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Title: Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan - The Sarashina Diary, The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu, The - Diary of Izumi Shikibu
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan - The Sarashina Diary, The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu, The - Diary of Izumi Shikibu" ***

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http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made
available by







_Professor in the Imperial University, Tokio_



_And with Illustrations_



The Riverside Press Cambridge



(For explanation see List of Illustrations)


The poems in the text, slight and occasional as they are, depending
often for their charm on plays upon words of two meanings, or on
the suggestions conveyed to the Japanese mind by a single word,
have presented problems of great difficulty to the translators, not
perfectly overcome.

Izumi Shikibu's Diary is written with extreme delicacy of treatment.
English words and thought seem too downright a medium into which to
render these evanescent, half-expressed sentences and poems--vague as
the misty mountain scenery of her country, with no pronouns at all, and
without verb inflections. The shy reserve of the lady's written record
has induced the use of the third person as the best means of suggesting

Of the "Sarashina Diary" there exist a few manuscript copies, and
three or four publications of the text. Some of them are confused and
unreadably incoherent. The present translation was done by comparing
all the texts accessible, and is especially founded on the connected
text by Mr. Sakine, professor of the Girls' Higher Normal School,
Tokio, published by Meiji Shoin, Itchome Nishiki-cho, Kanda-ku, Tokio.
As far as possible the exact meaning has been adhered to, and the
words chosen to express it have been kept absolutely simple, without
complexity of thought, for such is the vocabulary in which it was
written. Sometimes the diarist uses the present tense, sometimes the
text seems reminiscent. The words in square brackets have been inserted
by the translators to complete the sense in English of sentences
which literally rendered do not carry with them the suggestion of the
Japanese text.







        From _Kokushi Daijiten_, by kind permission of Mr. H.
        Yoshikawa. The figure was drawn for the purpose of
        showing the details of dress and therefore gives no
        indication of the grace and elegance of the costume as
        worn. It shows the red _karaginu_, or over-garment; the
        dark-green robe trimmed with folds, called the _uchigi_;
        the _saishi_, or head-ornament, in this case of gold but
        sometimes of silver; the unlined under-garment of thin
        silk; the red _hakama_, or divided skirt; and the train
        of white silk painted or stained in colors.

        From an old book.

        From _Kokushi Daijiten_, by kind permission of Mr. H.
        Yoshikawa. The figure shows the _zui_, or ornament of
        the head-strap holding the head-dress in place; also the
        method of rolling up the gauze flap of the head-dress.
        Tucked into the red state coat appear a half-spread fan
        and some folded sheets of paper, and at the back is seen
        a quiver made of lacquered wood. Underneath the red coat
        the _hakama_ is shown. The shoes are of Chinese pattern.

        From old prints.
        From a print in an old book.



The Japanese have a convenient method of calling their historical
periods by the names of the places which were the seats of government
while they lasted. The first of these epochs of real importance is
the Nara Period, which began A.D. 710 and endured until 794; all
before that may be classed as archaic. Previous to the Nara Period,
the Japanese had been a semi-nomadic race. As each successive Mikado
came to the throne, he built himself a new palace, and founded a
new capital; there had been more than sixty capitals before the
Nara Period. Such shifting was not conducive to the development of
literature and the arts, and it was not until a permanent government
was established at Nara that these began to flourish. This is scarcely
the place to trace the history of Japanese literature, but fully to
understand these charming "Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan," it is
necessary to know a little of the world they lived in, to be able to
feel their atmosphere and recognize their allusions.

We know a good deal about Japan to-day, but the Japan with which we
are familiar only slightly resembles that of the Diaries. Centuries of
feudalism, of "Dark Ages," have come between. We must go behind all
this and begin again. We have all heard of the "Forty-seven Ronins" and
the Nō Drama, of Shōguns, Daimios, and Samurais, and many of us live
in daily communion with Japanese prints. It gives us pause to reflect
that the earliest of these things is almost as many centuries ahead of
the Ladies as it is behind us. "Shōgun" means simply "General," and
of course there were always generals, but the power of the Shōguns,
and the military feudalism of which the Daimios and their attendant
Samurais were a part, did not really begin until the middle of the
twelfth century and did not reach its full development until the middle
of the fourteenth; the Nō Drama started with the ancient religious
pantomimic dance, the Kagura, but not until words were added in the
fourteenth century did it become the Nō; and block colour printing was
first practised in 1695, while such famous print artists as Utamaro,
Hokusai, and Hiroshige are all products of the eighteenth or early
nineteenth centuries. To find the Ladies behind the dark military ages,
we must go back a long way, even to the century before their own, and
so gain a sort of perspective for them and their time.

