Scenes from The Tale of Genji

An illustration of the Tale of Genji, depicting several women in Heian-style robes inside a palace. They are playing go, with a bookshelf full of Japanese books and scrolls in the background.

Tosa Mitsuyoshi (Edo Period)

Image: Kyoto National Museum

This scene from The Tale of Genji, created at the Tosa school, depicts two women playing go while a man listens from the other side of the screen. The painting is typical in depicting the rooms in one-point perspective from a bird's-eye view with the roof removed from view.

In the background, a bookshelf sits on the other side of a doorway. The top shelf holds a decorative book box (left) and scroll box (center), and scroll (right), while the bottom two shelves are filled with books bound in colorful paper and red thread. Although the two women and the man are dressed in Heian-period clothing, the books appear to be bound fukuro-toji-style, a method which would not become popular for a few hundred more years.

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