The Tale of Genji Questions and Answers
by Lady Murasaki Shikibu

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In The Tale of Genji, what are specific examples of the aesthetic yugen, specifically in the chapter focused on the sacred tree/green branch?

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According to Zeami Motokiyo, yūgen is "a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe ... and the sad beauty of human suffering." It seems supernatural but is not; it is a beauty in this world that is subtle and hints at the beauty that can be found only in the imagination, like that of still trees in a fog, fading from sight. The concept of this aesthetic was prevalent when The Tale of Genji was written in the 11th century. 

In The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibuyūgen  appears in the scenery, the dialogue, and the action. For example, Genji, on his way to visit "the Rokujō lady," and walks "over a reed plain of melancholy beauty" where "the autumn flowers were gone and insects hummed in the wintry tangles. A wind whistling through the pines brought snatches...

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