Chinese literature and civilization were introduced into Japan
somewhere between 270 and 310 A.D., and Buddhism followed in 552. Of
course, all such dates must be taken with a certain degree of latitude;
Oriental historians are anything but precise in these matters. Chinese
influence and Buddhism are the two enormous facts to be reckoned with
in understanding Japan, and considering what an effect they have
had, it is not a little singular that Japan has always been able
to preserve her native character. To be sure, Shintoism was never
displaced by Buddhism, but the latter made a tremendous appeal to the
Japanese temperament, as the Diaries show. In fact, it was not until
the Meiji Period (1867-1912) that Shintoism was again made the state
religion. With the introduction of Chinese civilization came the art of
writing, when is not accurately known, but printing from movable blocks
followed from Korea in the eighth century. As was inevitable under the
circumstances, Chinese came to be considered the language of learning.
Japanese scholars wrote in Chinese. All the "serious" books--history,
theology, science, law--were written in Chinese as a matter of course.
But, in 712, a volume called "Records of Ancient Matters" was compiled
in the native tongue. It is the earliest book in Japanese now extant.

If the scholars wrote in a borrowed language, the poets knew better.
They wrote in their own, and the poetry of the Nara Period has been
preserved for us in an anthology, the "Manyoshu" or "Collection of
One Thousand Leaves." This was followed at the beginning of the tenth
century by the "Kokinshu" ("Ancient and Modern Poems"), to which,
however, the editor, Tsurayuki, felt obliged to write a Chinese
preface. The Ladies of the Diaries were extremely familiar with these
volumes, their own writings are full of allusions to poems contained in
them; Sei-Shōnagon, writing early in the eleventh century, describes
a young lady's education as consisting of writing, music, and the
twenty volumes of the "Kokinshu." So it came about that while learned
gentlemen still continued to write in Chinese, poetry, fiction,
diaries, and desultory essays called "Zui-hitsu" (Following the Pen)
were written in Japanese.

Now the position of women at this time was very different from what it
afterwards became in the feudal period. The Chinese called Japan the
"Queen Country," because of the ascendancy which women enjoyed there.
They were educated, they were allowed a share of inheritance, and they
had their own houses. It is an extraordinary and important fact that
much of the best literature of Japan has been written by women. Three
of these most remarkable women are the authors of the Diaries; a fourth
to be named with them, Sei-Shōnagon, to whom I have just referred, was
a contemporary.

In 794, the capital was moved from Nara to Kiōto, which was given the
name of "Heian-jo" or "City of Peace," and with the removal, a new
period, the Heian, began. It lasted until 1186, and our Ladies lived in
the very middle of it.

By this time Japan was thoroughly civilized; she was, indeed, a little
over-civilized, a little too fined down and delicate. At least this
is true of all that life which centred round the court at Kiōto.
To historians the Heian Period represents the rise and fall of the
Fujiwara family. This powerful family had served the Mikados from time
out of mind as heads of the Shinto priests, and after the middle of the
seventh century, they became ministers or prime ministers. An immense
clan, they gradually absorbed all the civil offices in the Kingdom,
while the military offices were filled by the Taira and Minamoto
families. It was the rise of these last as the Fujiwara declined which
eventually led to the rule of the Shōguns and the long centuries of
feudalism and civil war. But in the middle of the Heian Period the
Fujiwara were very much everywhere. Most of those Court ladies who
were the authors of remarkable books were the daughters of governors
of provinces, and that meant Fujiwaras to a greater or lesser degree.
At that time polygamy flourished in Japan, and the family had grown to
a prodigious size. Since a civil office meant a post for a Fujiwara,
many of them were happily provided for, but they were so numerous that
they outnumbered the legitimate positions and others had to be created
to fill the demand. The Court was full of persons of both sexes holding
sinecures, with a great deal of time on their hands and nothing to do
in it but write poetry, which they did exceedingly well, and attend
the various functions prescribed by etiquette. Ceremonials were many
and magnificent, and poetry writing became, not only a game, but a
natural adjunct to every possible event. The Japanese as a nation are
dowered with a rare and exquisite taste, and in the Heian Period taste
was cultivated to an amazing degree. Murasaki Shikibu records the
astounding pitch to which it had reached in a passage in her diary.
Speaking of the Mikado's ladies at a court festivity, she says of the
dress of one of them: "One had a little fault in the colour combination
at the wrist opening. When she went before the Royal presence to fetch
something, the nobles and high officials noticed it. Afterwards Lady
Saisho regretted it deeply. It was not so bad; only one colour was a
little too pale."

