Suetsumuhana (The Tale of Genji) (末摘花 (源氏物語))

Suetsumuhana (The Safflower) is one of the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji." This is the sixth chapter. This is a parallel chapter of Wakamurasaki (Lavender). Genji, age 18 (around New Year's day) to age 19 (New Year's day).

Suetsumuhana is also a nickname for the woman who appears in "The Tale of Genji." She is one of the women who were not beautiful, but kept a relationship with Hikaru Genji throughout her live.
Suetsumuhana' is a nickname that Genji gave this woman, associating her 'red nose' with safflower's color 'red.'
She appears in the chapters from 'Suetsumuhana' to 'Wakana, vol. 1' (Spring Shoots).


Genji, who heard a rumor about the daughter of Prince Hitachi from menotogo (a child with a nursemaid), Taifu no Myobu (a noblewoman who is a Commissioner's daughter), was captured by an illusion of 'a tragic princess who was ruined,' chasing the woman out of curiosity. Although he succeeded in meeting the princess, competing against his best friend, Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain), her reaction was awkward, and this puzzled him. Moreover, the next snowy morning, when Hikaru Genji saw her face, he was astonished at how ugly she was. He was often bored with her naive words and deeds, but sympathized with her about her poverty, so came to support her life, feeling that the beauty of her nature could not allow him to desert her.

Personal profile

She was the only daughter of Prince Hitachi, one of the descended Imperial Family members, but she lost her father, who could have been her supporter, so was in hard straits. Although she had an older brother who became a priest, and an aunt who got married to Kokushu (head of provincial governors), she could not expect financial aid, and lived in a dilapidated house with old court ladies.

Receiving an extremely antiquated education, she was obstinate, single-minded, and a truly pure closeted maiden. In The Tale of Genji, she was a female character whose appearance was described most elaborately, and an unusually plain woman among the other beautiful characters.
She was severely criticized as a woman 'whose hair was great, but her sitting height was too tall, and she was thin, and her face was pale with a big nose hanging down like an elephant's, and moreover the tip of the nose was an uglily red.'

Although she was quiet and honest, her way of thinking was hilariously old-fashioned and formal, so she exposed her naiveness. Her old-fashioned way of thinking and tactless nature often made Genji say 'I am ashamed' and embarrassed even after she was taken in by him. As mentioned, she had no particular outstanding feature except her family line, but her obstinacy derived from her pure mind, and she kept waiting for Genji while he forgot about her. Genji, who was impressed with her, subsequently took her in to Nijohigashi no in residence, so she spent her later years in peace and quiet as one of his wives.

[Original Japanese]