Kumogakure (literally, vanishing behind the clouds) is the title of one of the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji."
It is one of the chapters of "The Tale of Genji." Only the title has been transmitted, and no text has been passed down. There are two theories about this chapter: the first one says that it only had a title and the text was never written in the first place, and the second one says that the text once existed, but was lost.
It is recorded in 'Yadorigi' (The Ivy) that somewhere in this period, Hikaru Genji became a Buddhist priest, lived a secluded life in Sagano, and died after a few years. To no Chujo, who had been called Chiji-no-Otodo since retiring after having reached the office of Daijo-daijin (Grand minister of state), and Higekuro, who had also reached the office of Daijo-daijin, also passed away during this period. There was a major change of generations in the world of The Tale of Genji.
When counting the fifty-four chapters of "The Tale of Genji", there are two ways of counting: one includes this 'Kumogakure' among them, and the other does not. When excluding the 'Kumogakure' from the fifty-four chapters, people divide 'Wakana' (Spring Shoots) (The Tale of Genji) which contains a lot of content into two parts and regard them as two chapters. Either way, "The Tale of Genji" ends up having fifty-four chapters. Until the medieval period people often included 'Kumogakure' among them, but since the early-modern period many people have been excluding it.
References in old commentaries
For instance, "Genji shaku" (commentaries of the Tale of Genji) (12th century) regarded 'Kumogakure' as 'the twenty-sixth' and a 'Genji catalogue' in "Hakuzoshi" (around 1200) has mention of 'the twenty-sixth Kumokakure'. On the other hand, "Ihon Shimeisho" says that, 'The tale of Hikaru Genji doesn't have the twenty-sixth chapter Kumogakure in the first place,' and a 'Genji catalogue' attached to the 'Tameuji manuscript Genji monogatari kokeizu' (old genealogies on the Tale of Genji) does not have the Kumogakure chapter.
"Genchu saihisho" (Secret Notes of Suigensho) says that, 'Although Kumogakure comes next to Maboroshi, it does not exist at all and some old catalogues say it didn't exist in the first place, and even when asking many knowledgeable talented people about it, they don't know either.'
There is an oral story in an old commentary ("Genchu saihisho") that it was the death of Hikaru Genji that was written about in this chapter, and that the chapter was sealed and burned by the order of the emperor at that time because people who read it became tired of life and entered into Buddhist priesthood one after another.
Also, "Shimeisho" (Purple Light Commentary), one of the old commentaries, has an oral story that the contents of this chapter still survive somewhere in secret.
Some supplemental works have been written to fill in this part.
Kumogakure rokujo (Genji's demise: six chapters): (written in about the Muromachi period, author unknown)
In its first chapter Kumogakure, the story of Genji's becoming a Buddhist priest and going missing are told.
Le dernier amour du prince Genghi (in Japanese translation, 'Genji no kimi no saigo no koi' [literally, 'The Last Love of Prince Genji']): this novel appears in "Nouvelles orientales"(in Japanese, "Toho kitan" [literally, "Well-wrought tales of the East"], a collection of short stories by a French author Marguerite YOURCENAR in 1938, translated into Japanese by Chimako TADA and published by Hakusuisha (Hakusui U books) in 1984, ISBN 4560070695)
Hikaru Genji greets death with a woman whom he once loved attending his deathbed.
Asakiyumemishi (The Tale of Genji seen in a Shallow Dream) (Waki YAMATO): Genji's renouncing the world and his death are told at the end of the first part.