That passage needs no comment; it is completely illuminating. It is a
paraphrase of the whole era.

Kiōto was a little city, long one way by some seventeen thousand odd
feet, or about three and a third miles, wide the other by fifteen
thousand, or approximately another three miles, and it is doubtful if
the space within the city wall was ever entirely covered by houses.
The Palace was built in the so-called Azumaya style, a form of
architecture which was also followed in noblemen's houses. The roof,
or rather roofs, for there were many buildings, was covered with bark,
and, inside, the divisions into rooms were made by different sorts of
moving screens. At the period of the Diaries, the reigning Mikado,
Ichijo, had two wives: Sadako, the first queen, was the daughter of a
previous prime minister, Michitaka, a Fujiwara, of course; the other,
Akiko, daughter of Michinaga, the prime minister of the Diaries and a
younger brother of Michitaka, was second queen or Chūgū. These queens
each occupied a separate house in the Palace. Kokiden was the name of
Queen Sadako's house; Fujitsubu the name of Queen Akiko's. The rivalry
between these ladies was naturally great, and extended even to their
_entourage_. Each strove to surround herself with ladies who were not
only beautiful, but learned. The bright star of Queen Sadako's court
was Sei-Shōnagon, the author of a remarkable book, the "Makura no
Sōshi" or "Pillow Sketches," while Murasaki Shikibu held the same
exalted position in Queen Akiko's.

We are to imagine a court founded upon the Chinese model, but not
nearly so elaborate. A brilliant assemblage of persons all playing
about a restricted but very bright centre. From it, the high officials
went out to be governors of distant provinces, and the lesser ones
followed them to minor posts, but in spite of the distinction of such
positions, distance and the inconvenience of travelling made the
going a sort of laurelled banishment. These gentlemen left Kiōto with
regret and returned with satisfaction. But the going, and the years of
residence away, was one of the commonplaces of social life. Fujiwara
though one might be, one often had to wait and scheme for an office,
and the Diaries contain more than one reference to such waiting and the
bitter disappointment when the office was not up to expectation.

These functionaries travelled with a large train of soldiers and
servants, but, with the best will in the world, these last could not
make the journeys other than tedious and uncomfortable. Still there
were alleviations, because of the very taste of which I have spoken.
The scenery was often beautiful, and whether the traveller were the
Governor himself or his daughter, he noticed and delighted in it. The
"Sarashina Diary" is full of this appreciation of nature. We are told
of "a very beautiful beach with long-drawn white waves," of a torrent
whose water was "white as if thickened with rice flour." We need only
think of the prints with which we are familiar to be convinced of the
accuracy of this picture: "The waves of the outer sea were very high,
and we could see them through the pine-trees which grew scattered over
the sandy point which stretched between us and the sea. They seemed to
strike across the ends of the pine branches and shone like jewels." The
diarist goes on to remark that "it was an interesting sight," which we
can very well believe, since certainly she makes us long to see it.

These journeys were mostly made on horseback, but there were other
methods of progression, which, however, were probably not always
feasible for long distances. The nobles used various kinds of carriages
drawn by one bullock, and there were also palanquins carried by bearers.

