Web materials here and elsewhere on The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari). This started as a "Genji studies" page for my students. Now I keep more extensive set of pages for GENJI classes elsewhere--all password-protected for the moment. However you will find much GENJI-related material on the pmjs site. Pages open to all include a glossary of characters by the translator Royall Tyler, a list of chapter titles in various English translations, a genealogy (all in the pmjs resources) and logs of several discussions by specialists in the archives.

As an example of the useful web material that can be gathered by searches, here is a page of links I assembed for students reading the first chapter.

Michael Watson, Meiji Gakuin Univ. [ go to top index | send me a message ]

English translations (chronological order)

  • Suematsu, Kencho. The Tale of Genji. London: Trubner, 1882. [The date of 1881 sometimes seen in online listings is incorrect, being based on the date of the translator's preface.]
  • Waley, Arthur. The Tale of Genji. A Novel in Six Parts by Lady Murasaki. 1926-1933.
  • Seidensticker, Edward G. The Tale of Genji. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.
  • McCullough, Helen Craig. Genji & Heike: Selections from The Tale of Genji and The Tale of the Heike. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994. [Selections]
  • Tyler, Royall. The Tale of Genji. New York: Viking, 2001.
  • more information available in the pmjs database of translations

a few lists

  • Japanese maki (chapter) titles
  • Romanized list of the Japanese maki titles
  • Chapter titles in the Seidensticker translation
  • Chapter titles in the Tyler translation (with page nos.)
  • more lists here
  • on this page
    Web searches
    on this site
    resources (English)
    illustrations of Genji
    resources (Japanese)
    teaching resources
    modern reception
    contact me
    related watson pages
    top index
    Japanese studies
    pmjs mailing list
    electronic texts
    Heike pages
    Noh pages
    reference pages

    Genji on the web: do your own search
    The number of relevant sites keeps increasing: academic, commercial, popular... The quality varies greatly, so you will have to exercise judgement, but there are some useful sites both in Japanese and English, particularly if you don't have access to illustrations of Genji. I introduce a few below, but it is also worth doing your own searches. Here are a few ready-made searches as examples for what is possible:

  • Google search for Tale of Genji
  • Google search for Genji monogatari (in kanji)
  • Excite (Japan) search for Genji monogatari (in kanji)
  • Hotbot search for Genji in pages containing images
  • Altavista search for GENJI as title of web pages
  • Google search for images titled genji
  • Altavista search for images titled genji
  • Hint: Try names of characters and chapters, e.g. kiritsubo
  • Hints: use quotation marks for whole phrase ("Tale of Genji"). Fancy features on Alvista allow searches for words in titles of pages (title:Genji) or for name of image (image:Genji). To avoid restaurants called "Genji" and the like, you can search for specific domain (domain:edu on Altavista), or filters on hotbot.com. These days I tend to stick to google and add search terms...
  • Once again, here is a page of links I assembed for students reading the first chapter.

    A little basic copyright information for readers who regularly write and ask me " Where can I find an English translation of the Tale of Genji on the Web?"

    The first attempt to translate GENJI into English was the partial translation published in 1882 by Baron Suyematsu (Kencho Suematsu as we would now write his name). This is still available in a reprint from Tuttle, and a pdf file has been made available from York University, Canada. The translation was remarkable at its time, but is of only historic interest today.

    The oldest complete translation of the Tale of Genji into English is by Arthur Waley (1899-1966). Copyright used to last "(year of) death + 50 years." Now it has been extended in many countries to "death + 75 years." For older books, those published before 1923, there is a rule of "75 years from publication." This means (according to a knowledgable correspondent) that Waley's translation of A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (1918) is now out of copyright, but his Genji translation (1926-1933) will remain in copyright until fifty (2016) or seventy-five (2041) years after his death in most countries.

    For researchers there does exist an electronic text of a more recent translation: E. G. Seidensticker's version of 1976 is available for research purposes in Oxford Text Archives. I obtained it years ago in what was then the proper manner, by post. Check the OTA website for an application form.
    --Recently (Sept. 2002) I found this is now available as a single very large page. If your browser/modem can handle it, you can save to file and read off line at your leisure.
    No illustrations or footnotes, of course. However those referring to the Japanese text will find the cross-references to pages and sections of the older Shogakukan (NKBZ) edition helpful.

