Genji Vocabulary Word?

I just came to the vocabulary word げんじ. Here is the meaning:
The origin family name is the original dude. The original dude comes from the original and first novel ever written, the Tale of Genji. These kanji represent Genji, good ol’ Genji. Perhaps hopping over to the reading will help you to know the meaning of this kanji.

And here is the reading:
This is a jukugo word that uses the on’yomi readings of the kanji. You should be able to read this on your own.

What the heck is this? Is the vocabulary word a surname commonly used in Japan? Does it only apply to one character from one novel? What does hopping over to the reading have to do with it? What does this word mean? And why is the reading so unhelpful? I’m really confused by this one!


I don’t know the word, but judging from the entry I saw it was a proper noun. So there was a character (probably) named Genji written this way and that’s it. In that sense it’s correct that you have to look at the reading to get the meaning right. (the reading of a name being equal to the meaning of a name)

That said, a little background of the person in question would have been appreciated probably.


It’s from the 源氏物語(げんじものがたり) (the Tale of Genji in English), a famous work of classic Japanese literature.


As the meaning says, that’s how “Genji” in The Tale of Genji (源氏物語) is written; he’s the titular main character. Since it’s a name, it doesn’t really have a meaning, which is why it tells you to go to the reading. It isn’t talking about the reading notes but the reading itself: げんじ. If you know the reading, you know the word, since it’s just a name


Supposedly it’s the world’s first novel or some such. So it’s really ancient and even native Japanese speakers read it in a modern translation.

Some more context can be found in Isaac Meyer’s podcast.


Thank you everyone for your comments. It’s interesting that there is a specific vocabulary word only for this one character’s name, even though the character is apparently very important in literature history.


He’s not the only one though, WK also teaches “Tokugawa”, “Shouwa” and an excessive amount of prefecture names. Probably they’re just good words to practice the readings.

By the way, “Genji” derives from the name of an important clan in Japanese history—the first Shoguns, basically. They are more commonly known by the name Minamoto, which is the Kun reading of the first Kanji, and which WK teaches as the word for origin.


If you visit Japan, you’re pretty much guaranteed to encounter those (though you might need to read information plaques at historical sites in order to spot much 徳川 or 昭和).


Would second that. Pretty relevant vocabulary.
Showa wasn’t that long ago. At least when I was in Japan basically every form which you had to fill out had showa kanji on it.
And prefecture names are also super important. Even for tourists ^^


Kids these days. Only care about Heisei. :stuck_out_tongue:


To be fair… it does say this in the description.

The character Genji always appears when the reading is gen. It makes sense to introduce it for the sake of the mnemonics. Btw who is Splinter? :joy:


I had to look that one (昭和) up to read a tweet! And I see it … not often, but just occasionally enough that I have to look it up more than once :slight_smile: so I’m glad it’s on here.

FWIW, even my pop-up dictionary browser plug-in has an entry for Genji:


  1. Genji (the character in the Genji Monogatari)
  2. the Minamoto family)

This guy.


Thank you :joy:
20 years without watching TV strikes back now…

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