Rustic Genji

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Rustic Genji
(Inaka Genji)

the entire print dusted with mica, signed oju Yoshitoshi ga, with artist's seal Yoshitoshi, and publisher's jar-shaped seal of Matsui Eikichi of Kakuhakudo, the print title Inaka Genji, in archaic seal-form at upper right, dated on the lower left margin, Meiji juhachinen, hachigatsu, -ka (Meiji 18 [1885], August)

oban tate-e vertical diptych 30 3/8 by 10 1/2 in., 77.2 by 26.6 cm

From 1829-1842, the publisher Tsuruya Kiemon began issuing a serialized novel, A Rustic Genji by a Fraudulent Murasaki (Nise Murasaki inaka Genji), which was illustrated by Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865). The saga was a contemporary adaptation by the writer Ryutei Tanehiko (1783-1842) of the classic 11th-century novel The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari). Ryutei's version was set in the fifteenth century, and followed the general theme of the original epic novel, but was written in modern language and embellished with kabuki theatrics. The success of A Rustic Genji, told in thirty-eight chapters which were issued in seventy-six booklets, spurred on a rage in a new genre of woodblock prints: Genji-e (Genji pictures). The titular Prince Genji was reimagined as Mitsuuji, and his tragic lover Yugao was renamed Tasogare.

After the lovers initiate their affair, the pair run off together in the night, but are caught in a sudden rain shower. Mitsuuji uses a section of discarded bamboo blinds to try to protect themselves from the downpour. Seeking shelter at an abandoned temple, they are confronted by the jealous ghost of Akogi, a high-ranking courtesan who had been Mitsuuji's former lover. In a related episode, once inside the temple they are attacked by a ghost-like female demon who is revealed to be Tasogare's mother Shinonome is disguise. Tasogare is so humiliated by the behavior her mother that she commits suicide; her mother, overcome by grief and remorse, does the same.

References:
Keyes 1983, p. 458, no. 4
Segi 1985, p. 81, no. 50
Akita Museum of Modern Art 1999, p. 28, no. 84
Marks 2012, p. 153, nos. 144-145
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2012, p. 129, no. 192
Iwakiri 2014, p. 144, no. 214

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