Heroic Comparisons for the Chapters of Genji

(Buyû nazoraye Genji, 武勇准源氏)

Publisher: Iba-ya Sensaburô

c. 1843


The Tales of Genji (Genji monogatari) is the greatest novel in classical Japanese literature, and arguably, the world’s first novel.  It was written in the first decade of the eleventh century by Lady Murasaki, and relates the womanizing exploits of Prince Genji.  Each of the fifty-four chapters of the novel is named and is associated with a crest called a Genji-mon.  Two different forms of the crests are reproduced below.  In this series of prints, events in the lives of legendary people are matched with chapters having titles related to the events.  All ten prints known to Robinson are illustrated, and it is unlikely that any others exist.  These prints are about 14 by 6.5 inches (36 by 17 centimeters), a size known as ôtanzakuban.




Chapter number: 1

Chapter name: Kiritsubo (Paulownia Court, 桐壺)

Scene: Takeshiuchi no Sukune carrying young Emperor Ôjin (応神天皇) on his shoulders

Robinson: S28.1





Chapter number: 4

Chapter name: Yûgao (Evening Faces, 夕顔)

Scene: Ushiwaka (Yoshitsune) playing his flute on Gojô Bridge in Kyoto with Benkei behind him

Robinson: S28.4



Chapter number: 7

Chapter name: Momiji no ga (Autumn Outing, 紅葉賀)

Scene: Taira no Koremochi (平維茂) awakening from a drunken sleep with a lady behind him whose face is reflected in the sake cup as that of a demon

Robinson: S28.7



Chapter number: 16

Chapter name: Sekiya (The Gatehouse, 関屋)

Scene: Minamoto no Yoshiie riding past the Nakoso gatehouse (sekiya) on his way from the subjugation of Mutsu

Robinson: S28.16



Chapter number: 18

Chapter name: Matsukaze (Wind in the Pines, 松風)

Scene: The robber Chôhan seated under a pine tree having a large cup of sake poured for him by a member of his band

Robinson: S28.18



Chapter number: 32

Chapter name: Umegae (Plum Branch, 梅枝)

Scene: Kajiwara Genda Kagesue fighting at Ikuta-no-mori with a plum branch (umegae) stuck in his armor

Robinson: S28.32



Chapter number: 41

Chapter name: Maboroshi (The Wizard, 鈴虫)

Scene: Satsuma no Kami Tadanori (薩摩守忠度) in court robes with open fan outside the home of Kiku no Maye, whom he was courting

Robinson: S28.38



Chapter number: 45

Chapter name: Hashihime (Lady at the Bridge, 橋姫)

Scene: Watanabe no Tsuna (渡邊 ) encountering the demon-woman at Modori Bridge at Ichijô in Kyoto

Robinson: S28.45



Chapter number: 49

Chapter name: Yadorigi (The Ivy, 宿木)

Scene: Sano Tsuneyo’s wife disguised as the monk Saimyôji cutting up a valuable bonsai for fire wood while entertaining the regent Hôjô Tokiyori.  This is a scene from the noh play Hachinoki (The Potted Tree).

Robinson: S28.46



Chapter number: 51

Chapter name: Ukifune (Boat on the Water, 浮船)

Scene: The death of Nitta Yoshioki at the Yaguchi Ferry in 1358 where he was shot down by the Ashikaga in ambush

Robinson: S28.51


“Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.