Tale of Genji Matcha Bowls + CupsTale of Genji Matcha Bowls + Cups

Tale of Genji Matcha Bowls and Yunomi: Now Available!

We, Hibiki-an have collaborated with Zenshoh Yamaoka, who is the leading expert of paintings derived from masterpieces in the middle ages. He selected 12 stories, one suitable for each month of the year, arranged by season, from 54 stories in the Tale of Genji.
This time, we choose 3 Matcha Bowls which remind spring season and 2 pairs of Yunomi. They are all only available in this spring and summer.
We are certain that these Matcha bowls will immerse you in the brilliant life of the Imperial Court of those days and extraordinary and graceful feelings.

[Tale of Genji] KIRITSUBO (handcrafted Matcha Bowl): US$318.00 (Now Available)
KIRITSUBO is the title of the 1st of 54 stories in the Tale of Genji, and it is also the Emperor’s name, who is the father of Hikaru Genji. The main feature of this Matcha bowl is the lady Kiritsubo and her son, Hikaru Genji. Zenshoh Yamaoka nobly describes the celebratory occasion of a new baby...
[Tale of Genji] YUGAO (handcrafted Matcha Bowl): US$318.00 (Now Available)
YUGAO is the name of the flower, and also the name of a girl whom Hikaru Genji loved. This is a story of the first encounter between Hikaru Genji and Yugao, and a sad farewell. This Matcha bowl portrays the scene where Hikaru Genji met Yugao for the first time. The luxurious carriage which Hikaru Genji took is depicted in the lower right...
[Tale of Genji] HOTARU (handcrafted Matcha Bowl): US$318.00 (Now Available)
HOTARU means firefly in Japanese. HOTARU is also one of the stories in the Tale of Genji. This Matcha bowl portrays the scene where Hikaru Genji released fireflies on this romantic night. They fly in all directions, and the lights that the fireflies produce are colored in yellow and gold...
[Tale of Genji] WAKAMURASAKI / SUMA Yunomi -pair(handcrafted): US$474.00 (Now Available)
WAKA means young, and MURASAKI means purple color, but its meaning in this story is the name of the woman whom Hikaru Genji loved. SUMA is the story about Hikaru Genji’s withdrawal. Because he had a relationship with a woman who was an opposition figure in the Imperial Palace, he voluntarily withdrew from the palace and decided to live in SUMA...
[Tale of Genji] WAKAMURASAKI (handcrafted Teacup: 130ml): US$272.00 (Now Available)
WAKA means young, and MURASAKI means purple color, but its meaning in this story is the name of the woman whom Hikaru Genji loved. This teacup portrays the gorgeous and pleasant scene of springtime in Japan, during which Hikaru Genji had a faithful encounter with Murasaki no Ue...
[Tale of Genji] SUMA (handcrafted Teacup: 130ml): US$272.00 (Now Available)
SUMA is the story about Hikaru Genji’s withdrawal. Because he had a relationship with a woman who was an opposition figure in the Imperial Palace, he voluntarily withdrew from the palace and decided to live in SUMA, which was far from the capital...
[Tale of Genji] AOI / SAWARABI Yunomi -pair(handcrafted): US$474.00 (Now Available)
The story of AOI tells the tale of a quarrel between Aoi and Rokujo no Miyasudokoro at a festival in which Hikaru Genji took part SAWARABI is a story of the marriage and moving of Nakanokimi, who is a woman living in the Uji area. The scene in which Nakanokimi fondly remembers her days in the palace is illustrated on this teacup...
[Tale of Genji] AOI (handcrafted Teacup: 130ml): US$272.00 (Now Available)
The story of AOI tells the tale of a quarrel between Aoi and Rokujo no Miyasudokoro at a festival in which Hikaru Genji took part. The festival was open to the public, and Rokujo no Miyasudokoro, who was a princess in the Imperial court, and had a relationship with Hikaru Genji went there...
[Tale of Genji] SAWARABI (handcrafted Teacup: 130ml): US$272.00 (Now Available)
SAWARABI is a story of the marriage and moving of Nakanokimi, who is a woman living in the Uji area. The scene in which Nakanokimi fondly remembers her days in the palace is illustrated on this teacup. When Kaoru, who is the second son of Hikaru Genji, visited the palace and got a glimpse of her in the room, she and her attendants were overwhelmed...

