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A Thousand-Year Enigma: Adapting The Tale of Genji

Carissa Roets


The Tale of Genji (2011) is the latest film adaptation of a story that has been retold since the 11th century.

Written in the 11th century, The Tale of Genji is widely considered one of the world’s first novels. A thousand years of literary history has come and gone since the tale was first written, but remarkably, Genji has continued to have a profound impact on Japanese culture and contemporary world literature well into the 21st century. The original text has been exalted by many scholars, but what truly gave Genji authority throughout the ages was not its elevated literary status. Rather, it was the countless translations and adaptations of the text that kept the work alive and relevant over the years. Adaptation has allowed this work not only to survive, but to become continuously recanonized and popularized to reflect a growing and shifting cultural identity in Japan.

Genji Monogatari (1951), directed by Yoshimura Kōzaburō, and Genji Monogatari: Sennen no Nazo (2011), directed by Yasuo Tsuruhashi, are two film adaptations that provide a window into Japanese cultural identity over the past century. These films reflect new historical and cultural values every time Genji is retold, yet the films consciously reflect unique Japanese aesthetics that made the original text as famous as it is. As I trace the journey from medieval literature to 21st-century film, I will explore the role of the film industry in Japan’s national identity, and revisit intertextuality and notions of fidelity in consideration of historical and cultural context. In doing so, my arguments of adaptation now not only have stakes within textual analyses, but in the historical and cultural moments that comprise Japan’s history. In doing so, it becomes clear that adaptation can be a dynamic process of transformation to and for specific historical moments, rather than simply an adaptation of existing works. I aim to prove that adaptation has created an expansive cultural serial of The Tale of Genji rather than a single important work.


Intertextuality and Cultural Production

Japanese cultural identity and its manifestation in cinema has been a topic of global intrigue for years. Exploring film adaptation within the context of this nation’s culture and history reveals a fascinating pattern of repetition, integration, and transformation that embodies the vibrant history of Japan, as well as emphasizes the relevance of adaptation in the consumption and reception of literature and film today. In Envisioning the Tale of Genji, Haruo Shirane goes as far as to say that “the history of the reception of The Tale of Genji is no less than a cultural history of Japan, for the simple reason that the Genji has had a profound impact at various levels of culture in every historical period since its composition…” (1). I will focus primarily on post-war Japan to the 21st century in my analyses; however, the cultural production and reception of Genji since the 11th century serves as a foundation to the films in this essay and reveals an incredible history of intertextualization and adaptation.

To understand the world of Genji, and the impact this world has on later adaptations, one must understand the historical and cultural context in which this piece of literature was first composed. The Tale of Genji takes place, and was written, during the Heian Period. This historical period began around the late 8th century, when the emperor of the time declared that the new capital be moved to Heian Kyō, known today as Kyōto (京都). An era of mostly uninterrupted peace ensued, and the elite turned to the arts to occupy their leisurely lives. Genji was exclusively enjoyed by aristocracy at the time of its composition. The work blossomed in a culture that had just recently begun to find its independent ideals of art after actively distancing itself from its Chinese influences, and reflected the highest and most refined tastes of the elite. The fanciful portrayal of the privileged classes was most likely a reflection of the lifestyle Murasaki Shikibu witnessed during her time in court. However, the tale can also be viewed as an attempt to capture the elite lifestyle and values that were almost too good to be true in a period that slowly started to decline as early as the 10th century (Morris 20).

The Tale of Genji’s production and reception was primarily enjoyed by aristocracy until a rapid decline in the 14th century. At this point, the original text could only be read by the highly educated because of its length and complexity (Shirane 22). To overcome this, digests of the tale were compiled and published, quickly becoming popular among the warrior class.  These digests became increasingly popular among both “urban commoners and educated samurai” from the 17th to 19th centuries for their simplified plots, less use of kanji, and focus on the tale’s famous poems instead of lengthy prose (Shirane 3). Digests soon became independent collections of poems, which moved to paintings and scrolls, then theatre, fashion, radio, manga, anime, and film. Retelling stories through different media allowed both consumers and creators to understand the original work and find new significance in themes, narratives, characters and settings by projecting the story onto different cultural and historical environments. 

