The small but engaging The Tale of Genji Museum (源氏物語ミュージアム) is a delightful place to connect with Japan’s literary history. The Tale of Genji was written in the early eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, the daughter of an official of the Imperial Court in Kyoto, and is regarded as the world’s first novel. It is an epic saga of love affairs, court intrigues and political machinations, centring on Genji, the Shining Prince, the beautiful son of an emperor and his concubine. The book’s finale is set in Uji, which Murasaki Shikibu would have known intimately – she was a distant relative of Fujiwara Michinaga and she served as lady-in-waiting to his daughter, Empress Akiko. At the museum, you can learn about the fictional world of Genji in 3-D format, which includes a reproduction of a Heian-period home and an animated film based on the heroine of the Uji chapters, Ukifune. Pick up one of the English-language pamphlets which explain the basics of the museum at the entrance. To get to the museum, cross over Uji bridge, north of Byōdō-in, towards Keihan Uji Station, and take a right turn up the hill.

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