Friday, February 5, 2010



The Tale of Genji


In the Christmas parcel,
from my daughter 
who lives in Tokyo,
amongst other edible treats
was a packet of 'Genji Pie'


The packet claims,
in that quintessential Japanese way ,
that Genji Pie
are heartwarming


Each little biscuit,
individually wrapped,
is heart shaped
and bears no resemblance
to a pie of any sort


Crunchy and sugar topped
they make a nice sweet accompaniement 
to my Earl Grey tea


 From this angle 
they look a little like
looking up a gum tree 
at a koala butt


Why not make your tea time
more delightful
with Genji-Pie


Now Genji Pie
must take it's name from
this novel -
'The Tale of Genji'
a medieval Japanese novel
claimed to be the oldest novel in existence
The Tale of Genji
written by Murasaki Shikibu,
celebrated it's 1000 year birthday last year


Here is the dashing hero himself
the Shining Prince
now commoner Genji
a man of great talents
and irresistible charms


The Tale is over 1100 pages long
which creates quite a feat to read
and also trying to hold the hefty tome 
when in bed reading

Genji has many amorous adventures
through which we learn of life 
in the imperial court,
the intricate and beautiful apparel worn,
the poetry and music
and the customs
of 10th and 11th century Japan


You may remember
when I was boot bound
last winter
with the irrascible ankle
I received a number of books
from Amazon
including this one
written by Liza Dalby

Liza Dalby was an American anthropologist
who lived and worked in Kyoto
in the 1970s 
as a Geisha in training

Liza Dalby
has also written
The Tale of Murasaki
based on the life of Murasaki Shikibu
the writer of Genji

I read this novel before tackling 
The Tale of Genji
and it helped to set the scene
for the epic adventures 
of our indefatigable hero


At the same time I ordered these books
Friko offered us
some passages
from Sei Shonagon's 
Pillow Book

No, nothing to do with bedtime,
it is a book of court life
in the same time period
which expresses the personal thoughts
and feelings 
of a court gentlewoman
and reknown poet
of the day,
Sei Shonagon


I think I shall now
sit an enjoy 
another risque adventure
of the handsome and irrepressible Genji
whilst nibbling 
my heartwarming 
Genji Pie



  1. They look exactly (and sound from your description) like a Mexican pastry I have eaten many times. We are close to the border here and have a large population of Mexican descent and so have many stores where Mexican pastries can be bought.

    So I wonder how they came to Japan or maybe how they came to Mexico.

  2. Genji pie and the tale of Genji should go together nicely. I had never heard of either one, so I learned something new today.

  3. These are just like the palmiers that are in every French bakery! I wonder who thought up the idea first?
    Yours posts are really lovely - thoughtful and pretty. Thanks so much for adding yourself to my little list of readers, Delwyn.

  4. Another super post Delwyn - all new to me. I must have a look for some of those books.....don't think I shall find the Genji Pie here though!!

  5. Genji Pie looks good--I will look for these in the Japanese store we have here in Greenville.

    Love all the book reviews

    Tracy :)

  6. hi delwyn - sweet pie! and i know some of those books - they're beautiful! both - to be nibbled on slowly and savoured. it's nice to set up kindnesses for ourselves like this. a place to settle back into. have a peaceful evening. steven

  7. Like Deborah I know these as a delectable French dessert known as 'palmiers'. They are made from puff pastry in the same design and sprinkled with sugar - a staple in any good French bakery.

    Enjoy your excursion back into another time and place, and your snack.

  8. I know I would enjoy the novels you mention, Delwyn. Three of my favorite books, "Peony In Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and The Bonesetter's Daughter" were beautiful stories woven with Japan's traditions and history.