Every time Genji is retold, there may be different narrative, thematic and even political emphases based on the context of each retelling. The most well-known and most frequently adapted section of The Tale of Genji follows the central male figure, Hikaru Genji, throughout his life in court, including his short time in exile, his conquests of various women, and his endeavors in the arts. Genji is the son of the emperor and his favored consort, a beautiful woman of low social background who passes away soon after Genji’s birth. While Genji is a young boy, the emperor becomes attached to a new consort, Lady Fujitsubo, who looks strikingly like Genji’s mother. He harbors forbidden feelings for his stepmother throughout much of his life. These feelings inevitably culminate into a taboo affair that ends with Fujitsubo birthing Genji’s son, the future emperor, before becoming a nun. Out of all the women besides Lady Fujitsubo, Genji becomes most attached to a young girl called Murasaki, the author’s namesake, who remains a constant in his life thereafter. After Murasaki’s death, Genji spends his final years as a monk, and the story continues to follow his legacy through the next generation of courtiers. This work of historical fiction reflects the fascinating and influential culture of 11th century Japan – a culture which has grown, amalgamated, and adapted in a changing global atmosphere to produce retellings that appeal to more contemporary values.

Adaptations of Genji’s story have been building on one another and branching out into a thousand-year intertextual timeline of texts and media. These retellings practice “repetition with variation,” as literary theorist Linda Hutcheon often describes it, and exist as palimpsests in the minds of audiences and in the collective cultural memory of Japan (Hutcheon 8). Today, The Tale of Genji remains part of an ongoing dialogue with other adaptations, and exploring the reciprocal connection between these works and “an entire cultural system” is important in intertextual arguments against “post-Romantic notions of originality” (Hutcheon 21).  It is interesting to note that post-Romantic stress on autonomy and originality – and later arguments for fidelity – largely influenced Western reception of adaptation. The Tale of Genji, however, evolved within a cultural bubble that was undergoing more change from within than from without. Perhaps the reason Genji remained relevant through adaptation is to some degree due to Japan’s long periods of isolation and ethnic homogeneity until roughly the mid-19th century.

The beginning of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 marked a stage of significant change in Japan on an economic, political and social level. Modernization and Westernization defined the following years as “Japanese islands were unceremoniously dragged from the 17th into the 20th century” (Davis 2). While Genji’s contemporary relevancy took a backseat to new genres and previously unknown notions of European literature, this was also the first time the tale became “recanonized as a ‘novel,’ which was now considered… the most advanced literary form” (Shirane 6). With the tale recanonized and with Japan’s establishment of their own national literature after the Meiji period, The Tale of Genjis production and reception was reinvigorated (Shirane 7). The cultural bubble in which this work had been evolving had popped, but the intertextual web could now only expand further as the work garnered global appreciation, became translated into different languages, and later appeared for the very first time in film.


The Revival of Genji: Post-War to the 21st Century

In the years leading up to World War II, film provided a new and blossoming industry within which to explore national identity in the aftermath of drastic westernization, and Japan went to great lengths to try to define and express “what makes Japanese people and life so Japanese” (Davis 2). Expressing Japanese identity in popular media had high stakes in strengthening Japanese imperialism during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and many films of the time aimed to emulate an essence of “Japaneseness.” Of course, both propaganda and culture films had to first be approved by the Army or the Home Ministry, and the results were often “rigid portrait[s] of traditional Japanese life, with all the spontaneousness of a stuffed trophy” (Davis 4). According to Darrell William Davis in Picturing Japaneseness, there were some films during this time that expressed more timeless and meaningful portrayals of Japanese life and identity. Davis dubs these films the “monumental style” because of the filmic narratives and aesthetics that “embody a monument to a certain Japanese aura” (2).

