Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni III (1786-1864)
Title: Tale of Genji – Spring Shoots Chapter
Publisher: Maruya Jinpachi
This scene is taken from the thirty-fourth chapter of Murasaki Shikibu’s (c. 978 – c. 1016) epic novel, The Tale of Genji. The son of the story’s eponymous hero’s closest friend, Kashiwagi, plays an early form of football known as kemari with his younger brothers at Genji’s Rokujō mansion. Genji has recently taken on the daughter of the retired emperor as a new wife, the Third Princess, who resides inside her quarters with her chamber women. During the Heian period (794-1185), it was common etiquette for upper class women to be kept hidden behind screens or barriers. Utagawa Toyokuni III depicts the moment when the Third Princess’s Chinese cat breaks through the blinds of her veranda, causing the young and impressionable Kashiwagi to catch a rare glimpse of the royal lady and instantly fall in love.