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Genji Monogatari, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, tr. Suematsu Kencho, [1900], at

p. 208



We left beautiful Cicada at the time when she quitted the capital with her husband. Now this husband Iyo-no-Kami, had been promoted to the governor-ship of Hitachi, in the year which followed that of the demise of the late ex-Emperor, and Cicada accompanied him to the province. It was a year after Genji's return that they came back to the capital. On the day when they had to pass the barrier house of Ausaka (meeting-path) on their homeward way, Hitachi's sons, the eldest known to us as Ki-no-Kami, now became Kawachi-no-Kami, and others went from the city to meet them. It so happened that Genji was to pay his visit to the Temple of Ishiyama on this very day. This became known to Hitachi, who, thinking it would be embarrassing if they met with his procession on the road, determined to start very early; but, somehow or another, time passed on, and when they came to the lake coast of Uchiide (modern Otz, a place along Lake Biwa), the sun had risen high, and this was the moment when Genji was crossing the Awata Road. In the course of a few hours the outriders of Genji's cortège came in sight; so that Hitachi's party left their several carriages, and seated themselves under the shade of the cedars on the hill-side of Ausaka, in order to avoid encountering Genji and his procession. It was the last day of September. All the herbage was fading under the influence of the coming winter, and many tinted autumn leaves displayed their different hues over the hills and fields. The scene was in every way pleasing to the eyes of the spectators. The number of the carriages of Hitachi's party was about ten in all, and the style and appearance of the party showed no traces of rusticity of taste. It might have been imagined that the party of the Saigû journeying towards or from Ise, might be something similar to this one.

p. 209

Genji soon caught sight of them, and became aware that it was Hitachi. He therefore sent for Cicada's brother—whom we know as Kokimi, and who had now been made Uyemon-no-Ske—from the party, and told him that he hoped his attention in coming there to meet them would not be considered unfavorable. This Kokimi, as we know, had received much kindness from Genji up to the time of his becoming a man; but when Genji had to quit the capital he left him and joined his brother-in-law in his official province. This was not viewed as very satisfactory; but Genji manifested no bad feeling to him, and treated him still as one of his household attendants. Ukon-no-Jiô, a brother-in-law of Cicada, on the other hand, had faithfully followed Genji to his exile, and after their return he was more than ever favored by Genji. This state of things made many feel for the bad taste of the ordinary weakness of the world, exhibited by the faithfully following of one when circumstances are flourishing, and deserting him in the time of adversity. Kokimi himself was one of those who fully realized these feelings, and was pained by them. When Genji finished his visit to the Temple, and was coming back, Kokimi once more came from the capital to meet him. Through him Genji sent a letter to his sister, asking her if she had recognized him when he passed at Ausaka, adding the following verse:—

"As onward we our way did take,
   On Meeting-Path, both I and you,
  We met not, for by the saltless lake,
    No milme 1 by its waters grew."

[paragraph continues] In handing the letter to Kokimi, Genji said, "Give this to your sister; it is a long time since I heard anything from her, still the past seems to me only like yesterday. But do you disapprove of my sending this?" Kokimi replied in a few words, and took the letter back to his sister, and told her, when he gave it, that she might easily give him some sort of answer. She did indeed disapprove of treating the matter in any way more seriously than she had formerly done, yet she wrote the following:—

"By Barrier-House—oh, name unkind,
    That bars the path of friendly greeting;

p. 210

  We passed along with yearning mind,
    But passed, alas! without a meeting."

[paragraph continues] After this time some other correspondence now and then passed between them. As time rolled on the health of her aged husband visibly declined; and after fervently enjoining his sons to be kind and attentive to her, in due time he breathed his last.

For some time they were kind and attentive to her, as their father had requested, and there was nothing unsatisfactory in their behavior towards her, yet many things which were not altogether pleasant gradually presented themselves to her, and so it is always in life. Finally Cicada, telling her intentions to no one beforehand, became a nun.


209:1 The name of a sea-weed, but also meaning the eyes that meet, and hence the twofold sense of the word.

Next: Chapter XVII: Competitive Show of Pictures