Play title Ukifune  In Japanese
Authors Murasaki Shikibu (original novel)
H˘j˘ Hideji (Kabuki script)

The drama "Ukifune" was premiered in July 1953 at the Meijiza [casting]. It was adapted from the "Uji Chapters" (the last chapters) of Murasaki Shikibu's novel "Genji Monogatari".


"Ukifune" is divided into 5 acts (made up of 7 scenes).

Key words Shinkabuki
Genji Monogatari
Heian Jidai
Latest Production

At the Kabukiza in March 2003 with Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Kataoka Nizaemon and Nakamura Kankur˘ in the roles of Ukifune, Kaoru and Niou.


"Ukifune" is the story of its eponymous heroine, a beautiful young woman, and two remarkable Heian noblemen. Its events unfold 20 years after the death of Shining Prince Genji, and the two men with whom Ukifune is involved are Prince Kaoru, supposedly Genji's son, and Prince Niou, his grandson.

The action unfolds against beautiful sets, the characters wear elegant, aristocratic costumes, and this visually bewitching staging, performed to exquisite music, invites the audience to lose itself in the "eternal longings" of "The Tale of Genji."

Ukifune, raised in the countryside away from Ky˘to, loves to spend her time wandering in the fields. Her unconventionality makes the young woman extremely appealing to courtly sophisticates such as Niou, who encounters her when she goes to Ky˘to to stay with her stepsister, Niou's wife.

Ukifune is carefully chaperoned by her mother, Chűj˘, who is eager to find a suitable match for her precious daughter. Naturally, Ukifune is delighted when Prince Kaoru proposes to marry her. She even asks him to make love to her on one of his visits, but he persuades her to wait until they are properly married. Meanwhile, Niou, a playboy like his grandfather, begins to court Ukifune in earnest at a secluded villa in Uji, south of Ky˘to.

One night, Niou manages to enter Ukifune's bedroom, through her mother's help, and after fierce protesting, Ukifune finally succumbs to his amorous assault. When she realizes, in the morning, that she is attracted to Niou despite her love for Kaoru, Ukifune quietly leaves the house and walks toward the Uji River. Torn between the two men, Ukifune has no choice but to die.

Source: Sasaguchi Rei

Kaoru visiting Ukifune (illustration made by Okada Motoshi)

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