The royal carriage of Taka Yamabuki

Re-enactors in traditional Japanese costume preparing the for Hollyhock Festival.

7 January 2015 · Katherine M. Lawrence

Yamabuki’s poem at the Barrier Strait

The Tale of Genji was written in the late 900s C.E. by a woman known to history by the name Murasaki. The work is considered by many to be the earliest novel ever written. The author was believed to have been a lady in the emperor’s court and her observations are said to be a thinly disguised fictionalization of the people she knew. Most people who are familiar with Japanese literature will say the work is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, work in Japanese literature....

28 November 2014 · Katherine M. Lawrence

Murasaki’s World - Heian Japan

The Japan of the Heian period, 794-1185, unsurprisingly was different from popular images of medieval Japan. In writing the Yamabuki series, as much as I could, I looked to experts in the field who understood what the Heian period was, and also what it was not. If the informed Westerner was asked to enumerate the outstanding features of traditional Japan, his list might well consist of the following: in culture No and Kabuki drama, Haiku poems, Ukiyoe colour prints, samisen music, and various activities like the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and the preparation of miniature landscapes that are related to Zen influences; in society the two-sworded samurai and the geisha; in ideas the Zen approach to human experience with its stress on an intuitive understanding of the truth and sudden enlightenment, the samurai ethic sometimes known as Bushido, a great concern with the the conflicting demands of duty and human affection and an extremely permissive attitude to suicide, especially love suicides; in domestic architecture fitted straw matting (tatami), large communal baths, tokonoma alcoves for hanging kakemono; in food raw fish and soy (tempura and sukiyaki being judiciously excluded as Western importations)....

20 September 2013 · Katherine M. Lawrence