It was not only the officials who made journeys, all the world made
them to temples and shrines for the good of their souls. There are
religious yearnings in all the Diaries, and many Mikados and gentlemen
entered the priesthood, Michinaga among them. Sutra recitation and
incantation were ceaselessly performed at Court. We can gain some idea
of the almost fanatical hold which Buddhism had over the educated
mind by the fact that the Fujiwara family built such great temples as
Gokurakuji, Hosohoji, Hokoin, Jomyoji, Muryoju-in, etc. It is recorded
that Mikado Shirakawa, at a date somewhat subsequent to the Diaries,
made pilgrimages four times to Kumano, and during his visits there
"worshipped 5470 painted Buddhas, 127 carved Buddhas sixteen feet
high, 3150 Buddhas life-sized, 2930 carved Buddhas shorter than three
feet, 21 pagodas, 446,630 miniature pagodas." A busy man truly, but the
record does not mention what became of the affairs of state meanwhile.
That this worship was by no means lip-devotion merely, any reader of
the "Sarashina Diary" can see; that it was mixed with much superstition
and a profound belief in dreams is also abundantly evident. But let us,
for a moment, recollect the time. It will place the marvel of this old,
careful civilization before us as nothing else can.

To be sure, Greece and Rome had been, but they had passed away, or at
least their greatness had, gone and apparently left no trace. While
these Japanese ladies were writing, Europe was in the full blackness
of her darkest ages. Germany was founding the "Holy Roman Empire of
the German Nation," characteristically founding it with the mailed
fist; Moorish civilization was at its height in Spain; Robert Capet
was king of poor famine-scourged France; Ethelred the Unready was
ruling in England and doing his best to keep off the Danes by payment
and massacre. Later, while the "Sarashina Diary" was being written,
King Canute was sitting in his armchair and giving orders to the sea.
Curious, curious world! So far apart from the one of the Diaries.
And to think that even five hundred years later Columbus was sending
letters into the interior of Cuba, addressed to the Emperor of Japan!

These Diaries show us a world extraordinarily like our own, if very
unlike in more than one important particular. The noblemen and women
of Mikado Ichijo's Court were poets and writers of genius, their taste
as a whole has never been surpassed by any people at any time, but
their scientific knowledge was elementary in the extreme. Diseases
and conflagrations were frequent. In a space of fifty-one years, the
Royal Palace burnt down eleven times. During the same period, there
were four great pestilences, a terrible drought, and an earthquake.
Robbers infested many parts of the country, and were a constant fear
to travellers and pilgrims. Childbirth was very dangerous. The picture
of the birth of a child to Queen Akiko, with which Murasaki Shikibu's
Diary begins, shows us all its bitter horror. From page to page we
share the writer's suspense, and with our greater knowledge, it is with
a sense of wonder that we watch the queen's return to health.

But, after all, diseases and conflagrations are seldom more than
episodes in a normal life lived under sane conditions, and it is just
because these Diaries reflect the real life of these three ladies that
they are important. The world they portray is in most ways quite as
advanced as our own, and in some, much more so. Rice was the staple
of food, and although Buddhistic sentiment seldom permitted people to
eat the flesh of animals, they had an abundance of fish, which was
eaten boiled, baked, raw, and pickled, and a quantity of fruits and
nuts. There was no sugar, but cakes were made of fruit and nuts, and
there was always rice-wine or saké. Gentlefolk usually dressed in silk.
They wore many layers of coloured garments, and delighted in the
harmony produced by the colour combinations of silk over silk, or of
a bright lining subdued by the tone of an outer robe. The ladies all
painted their faces, and the whole toilet was a matter of sufficient
moment to raise it into a fine art. Many of these lovely dresses are
described by Murasaki Shikibu, for instance: "The beautiful shape of
their hair, tied with bands, was like that of the beauties in Chinese
pictures. Lady Saémon held the King's sword. She wore a blue-green
patternless karaginu and shaded train with floating bands and belt of
'floating thread' brocade dyed in dull red. Her outer robe was trimmed
with five folds and was chrysanthemum coloured. The glossy silk was
of crimson; her figure and movement, when we caught a glimpse of it,
was flower-like and dignified. Lady Ben-no-Naishi held the box of the
King's seals. Her uchigi was grape-coloured. She is a very small and
smile-giving person and seemed shy and I was sorry for her.... Her hair
bands were blue-green. Her appearance suggested one of the ancient
dream-maidens descended from heaven." A little later she tells us that
"the beaten stuffs were like the mingling of dark and light maple
leaves in Autumn"; and, describing in some detail the festivity at
which these ladies appeared, she makes the comment that "only the right
body-guard wore clothes of shrimp pink." To one in love with colour,
these passages leave a very nostalgia for the bright and sophisticated
Court where such things could be.

