The Tale of Genji is an outstanding masterpiece of the Japanese classic literature written by a court lady known as Murasaki. Just like in the modern novels, The Tale of Genji has one central and numerous minor characters. The characterization in the book is well-developed; all the major players are brought out quite well. The sequence of events in the book covers the lifetime of the central character and goes even beyond his lifetime. The Tale of Genji, unlike modern US classics, does not have a particular plot. In the book, all characters are represented in such a way that they become mature in terms of age.
Murasaki is considered to have a sense of consistency in The Tale of Genji. Despite the fact that the book consists of hundreds of characters, the author has ensured that all of them age in step and that there is consistency in the feudal relationships. As much as The Tale of Genji is very consistent in its presentation, sometimes translators and readers find the book rather complicated because no explicit names are given to the characters in the original text. Instead of giving the characters particular names, the author had chosen to refer to her characters using the roles each played in the society (Shirane, 2007).
She refers to some as Minister of the Left, His Excellency, or Heir Apparent. These titles also keep changing as the novel develops. This lack of names for the characters in The Tale of Genji can be explained by the fact tha tit was generally unacceptable to mention people's given names freely during the Heian era. It should be mentioned that modern translators and readers have given nicknames in order to track different characters that have no names given.
The other challenge that faces modern readers of the book is also the fact that The Tale of Genji was written in an archaic language. Even in the century when the book was written, the language was already unreadable. In the 12th century, the Japanese were reading illustrated and annotated versions of the book because the original version was written in a language that they failed to embrace fully. In the 20th century, however, The Tale of Genji was translated into the modern Japanese language. This translation was done by Akiko Lozano, a Japanese poet.
The Tale of Ganja is a classic Japanese literature written by Murasaki Shikibu who was a noble woman from Japan and also a lady in waiting. The book, which was written early in the 11th century when the Heian period was at its peak, is known by many as the first novel in the world or the modern novel. The Tale of Genji remains one of the world's classic novels. The novel depicts a clear way of lives of the high courtiers that was during the Heian period. While the entire world believes The Tale of Genji is a masterpiece, the influence that the book has had on the Eastern and Western canon has still remained a matter of speculation.
Murasaki Shikibu was born in 978 into the Fujiwara clan in Japan. The Fujiwara clan ruled behind the scenes by ensuring that the emperors were provided with courtesans and brides during the Heian Period. Murasaki Shikibu was very talented. Due to her various talents, Murasaki gained her a place in the palace to entertain Empress Akiko. Later, Murasaki Shikibu lost her husband and turned to studying Buddhism even as she had to bring up her daughter. It was also during this time that she wrote her very first novel known as Genji Monogatari. It was a tale devoted to a shining Prince Genji.
It is worth mentioning that the first translation of The Tale of Genji into English was done by Submits Ketch in 1882. Other translations followed soon after the first one had been introduced. The most recent translation of the book was published by Royall Tyler in the year 2001. It should be noted that debates concerning whether or not The Tale of Genji was actually written by Murasaki Shikibu have been taking place for some centuries. There are those who do not believe that the author actually wrote the entire book. However, literary scholars do agree that The Tale of Genji was completed by 1021.
The author, Lady Murasaki, is said to have based the character of Genji on the Minister on the Left when she was at the court. Others disagree and even propose that one of the characters, Murasaki-no-Use, is based on the life of the author, Murasaki Shikibu herself. The first translator of The Tale of Genji, Lozano Akiko, states that Murasaki Shikibu could only have written thirty three chapters and that the rest of the chapters were later written by Murasaki Shikibu's daughter, Daini no Sanmi. The other reason why more scholars are convinced that it was Daini no Sanmi who wrote chapters 35 to 54 and not Murasaki Shikibu is that, unlike the first 33 chapters, these chapters contain mistakes in continuity. These together with discrepancies, which are statistically significant that have been found in the later chapters, only serve to confirm the fact that the two sections could not have been written by the same person.
Murasaki Shikibu belonged to the middle level of the aristocracy in Japan at that time. She was later called to serve the Empress, and mostly it was because of all the good stories that she wrote. There is no exact evidence when Murasaki Shikibu began writing The Tale of Genji or when she completed her masterpiece. Scholars have had to rely on the remains of her diary, which point at 1007 or 1008, as the possible years during which she could have started writing the book. Determining the exact time when the book was written becomes even harder considering that not a single manuscript has survived through the years. The earliest texts that are known can be dated back to 1200.
