Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


A Quest for the Source of “Genji chigusa kō” with
Attention to kiki no myōmoku and Genji yoriai

TAKEI Masako

(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Cultural and Social Studies,
Department of Japanese Literature)

Key words:

“Genji chigusa kō,” Genji kokagami, kiki no myōmoku, Genji yoriai, kumikō

Kōdō ran no sono (Book of kōdō) is a text edited by Kikuoka Senryō in the early eighteenth century on kōdō, the Japanese art of incense. It describes the manners of kōdō and contains more than two hundred kinds of kumikō, games of judging the difference between fragrances. “Genji chigusa kō,” the subject of this paper, is included in the eighth and ninth chapters. It notes fifty-three kinds of kumikō, all related specifically to The Tale of Genji. But there are some differences between these kumikō contests and the story found in the Genji.

The Tale of Genji was read in Japan throughout the medieval and early modern periods, and many digest versions of the tale were produced. Genji kokagami in particular was read by many people. This version was not only a digest of the Genji but also served as a sourcebook for composing renga, because it included Genji yoriai, poetic words based on the Heian tale. These same words are also found in the “Genji chigusa kō” chapters of the incense text, where they are used as kiki no myōmoku, or keywords, for judging the difference between fragrances. Since many of the keywords seem to be derived from Genji kokagami, I propose that “Genji chigusa kō” may in fact be based on Genji kokagami. There are six extant variations of Genji kokagami, and “Genji chigusa kō” may be connected with the oldest of these. The aim of this essay is to elucidate the relationship of these incense games to literature, and to show clearly how “Genji chigusa kō” was influenced by Genji kokagami.