While Davis primarily focuses on the monumental style in the context of prewar films and feudal period pieces, the question of national identity and its portrayal in the growing Japanese film industry remained especially relevant after World War II. Adaptation now played a key role in the reinvention of identity as Japanese filmmakers attempted to consolidate traditional Japanese stories and aesthetics with an arguably western medium (film) and within a radically different postwar national and global context. It seems significant, then, that The Tale of Genji became repopularized in media from the mid-20thcentury onwards, following the release of the first film adaptation of Genji in 1951. The 1951 adaptation directed by Yoshimura Kōzaburō, and the various adaptations that followed, created what Kazuhito Tateishi calls the “Tale of Genji boom,” where the tale became mass-processed culture that attracted the interest of both the Japanese general public as well as foreign audiences (303).

Genji film adaptations were primarily advertised as romantic period dramas that “catered to the expectations of Orientalist attitudes of the West, appropriating The Tale of Genji to represent the ‘essence of Japanese culture’” (Tateishi 303).  Despite the new mass-produced and consumed nature of Genji, I argue that these films provided a space to explore notions of Japaneseness and to expand on the already vast cultural serial that the tale had become. A closer analysis of the portrayal of imperialism and Genji’s various romances in Yoshimura’s Genji Monogatari reveals a narrative and aesthetic style reminiscent of the original text, yet exists on an entirely new level of this intertextual series when the film is considered in a postwar context.

Genji Monogatari consists of several episodes of Genji’s (Kazuo Hasegawa) life, mostly centered on his disharmonious relationships with his wife and several other romantic affairs during his time in court and later in exile. The central relationship stressed throughout the film is Genji’s adulterous affair with Fujitsubo (Michiyo Kogure) and the birth of their illegitimate son; however, in the end Genji grieves her death and realizes his renewed affection for the young Murasaki (Nobuko Otowa), who’s been a loyal presence at his side throughout his various trials. The film’s emphasis on Genji and Fujitsubo’s affair can be considered groundbreaking due to the fact that it was the “first publicly released film that deals with an imperial scandal and in which the emperor is portrayed by an actor” (Tateishi 305).  At the time, however, the success of the film and the mass popularization of Genji was achieved through various degrees of self-censorship and clever marketing. Even after the war, there was a lingering fear of punishment for being irreverent towards the imperial family. Thus, advertisements for the film played down the scandalous nature of Genji’s affair by simplifying it into a tragic love story and a “‘zenith of Japanese culture’” (Tateishi 306). 

With the advantage of retrospectivity, it is clear that despite efforts to camouflage the more serious themes in the film, they undoubtedly reflect the political and social atmosphere of Japan in the late 40s and 50s. In 1945, millions of Japanese citizens gathered around their radios as they heard their emperor’s voice address them directly for the very first time to call “a halt on a lost war” (Dower 35). Shortly after, in 1946 during New Year’s, another imperial rescript issued by the emperor publicly denounced his divinity. Infrastructure was in ruins and countless families were left without homes, thousands of Japanese soldiers were still stranded outside the country, and citizens’ cultural and political beliefs were shaken to the core as they realized Japan had lost what they thought was a holy war. The actor portrayal of an emperor for the first time, themes of illegitimacy and imperial scandal is perhaps a direct consequence of the emperor’s first public appearances and the shocking rescripts that sowed doubts about his divinity. Furthermore, the film’s portrayal of Heian culture can be interpreted as an attempt to emulate traditional Japanese identity – garnering some criticism for its atmosphere of escapism and nostalgia.

