Yume no Ukihashi (夢浮橋)

Ume no Ukihashi is the 54th (last) chapter of the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji." This is the tenth (last) chapter of 'Uji jujo' (The Ten Quires of Uji), a part of the tale's third section. Although there are some exceptions, many of the chapters of The Tale of Genji ended at the point where the story was more or less completed. However, this chapter, which is the final chapter of The Tale of Genji, namely the end of the whole of The Tale of Genji, seems to have ended suddenly at the point where the story was not completed at all. As a result, this chapter is commented as the one which 'tells the end without ending,' and it sometimes generates the arguments whether the author went on writing with the idea of ending at this point and completed as planned or stopped writing halfway through for some reason though she intended to continue writing. Additionally, the fact that this chapter ended with the unique phrase 'tozo hon ni habemeru' (written in a book) is also noteworthy.

Title of the chapter

While most of the chapter titles of The Tale of Genji were named after the words used in respective texts (especially the words used in waka poems), this title 'Yume no Ukihashi' is not seen in the text. According to "Genji monogatari Okuiri," an ancient commentary written by FUJIWARA no Teika, this title related to an anonymous ancient waka poem 'Yononakaha yumenowatarino ukihashika uchiwataritsutsu monookosoomoe' (The world is something like a floating bridge of dreams and I am lost in thought while crossing it). In the meantime, this chapter is sometimes called 'Norinoshi,' and the word 'Norinoshi' exists in Kaoru's waka poem used in the text.

The tale tells of the summer when Kaoru was 28 years old.

Kaoru visited Yokawa, deep in Mt. Hiei, and asked sozu (a prelate) in detail about a woman who had become a priest at Ono. Kaoru was convinced that the woman in question was Ukifune (The Tale of Genji), and felt as if he had had a bad dream and shed tears. When he saw Kaoru's look, sozu regretted that he had made Ukifune a priest.
When Kaoru asked him to guide him to Ono where Ukifune resided, sozu said 'it is difficult now, but I will guide you some time in the next month.'
After imploring sozu to write a letter of good word for Ukifune, Kaoru was given a letter.

On the same night, lights of Kaoru's party, who were then descending from Yokawa, were visible from the hermitage at Ono (where Ukifune resided). While imoutoama and others were chatting about Kaoru, Ukifune was intoning nenbutsu (invocation of Amida Buddha) in order to forget the memory of Kaoru.

On the following day, Ogimi, Ukifune's younger maternal half-brother, visited Ono. He visited when imoutoama and others were surprised to know Ukifune's background since they had received in the early morning the letter from sozu informing what happened the day before. The letter of sozu brought by Ogimi gave Ukifune a hint that she should restore her relationship with Kaoru and return to a secular life. Ukifune, who had seen her younger maternal half-brother over a bamboo screen, became unsettled.
Eventually, however, she didn't open her heart, didn't accept the mediation of imoutoama, refused to meet Ogimi and refused to receive Kaoru's letter by saying 'the addressee is wrong.'
When he heard from Ogimi, who returned to Kyoto in vain, his report saying 'I couldn't meet Ukifune and she didn't give her response,' Kaoru suspected that someone else hid Ukifune in Uji (as he hid Ukifune in Uji).

[Original Japanese]