Japan and the Tale of Genji

Japan and The Tale of Genji

In Murasaki Skikibu's book The Tale of Genji, translated and abridged by Edward G. Seidensticker, there are many obvious Chinese influences. The novel illustrated these influences in writing, music, and politics. Many East Asian countries had great influences on each other, but their customs and culture are still extremely different from that of the United States. This can especially be seen in marriage patterns and political systems.
    Examples of the cultural influences of China on Japan are laced throughout The Tale of Genji, especially in terms of writing and music. When Genji is seven years old, he goes through the the ceremonial reading of the Chinese classics (18). This immediately displays the importance of Chinese literature in Japan, that it is a rite of adolescence marked by ceremony. Chinese poetry in particular was highly esteemed in Japanese society. Genji offers a verse of Chinese poetry and it was "received with high praise" (20). The characters regularly exchange short verses of poetry in order to interact with each other and exchanges of Chinese poetry also occured at major ceremonies (20, 224). It was mentioned that connossieurs of poetry were the ones who were masters of writing Chinese poetry.
    This attitude of awed respect for Chinese culture extended into the music realm as well. In many scenes of the book, characters play a musical instrument called the Chinese Koto, which comes with seven or thirteen strings (82, 232). At one point, Genji described a player as having a "Chinese elegance in his touch" (292). Throughout The Tale of Genji, it was clear that the Japanese viewed the Chinese as experts in writing and music and tried hard to embody their talent.
    Chinese influence was also very prevalent in the Japanese government system. As the reader can see in The Tale of Genji, Japan's government is an Imperial Court. All the ranks in Japan were adopted from China. The use of these titles can be seen...