Usugumo (薄雲)

Usugumo (Wisps of Cloud) is the one of the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji." It is the 19th chapter. The title was named after the waka poem 'Being overwhelmed with grief, I'm wondering whether the color of the thin cloud over the ridges, which is covered by the rays of the setting sun, copied the color of the sleeves of my mourning dress.' that Genji composed in this chapter, mourning the passing of Fujitsubo.

The story takes place during the period from the winter when Hikaru Genji was 31 years old to the autumn when he was 32.

Lady Akashi decided to entrust young lady Akashi to Genji after a lot of suffering and due to the persuasion of her mother, the Akashi Nun. Genji came over to Lady Akashi to fetch the young lady on a snowy day, and she saw them off in tears. At the Nijo mansion, there were grand ceremonies to celebrate the young lady's coming-of-age without delay. Now Lady Murasaki is captivated by the sweet young lady, and feels like forgetting her bitterness toward Lady Akashi a little.

The next year, the Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state, the father of To no Chujo and Lady Aoi) passes away, and then a series of natural disasters came one after another. Under the unstable political situation, Fujitsubo, who had been sick in bed, passes away in March at the age of 37. Genji was so grieved at her death that he shut himself in a nenju-do chapel, and lived in sorrow. When the memorial services for her reached a certain point, a Buddhist priest on a night-watch duty, who had been serving since Fujitsubo's heyday, secretly told Emperor Reizei about the circumstances of his birth. Shocked, the emperor thought he could not tolerate keeping his biological father being his subordinate, and tried to abdicate the throne in favor of Genji. However, Genji strongly rejected the offer.

[Original Japanese]