Women and flowers in The Tale of Genji

In The Tale of Genji, women usually don’t have names, they have a last name, and a nickname, but they don’t have their own names.

Many of the women in the book are named after flowers, flowers are like symbols for their personality. This kind of metaphor often romanticize the fate of women, to represent women as flowers and use different scenes to carry out the hidden message.

One lady was named Yugao, it means a flower that blossom in the morning and die in the afternoon, it’s called morning glory(Ipomoea nil). The nature of this flower gives us some hint about this lady. She met with Genji at a afternoon and when Genji saw this flower in front of her house, he was astonished and walked inside her house. When he found out her, Genji made her his lover. But after that night, he left, and Yugao died soon after this.

We can see that her fate was deeply connected with this flower.


Her name was given after this flower


Very lively but fragile flower

Another example of female named after flowers is Murasaki, not the author of this book, but the main character of The Tale of Genji. Murasaki was the niece of lady Fujitsubo, she looks very alike with her. That’s probably why Genji kidnapped her and raised her to be his wife. But Murasaki was never married to Genji, because of her political position. Her name Murasaki means wisteria, purple wisteria. During that time, wisteria was considered elegant and lively, even though later, she was considered to be cherry blossom; but her name means wisteria. Wisteria is a kind of flower that’s purple and blossom in spring.


purple wisteria


wisteria tree


Murasaki and the wisteria

Purple wisteria flowers in spring

Generally, this book includes plenty of flowers, trees, things from nature.










Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s