Experience the epic Tale of Genji

When you hear “Uji” you will most likely, and for a good reason, think of green tea and all things matcha (check out my post about Uji's green tea here https://www.odigo.jp/articles/13663-japans-green-tea-capital).
 

But despite being “Japan’s green tea capital”, Uji is also famous being the set of the last ten chapters of the masterpiece "The Tale of Genji" (Genji no monogatari).
 
Genji no monogatari is said to be one of the first psychological novels, written over 1000 years ago by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. The novel depicts the life of the imperal prince Hikaru Genji, divided in three parts with the first one covering Genji's path to power, the second part detailing the end of Genji's life and the third part, set in Uji, depicting the life of Genji's son. The 54 chapters are full of love, forbidden desires, tragedy and life at court, with its schemes and struggles for power.
via https://www.instagram.com/p/BaehIpNHudq

 
 
The story has been so captivating for depicting life at court during the Heian period, when noble women were supposed to only be seen by their fathers and their husbands, leaving them more or less confined to shut off rooms. Life as a lady-in-waiting at court however, allowed for women to pursue romantic relationships with the gentleman at court, which often resulted in a tangle of polyamorous affairs. It's no surprise that Murasaki's tale became particularly popular with the noble ladies, who longed for some sort of escape from their rather secluded lives.
 
Lady Murasaki herself was a lady-in-waiting to the empress Shoshi from 1006, after having lost her husband which had prompted her to start writing the Tale of Genji to cope with her grief.
The statue of Lady Murasaki, sitting with a scroll of her masterpiece in her lap, can be found by the Uji Bridge. 

Strolling through Uji, you will come across many places that are described in the Uji chapters of Genji no monogatari, such as the Byodo-in and its Phoenix Hall (for more info on those, check out my post about it https://www.odigo.jp/articles/13668-byodo-in-and-the-temple-of-the-phoenix). 
 
via https://www.instagram.com/p/BbhIWBYFshu


 
If you want to learn more about Genjo no monogatari, the time it takes place in and of course its ties to the city of Uji, then make sure you stop over at the The Tale of Genji Museum.
There you will find exhibitions of the copies of the novel, an ox cart used by aristocrats during the Heian Period, furnishings and garments such as the Junihitoe, a twelve-layered ceremonial kimono for women.

via https://www.instagram.com/p/BUrncotFt71


 
In addition to that, there is also a large screen theater and a computer screen that allows you to virtually try on Heian period costumes and take photos of it.
Should you get hungry, there is also a garden area with a tea room where you can enjoy some hot beverage and typical Japanese confectionary inspired by The Tale of Genji.
The museum's website can be found here http://www.uji-genji.jp/en/.
 
So if you want to experience a bit of the magic and mystery of the world of Genji, then don't wait any longer and visit Uji!
 
 
Happy adventuring!
 


Access to The Tale of Genji Museum:

15 minute walk from JR Uji Station




 
Access to Uji:
 
From JR Kyoto Station: Take the JR Nara Line to UJi (approximately 17 minutes)
From JR Nara Station: Take the JR Nara Line to Uji (approximately 30 minutes)
Uji can be easily navigated on foot with all main attractions being clearly displayed and marked on local maps.

Nami Komorebispirit