The Tale of Genji – Colors of the fifty-four chapters

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What kinds of costumes did the characters in “The Tale of Genji” wear, and what shifting emotions were conveyed through the layers of their colors? A supplementary reader to enjoy “The Tale of Genji” with its rich colors.

The full text is provided alongside the English translation.

This revised and newly edited version of the book includes all fifty-four color illustrations meticulously focused on by Yoshioka Sachio. The text is a compilation mainly of explanations on dyeing and color materials, re-edited into a beautiful compact size. Quotes from “The Tale of Genji” feature the famous translation “The Tale of Genji” (The Tale of Genji English version translated by Edward Seidensticker).

In “The Tale of Genji,” from the first chapter “Kiritsubo” to the fifty-fourth chapter “Yume no Ukihashi,” Murasaki Shikibu describes the beauty and diversity of Japan’s four seasons through the perspectives of various characters, both female and male, who compete in wearing beautiful layered costumes known as “kasane no irome” (layered colors). The late dyeing artist Yoshioka Sachio, in “The Color Dictionary of The Tale of Genji” (published in 2008), meticulously analyzed all fifty-four chapters of “The Tale of Genji,” focusing on the colors and costumes mentioned in the story. At the same time, he deciphered descriptions of dyeing and plant dyes recorded in the law collection “Engishiki,” which compiled religious and administrative regulations of temples, shrines, and the imperial court during the Heian period, and reproduced the “kasane no irome” of the Heian court using the original dyeing methods of that time.

*This book is a restructured and re-edited version based on the first edition of “The Color Dictionary of ‘The Tale of Genji'” (authored by Yoshioka Sachio, published by Shikosha in 2008), quoting some of the dyeing illustrations, part of the text, and materials.

Release Date:
February, 2024

Author profile

Sarasa Yoshioka

Born in Kyoto City. After graduating from university, she worked for a fashion brand and learned dyeing and weaving techniques at the Nomura Silk Museum in Seiyo City. Since 2008, she has been working in dyeing under her father, Sachio Yoshioka, the fifth generation at “Somenotsukasa Yoshioka.” In 2019, she became the sixth generation following her father’s sudden passing. She is involved in traditional events such as the Shunie ceremony at Todai-ji’s Nigatsu-do in Nara, the Flower Meeting ceremony at Yakushi-ji, and the Iwashimizu Festival at Iwashimizu Hachimangu, as well as handling the restoration of national treasures.

Sarasa Yoshioka’s books

Sachio Yoshioka

Born in Kyoto City. A historian and dyer of textiles and dyes. The fifth-generation head of “Somenotsukasa Yoshioka” and the founder of the art book publishing company “Shikosha.”

Based on the research left by his father, Tsuneo, Uemura Rokuro, Yamazaki Seiju, and Maeda Ujo, he worked with dyer Denji Fukuda to recreate ancient dyeing techniques. He was involved in the restoration of cultural properties such as Yakushi-ji and Todai-ji, while also being active in writing and lecturing. At the request of the Victoria & Albert Museum, he produced the botanical dyed silk “Colors of Japan,” which is housed in their permanent collection.

Sachio Yoshioka’s books

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Additional information

Weight 601 g

Sachio Yoshioka, Sarasa Yoshioka


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