Murasaki Shikibu wrote tales for her patron, the Empress. Some of the stories that Murasaki Shikibu wrote also reached the other members of the aristocracy through her patron. Any lady who was considered great during that time did not read a story by herself, rather, she would sit and have another woman read her a story aloud. The reader should show pictures in the book for the lady to see. Some scholars believe that Murasaki Shikibu may have had to read several of her tales to the Empress (Shirane, 2007).
The first chapter of the book, The Tale of Genji, was written during the Heian era, which was about year 1000. During this time, the capital of Japan was in Heian-kayo, which is currently known as Kyoto. The hero of the book is known as Genji, the Emperor's son. Kiritsubo, the beloved concubine of the Emperor, gave birth to Genji. It should be mentioned that Kiritsubo passed away, when her son was very young. The Emperor became distraught and was obsessed with the death of Genii's mother. However, his grief did not last for a long time, and as a result, theEmperor found another concubine who coincidentally reminded him his beloved Kiritsubo, his former lover.
Unfortunately, Genji did not get enough backing at the court and ended up becoming a commoner. The Emperor had the first son with Lady Kokiden, and according to the established traditions, this son was considered the crown prince and was supposed to inherit the whole empire after his father's death. Genji grew up and became very handsome and gifted at a number of activities. Even Lady Kokiden and other members of her family began to fear Genji. At the beginning of the tale, Genji had various exploits with ladies in his neighborhood. The author paid great attention to the exquisite friendship that arose between Genji and To-no-Chujo. The tale also documents the arranged marriage between the sister of his friend To-no-Chujo and Genji. He is later said to have had a son and had a good relationship with the little Murasaki.
For the meantime, Genji's father, the Emperor passed away, and his place was taken by the son of Lady Kokiden. After Genji was involved into a court scandal, he had no choice but to leave the capital. He ended up living in a place called Suma for a number of years. This marks the beginning of the second part of his life story. The second part began with Genji meeting an ex-Governor of Harima and his daughter. The daughter of the ex-governor, the Akashi Lady, got pregnant and gave birth to Genji's son.
Afterwards Genji went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Sumiyoshi where he intended to thank the gods for keeping him safe during the storms that took place while he was at Suma. After having spent some years in pilgrimage, Genji made up his mind to settle down in the court. He did not only settle down with Murasaki but with other ladies at his mansion in Rokujo. Genji became rather influential as he turned his focus on raising his children and on the advancement of his grandchildren. He ends up marrying a princess with whom he had a son. The third wife, however, became a Buddhist nun soon after this.
The second chapter begins with a famous scene known as the "Appraisal of Women on a Rainy Night." Once, To-no-Chujo, Genji's brother-in-law, visited Genji, and the two engaged in a discussion regarding women. Soon enough other friends and guards also took part in the following discussion. According to the guardsman, a beautiful woman may be hidden in some secret place because it would be the only reason why his family would be going through difficult times. As the discussion about various women continued, Genji fall asleep. After lengthy discussions, they came to the conclusion that a good woman is one who is cultured, loyal, passive yet able to pretend to be ignorant whenever ignorance is necessary.
Chapter two is devoted to a place known as Sanjo. Genji went to Sanjo to visit one of his wives, Aoi. To his dismay, Genji found Aoi quite cold and distant. Later on, Genji got an invitation from Kii-no-kami. His host, Kii-no-kami, is married to a young lady that attracts Genji. The young woman refuses to have anything further to do with Genji who later decided to sleep the woman's younger brother instead of her. The third chapter picks up from the rejection that Genji felt when he refused pursuing "the lady of the locust shell" also known as Utsusemi. Genji used the help of the woman's younger brother in pursuing her further.
The fourth chapter is titled Evening Faces. Genji started a journey to visit Lady Rococo. On his way to the woman's place, Genji discovered that his former wife, the one who had become a Buddhist nun, was very ill and on her deathbed. Genji and his son Koremitsu decided to visit his sick former wife. When they finally visited the Buddist nun, she appeared to be more concerned about Genji than the son they had together.