And everywhere, everywhere, there is poetry. A gentleman hands a lady
a poem on the end of his fan and she is expected to reply in kind
within the instant. Poems form an important part in the ritual of
betrothal. A daughter of good family never allowed herself to be seen
by men (a custom which appears to have admitted many exceptions). A man
would write a poetical love-letter to the lady of his choice which she
must answer amiably, even should she have no mind to him. If, however,
she were happily inclined, he would visit her secretly at night and
leave before daybreak. He would then write again, following which she
would give a banquet and introduce him to her family. After this, he
could visit her openly, although she would still remain for some time
in her father's house. This custom of love-letter writing and visiting
is shown in Izumi Shikibu's Diary. Obviously the poems were short,
and here, in order to understand those in the text, it may be well to
consider for a moment in what Japanese poetry consists.

Japanese is a syllabic language like our own, but, unlike our own,
it is not accented. Also, every syllable ends with a vowel, the
consequence being that there are only five rhymes in the whole
language. Since the employment of so restricted a rhyme scheme would be
unbearably monotonous, the Japanese hit upon the happy idea of counting
syllables. Our metrical verse also counts syllables, but we combine
them into different kinds of accented feet. Without accent, this was
not possible, so the Japanese poet limits their number and uses them in
a pattern of alternating lines. His prosody is based upon the numbers
five and seven, a five-syllable line alternating with one of seven
syllables, with, in some forms, two seven-syllable lines together at
the end of a period, in the manner of our couplet. The favourite form,
the "tanka," is in thirty-one syllables, and runs five, seven, five,
seven, seven. There is a longer form, the "naga-uta," but it has never
been held in as high favour. The poems in the Diaries are all tankas in
the original. It can be seen that much cannot be said in so confined
a medium, but much can be suggested, and it is just in this art of
suggestion that the Japanese excel. The "hokku" is an even briefer
form. In it, the concluding hemistich of the tanka is left off, and
it is just in his hemistich that the meaning of the poem is brought
out, so that the hokku is a mere essence, a whiff of an idea to be
created in full by the hearer. But the hokku was not invented until
the fifteenth century; before that, the tanka, in spite of occasional
attempts to vary it by adding more lines, changing their order, using
the pattern in combination as a series of stanzas, etc, reigned
practically supreme, and it is still the chief classic form for all
Japanese poetry.

Having briefly washed in the background of the Diaries, we must notice,
for a moment, the three remarkable ladies who are the foreground.

Murasaki Shikibu was the daughter of Fujiwara Tametoki, a scion of a
junior branch of the famous family. She was born in 978. Murasaki was
not her real name, which was apparently To Shikibu (Shikibu is a title)
derived from that of her father. There are two legends about the reason
for her receiving the name Murasaki. One is that she was given it in
playful allusion to her own heroine in the "Genji Monogatari," who was
called Murasaki. The other legend is more charming. It seems that her
mother was one of the nurses of Mikado Ichijo, who was so fond of her
that he gave her daughter this name, in reference to a well-known poem:

     "When the purple grass (Murasaki) is in full colour,
     One can scarcely perceive the other plants in the field."

From the Murasaki grass, the word has come to mean a colour which
includes all the shades of purple, violet, and lavender. In 996, or
thereabouts, she accompanied her father to the Province of Echizen, of
which he had become governor. A year later, she returned to Kiōto, and,
within a twelvemonth, married another Fujiwara, Nobutaka. The marriage
seems to have been most happy, to judge from the constant expressions
of grief in her Diary for her husband's death, which occurred in 1001,
a year in which Japan suffered from a great pestilence. A daughter was
born to them in 1000. From her husband's death, until 1005, she seems
to have lived in the country, but in this year she joined the Court as
one of Queen Akiko's ladies; before that, however (and again I must
insist that these early dates are far from determined), she had made
herself famous, not only for her own time, but for all time, by writing
the first realistic novel of Japan. This book is the "Genji Monogatari"
or "Narrative of Genji."