    The Genji Pie (:koala butt:) looks just like the Palmiers available here! I love your tray and dessert dish!
    Smiles :)...Wanda

  9. What an adventure it must be for your daughter to live in Japan! I hope you'll have occasion to visit her there!

  10. i would love to taste that heart-shaped Genji pie!!!

    anyway..thanks for doing my request..^_^ i dont expect it to be 1000+ pages 0.o!! i cannot have the patience to read that! but anyway..i now remember yeah,...that's why we have discussed that book in history class because its the oldest book..its quite a fortune for us to take a peak of it :P


    (P.S. if you'll reply to this comment..pls. put it in my blog's comment box so that i can update my comments :D)

  11. I've wanted to read a Tale of Genji for some time, but whenever I get serious about it I run into this obstacle: it is over 1000 freakin' pages in length!

    However, now you've whet my appetite again and if I download it to my kindle at least I'll be able to hold it!

  12. The Japanese learned to bake bread from the Portuguese, and still call the stuff "pan" in their own language. Loved Genji pies when I lived there! Such a throwback to life there, especially curled up on a futon and reading Genji monogatari. Great read. You do so much to bring out the best in your readers, Delwyn. Great to be here again. EFH

  13. I enjoyed the way you weaved your story together. I, too, often wonder why or how things got their names, interweaving stories of people and places. Thanks for the lesson.

  14. Odd that you should discuss Liza Dalby today. Yesterday I was sorting and organizing in the basement and ran across my copy of The Tale of Murasaki. Too weird! I had forgotten all about it. I checked Geisha out of the library several years ago and found it fascinating.

  15. As others have pointed out, it's interesting to see the same kind of pastry have vastly different names. It looks to be perfectly enjoyable with tea.

    I'm glad you mentioned Liza Dalby. I had not heard of her before, and now I am quite interested. I will definitely be looking up her books. Thank you!

  16. One of your commentators already said that it looks a little like a Palmier cookie, they also have in the USA. In Holland (where I'm originally from) we have the "krakeling" which is a little more salty than the palmier.
    Interesting, this seems a cookie with an international history!

  17. Here is what I wish: That I could sit quietly, sipping tea, and nibbling on the sweet Genji, while you read aloud, Delwyn. That would be bliss - and also, I wouldn't have to make it through 1,100 pages on my own.

  18. The biscuits connect to the story;the story connects to history; history connects with mores and customs long gone but impressive in their times. What a fun way to keep the threads alive.

  19. Hello Delwyn, thank you for visiting my blog and the nice compliment you left. It is a pleasure to visit here and find such a lovely place to learn and enjoy. The books you mentioned sound very interesting and the connections you made were lovely.

    I love sipping Earl Grey, too. It's my favorite tea.

  20. Hello
    Really a lovely post, Delwyn! I like Genji pies too! You are truly a great reader!! Seisho-Nagon and Murasaki-shikibu were rivals, weren't they? When I read Murasaki's diary, I was very surprised to find that she took a great deal of hostile view of Seisho-nagon. Murasaki was clever enough to hide her true feelings in the court, though. Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed this a lot.

  21. Those look scrumptious - although I'm somewhat amused by the idea of "finest margarine." :)

    I'm curious - was your interest in Japanese culture/literature a cause or an effect of your daughter being in Japan? Or neither?

  22. I love those cookies, I use to bake them often too! We know them as Palmier Cookies...
    Many thanks for your sweet and kind words about my publication, Delwin. They were greatly appreciated.

  23. Hi Ellen

    that is interesting. It seems as if they are an international biscuit/ spread all around the world...

    Hi Janie

    I am glad that I could bring the two together for you today

    Hello and welcome Deborah
    It is nice to have you here joining in the chat and sharing...

    if they appeal to you try the Asian store...they may have them...

    Hello Tracey

    let me know if you have any luck. I'm glad you liked the reviews. I have picked up many great recommendations from bloggers and rely on their discernment and reviews more than the official book jacket blurb which is often far from the real nature of the novel. Often very much embellished and tizzed up.

    Happy days

  24. Hi Steven

    Trouble is I can be a little too indulgent with the sweet promises and rewards...


    there seems to be a consensus on the French variety of the Genji biscuit and Ellen tells us they are found in Mexico also. Thanks to expat, he offers the Portuguese background to Japanese baking skill.
    I am enjoying the book, nibble by nibble...metaphorically of course!