In chapter five, the Waka Murasaki, begins with Genji's sickness. Genji was ill and looked for help from a holy man who lived near his mansion. He decided to go to the holy man in order to get healing from his ailments. During the time when Genji was recovering from his illness in the mountains, he used to taking walks. During one of such walks, he came across a young girl who reminded him his Fujitsubo who had been his father's most loved concubine. The ten year old girl turned out to be the niece of Fujitsubo. As a result, Genji, who already loved Fujitsubo very much, tried to adopt the little girl, but no one took his intension seriously.
After Genji had fully recovered, he dwelt again about the process of adopting the little girl but was not allowed to do so. On his way home, the only thing that Genji could think and dream about was the girl from the mountains. He wrote a letter requesting being allowed to adopt the girl, but just like in the previous request, Genji was not successful. He visited his wife Aoi who was still as cold and distant as before. Fujitsubo later fell ill and left the court. Later on Genji impregnated Fujitsubo without the knowledge of the Emperor. Meanwhile, the little girl whom Genji had been trying to adopt was made available for adoption, but Genji was not allowed to do this because Prince Hyobu decided to take care of the girl. Genji felt as if he had no choice left and decided to kidnap the little girl before Murasaki's father took the child away and put her through education. Later on, Genji reconciled with Lady Aoi and together they had a son. Unfortunately, the son they had died soon after. Genji was soon able to find solace in his new wife, Murasaki. Afterwards Genji's father, the Emperor Kiritsubo, passed on and Suzaku took over. Suzaku's mother Kokiden and Genji's mother were political enemies.
The life changed for Genji when he attained the age of 40. The quality of his life began to deteriorate. Although his already pathetic political status did not change much, his emotional life got even worse. Soon he married another wife who was later raped by his nephew, and this deed led to the birth of a son named Kaoru. The chapters are known as the Uji Chapters, which basically talk about Kaoru and his friend Niou. The two were the best friends. The chapters explore the rivalry that goes on between the two concerning daughters of the prince who lived in the place called Uji. The Tale of Genji ends with Kaoru mortified and wondering whether it was his friend Niou who was hiding the love of his life. Kaoru represents a character in literature known as an anti-hero.
Scholars have argued about whether or not the author intended for the Tale of Genji to end the way it did. This is because of the way it ends very abruptly. Unlike other novels, the tale ends with the mid-sentence, which is strange. There are those who believe that the book was intended to end like it did, while others think it is incomplete as it is, and that the rest of the chapters are missing. There are some scholars who think that Murasaki Shikibu did not intend to stop writing and that she could have continued writing up to her death.
This book written by Murasaki Shikibu presents the lifestyle of the upper social class in Japan at the time. The reader of The Tale of Genji can learn a lot concerning the culture and lifestyle of the people during the Heian times. In this essay, I will focus on the ancient Japanese fine art, festivals, marriage culture, methodologies of communication, and arrangements for living, poetry, courtship, and celebrations. Most of the poems in this book, the music, the love, and the tears mostly revolve around seasons and nature.
The book also makes use of poetry in his book, especially during conversations. It is not strange considering that the book was written during the Heian times during which classic poems would be modified or rephrased to suit a situation. This happened mostly when one needed to communicate allusions that were supposed to be thinly veiled. Most of the poems used in the book are the kinds that are in Japanese Tanka. The audience for which these poems were intended was well aware of these classic poems. As such, the author often provides only the first couple of lines, and the rest is expected to be completed by the reader of the book. The poems which were between a man and a woman courting one another were written on paper of various shades perhaps in order to portray various meanings. Because of the fact that the characters in the book have no real names, readers have to read the book continually without taking a break. When the reader stops reading the book, it would mean that he/ she will forget the flow of the story.
Like most of the other literature written during the Heian times, The Tale of Genji was almost entirely written in Kana, which was a phonetic script in Japan. The assumption is that it was written for the female audience. Any author who wrote in Chinese characters at that point in time would most probably have been a male. This is because women were not allowed using Chinese symbols and instead used words which are natively Japanese and are known as Yamato Katoba.
Except Buddhism and the politics mentioned in the book, The Tale of Genji also used few borrowed words from the Chinese language. These borrowed words create a smooth flow making the story rather even. The uses of Chinese borrowed words, however, create confusion at some point in the book due to the numerous homophones. Homophones are those words in a language that have a similar pronunciation yet mean different things. It is very difficult to determine the meaning of a word basing their arguments purely on the context where it was used in The Tale of Genji.
