Tale of the Genji

Originally, the Tale of the Genji may have included illustrations as was common in those times. However, the oldest surviving illustrations, or scrolls, begin to appear afterwards.

It is of particular interest that there are few people in Japan who have ever heard of the Japanese incense ceremony, while at the same time are very familiar with the Genji-mon (Genji Crests) that were assigned to the Chapters of "The Tale of the Genji" by early Incense Masters for the purpose of playing the incense game "Genji-ko." Genji-ko is one of several "Incense Games" called "Kumiko."

The Genji-mon began showing up on the ukiyoe woodblocks of the Edo period (1603-1867) And many people associate the Genji-mon with the original Genji chapters instead of Kodo.




Ukiyoe print with Genji-mon and Incense theme.










Perhaps this is because Kodo (The Incense Ceremony) was banned during the later Meiji period because it had become a popular gambling pastime.

The Genji-mon, however, began to show up everywhere; even on Japanese swords and ladies Kimonos.

54 crests (Genji-mon)

Photo courtesy of Jim Gilbert

Tsuba (Sword Guard)

From the late Edo period, with a Genji-mon and incense theme.
Click on link above to go to Jim's Tsuba page and article on this subject.

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