What is the Tale of Genji?

It is said that the Tale of Genji is the oldest novel in the world. Written by noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu of the Japanese Imperial Court, this novel is composed of 54 stories and more than 800 WAKA Japanese poems, so you can imagine that its story is very long.

The work recounts the life of Hikaru Genji, from his birth to death, and afterward. His appearance was so beautiful and he had such a talent for writing, especially poems, that women were drawn to him. Since polygamy was an accepted practice at that time, he had many relationships, and eventually had a relationship with a woman who was part of the family of the political opposition in the Imperial Palace. He was condemned, and left the palace.
While he was away from the Imperial Court, a series of misfortunes happened. It was said that the cause of these misfortunes was related to Hikaru Genji's departure. The Emperor requested his return to the Imperial Court and installed Hikaru Genji and his son as the next Emperor. He was at the height of his prosperity. When Hikaru Genji left the palace, he had a relationship with a woman who then gave birth to his child. He asked the mother and baby to live in the palace when he returned to the palace. He cherished his daughter and was kind to the many women he loved. When he returned to the Imperial Court, he prepared rooms for these women in the palace, meaning that the women spent their lives in great luxury.
However, an acquaintance of Hikaru Genji had a relationship with Genji's wife, much like Genji had done in his younger age. And his dearest wife also passed away, and thus he decided to become a monk.

This classical literature not only tells us about the real aristocracy of those days, and the rise and fall of Hikaru Genji, but also describes each characters' mind precisely. Adding to that, this story lasts for 70 years, and such a long story does not exist in any other Japanese classical literature. The Tale of Genji is regarded as a truly spectacular story. Its story not only focuses on the historical background but also on feelings of characters by the use of WAKA, which is Japanese poem. Murasaki Shikibu, who is the author of the Tale of Genji expertly depicted the delicate and nuanced emotions of each character. It is one of the reasons why her novel has been loved by not only people of her own time period, but also by modern readers around the world.

The story not only focuses on the historical background but also on feelings of characters by the use of WAKA, which is Japanese poem written within 31 letters.

It was not allowed for women to show their face to men, so catching a glimpse from the fence was the only way to see women's face for men.

Ox carriage was used for noble men and women as a means of transportation at that time.

Beautiful or impressive scene of the story was described in shells, and noble people at that time competed with one another in showing its beauty.

Key Points of the Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji is regarded as one of the best classic literatures in Japan and throughout the world. There are four main points to make this novel famous.

First of all, the authentic love of Hikaru Genji is expressed in this story. Polygamy was an accepted practice at that time, and men, especially noblemen had many wives, and had children only for political gain. Though he got married and had a baby, he did not treat those whom he had loved with contempt. If Hikaru Genji heard that a woman needed financial support, he prepared a room in the palace to give her a comfortable and elegant life. He was very kind and devoted to them. In this way, his dedication toward women in this story is valued, when situated in the historical context of the cultural norms at that time.

WAKA, which is Japanese traditional poem is also one of the main points in this novel. WAKA was used to express the magnificent scenery or people's emotion within 31 letters. Both men and women in the Imperial Palace were not allowed to see each other’s faces until they got married during this period, so that men could not speak to women directly. Instead, WAKA was one of the communication tools, and they practiced how to make good WAKA. In the Tale of Genji, over 800 WAKA were composed, but not all WAKA were refined. By writing various levels of WAKA, the author, Murasaki Shikibu, aimed to express each person’s characteristics, such as a woman whose writing and expression is childish. Hikaru Genji expressed the beauty of nature and the season, his emotion very well in WAKA, and women were attracted by his works. Adding to that, when women received WAKA, they also had to answer their emotion by WAKA, which is called HENKA. Each correspondent imagined what the other was like in person through this form of communication, and tried to express their love with limited number of characters. Many famous WAKA were recited in this literature, and all of them illustrate the psychological description very well.