The other cultural aspect of is the fact that just like it was customary for ladies-in-waiting to recite tales during the Heian times, The Tale of Genji is told by a court lady is also a character in the novel. Scholars have also argued that The Tale of Genji was probably never read aloud and could have been enjoyed more by lovers of solitary reading.
The book also has many verses and quite a number of poems. Most of the poems make use of the hikiuta technique. The following technique was used by aristocrats at that time to pastime. The hikiuta technique involved making use of just a small part of a well-known poem in creating a whole new one that perfectly suits the circumstances at the moment. It is worth stressing that The Tale of Genji does not have a conventional plot like many contemporary writings. The events in the book just happen the way they transpire in the real life. The characters in the book also evolve in life and keep growing older.
One aspect of The Tale of Genji is the consistency with which the characters evolve. This shows that the author of The Tale of Genji was one who was very skilled and careful about the way events unfold in her books. The relationships between the characters in the book, both family and feudal, are also kept consistent throughout the book.
Some modern readers have argued that the author of The Tale of Genji uses the numerous affairs by Genji to show a picture of youthful love's folly. Through the affairs that Genji has, some tragic obsessions, others disastrous, the author attempts to present a cultural pattern during this time in the court. The focus here is on the women in the book and the relationships these women have with the men. The feelings, experiences and the fates of these women who come into touch with Genji are brought into the limelight. Even though these women have roles that they play in the book, the tale keeps coming back to Genji.
Culture is further shown on the example of the aristocracy. During the Heian times, it was every man's wish to have his daughter to be married to the Emperor or even the Heir Apparent. Many of the people would, therefore, do everything possible to ensure that they become related to the nobility. It is the reason why Genji as the Emperor is seen to have a range of relationships, which are recognized, with several women. The author, however, presents these relationships not as a result of the character's sexual acquisitiveness, but mostly because it was necessary in order to allow as many people as possible to access his prestige. The ladies that Genji has affairs with are of unequal ranks.
The book is extremely thought provoking especially in the chapters where Genji and his lovers would wish that the time would sit still forever. The reader is taken through various experiences in the human life cycle. There is a realization that human lives as well as the various aspects of culture have not changed much over the centuries. The book highlights the boundary between someone of the imperial origin and a commoner. It is rather strange that Genji hovers between the two worlds making him a hero with a wide scope. Even when he is a commoner, Genji is given material means that are not limited as a way of saving him the constraints of a commoner.
Culture and Marriage
The book remains one of the most significant classic and ancient Japanese literatures. Sin Ohio, a Japanese literarily scholar, argues that there is no other book written during the Heian Era that makes use of language which is as precise as the one used by the author of The Tale of Genji. The author focuses on the affairs that Genji has over the years, we get to see just how the times have changed.
The reader gets to see just how different the concept of marriage was during the Nara Era. When compared to the way things are done today, a lot has changed. During this time, marriage was based on a concept known as the "Tsuma Toi Kon". The term Tsuma means 'wife', Toi - 'visit', and Kon refers to marriage. During this time, a man may meet a woman he is interested in at social gatherings, for example, at the market, and ask for her name or address. The man would ask for the woman's name in order to be respectful and her physical address in order to indicate an interest in visiting the lady.
The visit during that era is what we call marriage today. If the woman also had an interest in the man, then she would go ahead and give the man her name and physical address. Afterwards the man would go visiting the lady and would call her name from outside the house. The man, if he wished to, would play the harp or a flute or even sing a song so as to get the attention of the woman. There are men who chose to visit women without playing an instrument or singing to them. Accepting or rejecting the man's offer was a decision only the woman would make. If the woman had interests in the man, she would let him in to her house; if she was not interested, she would not let him in. Both men and women worked at night which meant that the men could only visit at night. Another difference was that the family of the girl would build a sub-house. The men who came visiting the girl would be invited into the sub-house, which was built beside the main house.
The men would visit at night and leave in the morning. If the couple had a baby, it was the job of the woman's family to raise it. The baby was supposed to be treated as a member of the family. Unlike modern times, the girl would inherit the land from her own mother indicating that women did not rely on men for financial support, and both parties owned property separately. There are women who would stop the men from visiting them after the beginning of a relationship while there are men who also chose to stop visiting the women. At this point, during the Heian era, a traditional marriage was considered very significant. In addition, men would visit several women at the same time, and it was not considered crude at all (De Bary, 2001).
