Murasaki Shikibu’s Renunciation Heart and Her Literary Creation

Longmei Zhang

Syakkyaka or Buddhism songs became popular from 1000. Being a literary form which combines literature with religion, it was welcomed by aristocratic scholars and females. And they regarded it as a beneficial way to enter into the bliss world after death. From Shūi Wakashū, Syakkyaka began to be included into Nijūichidaishū. Seeing from the poems in Nijūichidaishū and those created by the waka poets, the main purpose of the poems was to gain merits and virtues. Compared with the contemporary female writers, only two Waka from Murasaki Sikibu that could be described as Syakkyaka, which were collected into The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu as diary poems. What’s more, the two poems were composed in the Thirties Dharma assembly of Saddharmapundarika Sutra hosted by Fujiwara Michinaga, so they were occasional works. In her diary and even in The Tale of Genji, she expressed her longing to become a nun. She also dwelled on how a person who was in vexation could get out of the obsession and become a nun in order to achieve the pursuit of rebirth in the hereafter. Among female writers in Heian Period, she was the only one who regarded Buddhism as the ultimate destination.


Longmei (1964-), is a Professor in Beijin Center for Japanese Studies, Beijin Foreign Studies University. She received her Ph.D. in 1998, The University of Tokyo. Her research interest is classical Japanese literature.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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