    Hello Wanda

    the books you mention have been favourites of mine too (actually they have a Chinese setting - but that does not alter the fact that we enjoy the Eastern context)
    The tray appealed to me with the cherry blossom background and the little plate is one of many that I bring back from overseas travels...some people buy jewellery, some fashion and memorabilia from foreign countries, I like to slip a little dish into my luggage...

    Hi GW

    Yes she loves her life in Japan...Fortunately I have been able to go over there three times myself. A while back I had a wonderful 12 day walk between Tokyo and Kyoto along the Nakasendo Way.
    If you are interested in the villages and customs take a look at my series of posts - search the Nakasendo way on my page and they will all jump out at you.

    Hi Ayu

    are you now studying at university?
    I was not sure of your status.

    that is an excellent idea. Each chapter is a separate self contained story so it is easy to read in pieces. I am really enjoying it but you need to take your time and read the footnotes as there is a large cast of characters to become confused with, and many literary allusions so that it helps to read up on the material provided in order to make sense of the poems and dialogue.

    Hi expat
    it is nice to catch up with you again. I am reading your posts on my iphone, but as with most other friends I have been neglecting the comments as am only at the computer now and then. The iphone makes commenting very precarious...
    thanks for your added information today... the Japanese certainly know how to tickle the tastbuds...I loved meandering through those acres of food floors under the railway stations and department stores.

    Happy days

  25. Hello Jennifer

    it is an interesting line of thought - well to some people - like you and I obviously...I love that little puppy of your Jennifer...

    Hi Meri

    those co-incidences are always interesting. I thought that Dalby had made a good job of the Tale of Murasaki - her writing had certainly improved from her student days.

    Hello Amy

    I'm sure you would enjoy her work if you are interested in Japan.

    Hi Jeanette

    when you talked about the perfectly named krakeling I could hear the crunch and taste the salty sweetness...I must have had something similar before...probably in Japan too, they seem to mix sweet and salty, sweet and sour in weird and wonderful combinations...

    I also received some unusual caramel salty biscuit nibbles in the parcel...


    now that sounds a great idea and you wouldn't have to hold that heavy volume either... I had some friends who used to read to each other every night, taking alternate nights as reader...isn't that sweet.
    I would enjoy your company too...


    After reading your comment I wanted to sing

    " and the hip bone's connected to the - thigh bone,....

    Welcome Susan
    thanks for dropping by and taking time to join in the chat...I hope we get to know each other more through our posts...

    Happy days

  26. Hi Sapphire

    I always feel a little nervy wondering how you might react to my posts which include Japanese content. It is very possible that I will make bloopers and faux pas at times. But you know I am only speaker of the things I enjoy and am no expert.

    I see you have written Sei Shonagon differently to the way it appears on my book - I like to notice these little interesting differences...

    Yes I picked up that rivalry between the two writers too, and it seems as if poor old Sei Shonagon lost her following after the empress's demise. She certainly comes across as somewhat arrogant and proud in her book.
    Thanks for your contribution Sapphire.


    that's an interesting question.
    Did you know we have an adopted daughter who came from Korea as a baby? So I have always had an interest in the East. When our other daughter was at school she became fascinated by Japanese culture and art...It was the time of the Tamagochi toys...This interest was fuelled by her friendship with a Japanese exchange student at high school.
    At uni she majored in 2 subjects - one of which was Japanese and then went over to teach there. I have had 3 trips over - the most wonderful was the long walk...have you read those posts. Take a look up at my comments to GW about that.
    Thanks for your comments Polly
    I always enjoy your correspondence.

    Hi Monica
    it's nice to have you over and yes the biscuits appear to very closely resemble the French Palmier...and you baked them are such a clever cookie....

    Happy days everyone

  27. How weird
    I wrote the comment above !

    Has anyone encountered this nishant work from home group?

    Happy days

  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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