As marriage was very important during this era, a woman would be treated differently depending on her status in the society. Women who belonged to different status treated each other in a hostile manner and were often jealous of each other. In The Tale of Genji, the other women in the court hated Kiritsubo because she was loved the most by the Emperor. This was despite the fact that she was the woman who belonged to the lowest social class when compared to the other women. Just like in the present time, marriage had many problems and issues (Chan, 2005).
During the Heian era, everyone, despite his or her social class, had to work. Even the wives of the nobility toiled outside in the farms. Later on, however, the royal class began to live on the funds collected by the government and on the property inherited from their parents. As the population grew, the life became harder, especially for women. In the past when women got lots of support from the larger community, modernity, urbanization, and population pressure left the women on their own. Those women who did not move to the city and remained at the farms came together and were able to support one another. The ones in the city, however, were powerless and helpless.
These women who were powerless became easy targets for men who wanted to take advantage of them. There are men who took these women in and used them. This was known as the "Sue," which meant to displace from the initial position. The ancient Japanese society despised these women who were taken in by men simply because they had deviated from the traditional marriage customs of the society (Say, 1993). The women chose to have the men who supported them instead of having just one husband who did not provide them with everything they wanted to have. As men were allowed to call on many women at the same time, the lead character, Genji, who visited four women at the same time, was viewed as a hero of sorts. Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the book, attempts to present Genji as hero and not as a playboy. According to the author, it was considered normal for men to have relationships with several women. As a result, having several women did not attract shame on Genji. Murasaki, in her presentation of Genji, was trying to portray a man who was able to support several women. It was acceptable in the ancient Japanese culture, but it is certainly not acceptable today.
From the onset, the modern reader understands that the social structure at this time was very different from the society, as it is known today. The women were separated from the rest of the society and were only surrounded by other women and protected from men who looked like they would take advantage of the young women. A woman was only expected to be close to her husband and not with anyone else. According to the customs at this time, men mostly had more than one wife. Just like the lead character Genji, each of the women had a separate room in his house, and all the children born to the women were considered his legitimate children.
The positions of a child of a polygamous man at this period in the Japanese royal society depended on the influence and power that the mothers' family had. Their claims concerning the status depend in part on the power and influence of theirs and in part on their own good looks and accomplishments. The book revolves around the domestic intrigues and rivalries. The activities that were taking place in the military and political arena were not largely represented in the book even though the male characters in the book often made use of the names "general" or minister." The communication in the book is mostly through poems and letters, most of which are presented in it. These letters and poems also contained symbols and forms, which are considered traditional. Genji is considered a hero during his time; a good looking man who is superior in many ways. Modern readers, however, may fail to see this superiority due to the fact that he may come out as an immoral man. Many times in the tale he is found guilty of raping and is constantly seducing women. One of his most outstanding relationships is the one that he has with Murasaki.
He takes Mubarak in as a child when she is only ten years old, promising to take care of her like a father would do. Unfortunately, he seduced the girl and even raped her. He made her his favorite wife. Even though he did not get a child with her, Musaraki died after raising several children with other women. The author chooses to present the story in pace that is deliberately dreamlike. She wants to describe the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters. The world in which the characters live in is described explicitly. Desires, jealousy, gossip, intimacy, and anxiety, and other feeling of the characters are wieldy described in the book. At some point, the quality of life that the people have in this fictional community seems almost modern with all the luxury, comfort, and responsibilities.
The other aspect of culture that comes to the forefront in The Tale of Genji is religion. The world of Buddhist that was in Japan in the 10th-century is also described in the book. Monks and nuns are some of the characters in the story. Love and life take a central stage in the book where the two factors crop up in the conversations between the characters. The world and life are, therefore, generally presented as one, which is illusory and fleeting in its nature. The lifestyle and culture of the people are described in detail since the time when they were young to the time when they were older.
The Heian period was between 794 and 1185 AD. During this time the Emperor ordered the transfer of the capital from Nara to Nagaoka. At that time, Nara was known as Heijo-kyo. The transfer was mostly because the Emperor felt that the influence of the Kegon sect of Buddhism was overbearing. The Heian period was recognized as peaceful, and the Emperor was seen as the centre of the community. The power that was behind the throne was with the Fujiwara clan, which had its influence for more than five hundred years.
