Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hyoshaku, "Kiritsubo" 1.1

Now we can move on to the actual text of the chapter -- warning, though, the first sentence is probably going to take four posts to go through because of the quantity of annotation Hagiwara provides.  He has basically four levels of annotation to the text.  The first is the marginal annotations to the text itself -- Hagiwara does a lot to try to make the main text easier for "beginners" to read.

I attached a photo of the typeset version to the right.  As you can see, Hagiwara has added punctuation (only the 。 though.  He does not use separate punctuation for the end of a sentence) and 濁点 (voicing marks).  In addition, the notes to the left of the text provide glosses.  Some of them are just kanji, but most of them are glosses in the contemporary 19th-century vernacular, which turns out to be surprisingly close to modern Japanese.  So きは is 分際, いと is ずっと, and 時めき is 出頭する.

The text under the triangles represents what Hagiwara considers to be "understood" parts of the text that are omitted.  So 御時 is 帝の御時, and you should imagine ありけん after にか.

Finally, the open circle to the right of やんことなき represents Hagiwara's emphasizing that こと should be read unvoiced (that is, not as ごとなき).  He says in his intro that he does this for words that are pronounced in the contemporary vernacular as voiced.  As far as I know, modern editions say you should voice this word, though.

(Incidentally I see that he dodged the issue of how to read 御, which is a problem as old as Genji commentary that is still unsolved today.)

Here's my super-literal translation of this first sentence:
"In some reign, among the many Consorts and Intimates who served, there was one who was not in the very highest rank, and who thrived exceedingly."

Now above the text (sometimes spilling onto the next page), Hagiwara has a selection of the notes that he thinks are the most important and clearest to understand the text.  The first sentence has four notes.


Tama no Ogushi (1796): This story is all a constructed tale, like what is known today as "stories of old".  Because of this, it says "Long ago, in some reign, these things happened," and these words apply to the whole tale (etc.)

The "etc" at the end is because Hagiwara cuts out the last part in which Norinaga criticizes some old theories; Hagiwara tends to omit these sections of the other commentaries when he quotes them.


Rokasho (1504): "Consort" is a female office that follows the Empress.  The "Intimates" are next after the Consorts.


Shaku: According to a certain theory, in order to make Genji as good as possible, his mother should be the daughter of a Minister or other high-ranking official, but the author instead says "not of the very highest rank" to cause a feeling of pity in the readers.  Later when it says that the Emperor lavished his private affections on Genji [rather than his public support], this is the same meaning.  This theory is sound.

This is a pretty loose translation; I don't fully understand the passage.  I'm also not sure whose theory this is.


Hyou: The author does not write "...there was an Intimate who thrived," but only reveals it later when she writes “the lower Intimates.” This is excellent writing, and shows up many times later. You should pay careful attention to it.


Next up will be the 語釈, Hagiwara's extended definitions of particular words.


  1. Hi Chris

    I really appreciate this blog, particularly the Hagiwara commentary details. It is fascinating stuff. I am reading through some of the Genji over the Christmas period and this is quite timely. Thansk again for your hard work, quite inspiring. I was beggining to wonder if there were any blogs out there in this niche area..and now there is ! Looking forward to more as a and when.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful blog. I'll start to learn a little Japanese! (A little CJ, actually) Fortunately the commentary is in a more readable language than the Monogatari itself.

  3. For a newbie question, why is "utusikokoroe" (or "utusigokoroe"?) " careful attention"? "utusigokoro", according to 大辞泉, is apparently 移りやすい心. :S

    1. Sorry, that's a mistake on my part. It should be いと多し。心得おくべし。

      心得(こころう) is a frequently used word in this work, showing something that Hagiwara wants you to pay attention to or remember.

  4. It's interesting that you translate "あはれ" without any particular comment -- I guess for Hagiwara it isn't the crucial concept that it was to Norinaga?

    I think that the key to that passage by the way might be reading よき as meaning "noble", "gentle" (as in social status) rather than a general "good". By intentionally making Genji's mother "not of the very highest rank", and explicitly mentioning that the Emperor couldn't support him publicly (already having a proper heir), the author gives Genji a bit of a handicap in social terms right from birth, and so he becomes a more sympathetic character than he would be if he'd been born to the Empress as the actual heir.

    1. No -- in fact, he's rather critical of Norinaga's interpretation; he feels that Norinaga invests too much energy in the "mono no aware" concept and thus misses a lot of what makes the Genji such a great work. While he definitely thinks the theory is good and very helpful, it's still too ideological in its approach for Hagiwara. He also is critical of Norinaga's complete rejection of Chinese influence, and he thinks that you can ignore the didactic readings of Genji without completely discarding everything associated with Confucian thought.

      Hagiwara had the supreme advantage of coming at the very end of the Edo period and thus being able to look back on hundreds of years of 国学者 work, of course.

  5. Re: あはれ

    So would it be fair to say that Hagiwara's approach to commentary upon the Genji is of a more strictly exegetic (and all that implies vis a vis Chinese influences/allusions) nature rather than bringing too much of a nativist/national kultur agenda to its interpretation?, as perhaps Norinaga does.

    1. As a general principle, yes -- Genji commentary is mostly exegetical up until the 17th century, and it's really only Kumazawa Banzan, Ando Tameakira, and Norinaga that inject a huge amount of didacticism and philosophy into it.

  6. Thanks!

    Another thing re Aware:

    I have been re-reading Ivan Morris 'The World of the Shing Prince' no doubt a slight rusty item these days but he suggests the implication that there may be no element of 'ethical rectitude' to the term and that :

    'this stress on the cult of the beautiful, to the virtual exclusion of any concern with charity, sometimes lends a rather chilling impression to the people of Genji's world.'(p207)

    Has thinking changed much on this since 1966?

    1. I'm not sure -- I think there's a lot of value to Morris' point there but I don't know if there's disagreement on it.