Momiji no Ga (紅葉賀)

Momiji no Ga (The Autumn Excursion) is one of the fifty-four chapters of The Tale of Genji. This is the seventh chapter. It deals with the events of the whole year which happened to the main character, Hikaru Genji, between the autumn at age 18 and the next autumn at age 19.

The central events are the fiftieth birthday ceremony of Suzakuin (Ichi no In; according to one theory, the father of Emperor Kiritsubo; a different man from Hikaru Genji's older brother), and Fujitsubo's childbirth and investiture of the Empress.

Events described in the first half of the chapter

People were busy in preparing for momiji no ga held at the Suzakuin residence. Emperor Kiritsubo was carried away due to his beloved Fujitsubo's pregnancy, planning to make the auspicious event of Ichi no In's fiftieth birthday ceremony more impressive, so his retainers also became restless, preparing for bugaku (traditional Japanese court music accompanied by dancing).

However, Fujitsubo's child, who was expected so enthusiastically, was in fact, not Emperor Kiritsubo's, but the child of his beloved son, Hikaru Genji. Both of them would surely be ruined, if it was revealed to the influential people who sided with the Minister of the Right, especially Kokiden no nyogo (Empress Kokiden), the mother of Emperor Suzaku and Fujitsubo's rival, moreover the woman who persecuted Genji's mother. Nonetheless, young Genji rashly kept sending Fujitsubo letters, asking his close court lady to see her.

Meanwhile, the Emperor went into raptures about investiture of the Empress, which made Fujitsubo feel guilty. Fujitsubo decided that she would keep the truth to herself, and would not see Genji at all. That is why Genji looked gloomy all the time even if it was decided that he would perform his dance at the splendid ceremony. The sole consolation was to see a little girl, Wakamurasaki (later known as Murasaki no ue), Fujitsubo's niece whom Genji took in from Kitayama, playing innocently with a doll.

The Emperor decided to hold an elaborate rehearsal at Imperial court for Fujitsubo, who could not attend the ceremony. Dancing the Seigaiha play, Genji turned his eyes upon Fujitsubo sitting behind a reed screen, while she saw Genji's beautiful face, forgetting her sin for only an instant. The following day of Genji's splendid dancing under the trees with colored leaves of autumn, he sent a letter to Fujitsubo secretly, then got excited to hear from her unexpectedly.

The next February, Fujitsubo gave a safe birth to a son (later known as Emperor Reizei). Emperor Kiritsubo was delighted to have a beautiful prince who looked like exactly his beloved Genji, but Genji and Fujitsubo felt guilty in their heart to see that.

Events described in the latter half of the chapter

Being different from the first half of the chapter, the latter contains comical anecdotes for a change.

Gen no Naishinosuke, an old court lady serving Emperor Kiritsubo, was of good birth and left nothing to be desired about her personality, but there was a rumor that she was extraordinary lecherous. Curious Genji and Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain) talked to her half joking, but she acted coquettishly, which was unsuitable for her age, so they were bored with her.

When Genji stayed overnight with Gen no Naishinosuke, he was attacked by somebody and took his sword to respond to the attack, but he made a grab at the man to find that it was Tono Chujo. They pretended to have a huge battle and startled Gen no Naishinosuke, but they got carried away by the fight and were exhausted. On the day subsequent to their returning home with a big laugh, they saw each other at their place of work, remembering their fight which they had the day before, and stifled their laughter with an innocent look at each other.

The autumn of the same year, Fujitsubo held investiture of the Empress. Although Genji was also promoted to prime minister (or Sangi, councillor), he could not stop loving Fujitsubo, who was more than ever beyond his reach.

[Original Japanese]