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Shiga: Temple restores doll by Murasaki Shikibu; ‘Tale of Genji’ is said to have been inspired by Temple Stay

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The restored doll of Murasaki Shikibu at Ishiyamadera Temple in Otsu

OTSU – A doll depicting author Murasaki Shikibu has been restored at Ishiyamadera Temple in Otsu.

Murasaki Shikibu is one of Japan’s best-known historical figures and wrote the entire novel ‘The Tale of Genji’ about 1,000 years ago. This year she is attracting special attention as the main character in a popular TV drama.

“The Tale of Genji” depicts protagonist Hikaru Genji’s love affairs with various women and his success at the imperial court. Murasaki Shikibu is said to have been inspired to write the book when she stayed at Ishiyamadera Temple and saw the moon reflected in Lake Biwa and the Seta River.

The temple began displaying the doll around 1955 to educate visitors about its relationship with Murasaki Shikibu. It has been a familiar sight for years, with Murasaki Shikibu sitting at a desk in the main room and working out ideas for the story.

However, cracks had appeared on the doll’s face and the colors of her layered kimono had faded.

The temple raised money through crowdfunding and other means, and hired experts to restore the doll. It took about four months to dress up the doll and touch up her face.

The beautifully restored doll was unveiled on March 18.

“I am happy that the doll has been restored to its beautiful form. We want to continue to preserve it with great care,” said temple priest Ryuge Washio.

The main hall is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is ¥600 for adults.

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