I recently noticed a flyer for an interesting literary club in my neighborhood called the Tale of Genji Research Circle. I commented on it, and my wife said, “Yes, it’s a club where people who love reading discuss the Tale of Genji, especially which character they are most similar to in the book. ” The Tale of Genji is a novel written by Murasaki Shikibu in the 12th century which details the fictional son of a Japanese Emperor Hikaru Genji (“Shining Genji”), focusing on the many women he loved. It’s not uncommon for women who like to read to identify with one or more characters from the book — perhaps the wise Murasaki-no-Ue, or the sorrowful Yugao. Another interesting way Japanese analyze personalities is using the famous story of the Chinese zodiac. If a person is cunning, they might identify with the rat, who pushed the cat into a river during the great New Year’s Day race (which is why cats hate rats today), or if someone is a little clumsy, they might be compared with the boar, who was so eager to win the race he climbed the wrong mountain, and ended up coming in last.
Which Tale of Genji character are you?