Despite its criticisms, the film ended up spearheading the “Genji boom” in postwar Japan, appealing not only to a Japanese audience but to a more global audience as well. The film was extremely successful, and after being entered in the Cannes Film Festival it became the first Japanese film to win an award for best cinematography. The film’s entry onto the international scene created and reinforced a western “gaze” of Japan, which gradually became internalized by Japan itself and “contributed to the construction of a national identity – a sense of ‘Japanese-ness – in the early postwar years” (Tateishi 307-308). In terms of the adaptation, Genji Monogatari started a fascinating transcultural process of international reception, which in turn played a part in redefining Japanese identity. Essentially, this adaptation managed to find a new way to retell a thousand-year-old story in a radically different political and historical environment while simultaneously reinforcing and redefining core Japanese values. The atmosphere and aesthetics presented in the film tips its hat towards the aesthetic values of Heian society and of the original work, tying together traditional cultural values and new, evolving values within a new world state.

At this point, adaptation has carried The Tale of Genji from the 11th century up till the 20th, and its influence in the postwar film industry played a fundamental role in Japan’s expression of identity from the perspective of both a Japanese and an international gaze. Genji’s influence still isn’t over, and its ongoing adaptive serial now brings us into the 21st century. The most recent film adaptation of The Tale of Genji, directed by Tsuruhashi Yasuo and released in 2011, is truly underappreciated for its contribution to the still expanding serial. The film hasn’t received much, if any, major scholarly attention like the postwar Genji films. This modern adaptation remains faithful to the main plot points of the original text; however, what makes this film unique is that it creates a parallel storyline about Murasaki Shikibu (Miki Nakatani) herself during her time in court. The double narrative reflects an awareness of the long history of Genji’s adaptation, as well as the tale’s importance to Japan’s notions of national identity.

The film follows Lady Murasaki as she’s commanded by her court official to write a tale for his daughter, a consort of the emperor. The court official hoped that the tale would impassion his daughter so that she could seduce the emperor and birth him a son, thus connecting the royal bloodline to the court official’s family. Lady Murasaki begins to interweave the fictional life of Genji (Toma Ikuta) with her own as she reads sections of the tale to other courtiers, and the audience experiences this through the inter-cutting of the two converging storylines. The film becomes a meta-commentary about the endless cycle of Genji’s life — not only within his fictional world, but also within the process of adaptation. More than once, the fictional Genji comes into contact with the “real” Lady Murasaki. In the opening scene of the film she’s chased through a forest and ravished by Genji, and in the end they meet again on a bridge that seems to be suspended in nothingness. Creator and fiction collide in these liminal spaces, and after a brief dialogue on the bridge Genji walks into a misty field, silhouetted by an endless sunset before he turns to laugh directly into the camera. The ending of this film puts Genji in a timeless space, as if symbolizing how his story is meant to be retold throughout history.

Against a backdrop that suggests the continual recreation of this story, Genji looks into the camera at the end of the film.

The parallel storyline of Murasaki’s authorship of Genji not only creates meta-encounters between author and character in the film, but also emphasizes her power as a writer and the value of writing itself in Japanese culture. The attention given to Lady Murasaki’s writing, given through frequent close-ups throughout the film, is perhaps a reflection of this. The art of poetry and calligraphy was highly valued in Heian culture, and Genji composes and quotes poems that often move his audience to feelings of sublime emotion. He uses poetry among friends and royalty, in moments of grief, passion, or inspiration, during funeral rituals, and most memorably as a means of courting women. Both Lady Murasaki and characters within the novel praise Genji for his calligraphy, an art that was so highly regarded in society that people believed handwriting was a direct reflection of one’s soul (Morris 196). Genji is as much a creator as Lady Murasaki is, and this becomes one of the sources of Genji’s autonomy from the original text and his ability to jump from adaptation to adaptation.

Both the 1951 and 2011 film adaptations of The Tale of Genji retell the tale in a way that contains different meanings to its current audiences, yet consciously attempt to emulate a sense Japaneseness that permeates Genji’s world. These adaptations do not retract from the meaning of the original text; rather, it supports Genji’s standing as a serial that has become ingrained in almost every aspect of Japanese cultural history, and one that remains a source of fascination within global and pop culture today.


