Kyoto Shimbun 2011.11.1 News

Approach to "Murasaki Shikibu Legend"
Special Exhibition at Ishiyama-dera Temple

What did later generations think about Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote the Tale of Genji approximately 1,000 years ago? To approach the answer to that question, a special exhibition, "Murasaki Shikibu Densetsu to Genji Monogatari," or the legend of Murasaki Shikibu and the Tale of Genji, is being held at Ishiyama-dera Temple in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. Various legends such as "Kannon Incarnate" and "Fall into Hell," a fiction story that became popular, have been introduced along with the temple's treasures.

With handed down reports of Murasaki Shikibu, such as her self-confinement at Ishiyama-dera Temple to gather ideas for the Tale of Genji, the temple has close ties to the Tale of Genji. Due to its large related collection, the temple planned this display as an autumnal exhibition.

Various legends are introduced in the exhibition, including a quote from a Heian Period story named "Ima Kagami," stating, "Shikibu, who wrote a story such as the Tale of Genji, must be a Kannon incarnate." Another is, "We held a service for Shikibu, who went to hell on charges of writing such a fictitious story," quoted from Buddhist narrative literature called "Hobutsu-shu." The treasures owned by the temple that are on display include "Murasaki Shikibu Zu" drawn by Mitsuoki Tosa in the Edo Period, which also appears in school textbooks, and "Ishiyama-dera Engi Emaki," a scroll painting of the history of Ishiyama-dera Temple drawn in the Edo Period, in which Murasaki Shikibu confining herself in the temple for prayer is depicted. Another impressive work is "Murasaki Shikibu Seizo," a large piece measuring 192 cm in length and 140 cm in width made in the Muromachi Period, which is said to be the oldest portrait of Murasaki Shikibu and was hung for her memorial service.

Also on display are "Genji Ko-kagami," a digest of the Tale of Genji with color illustrations in each of the 54 chapters which was made in the late Muromachi Period, and "Goju-yon-ho de Yomu Genji Monogatari," or reading through the Tale of Genji in 54 steps, which is a series of panels introducing the illustrations and outlines based on the digest. This exhibition is designed to be easily understood even by beginners.

The exhibition will continue until the end of November at the temple's Hojo-den hall. The admission fee is 200 yen for adults. An additional 500 yen fee is necessary to enter the temple. There is no charge for groups of elementary and junior high school students when reservations are made in advance.

For more information, contact the temple at 077-537-0013 (Japanese language inquiries only)

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= "Murasaki Shikibu Densetsu to Genji Monogatari" autumnal exhibition of treasures connected with the Tale of Genji, including "Murasaki Shikibu Seizo" (Ishiyama-dera Temple, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture)