The Tale of Genji

Cherry Blossoms Symbol Analysis

Cherry Blossoms Symbol Icon

When Genji journeys to the mountain to see a renowned sage, he's thrilled to get to see the mountain cherry blossoms—they bloom later than those in the city and, according to all who see them, are far more beautiful. While Genji is on the mountain, the bishop speaks of the blossoms, which according to legend bloom once every three thousand years, as a symbol for Genji himself: like those mythical cherry blossoms, someone as perfect and as regal as Genji doesn't happen all that often. From then on, the novel often conflates Genji himself with the cherry blossoms or utilizes the blossoms at times of rebirth and renewal for Genji, just as the blooming cherry blossoms signal the arrival of spring and a new year.

Cherry Blossoms Quotes in The Tale of Genji

The The Tale of Genji quotes below all refer to the symbol of Cherry Blossoms. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Tale of Genji published in 1976.
An Autumn Excursion Quotes

To no Chujo was a handsome youth who carried himself well, but beside Genji he was like a nondescript mountain shrub beside a blossoming cherry.

Related Characters: Genji, Tō no Chūjō
Related Symbols: Cherry Blossoms
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cherry Blossoms Symbol Timeline in The Tale of Genji

The timeline below shows where the symbol Cherry Blossoms appears in The Tale of Genji. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lavender
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...He takes only a few attendants and on the way they all admire the mountain cherry blossoms, which bloom later than those in the city. Though Genji doesn't reveal his identity,... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...He promises in parting to send his friends up the mountain to see the mountain cherry blossoms. He, the sage, and the bishop exchange parting gifts. (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...the Left's house, including Tō no Chūjō, arrives. They decide to stay and enjoy the cherry blossoms. They drink wine, play music, and sing. The bishop even talks Genji into playing... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...is serious, and includes a tightly folded note for Murasaki. It says that the "mountain blossoms" are still with him and he's still with the blossoms. The nun writes back that... (full context)
An Autumn Excursion
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Ocean," and though Tō no Chūjō is a fine dancer, Genji is described as a blossoming cherry next to a nondescript shrub. His performance brings the entire audience to tears; even... (full context)
The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Near the end of February, the Emperor holds the festival of the cherry blossoms. He seats Fujitsubo and Reizei on one side of him and Genji on the... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...silently recites a poem in which she wishes she could see Genji as just another blossom. (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...The Minister of the Left congratulates Genji on his poem and his dancing at the cherry blossom festival, saying his music even made him want to dance. As Tō no Chūjō... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...April, the Minister of the Right hosts an archery meet and a banquet. The mountain cherries are still in bloom and Genji grudgingly agrees to attend. He arrives late and is... (full context)
Suma
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...one of Aoi's former serving women. In the morning, Genji makes a note of the cherry blossoms past their prime and receives a message from Princess Omiya. She apologizes for not... (full context)
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...he sees the Emperor standing there. At daybreak, Genji sends a farewell message with a cherry branch to Reizei. The prince asks Omyōbu to send back a note that he'll be... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
As spring arrives in Suma, Genji looks at the blossoms on the cherry tree he planted and thinks of the festivals going on in the... (full context)
Channel Buoys
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Akashi lady also feels more secure and sends a poem to Genji, telling him his "blossom" awaits him.  (full context)