Revisiting Fidelity with Japanese Aesthetics

My aim throughout this essay thus far has been to explore the various transformations and retellings of The Tale of Genji throughout Japan’s history. Throughout years of cultural and historical change, Genji has reflected different thematic emphases compared to each adaptation’s context. Within this dialogical process of transformation, however, is an underlying essence of Japanese aesthetics that remain faithful to many of the aesthetic ideals emulated in the original text. The notion of an essence of Japaneseness that’s faithfully transferred from adaptation to adaptation prompts me to revisit my discussions of fidelity.

The tension between literature and film, and one’s perceived fidelity or infidelity to the other, stems largely from the process of transferring the core values and style of a work to the screen using film’s multitrack medium instead of written language and textual idiosyncrasies. Many theories of adaptation focus on story elements as a common denominator across different mediums, and seek equivalencies between retellings “in different sign systems for the various elements of the story [such as] its themes, events, world, characters, motivations, points of view, consequences, contexts, symbols, imagery, and so on” (Hutcheon 10). Some scholars, critics, and even audiences have also alluded to the “spirit” of a work, and for an adaptation to be considered successful, this elusive spirit of the text must be captured and conveyed (Hutcheon 10). 

In True to the Spirit, Colin MacCabe writes that the recent backlash against fidelity in adaptation studies “ignore[s] how audiences talk about film adaptations, and, perhaps even more importantly, how the cast and crew of a film talk about making an adaptation” (7). He introduces the term “true to the spirit,” which he will continue to use not to describe ideals of literal fidelity or incite an “is the book better than the film” debate, but rather to promote a different way of thinking about the value of individual works and of adaptation. Hutcheon and MacCabe seem to offer irreconcilable positions regarding fidelity, but I argue that The Tale of Genji necessitates and combines them both. Throughout the tale’s adaptative history, the serial retellings of Genji does not always privilege the original, yet a sense of fidelity still marks these transformations through shared story elements and aesthetic markers.

Thus, while my arguments so far have framed adaptation beyond restrictions of fidelity, it would be remiss not to revisit this notion as a possible asset to my analysis of The Tale of Genji. Genji’s story provided a window into Murasaki’s own experiences in court, and retains themes, imagery, and ideals of medieval Japan that are transferred throughout its many adaptations. Rather than an elusive, abstract essence that is transferred across these retellings, the “spirit” of Genji can be described as the unique cultural collection of characters, aesthetics, and motifs that adapters throughout history have used to express their ideas of Japaneseness.

Not only do Kōzaburō and Tsuruhashi’s adaptations reflect this spirit, but their films come together with the novel to create something that is simultaneously a retelling of the tale and a completely new work in the context of their production and reception. French film theorist André Bazin similarly wrote about adaptation as “two media making a whole,” and argued that adaptation was not an attempt at copying or substitution, “but the production of ‘a new dimension,” the product of which was an “‘ideal construct’ greater than the sum of its parts” (MacCabe 6 – 7).  If we are to think of the value of the whole, then literal notions of fidelity – the act of cutting and pasting elements from one medium to another – is undesirable. Rather, fidelity to the spirit embodied by Genji’s character and cultural themes becomes particularly meaningful. While Genji’s character may be the driving force behind much of the success surrounding the tale’s popularity throughout history, it is also important to acknowledge the more stylistic and aesthetic aspects that make The Tale of Genji so ripe for adaptation. These aesthetics control the settings, motifs, and even the behavior of the characters in Genji, and are effectively portrayed through mise-en-scène and recurring motifs in both film adaptations. Two prominent aesthetic terms that are expressed in the adaptations are the concepts of simplicity and mono no aware.

