Born around 978, Murasaki Shikibu was the author of the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari). This epic follows the romantic exploits of the shining prince Genji. Enormously popular in the author’s lifetime, The Tale of Genji has influenced art, literature, and poetry from its 10th-century debut through today. However, in this design, Yoshitoshi focuses on the author herself. Yoshitoshi portrays Lady Murasaki at Ishiyama Temple, where she is said to have written The Tale of Genji. She sits on the temple’s veranda beneath the full moon. Resting her elbows on the blank scroll unrolled before her, she gazes out at the rocky cliffs, waiting for a spark of inspiration.