Genji's Flowers

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Futaba Aoi (Aoi) - Heart to Heart (ch 9)

- grows on the forest floor, consisting of a pair of broad, heart-shaped leaves that spring from a single stem.

- the leaves are usually green but can also be a purple/magenta colour.

- the crest of the Tokugawa family comes from this. ( number 1259 and 408)

- Not very useful as a medicine since it is only used to cure some chest discomfort.

- small, purple flowers bloom in march to may (wow, purple again...).

- Also used to make a deep purple dye (similar to Murasaki).

- the aoi is a sacred plant of the Kamo Shrine and used in the aoi festival as a decoration. (more pics at ; japanese + midi so watch out!)
For this reason, it is also called the "kamo-aoi".

In relation to Genji

- the beginning of Ch 9 takes place at the Aoi Festival in April.

- "In its Heian spelling (afuhi), the word can also be read to mean 'day of (lovers') meeting'" (163) - Truly, the day of the Aoi festival is the day that four of Genji's lovers (Aoi, Rokujo Haven, Murasaki and his admirer the Dame of Staff) meet and hate each other with jealousy.

- The dying Lady Aoi changes Genji's attitude towards her as his love for her grows: "the sight of her lying there...aroused his love and his keenest sympathy...he found himself unable to understand how for all these years he could have seen any flaw in her" (176). This can be seen as another afuhi, where the two hearts meet for the first time. Also beautifully illustrates the aware aesthetic.

- Not related to Lady Aoi, but the aoi plant is mentioned in the exchange of poems between Genji and the Dame of Staff. I looked at the original Japanese text because the English confused me, and it seemed to be a pun between Aoi and afuhi. ("I was hoping to meet you on this "day of lovers' meeting" but I see you have someone else (Murasaki) with you")

- The colour of Aoi's flower is purple, the same as Fujitsubo and Murasaki. I find this significant since they all hold significant roles in Genji so far.
(Fujitsubo = Genji's first love, Aoi = Genji's first wife, Murasaki = Genji's favourite) Just a suggestion ^^;


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