Suma (The Tale of Genji) (須磨 (源氏物語))

Suma is one of the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji." It is the 12th chapter.


After the affair with Oborozukiyo (The Tale of Genji) is revealed, Hikaru Genji is brought to bay and makes up his mind to exile himself to Suma so as not to get Emperor Reizei, who was under his guardianship, in trouble as well. He bade farewell to the people in the House of the Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), those who were close to him and Fujitsubo, and sent farewell letters to the Crown Prince and his wives. Besides this, he entrusted all of his estate and properties to Lady Murasaki, who was to be left behind alone.

At a humble dwelling in Suma, Genji lived a lonely life while exchanging letters with people in the capital and drawing pictures. During many talks to kill time, he heard a rumor about Lady Akashi. Also, To no Chujo came over to see him all the way from the capital, and they were pleased at the temporary reunion. Soon after that, just as a purification ceremony was proceeding on the seashore on the first day of the serpent in March, a terrible storm assailed the whole area of Suma. Genji and all of his entourage quaked at the storm.

The theory that the chapter Suma was written first

Some old commentaries have a legend telling that the author started to write this "The Tale of Genji" not from the chapter of 'Kiritsubo' (The Paulownia Court), which is placed at the beginning now, but from 'Suma,'
According to the "Kakai-sho" by Yoshinari YOTSUTSUJI, she had been shutting herself up in the Ishiyama-dera Temple and thinking up the plan for her new novel, which had been requested by the Imperial Princess Senshi, the daughter of the Emperor Murakami.
The commentary continues that while she was watching the moon reflected on the surface of the lake on the night of August 15, the concept for the Tale of Genji occurred to her and she began with the sentence from the chapter Suma, 'Thinking it is the harvest moon...'
However, now the legend that she began to write the story from the Suma chapter is not considered to be based in fact.

[Original Japanese]