Wakana (new herbs) (The Tale of Genji) (若菜 (源氏物語))

Wakana is one of the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji." This is the thirty-fourth chapter. This chapter was the longest of all the chapters in The Tale of Genji, but today it is split into two volumes consisting of 'Wakana, Volume one' and 'Wakana, Volume two,' being regarded the thirty-fourth chapter and thirty-fifth chapter respectively, and the chapter of 'Kumogakure (vanish behind the clouds),' which is not extant now, is excluded from the story. The title of this chapter came from the wakana which Hikaru Genji's adopted daughter, Tamakazura, presented him at his fortieth birthday ceremony.
Wakana, Volume one' and 'Wakana, Volume two' respectively have another name, 'Hakodori (a cuckoo)' and 'Morokazura (Laurel branches twain).'
Hakodori' was derived from a poem composed by Yugiri, 'The cuckoo building its nest in mountain depths does not, be assured, neglect the cherry blossom,' while 'Morokazura' was from Kashiwagi's poem, 'O, laurel branches twain, why did I take the fallen leaf, though in name it seemed to be as welcome as the other?'
Morokazura' is sometimes considered another name for both volumes of Wakana.


Wakana, Volume one
Hikaru Genji, from age thirty-nine in December to age forty-one in March.

Genji's older brother, Emperor Suzaku has fallen ill and thought of entering into priesthood, but he hesitates because he feels anxious about the future of his beloved daughter, Onna Sannomiya (the Third Princess), who does not have any guardian. Suzaku-in worries about her marriage, and he finally decides to ask Genji to marry her. Genji accepts his offer. Murasaki no ue, who has been recognized as his virtual legal wife, feels upset, but she prepares to take Onna Sannomiya as Genji's legal wife, hiding her true feelings.

The new year has come, and on the 23rd day, a celebration to commemorate Genji's fortieth birthday is held on a large scale. In February, Onna Sannomiya is married and moves to the Rokujo-in Palace, but Genji is disappointed with her extreme childishness. Meanwhile, Murasaki no ue, who keeps her sorrow to herself for the unexpected event, gradually hopes to enter into priesthood.

In March of the next year, young lady Akashi (Genji's daughter) bears the Emperor a baby boy. Although Akashi no onkata (Lady Akashi) and young lady Akashi are in all their glory, they shed tears when they read a personal letter from Priest Akashi.

Meanwhile, Kashiwagi (a son of Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain)), who has been anxious for Onna Sannomiya's marriage out of the royal family, has a lingering affection for her even after she was married. At the end of March, Kashiwagi, who has visited Rokujo-in Palace to take part in kemari (Japanese ancient Imperial court game like kick-ball), happens to catch a glimpse of Onna Sannomiya sitting beyond the raised bamboo blind when a cat pops out. After this, Kashiwagi's love for her grows stronger.

Wakana, Volume two
Hikaru Genji, from age forty-one in March to age forty-seven in December.

Four years later, the time has shifted from the reign of Emperor Reizei to Kinjo no Mikado. The first Prince, to whom young lady Akashi gave birth, has become the Crown Prince.

Genji teaches Onna Sannomiya how to play kokin (ancient Chinese string instrument) for a celebration ceremony of Suzaku-in's fiftieth birthday to be held the following year. A splendid concert of onnagaku (women's music) is held at Rokujo-in Palace during the New Year's days, and Onna Sannomiya, Murasaki no ue, young lady Akashi, and Akashi no onkata all give a wonderful performance, but Murasaki no ue, in her unlucky age of thirty-seven, suddenly collapses during the night. Her condition does not improve, so Genji moves her to Nijo-in Palace with him, staying with her all the time.

Meanwhile, Kashiwagi, who has married Ochiba no miya, Onna Sannomiya's older sister, unsatisfied with his marriage, takes the opportunity to commit adultery with Onna Sannomiya with the help of Kojiju, menotogo (the son of a menoto, a woman providing breast-feed to a highborn baby) while Genji is busy staying by Murasaki no ue's side to take care of her. Right after their illicit tryst, Murasaki no ue passes out once, but barely revives. Then shiryo (spirit of a dead person) of Rokujo no Miyasudokoro appears and makes Genji shudder.

Onna Sannomiya gets pregnant. At the end of the summer, when Murasaki no ue's condition is stable, Genji, who calls on her to inquire after her health, happens to find a love letter from Kashiwagi and finds out the truth. Kashiwagi also notices this, and terrified of his sin, he falls ill to hear Genji's bitter sarcasm at a rehearsal of court dances and music held in Rokujo-in Palace.

The celebration ceremony of Suzaku-in's fiftieth birthday is held on December 25, when the end of the year draws near.

[Original Japanese]