Becoming a nun Becoming a Nun

Many women in Tale of Genji became nuns to escape from Genji's love. However, none of them asked Genji for permission. They become nuns with a good grace, and from that moment they become proud of themselves and independent. None of them looked back.

The author, lady Murasaki was very intelligent and considered to have studied Buddhism. But her rich background kept her from believing in it honestly. However, she would have recognized the only way a woman can receive salvation is becoming a nun in the male-dominated society.

In the Edo period, bikuni (from the Sanskrit bhiksni, nuns or almswomen) originally were Buddhist nuns. In the early Edo period, if a wife cut her hair and suggested a public office or her husband to take a vacation, it was regarded as divorce. The wife had to continue her life as a bikuni.

Here, two Heian ladies, with their hands clasped, adore a ray of heavenly light that falls from the sky.

Frontispiece of a Buddhist Scripture
Itsukushima Shrine

Buddhist women


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