Both of these aesthetic concepts are strongly tied with nature and the human condition. Nature was the ultimate inspiration, but instead of attempting to describe it in literal or encompassing terms, the Japanese took a subtler approach by only trying to suggest “the nature of Nature” rather than describing its appearance (Richie 19). To the Japanese, this subtly in suggestion was a strive for elegance in style, emotion, and art. Simplicity and elegance is portrayed in both films through simple sets and empty space, and at times through the movements and long silent scenes carried out by the actors. Along with this aesthetic achievement, however, there are still occasional flashes of ostentatious detail in costumes and props that reflect the aristocracy of the Heian Period. An important difference to note in the 2011 adaptation is that modern special effects sometimes overwhelm the otherwise elegant atmosphere of the film. The impact of technology and pop culture is reflected in this recent adaptation, yet the director also clearly pays homage to the original text and the 1951 adaptation with visually similar shots and motifs such as flowers, falling leaves, the moon, and the framed shots inside the emperor’s court. 

The visual style of the 1951 adaptation’s palace is a central stylistic reference for later cinematic adaptations of Genji.

The second aesthetic concept, mono no aware, refers to the ephemeral beauty of nature. Aesthetic terms such as this one have only been codified in relatively recent history, but even so, Murasaki Shikibu is said to have referred to variations of aware over a thousand times throughout The Tale of Genji. This appreciation for the natural world and expression of emotion is epitomized in the text, reflecting a sense of aesthetics that has been ingrained in the language and culture of Japan. In both the films, the ephemeral cycle of nature is represented in recurring motifs of the changing seasons, specifically close-ups of bare branches during winter, autumn leaves, and cherry blossoms during spring. Genji’s beauty is often likened to that of cherry blossoms, and how he becomes all the more beautiful as he wastes away due to mourning. In a particularly memorable scene in the text, as well as both of the films, Genji performs a traditional dance for the rest of the courtiers. Murasaki describes his singing and dancing as so beautiful and elegant that it seems unearthly. Compared to him, even his skilled dancing partner is nothing but “a common mountain tree next to a blossoming cherry” (Shikibu 135). True to Murasaki’s descriptions, both film adaptations show Genji dancing in a shower of falling cherry blossoms.

Comparing scenes from both film adaptations and the translated text reveals shared aesthetic ideals in works that have been created over a thousand years apart. The incredible faithfulness to Heian sensibilities in the films allow these adaptations to maintain a distinct sense of “Genji-ness,” even as they are being retold in different time periods and with different motivations.

There is also another layer to aesthetics that doesn’t rely so much on visual motifs and settings, but on the behavior of the characters. The Tale of Genji portrayed a society that valued aesthetic sensibility above all else. Genji and other noblemen not only abided by these values and aesthetic codes when pursuing art such as dancing or poetry, but in the way they conducted themselves in their daily lives. Even the process of courting a lady had to follow particular “rules of taste” – both sides of a romantic interest had to compose the right poems and send letters in the proper manner, and men were even told exactly how to leave a lady’s room the morning after (Morris 205). Genji shows how important these standards are on one occasion when he’s caught in a compromising position with a lady; instead of running away, he thinks that “he would gladly have escaped unrecognized, but a vision of himself from the rear in full flight, clothing flapping around him and headdress askew, gave him pause, for he saw how silly he would look” (Shikibu 147). Genji does challenge some of these societal standards due to his whims, such as when he kidnaps young Murasaki and marries her in secret, or when he’s exiled to the coast. Even so, he carries himself with such subtle elegance and delicate sensitivity that Lady Murasaki uses his low points to emphasize his beauty even more.

A familiar image in adaptations for the screen: Genji dancing against the backdrop of cherry blossoms, shown here in the 1951 installment.

The 1951 and 2011 film adaptations have to reflect this standard of behavior through how the actors portray their characters. There are many instances in both films of soft-spoken and elevated language, graceful movements under layers of exquisite robes, and close-ups of heart-wrenching, yet subdued, emotion on actor’s faces. At other times, however, some characters also show outbursts of emotion. In the postwar film, Genji has an uncharacteristic outburst of anger when he discovers that one of the women he’s courting is having an affair with another man – after which he is only calmed down by Murasaki clinging to his robes. The 2011 adaptation also deviates most obviously from Heian sensibilities when the Emperor’s queen physically attacks his favorite consort and Genji’s mother, Lady Kiritsubo (Yoko Maki). 