    There is no substitute for a printed edition, however. Royall Tyler's translation of 2001 is surely the best choice for anyone about to read--or reread--this great narrative.

    Paperback reprints of the translations by Suematsu, Waley and Seidensticker have been published by Charles E. Tuttle (Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo). Seidensticker's translation has also been reprinted many times in England and North America--avoid the abridged version unless that is what you want.

    If you are looking for Japanese e-texts, be aware that the copyright lies not only with the author--who died almost a millenium ago--but also rests in the work of the modern editor. However OTA again has an electronic text (Shogakukan) and there are also several sites where a scholar has made his own edition for the Web. Take a look at the site of Professor Shibuya, for example. The modern Japanese translation by Yosano Akiko is also available at genji.co and elsewhere. More info. below.

    resources for English-speaking users

    Anthony Chambers (Wesleyan). Information about a course on Genji taught by a distinguished translator of modern Japanese literature

    Ken Richard (Siebold University, Nagasaki). Site for classes on Japanese literature by specialist in Heian literature. Genji pages contain questions to guide students in reading and selections from a paper on "Mother trauma" in Genji.

    Whose mono-no-ke killed Yugao? A spirited debate archived on the pmjs mailing list of specialists. Explore the pmjs site if you are interested in other aspects of premodern Japan.

    Genealogical chart for the Tale of Genji from Richard Bowring's Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji.

    The electronic texts of the Shogakukan edition and the Seidensticker translation are available from Oxford Text Archives. Apply to OTA direct. [all in one page]


  • Start with "A SHORT HISTORY OF GENJI ILLUSTRATION" by Professor Steven D. Carter (Univ. of California, Irvine). Another page deals with noh masks and Enchi Fumiko's Genji-inspired Masks. Other pictures there include: Tosa Mitsunori illustration.
  • Many sites show scenes from the illustrated scroll: Genji monogatari emaki. Here's one.
  • Dartmouth has a scroll by Tosa Mitsuyoshi (ca. 1690). Illustrated is the Kiritsubo episode.
  • Cornell has a picture from Wakana (New Herbs, Part 1)
  • Some pages won't be there forever. A German ukiyo-e dealer is offering for sale a Kunisada print (1858) inspired by the "Yugao" episode (Click the thumbnail for a bigger picture.).
  • Another ukiyo-e by Kunisada (+ Hiroshige) is at the University of Missouri museum: Genji at Tago.
  • The Kyoto "Costume Museum" (a small place, Fuzoku hakubutsukan) is exhibiting scale models of scenes from Genji. Some give a good idea of interiors.
  • Yang Kuei Fei (Yang Gui Fei) is still a popular theme in Chinese art. A dramatic painting by modern Chinese Peng Xian-Cheng.
  • The poem Chang Hen ge by Po Chu-i (Bo juyi) is referred to many times in Genji. Here is an older English translation (watch for misprints). Can anyone identify the translator?
  • Plants in Genji Monogatari: with photographs and quotations from Seidensticker's English translation.
  • Libretto of opera by Miki (operajaponica site)
  • Genji-koo (incense types) Page by J. Fiorillo

  • Japanese sites

    Yosano Akiko's translation: one of the most readable of modern Japanese translations. Two versions are available online.

    Aozora bunko version: Complete up to Chapter 36 "Kashiwagi". Includes readings of more difficult kanji in parentheses. Akiko's waka included. Save as "HTML source" onto your hard disk and read off-line with a browser. Based on Kawade-shobo text. No page numbers.
    (J) —^ŽÓ–쏻Žq(=äoŽÓ–쏻Žq )wV–󌹎•¨Œêxihtml”ŁjiÂ‹ó•¶ŒÉj
    Genji co. version: Now complete. No rubi. Base text: Kadokawa bunko. Page numbers included.

