to relax at a palace fishing pavilion with close friends. Arthur Whaley translates the outing as a picnic, though Lady Murasaki has no such vocabulary word. The chapter is “Wild Carnations” or Tokonatsu

Album: ink, color, gold, and lacquer on paper. Edo Period, 18th Century. Artist is unidentified.

One very hot day Genji, finding the air at the New Palace in tolerably close, decided to picnic at the fishing-hut on the lake. He invited Yugiri to come with him, and they were joined by most of the courtiers with whom Genji was on friendly terms. From the Western River on his estate at Katsura ayu had been brought, and from the nearer streams ishibushi [?]and other fresh-water fish, and these formed the staple of their repast. Several of To no Chujo’s sons had called to see Yugiri, and hearing where he was to be found, joined the picnic. ‘How heavy and sleepy one has felt lately!’ exclaimed Genji. ‘This is certainly a great improvement.’ Wine was brought; but he sent for iced water as well. A delicious cold soup was served, and many other delicacies. Here by the lake there was a certain amount of movement in the air; but the sun blazed down out of a cloudless sky, and even when the shadows began to lengthen there was a continual buzzing of insects which was very oppressive. ‘I have never known such a day,’ said Genji. ‘It does not after all seem any better here than it was indoors. You must excuse me if I am too limp to do much in the way of entertaining you,’ and he lay back against his cushions. ‘One does not feel much inclined for music or games of any kind in such weather, and yet one badly needs something to occupy the mind. I have sometimes wondered lately whether the sun was ever going to set. . . . All the same, the young people on duty at the Emperor’s Palace are in a much worse position than we. Imagine not being able to loosen one’s belt and ribbons on a day like this! Here, at any rate, we can loll about just as we please. The only difficulty is to avoid going to sleep. Has not any of you got some startling piece of news to tell us? You need have no fear that I may have heard it already, for I am becoming quite senile; I never hear about anything till everyone else has forgotten about it.’

Featured Image: Utagawa Kunisada Chapter 26: Wild Carnations (1852)

See Murasaki Shibu, Lady. “Chapter VIII, “A Bed of Carnations.” In The Tale of Genji: A Novel in Six Parts, Edited and Translated by Arthur Waley. New York: Modern Library, 1000. Reprint, 1960; Ian Buruma. “What Makes The Tale of Genji so deductive.” The New Yorker (July 20, 2015)