An Imperial Concubine's Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and by G. G. Rowley

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By G. G. Rowley

Japan within the early 17th century was once a wild position. Serial killers stalked the streets of Kyoto at evening, whereas noblemen and ladies mingled freely on the imperial palace, ingesting saké and looking at kabuki dancing within the presence of the emperor's critical consort. between those noblewomen was once an imperial concubine named Nakanoin Nakako, who in 1609 turned embroiled in a intercourse scandal related to either courtiers and younger women within the emperor's carrier. As punishment, Nakako was once banished to an island within the Pacific Ocean, yet she by no means reached her vacation spot. as a substitute, she was once shipwrecked and spent fourteen years in a distant village at the Izu Peninsula ahead of she used to be eventually allowed to come to Kyoto. In 1641, Nakako begun a brand new event: she entered a convent and have become a Buddhist nun.

Recounting the striking tale of this resilient girl and her war-torn global, G. G. Rowley investigates aristocratic relations files, village storehouses, and the files of imperial convents. She follows the banished concubine as she endures rural exile, gets an unforeseen reprieve, and rediscovers herself because the abbess of a nunnery. whereas unraveling Nakako's strange story, Rowley additionally unearths the little-known lives of samurai ladies who sacrificed themselves at the fringes of the nice battles that introduced an finish to greater than a century of civil conflict. Written with willing perception and actual affection, An Imperial Concubine's Tale tells the genuine tale of a woman's striking existence in seventeenth-century Japan.

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There would have been little Michikatsu could do but huddle over a brazier for warmth. Inoue transcribes several poems from this period that reveal Michikatsu rehearsing the expression of disgruntlement at his misfortune. 40 The first is on “admiring the blossoms”: yoso ni shite omou mo hana ni urami are ya ōmiyabito no haru no kokoro o Away from it all, how I resent the blossoms! Especially when I recall the feelings they inspire in courtiers in spring. Even the imagined sight of cherry blossoms upsets him, he claims—the eleventh month, when Michikatsu composed these poems, is midwinter.

The Imagawa had lost out to surrounding warlords; their territories carved up, they could no longer patronize the courtiers who had gathered around them. For the next ten years, until Saneki’s death in 1579, Michikatsu was able to read and study texts with him. When Saneki was summoned to the palace of Prince Sanehito to lecture on Genji, Michikatsu accompanied him, and in his spare time he copied a text of Genji, probably recording notes from his uncle’s lectures as he went along. 14 Imperial Censure When they were not practicing the family arts, some nobles were living recklessly—for who knew what death and devastation tomorrow might bring?

We may suppose that these early years in the remote countryside provided Nakako with the reserves of physical strength and resourcefulness she would draw on later in her eventful life. Michikatsu’s Great Work In 1589, when Michikatsu had been living at Tanabe Castle for some eight years, Yūsai suggested that his guest should compile a commentary on The Tale of Genji. Yūsai himself had studied Genji with Michikatsu’s uncle Sanjōnishi Saneki, but his curiosity had not been satisfied. 56 And he made it possible for his guest to do so by providing him with copies of the texts he would need to consult, as well as, we must assume, the (expensive) paper, the ink, and the uninterrupted time he would need to complete the task.

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