Kyoto Literary Tour

Class picture at the Imperial Palace
A guide at Rozan-ji shares about the history of the temple with the students

Another expedition outside of the classroom!

Here in Kansai, we are lucky enough to have history and culture all around us. After three weeks of studying Heian period literature, including Taketori Monogatari, The Tale of Genji, and The Pillow Book, the Canonical Japanese Literature class went to Kyoto to see part of the world we read about. The tour included Rozanji, the temple where Murasaki Shikibu lived and wrote The Tale of Genji. We enjoyed the gardens and the displays of Genji artifacts, ranging from the Heian period to the Edo period. After spending some time there learning about the temple's origins and the Heian aristocracy, we went to see the Imperial Palace. The grounds and the gardens were extensive and impressive, but the palace itself was stunning. Students were able to see the buildings that appeared in the literature they read, adding a new depth and appreciation to their understanding. As one student remarked, "The text is more alive now."

We were fortunate to have great weather and enjoyed each other's company as we walked through Kyoto and learned about the global literary heritage to be found there. The day was a wonderful example of the rich resources we have around us at Otemae outside the classroom, and a fruitful example of the ways in culture outside of the classroom can reinforce and enrich the things we study in class.

We are looking forward to our upcoming, local Shukugawa literary tour when we study Edo period literature!

Author of this article

Kathryn M. TANAKA

Kathryn M. TANAKA

Cultural and Historical Studies

Associate Professor

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