Genji Monogatari Literature

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“Genji”. It seems this title plays a large part in two of the most celebrated Japanese classical literature. However, these two classics are different though the societies and events portrayed are only about two hundred years apart. The classical novel, Genji Monogatari or The Tale of Genji is over one thousand years old and is recognized as the oldest novel in world literature. The Tale of Heike or Heike Monogatari, is an epic tale of the Gempei War between the Taira and Minamoto, also known as the Genji. This tale was being recited by 1219, though the events of the twelfth century were not written down until later. The oldest copy is dated 1308 These classical stories show how much a culture can change in two hundred years, the beauty and…show more content…
Genji Hikaru still deals with the impermanence of life as he loses his mother, his lover, and his wife in tragic ways. However, Buddhist beliefs here are usually related to morality. An example of this was when he was pursuing the ‘Lady Cicada’. She indicated that if she indulged in a dalliance with Hikaru, it would cause her to fall from The Path of Buddhism. In Genji, thinking about a past lover as a nun would cause question to her vow. The attitude was different in Lady Nijo’s autobiography written during the Kamakura era where as a Buddhist nun, she had relations with both the emperor and his brother at the convent. While the Buddhist beliefs are evident in both stories, the Shinto faith is not completely…show more content…
One was young Hikaru’s hakamagi, where he officially entered boyhood at three. He refers to kami here and there, but the story is not overly religious. However, for the strong Buddhist flavor in Heike Monogatari, there are also hints at Shinto ceremonies. An instance that comes to mind is when a clan leader wanted divination as to which side to battle on. He went to the shrine of Ikumano and had sacred dances and cock fights performed for the kami that had been absorbed into Buddhism. The deity there told him to join the Minamoto side. Heike shows the combination of the faiths well. An interesting combination is the Shinto god of war Hachiman, is referred to a bodhisattva. In one passage we see MinamotoYoshitsune paying homage to Hachiman Dai-bosatsu as reinforcements sail in to his side. A touching combination of the two was when the young emperor was to take his life, he was to say farewell to the isle of Ise, where Amaterasu, his Shinto goddess-ancestress, was venerated as well as to say the Nembutsu to enter the Buddhist Pure Land. He then drowned. Death of the young is a common, poignant item. Classic Japanese literature seems to dwell of the death of the young. These two stories are no exception. In the selections of Genji read young people died, but no real violence other than a vengeful spirit. That cannot be said for Heike. The deaths were more violent. When seventeen year old Atsumori was beheaded,
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