Seasonal Palace in the Tale

Japanese Maple GardenAs Spirit in Nature Essences has 4 seasons, the tale of Genji also has 4 seasons. Genji, the main character of the tale had several concubines other than his legal wife. When he was 35 years old, he built a gorgeous palace called Rokujyo Palace to live with them.(Rokujyo means 6thAvenue, this palace included 6th Avenue in Kyoto) This palace had 4 wards, each of them was named Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with 63,500 square meters in total. (Note: Shibuya , E.2008. Genjimonogatariwo Tanoshimu Hon, How to Enjoy the tales of Genji, Tokyo: Syufuto Seiikatsu Sya) Genji’s concubines lived in each seasonal ward according to their favorite seasons. Each ward had seasonal flowers and plants with beautiful Japanese gardens.

Why did Genji built such a gorgeous palace? Setouchi, a famous novel writer who translated the classic tale of Genji into modern language says that he built Rokujo Palace so he could easily see his concubines. (Note: Setouchi, J.1993. Watakushino Genji Monogatari [My tales of Genji], Tokyo: Shueisya) Marriage in those days was usually commuting relationships, husband visited wife’s place. Akashi who will be later described lived very far from Genji’s original place, he always had to feel uneasy and make some excuse to see her in front of his first wife. Women at this time must have had a hard time dealing with their jealous feelings toward other women.