Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Tale of Gaijin

Murasaki Shikibu (Hiroshige II)
The Tale of Genji is considered by many scholars to be one of the earliest known examples of a novel.  Written by Murasaki Shikibu, the psuedonym of a woman at the Japanese imperial court in the 10th century, Genji's adventures sprawl across time and space, occupying 6 volumes in English translation and covering several generations.  Think Game of Thrones, but warmer.

Our adventures in Japan were more limited in scope, though we did see several spots mentioned in the Tale.

I blogged the trip for the college, so if you want to read the story of the travels, here is a list and links:

Dawn Departures (Bryn Mawr to Kyoto in 26 hours)
Mizu, Yuzu and Mitsu (shrines filled with water, hot sun, honey and citrus)
Borrowed Landscapes (dry gardens, the stick of compassion)
Sitting Zazen (talking with a Zen monk about the desert fathers, temples and gardens)
Bamboo and Bento (the bamboo forest and bentos on a bus)

Rough travel (climbing a mountain - sans a path - and esoteric Buddhism)

Koya-san (10th century Buddhist monastic city)
On the Women's Trail (women weren't allowed until the end of the 19th century, but circled the mountain on this trail)
Spaces in translation (Would you believe 5 different trains, a bus, a fleet of taxis and a ferry?  We moved from Koya to Kamikatsu)

In the news (in Japan!)
Fish Sticks (Nakamura-san and the charcoal maker)
Bound in (visiting Nakamura's hermitage, binding books)
Cave meditations (the zero waste village, meditating in a cave, Japanese hot springs)

And yes, all the towns and cities we stayed in began with "k"....except for Osaka and that installment isn't quite up yet.

I look at the list and suddenly am not suprised to be as tired as I am.

Gaijin are foreigners...


  1. Just for the record. The Pilot Company has named one of their Iroshizuku (drop of colors) fountain pen inks as Murasaki Shikibu. It's a purple color. I don't know if the name came from the above mentioned writer.
    Best regards,

  2. Rafael, Murasaki was her nickname and may be a play on the word for "violet"! So probably not a coincidence!