    Professor Shibuya's site

    54 maki in 3 versions each: Japanese original, his own modern J translation, romanization (kunreishiki not Hepburn) . The Japanese text has been edited afresh (it seems) from the Teika-bon. Textual variants listed at end of each maki, together with "shutten" (allusions to poems, sutras, Chinese classics). Summary at the top of each (original, trans., roman.) with hot link to jump to place in text. Romanization has summary translated into English (of sorts). Other good features. This site has won my respect.
    (J) a’J‰hˆêæ¶i‚ç•ä¤‰È‘åŠw)FƒeƒLƒXƒgEŒ»‘ãŒê–óEƒ[ƒ}Žš


    "koten sogo kenkyu home page" (comprehensive study of the classics?). Yosano Akiko's translation here too. I had my doubts about this site as well, but find it now contains material of solid academic value, including reports of a project on word use in Genji monogatari based on a study of the full text

    Genji monogatari emaki no shokai

    Introduction to the illustrated scroll. In Japanese but with good graphics.
    (J) Œ¹Ž•¨ŒêŠGŠª‚̏Љî

    Genji denshikan (Itoh Tetsuya)

    Don't be put off by the manga graphics, worth a visit.
    (J) Œ¹Ž“dŽqŠÙiˆÉ“¡“S–çæ¶j

    other resources, especially for teachers

  • Fujitsu has produced a two CD-ROM set with chapter by chapter summaries, illustrations, and with selected passages in English and modern Japanese translation as well as the original (hear it read aloud too). Japanese displayed without Japanese software (every page is graphically rendered). Available in U.S. from Fujitsu or Stonebridge (links are to pages with more information)
  • The Tale of Genji (animation, Japan, 1991). Subtitled video is available from Amazon.com video and elsewhere. Comments about this anime here and there.
  • Here and there on the Web there are illustrations of Genji monogatari from all periods. To search yourself use HotBot--limiting the search to pages containing images. Not all images will be the kind you are looking for, but at least you'll avoid hundred of syllabus / library / bookshop pages where the title Genji is mentioned as text only. (I have defined the search so that they page must contain the phrase "Tale of Genji" and also have a .jpg file; by including "Tale of..." we avoid the home pages of U.S. sushi bars & the like). See the "do your own search" section above.
  • For new and second-hand books in English, I use Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Periodical articles in English can often be located on UnCover, which also can fax you a copy, for a price.
  • For second-hand Japanese books, see kanda books, and for new books, Kinokuniya or Yaesu books. I have some notes on the subject of looking for books in Japan on a page called search. Titles of Japanese periodical articles can be found on the Nichigai database, but you'll have to find a library that has signed up for the service. NACSIS will provide a similar service (free to all? to subscribers only) from Jan. 1, 2000, using a Web-based service.

  • modern Genji "reception"

  • Murasaki Shikibu now has a deserved place in the new canon of "Women Writers" or "Women in History"--a process begun, perhaps, by Virginia Woolf's review of the first volume of Arthur Waley's translation (signed review in Vogue, late July 1925; reprinted in The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Volume 4: 1925 to 1928, ed. Andrew McNeillie [London: The Hogarth Press, 1994], pp. 264-9).
  • The Web provides many examples of how Murasaki Shikibu has become better known, as a name at least, in English-speaking countries. She is one of Danuta Bois' "Distinguished Women" (her biography is taken from Microsoft's Encarta and accurate enough). A U.S. high-school teacher and her students include her after Sappho in their list of Women Writers (the photo is of the anime cover).
  • Murasaki Shikibu shares the syllabus with an interesting variety of writers in survey courses. A course entitled "The Middle Periods of the World" puts her in the company of Marie de France, Omar Khayyam, Dante and Cervantes (Dr. Barbara Mathieson / Southern Oregon).
  • For an example of popular modern illustrations of The Tale of Genji see the pages of the "painter and calligrapher" Shuseki. Manga style. (The title of chapter 11 should read "Hana chiru sato").

  • Suggestions, additions, corrections welcome

    Michael Watson <watson[at]k.meijigakuin.ac.jp>
    Faculty of International Studies, Meiji Gakuin University, Yokohama 244-8539, Japan