Genjina (源氏名)

The Genjina (professional names) are nomenclature named after the classic book Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji).


The Genjina is a professional name that is assumed by or given to women and the practice owes its origins to the classic book Genji Monogatari. From the middle ages at first through to recent times such names were used by ladies at court who served the nobility. However, subsequently the Genjina were apparently used by waiting maids of samurai family. The earliest use of 'Genjina' that can be validated is the name which appears in the book "Sanetaka koki" (the journal of Sanetaka SANJONISHI). Umegae' (died December 11, 1505) was the Genjina of a woman who served as a maid servant to Sanetaka SANJONISHI.
There were conditions associated with assuming a Genjina as follows:

In the strictest sense, the names were limited to the 54 chapter titles of Genji Monogatari.

In addition to this strict sense of meaning can be added the names of protagonists appearing in the Genji Monogatari.

In a broader sense, Genjina could be interpreted to mean names that bear no direct relationship with Genji Monogatari however, are names that are reminiscent of the grace that is encapsulated by the Genji Monogatari.

Initially in the bygone Heian period there was a custom that prostitutes assumed elegant names. In the Edo period Genjina were used by prostitutes in the red light districts (at which stage the "Genjina" bore no relationship with the previous usage and there was a proliferation of such names). Moreover, from that point onwards the names lost all sense of linkage with the Genji Monogatari once workers in the bar and nightlife industry called themselves by such names in the workplace and now it bacame tradition.

[Original Japanese]