Exhibitions/ The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated/ Places and People

The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated

At The Met Fifth Avenue
March 5–June 16, 2019

Places and People

Historical Provinces and Places

All the episodes in The Tale of Genji are set in places that actually existed in and around the capital, formerly called Heian-kyō or Miyako ("the Capital") and now known as Kyoto. Most of the place names continue to be used to this day.

Central Characters

Genji: the protagonist, son of the Kiritsubo Emperor
Kokiden: consort of the Kiritsubo Emperor as well as Genji's main political rival
Fujitsubo: consort of the Kiritsubo Emperor and mother of Emperor Reizei, born of an affair with Genji
Aoi: Genji's first wife, dies after giving birth to Genji's son Yūgiri
Yūgao: former lover of Genji's rival, Tō no Chūjō, dies while spending the night with Genji
Lady Rokujō: Genji's older lover, whose jealous spirit appears to kill Yūgao and Aoi, and mother of Akikonomu (Umetsubo Empress)
Suetsumuhana ("Safflower Princess"): famous for her red nose and old-fashioned ways
Lady Murasaki: Genji's lifelong companion, raised by Genji to be his ideal wife
Akashi Lady: woman Genji meets while in exile and mother of future Akashi Empress

Characters of the Next Generation

Kashiwagi: son of Tō no Chūjō, secretly fathers Kaoru with Genji's wife the Third Princess
Kaoru: son of Kashiwagi, raised as Genji's son, famous for his scent
Prince Niou: Genji's grandson, son of the Akashi Empress, known for his perfumed aroma
The Uji Princesses: two sisters raised in Uji, pursued by Kaoru and Prince Niou
Ukifune: half-sister of the Uji Princesses, entangled in a love triangle with Kaoru and Prince Niou

Tosa Mitsuoki (1617–1691). Portrait-Icon of Murasaki Shikibu. Edo Period (1615–1868), 17th century. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk; 35 5/8 x 20 3/4 in. (90.5 x 52.7 cm). Ishiyamadera Temple, Shiga Prefecture, Courtesy of Ishiyamadera Temple, photo by Kanai Morio