This story also talks about the rise and fall of Hikaru Genji. Even though he left the Imperial Court, he came back to the Court again, and climbed all the way up and finally came to power. However, he outlived his dearest wife. Although it seemed he had everything, such as status, talent and intelligence, he lost his beloved wife before his life ended. Through his life, Murasaki Shikibu tried to convey not only the elegance of the Imperial Court of those days but also the impermanence of things. Everything changes with time, and she focused on this fact, especially on the impermanence of the human condition.

Finally, Murasaki Shikibu conveys one of the Buddhist tenets in this story. When Hikaru Genji was young, he had a relationship with his mother-in-law, and she gave birth to a baby. Her husband did not know that his baby was between his son and mother-in-law. When Hikaru Genji grew up and had a family, his second wife had a relationship with his acquaintance, and she gave birth to a baby. When he found out, he noticed that what he had done in the past fell on him, and he experienced the fear of retribution, what we call Karma in the Buddhist world. It is a cautionary tale that teaches readers to avoid doing harm to others, otherwise they may experience some karmic retribution in the future.

Polygamy was an accepted practice at that time. Though Hikaru Genji got married and had a baby, he did not treat those whom he had loved with contempt.

Hikaru Genji prepared a room in the palace to give those whom he once loved a comfortable and elegant life. He was very kind and devoted to them. His dedication toward women in this story is valued.

WAKA was used to express the magnificent scenery or people's emotion within 31 letters. WAKA was one of the communication tools, and they practiced how to make good WAKA.

The story tells us that everything changes with time, and Murasaki Shikibu focuses on this fact, especially on the impermanence of the human condition.

Murasaki Shikibu

Murasaki Shikibu is the author of the Tale of Genji. She was born on or around A.D. 978. Since her family was of a high level in the Imperial Court, she received an excellent education in writing, music and so forth. It is said that she started to write the story around 1008, and finished writing around 1022. Through this book, she describes the life of aristocracy, the romance in the Imperial Court, and political dispute. It is said that her novel is the oldest long classical literature in the world. Her novel not only has an influence on posterity literature but also on painting art and other art fields. Painters of those days read and drew its story on EMAKI picture scroll. Her novel was superior to any other literature, especially for the expression of a description of nature and character description. Her novel is recognized as one of the best masterpiece in the history of Japanese literature.

The Tale of Genji was translated into English by the scholar Arthur Waley and this version is highly regarded throughout the world. The original is very difficult even for Japanese to understand due to archaic language. If you would like to read more of the story, please refer to the below edition.

Title: THE TALE OF GENJI
Translated by: Arthur Waley
Publishing company: TUTTLE PUBLISHING (R)

Murasashi Shikibu. Excerpted from JIDAI MATSURI festival in which 20 parades, outfitting costumes of court nobles, SAMURAI warriors, and common people in each era march in Kyoto.

Ox carriage. Excerpted from JIDAI MATSURI festival.

The Tale of Genji translated by Arthur Waley

Zenshoh Yamaoka and its Pottery

Zenshoh Yamaoka was born in 1942. He worked under Zenjiroh Ueyama for 10 years, and then opened his own Zenshoh kiln in 1969.
His paintings derived from masterpieces in the middle ages are excellent. It is said his precise drawing techniques are in a class of their own. Indeed, he was officially designated as a traditional craftsman by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2002. His sophisticated, exquisite, elegant, and advanced drawing techniques receive high acclaim in the Kyo Yaki pottery industry.

Zenshoh Yamaoka


Gold pigment