Australia-Japan Society of Tasmania Inc.


Hidden Flowers – depictions of sexuality in shōjo and redikomi versions of The Tale of Genji

  • 9 Mar 2023
  • 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Online

Renowned as the world’s first novel, UNESCO listed The Tale of Genji has come to symbolise the epitome of Japanese culture, literature, and even, in the form of Prince Genji, Japanese masculinity. As text that is lauded for being written by a woman and populated by over 400 named characters, many of whom are wives, daughters, lovers and mothers, it is fascinating that scholars often focus on Genji as the most handsome, the most accomplished, (the best smelling) example of Japanese masculinity. Indeed, we might consider Johnny’s Juniors early boy band, Hikaru Genji, or the wave of J-pop and K-pop groups that followed in the wake of their roller skates.

The Tale of Genji follows Genji’s exploits with a number of women or, as I like to call them, the wives, mothers, and others. This paper will look briefly at how key moments in relationships are depicted in manga adaptations by Yamato Waki (1980), Maki Miyako (1988), and the Takarazuka Review (2015’s Shin Genji Monogatari). Particular attention will be paid to how sexuality is described and shown, from fading to white to explicit content. Is there a difference to how women write these scenes? If so, what, why, and how?

Dr Emerald L. King is lecturer in Humanities at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include violence in text, masochistic theory, kimono in Japanese literature, costume representation in anime and manga, and cosplay in Japan and Australia. Her work ties these disparate areas together with an overarching interest in costume and word.

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