The Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 other, which makes Kokiden extremely angry. Her anger doesn't manage to ruin the event, however. Genji and other courtiers draw subjects for a poetry competition. Genji's voice when he announces that he drew "spring" is quite distinguished, and Tō no Chūjō does his best to sound just as distinguished when he announces his subject. Others are reticent to announce theirs given Genji's perfection.
Kokiden's anger seems somewhat misguided, given that her son is still the next in line for the throne. This implies that she may have a longer view of things that's somewhat different from what's currently apparent to the reader, and which would oust her from power sooner than she would like.
Themes
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The Emperor arranges a concert as well. Genji performs part of "Spring Warbler," and Tō no Chūjō performs "Garden of Willows and Flowers." After the dances, a reader reads the courtiers' poems. Genji's is so exceptional that the reader comments on every line. As Fujitsubo listens, she wonders simultaneously how Kokiden can hate Genji and how she's so drawn to him. She silently recites a poem in which she wishes she could see Genji as just another blossom.
Fujitsubo's private poem suggests that she does have feelings for Genji, but she's unable to act on them or voice them because of her relationship to the Emperor. This shows how in some cases, women are actually trapped by the men whose attentions are actually supposed to free them, or at least grant them more power.
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After the festivities end, a slightly drunk Genji prowls through the ladies' apartments to see if Fujitsubo left her door open for him. She didn't. He notices that near Kokiden's pavilion, there's an open door. Genji slips in with a mysterious woman (Oborozukiyo). Genji catches at her sleeve, frightening her, and lifts her down to the gallery, closing the door behind him. She calls for help, but Genji insists he always gets his way and tells her to be quiet. Wanting him to think that she has good manners, Oborozukiyo gives in to his advances. At dawn, Genji asks for her name so he can write to her. She recites a poem refusing. Genji settles for exchanging fans.
The way that Genji goes about intimidating and raping Oborozukiyo reinforces how little power women have in comparison to the extremely powerful men around them—even though she clearly doesn't want to have sex with him, her desire to look like she has good manners and not anger him is enough to outweigh that. As in the case of the Lady of the Evening Faces, Oborozukiyo is only able to eke out a bit of power by keeping her name from Genji.
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Related Quotes
After he leaves, Genji reasons that Oborozukiyo must be one of Kokiden's younger sisters. He thinks through the sisters, of which there are many, but can't figure out which lady she was. He's intrigued that she clearly didn't want their relationship to continue and thinks too of Fujitsubo. At a banquet later that day, Genji plays the koto and wonders whether he may have an opportunity to see Oborozukiyo in the daylight. He sends Koremitsu and another attendant, Yoshikiyo, to investigate. Their investigation turns up nothing useful.
Oborozukiyo's relationship to Kokiden suggests that there may be consequences for getting involved with Oborozukiyo, given how intent Kokiden is on ruining Genji's life. However, it's important to note that Oborozukiyo will presumably not face any consequences for being involved with Genji; this shows that romances affect men publically more than they do women.
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Genji wonders if the Minister of the Right might accept him into the family because of this liaison, but he wants to figure out who the lady is first. He thinks of Murasaki, who is surely lonely since he hasn't visited in days. Genji also thinks of Oborozukiyo's poem and jots a reply on his fan. Then, he reasons that comforting Murasaki is more important than visiting Aoi. He finds her more fun to be around, though he does worry that their closeness means that she'll be too at ease with other men. After a music lesson, he heads for Sanjō.
When Genji wonders if Murasaki will be too comfortable with men, it offers the possibility that even though he's raising her to be his perfect lover, he's aware that she may see other men as well. This also reinforces that Heian women are supposed to defend themselves against men (even as men are also supposed to push through those defenses), something Murasaki may be unable to do due to her relationship with Genji.
Themes
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Aoi keeps Genji waiting, so Genji fiddles with a koto. 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 is in attendance, Genji insists that "Garden of Willows and Flowers" dance was far superior.
The way that Genji interacts with Tō no Chūjō and particularly the way he compliments him suggests that Genji does so mostly to appease the Minister of the Left, Tō no Chūjō’s father and Genji’s his father-in-law.
Themes
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Oborozukiyo is very sad. Her father, the Minister of the Right, wants to give her to Suzaku in mere months. Genji wants to figure out who she is, but he's afraid of getting involved with such a dangerous and powerful family. Late in 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 so handsome that he puts the blossoms to shame. After playing instruments, Genji pretends to be drunk and wanders off to where he knows two of the minister's daughters live.
When Genji puts the cherry blossoms to shame, it again shows that the natural world can work to make Genji even more beautiful and perfect than he is already. This reinforces the novel's logic that nature mirrors and heightens human emotions or states of being. The fact that Genji recognizes he needs to sneak around shows that he's well aware that he's playing with fire by becoming involved with Oborozukiyo; he just doesn't care.
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The daughters trail their sleeves out from under the curtains. Genji playfully asks the women to hide him, and they respond in a similarly playful manner. He grabs one woman's hand and mentions that someone stole his fan, an allusion to Oborozukiyo. The woman doesn't show any sign of recognition. Genji takes the other lady's hand and recites a poem referencing the image on Oborozukiyo's fan, and he's is thrilled to recognize Oborozukiyo's voice.
The exchanges here illustrate clearly how poetry and nature imagery can work to convey multiple meanings very easily. Oborozukiyo's willingness to show herself shows again that regardless of how romances begin, the relationships themselves can still be desirable for the women involved. 
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