The Tale of Genji is found to be very sensitive to the beauty of the nature, the emotions of humans, and the vanity of the world as expressed in Buddhism. The special attention is given to aesthetic value of the things that are seen and felt.
The Heian period, which lasted about one hundred years, saw many women write many novels that were noteworthy. Cultural historians consider that it is the only time in the history of Japan when women are seen to dominate an aspect of culture in the society. The borrowing of Chinese symbols, letters, and words also plays an important role in the expression of culture. This was during the time when any serious scholar, priest or official was expected to communicate in Chinese. Women made use of Chinese characters and symbols and wrote many books among them the Tale of Genji.
As to the theme of culture in Murasaki's writing, the book focuses largely on the notion of lust, love, as well as the way men and women interacted during the Heian period. After becoming emotionally and physically mature, Genji spent a lot of his time writing poems to women as a way of expressing his affection and interest in these women. After a while, many of the women he approached or tried to court began to ignore his pleas because they realized that Genji was never serious about any of them. It does not mean that women did not also feel attracted to Genji, they just chose not to act on these feelings because they had accepted that a relationship with Genji would not grow into anything much.
Even for a person of his position, the behavior of Genji was not acceptable, and he was required to conduct his affairs secretly. As such, Genji did all he could in order to keep his affairs away from the eyes of the public and to avoid any scandals that could come up. This is something that has continued even to date where any illicit affairs have to be conducted discretely in order to avoid such scandals. This shows that, even during this time in history, promiscuity was not acceptable regardless of the person's position in the community.
The Tale of Genji is a story that explores the cultural expectations of the people around Genji at this point in the history of Japan. The encounters between men and women are described in detail. Loyalty, affection, love, and death are all brought to the limelight even as the characters try to maintain some level of dignity. When one reads The Tale of Genji, he or she is able to comprehend the way of life of the people in the Japanese community. The past stories, such as The Tale of Genji, are capable of expressing the sense of national identity that exists in Japan today.
Right from the onset of the story, it very evident to the reader that the culture and social arrangements during the 10th-century were very different from the situation and social arrangements in the present-day Japan. The society portrayed by the author in this book is one that consists of aristocrats. They are presented as a group of selfish individuals who are only interested in their wellbeing and leisure and not in the welfare of the rest of the members of the society (Shikubi, 2003).
The author stresses that such a group of people are obsessed with ranks obtained in the in society and internal breeding. These people, however, were very sensitive to the state of the nature and its beauty. The people of this time, from The Tale of Genji, enjoyed poetry, music, fine clothing, and calligraphy. Stories from the tale show that the people who lived during the Heian times did not know much about the events that took place outside of their court. If there was anything, they did not care much and did not bother to find out about the capital in other places. The people portrayed in The Tale of Genji did not travel much, and in their view, the common people were considered less human.
The ladies in the Heian times were traditionally only expected to be seen in public with two men who were either the girl's father or the girl's husband. The girls would be locked up in dark rooms most of their lives as adults. These rooms used to have many screens, fans, and blinds. Even their means of transport were designed in such a way that they rarely saw the outside world. It is, therefore, surprising that, despite the fact that these ladies were kept indoors, they still were caught up in the tales which were fantastic, such as The Tale of Genji.
A critical analysis of The Tale of Genji shows that ladies of that time led a quite sedentary life. Thus, some of them preferred to take part in pilgrimages that were conducted to Buddhist temples or to Shinto shrines as a way of breaking away from the boredom at home. Some of the noble ladies could offer their services to the empress. A lady would act like a lady-in-waiting in the residence of a royal concubine or the empress. Some ladies gave their preference for this kind of service as it gave them the opportunity to get into relationships or affairs with the gentlemen who lived at the court. The first part of The Tale of Genji is devoted to such activities. Due to the fact that the women during the Heian times were mostly covered up and hidden, the Heian gentleman were not concerned about the physical beauty of women. The principle focus at that time was on the length and texture of woman's hair, which was expected to be extremely long and thick. When woman's hair was damaged or stopped growing, the reputation of such a woman was impacted greatly. If a woman made a decision to become a nun, her hair was cut and not allowed to grow long any more. A woman's hair was very regarded in the Japan of that time; that is why Genji prevent his wife Murasaki from taking tonsure when she got ill.