deserted mansion on the outskirts of the City. "The night was far advanced and they had both fallen asleep. Suddenly the figure of a woman appeared at the bedside. "I have found you!" it cried. "What stranger is this that lies beside you? What treachery is this that you flaunt before my eyes?" And with these words the apparition stooped over the bed, and made as though to drag away the sleeping girl from Genji's side." 1

Before dawn Yūgao was dead, stricken by the "living phantom" of Rokujō, embodiment of her baleful jealousy.

Soon after this, Genji became reconciled with his wife Aoi, but continued to visit Rokujō. One day, at the Kamo Festival, Aoi's way was blocked by another carriage. She ordered her attendants to drag it aside. A scuffle ensued between her servants and those of Rokujō (for she was the occupant of the second carriage) in which Aoi's side prevailed. Rokujō's carriage was broken and Aoi's pushed into the front place. After the festival was over Aoi returned to the Prime Minister's house in high spirits.

Soon afterwards she fell ill, and it is at this point that the play begins.

There is nothing obscure or ambiguous in the situation. Fenollosa seems to have misunderstood the play and read into it complications and confusions which do not exist. He also changes the sex of the Witch, though the Japanese word, miko, always has a feminine meaning. The "Romance of Genji" (Genji Monogatari) was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu and was finished in the year 1004 A. D. Of its fifty-four chapters only seventeen have been translated. 2 It furnished the plots of many Nō plays, of which Suma Genji (Genji's exile

p. 144

at Suma), No no Miya (his visit to Rokujō after she became a nun), Tamakatsura (the story of Yūgao's daughter), and Hajitomi (in which Yūgao's ghost appears) are the best known.

There is some doubt about the authorship of the play. Seami saw it acted as a Dengaku by his father's contemporary Inūo. He describes Inūo's entry on to the stage in the rôle of Rukujō and quotes the first six lines of her opening speech. These lines correspond exactly with the modern text, and it is probable that the play existed in some. thing like its present form in the middle of the fourteenth century. Kwanze Nagatoshi, the great-grandson of Seami, includes it in a list of Seami's works; while popular tradition ascribes it to Seami's son-in-law Zenchiku.


143:1 Genji Monogatari (Romance of Genji), chap. iii., Hakubunkwan Edition, p. 87.

143:2 By Baron Suyematsu in 1881.

Next: Aoi no Uye (Princess Hollyhock)