Fifty-Four Scenes from The Tale of Genji


Not on view

The eleventh-century literary masterpiece The Tale of Genji is set almost entirely in the capital city of Kyoto and its environs. Here, scenes from all fifty-four chapters appear in sequence across two screens—from right to left and top to bottom—in a composition that transcends shifts in time, season, and setting. The convention of “blown-off roofs” (fukinuki yatai) permits views into interiors, most of them aristocratic mansions. Famous sites such as the iconic bridge over the Uji River (at top left of the left-hand screen), south of Kyoto, are easily recognizable. Viewers familiar with the narrative can enjoy the challenge of identifying characters, episodes, and plot points.

The screens were evidently created by a Kano-school painter and at least one assistant; miniature screens seen within the interiors, mostly ink landscapes, betray a hand from around the time of Kano Yasunobu (1613–1685).

Fifty-Four Scenes from The Tale of Genji, Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, gold, and gold leaf on paper, Japan

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.

2015.300.37.1, right screen, overall