These outbreaks of aggression are very uncharacteristic of the original tale, with the exception of a vengeful spirit that kills one of Genji’s romantic partners. During this period war and barbarism were almost inconceivable to anyone who enjoyed life in the upper class. In fact, military men and anyone from the provinces were looked down upon, and even detested, by nobility. Even military titles were more ceremonial rather than practical within the court — Genji was a Captain, but he never had to act on the title and would most likely have been appalled if he was ever asked to. This is clearly not the case in the 2011 film adaptation, where the Lord whom Murasaki serves under is attacked by a spirit and easily retaliates with his blade.

The fight scene and supernatural special effects seem out of place within the usually elegant atmosphere of the film; however, it is no less important. To dismiss this scene would be to dismiss the cultural influences – most notably the long history of samurai culture that greatly appealed to Western filmmakers – that led up to the production of the film. Everything is part of an amalgamation and evolution of cultural values as Genji travelled through periods of both peace and war, and through different political and social climates. In her book on adaptation, Rachel Carroll posits that “all adaptations express or address a desire to return to an ‘original’ textual encounter; as such, adaptations are perhaps symptomatic of a cultural compulsion to repeat” (1). The retellings of The Tale of Genji are all, to some extent, trying to reconnect with its original inspiration and the valued cultural context it was composed in. The “compulsion to repeat” becomes more than an attempted reconnection – it is more accurately creating an understanding of current events and values through repetition. Japan has been able to come to terms with its changing identity because Genji has been able to change as well.

The Tale of Genji has appeared in dozens of different mediums and hundreds of retellings throughout history. Even when only comparing two films to the translated text, it already starts to become clear that adaptation has allowed Genji to become something much larger than the original work – a timeless, liminal space of meaning, beauty, and cultural significance that has remained relevant in a perpetually changing world. By viewing Genji as a historical and cultural serial instead of isolating the original work, adaptation can further shed light on cultural and historical processes of media production and reception. The fascinating role of adaptation and the film industry in the expression of an entire national identity can be applied to other cultural examples, as well foster further discussion about the influence adaptation will continue to have on our exponentially evolving mediascape in the future. In Genji’s case, adaptation has allowed him to live on and charm the hearts of people around the world while prevailing as one of the most well-known personifications of Japan’s cultural history and identity.


Works Cited

Bazin, André. “Adaptation, or the Cinema as Digest.” Bazin at Work: Major Essays and Reviews from the Forties and Fifties,edited by Bert Cardullo. Routledge, 1997.

Carroll, Rachel, ed. Adaptation in Contemporary Culture: Textual Infidelities. London: Continuum, 2009.

Davis, Darrell William. Picturing Japaneseness: Monumental Style, National Identity, Japanese Film. Columbia Univ. Press, 1996.

Dower, John W. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. W.W. Norton & Co./New Press, 2000.

Hutcheon, Linda. Theory of Adaptation. Taylor and Francis, 2014.

Kazuhito, Tateishi. “The Tale of Genji in Postwar Film: Emperor, Aestheticism, and the Erotic.” Envisioning the Tale of Genji: Media, Gender, and Cultural Production, edited by Haruo Shirane. Columbia University Press, 2008.

MacCabe, Colin, et al. True to the Spirit: Film Adaptation and the Question of Fidelity. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Morris, Ivan. The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Japan. Penguin Books Ltd, 1979.

Richie, Donald. A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics. Stone Bridge Press, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Shikibu, Murasaki. The Tale of Genji. Translated by Royall Tyler, Viking, 2001.

Shirane, Haruo. “The Tale of Genji and the Dynamics of Cultural Production: Canonization and Populariziation.” Envisioning the Tale of Genji: Media, Gender, and Cultural Production, edited by Haruo Shirane. Columbia University Press, 2008.

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