Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aoi Matsuri in Japanese literature

The first thing I come to mind when thinking of Aoi Matsuri in Japanese literature is "The Tale of Genji". Its 9th chapter named "Aoi no ue" depicts the incident occurred at Aoi Matsuri and its subsequent tragedy.

Hikaru Genji take part in the Aoi Matsuri's parade.
Lady Rokujou(六条御息所, Rokujyou no Miyasundokoro) and Lady Aoi(葵の上,Aoi no Ue) go and see the sights of the parade with their servants in cow-drawn carriages.
Lady Rokujou's carriage have already taken a good spot for the nice view, but Lady Aoi's servants push Lady Rokujou's carriage aside by force while knowing that it's her carriage.

Lady Aoi is Genji's wife.
Lady Rokujou was a daughter of a minister and the wife of former prince, but now is one of Genji’s mistresses.
Lady Rokujou has been wondering whether she left Kyoto with her daughter to eliminate a love-hate relationship with him. This minor incident blows her self-esteem, and she remains deep in the shock. She loses her control over herself.

Lady Aoi during pregnancy is often plagued by who-knows-what.
Meanwhile, Lady Rokujou often dreams that she hit Lady Aoi very violently.
Lady Rokujou have too much pride to retaliate on Lady Aoi, but her living spirit leaves her body and possesses Lady Aoi.
His visit to Lady Rokujou worrying about her illness and his wife's delivery ruffle her feelings.

Genji sees her living spirit and hears its voice.
Finally, Lady Aoi dies sometime after her delivery.
In fact, her living spirit has killed a mistress of his before.
She is stunned by herself for a deep hatred in the back of her mind. She resembled a person who has a split personality.

Although the leading character is Hikaru Genji, the novel describes the feelings of the women having relationships with him and their female servants carefully because a female novelist wrote it. She also depicts his outfit or stationery for love letters in considerable detail.

After his wife's death, people around him hope Lady Rokujou will become his second wife because she is very sophisticated and comes from distinguished ancestry.
Both of them adopt an awkward attitude to each other due to her living spirit.
At last, she decides to break up with him and leave Kyoto. He goes to see her to say goodbye just before her departure. By her face, he re-ignites romance and tries to persuade her to stay. Her determination is invincible. After that, she corresponds with him.

Years later, she entrusts him to her daughter's care because she feels the approach of death.
Athough she warns him never to fall in love with her daughter, he comes to love her daughter. She brushes off his advances because he is a fatherlike figure to her.

Hikaru Genji is an ideal man from a woman's perspective at the time.
He is good-looking, has a quick mind, is well-educated, is very good at dancing or playing instruments, has a sense of humor, is very gallant to ladies, puts his old girlfriends up in his house and financially supports them.

Even though he is a son of the former emperor, he is not acknowledged as a member of the imperial family. He sometimes says, "Every woman has her good points, but there is no ideal lover in the real world."

A noh play and Yukio Mishima's play were wrtten from this episode.


Mitarashi-dango(みたらし団子:stick of dumplings):

People in Kyoto eat this confection on the days of the Aoi Matsuri and the Mitarashi Matsuri(御手洗祭:Mitarashi festival).
Mitarashi festival is held on the day of the ox in midsummer(土用の丑の日) at Shimogamo Shrine. On this day, worshipers purify themselves by bathing their feet into Mitarashi-no-ike pond.

Mitarashi-dango originates from an offering to the deity which was made by shrine parishioners. It is said to have been made in the image of bubbles in the pond.

Sticks of five dumplings dipped in salty-sweet sauce are sold at Kamo Mitarashi jaya(加茂みたらし茶屋), a Japanese sweets shop near Shimogamo Shrine.
It's llike this.
●ー●●●●ー
It is said that five dumplings means the head, arms and legs. Most Mitarashi-dango on the market has four dumplings.
A Japanese song named "Dango Three Brothers" was a popular hit song in 1999.

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