Tale of Genji

Item# MEI029

Product Description

Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

The researcher John Stevenson wrote: “Yoshitoshi's courage, vision and force of character gave [the] Ukiyo-e [style] another generation of life, and illuminated it with one last burst of glory.”

We have the entire Yoshitoshi Fukkoku collection on our site. Yoshitoshi Fukkoku series: 8 sheets and 1 set

• This design is taken from Genji Monogatari, The Tale of Genji. Genji is, perhaps, Japan's most famous novel and perhaps the world's first. The most mysterious of Genji's lovers was a young lady who lived in a dilapidated house surrounded by a desolate, overgrown garden. Such wild places were not uncommon in Kyoto, where a relatively small population lived in a large area in which wild beasts still roamed. Passing by the house one day, Genji noticed lovely white flowers growing luxuriantly all over it. The flowers were called yugao, literally "evening face," the evening equivalent of asagao, morning-glory. Genji sent his servant to the house to ask for a few flowers, and the lady's servant presented them on a fan on which a poem had been written in elegant calligraphy. On the basis of this handwriting, a love affair was initiated between Genji and the mistress of the house. Wraith-like, not conforming to the normal standard of Heian beauty, which in the Chinese Tang tradition was distinctly chubby, the lady fascinated Genji. She refused to tell him her history or her name, so he called her Yugao after the flowers. Eventually, she accepted his invitation to visit one of his lavish villas, where they consummated their delicate passions. She died within a few hours, fading as quickly as a yugao flower, killed by the jealous spirit of one of Genji's former mistresses. Genji mourned her more deeply than he did most of his lost loves.