Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji (偐紫田舎源氏)

"Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji" (The Tale of Genji during the Muromachi period) is an unfinished long gokan (bound-together volumes of illustrated books) written by Tanehiko RYUTEI. The illustrator was Kunisada UTAGAWA. It was published from 1829 to 1842. The books were tremendously successful, but the series were finished with the 38th book due to official sanctions arising from the publication of the work and the author's death. However, the unpublished manuscripts of the 39th and the 40th books were put published in 1928.

It is based on Murasaki Shikibu's "The Tale of Genji," and the setting changed from the Heian period to the Muromachi period.

In order to stifle Sozen YAMANA, who was trying to attain the position of Shogun, Mitsuuji, an illegitimate child of Shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, gradually got back the treasures of Ashikaga clan that Sozen stole and hid, pretending to be a man with a rich love life like Hikaru Genji. Meanwhile, he lived a roaming life at Suma Akashi, containing the Yamana's army of Saigoku (western part of Japan [esp. Kyushu, but ranging as far east as Kinki]), and destroying Sozen and his followers by stratagem, then returned to Kyoto to become Shogun's guardian, being at the height of his prosperity.

Writing the gokan series such as "Shohon-jitate" (Stories in a Promptbook Form), Tanehiko RYUTEI had already been a popular writer, while his senior, Bakin KYOKUTEI was popular for writing long gokan such as "Konpira-bune risho no tomozuna" (Life Lines of Grace from Konpira's Boat), "Keisei Suikoden" (A Courtesans' Shui hu chuan), and so on. These books are respectively adapted from "Hsi-yu chi" (Journey to the West) and "Shui-hu chuan" (The Water Margin). Bakin was familiar with Chinese novels, while Tanehiko was a master of the Japanese classics. It is said that he wrote the adaptation from The Tale of Genji in order to compete with Bakin.

The word "Murasaki" in "Nise Murasaki" refers to both Murasaki Shikibu and gromwell, the high-grade dye.

The publisher was Kiemon TSURUYA of the Senkakudo Publishing House at Tori Abura-cho (the present Odenma-cho, Nihonbashi, Chuo Ward (Tokyo)). Each page was printed on the right and left of a half sheet of Japanese paper, and the printed paper was folded in half, bound ten sheets to one book which consisted of 20 pages. Two volumes were placed into an envelope, making one book. The size of the paper was close to B paper and the book was medium-sized.

At first the author and the publishing house did not intend to make an adaptation of all the 54 chapters of "Genji" and publish it, but the success of the series encouraged them and they published a few books every year as the following items suggest. However, Tadakuni MIZUNO carried out Tenpo Reforms and he accused them falsely, saying 'these books revealed the real situation of O-oku (the inner halls of Edo-jo Castle where the wife of the Shogun and her servants reside) in the Shogun family,' so the publishing ended with the 38th book. Then the 39th and the 40th books were posthumously published as a part of "Inaka Genji" in 1928.

Each book was adapted from the chapters of "The Tale of Genji" in right column.

1st book: 1829

Kiritsubo (The Paulownia Court)

2nd book/ 3rd book: 1830

Kiritsubo, Hahakigi (The Broom Tree)/ Hahakigi, Utsusemi (The Cicada Shell)

4th book/ 5th book: 1831

Utsusemi, Yugao (Evening Face)/ Yugao

6th book/ 7th book: 1832

Wakamurasaki (Young Murasaki)/ Wakamurasaki, Suetsumuhana (The Safflower)

8th book/ 9th book/ 10th book: 1833

Wakamurasaki, Suetsumuhana/ Wakamurasaki, Momiji no Ga (The Autumn Excursion)/ Suetsumuhana, Momiji no Ga

11th book/ 12th book/ 13th book: 1834

Momiji no Ga, Hana no En (The Festival of Cherry Blossoms)/ Hana no En, Aoi (Hollyhock)/ Aoi

14th book/ 15th book/ 16th book/ 17th book: 1835

Aoi, Sakaki (The Green Branch)/ Sakaki, Hanachirusato (Falling Flowers)/ Sakaki, Hanachirusato, Suma/ Suma

18th book/ 19th book/ 20th book/ 21st book: 1836

Suma/ Suma, Akashi/ Akashi/ Akashi

22nd book/ 23rd book/ 24th book: 1837

Akashi, Yomogiu (A Waste of Weeds)/ Yomogiu, Miotsukushi (Channel Buoys)/ Yomogiu, Miotsukushi, Sekiya (The Gatehouse)

25th book/ 26th book/ 27th book: 1838

Miotsukushi, Sakaki, Eawase (A Picture Contest)/ Eawase, Matsukaze (Wind in the Pines)/ Matsukaze, Mukuge (Rose of Sharon)

28th book/ 29th book/ 30th book/ 31st book: 1839

Matsukaze, Usugumo (Wisps of Cloud)/ Usugumo, Asagao (The Morning Glory)/ Asagao, Otome (The Maidens)/ Otome, Tamakazura (The Jeweled Chaplet)

32nd book/ 33rd book/ 34th book: 1840

Otome, Tamakazura/ Otome, Hatsune (The First Warbler)/ Tamakazura, Hatsune, Kocho (Butterflies)

35th book/ 36th book/ 37th book: 1841

Kocho, Hotaru (The Fireflies), Tokonatsu (The Pink)/ Tokonatsu, Kagaribi (The Cressets), Nowaki (The Typhoon)/ Nowaki, Miyuki (The Imperial Progress)

38th book: 1842

Fujibakama (Thoroughwort Flowers)

39th book/ 40th book: 1928

Makibashira (The Cypress Pillar) (Nisemurasaki Inaka Genji vol.2, Complete Japanese Masterpieces of Literature during the Edo Period vol. 21, Kurosaki Shoten Co., Ltd.)

In 1882, some woodblock books were published, but it is not clear whether all the books were published. Books bound in Western style have been repeatedly published since then till quite recently.

"Sonoyukari Hina no Omokage" (its fate the likeness of rustic youth), imitation of "Inaka Genji" was written by Tanehiko's disciples, Senka RYUTEI (books 1-6) and Tanekazu RYUKATEI (books 7-23) from 1847 to 1864.

Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors) performances adapted from "Inaka Genji" were "Goshomoyo Genji no Edozome" performed at Ichimura-za Theater in March 1838, "Genjimoyo Furisode Hinagata" (Dress Patterns in Genji Style) performed at Ichimura-za Theater in September 1851, and "忠暮時雨袖旧寺" performed at Morita-za Theater in October 1867. A part of "Genjimoyo Furisode Hinagata" survives to this day under the name of "Inaka Genji Tsuyu no Shinonome" (Rustic Genji Daybreak Dew).

By the way, "Nise Murasaki Naniwa no Genji" (1837), a work which has a similar title and was written by Tanehiko, is a concealed pornographic book.

[Original Japanese]