Hitherto, Japanese authors had confined themselves to stories of no
great length, and which relied for their interest on a fairy or wonder
element. The "Genji Monogatari" struck out an entirely new direction.
It depicted real life in Kiōto as a contemporary gentleman might have
lived it. It founded its interest on the fact that people like to
read about themselves, but this, which seems to us a commonplace, was
a glaring innovation when Murasaki Shikibu attempted it; it was, in
fact, the flash from a mind of genius. The book follows the life of
Prince Genji from his birth to his death at the age of fifty-one, and
the concluding books of the series pursue the career of one of his
sons. It is an enormous work, comprising no less than fifty-four books
and running to over four thousand pages--the genealogical tree of the
personages alone is eighty pages long--but no reader of the Diary will
need to be convinced that the "Genji" is not merely sprightly and
captivating, but powerful as well. The lady was shrewd, and if she
were also kindly and very attractive, nevertheless she saw with an
uncompromising eye. Her critical faculty never sleeps, and takes in the
minutest detail of anything she sees, noting unerringly every little
rightness and wrongness connected with it. She watches the approach
of the Mikado, and touches the matter so that we get its exact shade:
"When the Royal palanquin drew near, the bearers, though they were
rather honourable persons, bent their heads in absolute humility as
they ascended the steps. Even in the highest society there are grades
of courtesy, but these men were too humble."

No one with such a gift can fail to be lonely, and Murasaki Shikibu
seems very lonely, but it is not the passionate rebellion of Izumi
Shikibu, nor the abiding melancholy of the author of the "Sarashina
Diary"; rather is it the disillusion of one who has seen much of the
world, and knows how little companionship she may expect ever to
find: "It is useless to talk with those who do not understand one
and troublesome to talk with those who criticize from a feeling of
superiority. Especially one-sided persons are troublesome. Few are
accomplished in many arts and most cling narrowly to their own opinion."

I have already shown Murasaki Shikibu's beautiful taste in dress,
but indeed it is in everything. When she says "The garden [on a
moonlight night] was admirable," we know that it must have been of an
extraordinary perfection.

The Diary proves her dramatic sense, as the "Genji" would also do could
it find so sympathetic a translator. No wonder, then, that it leapt
into instant fame. There is a pretty legend of her writing the book at
the Temple of Ishiyama at the southern end of Lake Biwa. The tale gains
verisimilitude in the eyes of visitors by the fact that they are shown
the chamber in the temple in which she wrote and the ink-slab she used,
but, alas! it is not true. We do not know where she wrote, nor even
exactly when. The "Genji" is supposed to have been begun in 1002, and
most commentators believe it to have been finished in 1004. That she
should have been called to Court in the following year, seems extremely
natural. Queen Akiko must have counted herself most fortunate in
having among her ladies so famous a person.

The Diary tells the rest, the Diary which was begun in 1007. We know no
more of Murasaki Shikibu except that no shade of scandal ever tinged
her name.

One of the strangest and most interesting things about the Diaries
is that their authors were such very different kinds of people.
Izumi Shikibu is as unlike Murasaki Shikibu as could well happen. As
different as the most celebrated poet of her time is likely to be
from the most celebrated novelist, for Izumi Shikibu is the greatest
woman poet which Japan has had. The author of seven volumes of
poems, this Diary is the only prose writing of hers which is known.
It is an intimate account of a love affair which seems to have been
more than usually passionate and pathetic. Passionate, provocative,
enchanting, it is evident that Izumi Shikibu could never have been the
discriminating observer, the critic of manners, which Murasaki Shikibu
became. Life was powerless to mellow so vivid a personality; but
neither could it subdue it. She gives us no suggestion of resignation.
She lived intensely, as her Diary shows; she always had done so, and
doubtless she always did. We see her as untamable, a genius compelled
to follow her inclinations. Difficult to deal with, maybe, like strong
wine, but wonderfully stimulating.

Izumi Shikibu was born in 974. She was the eldest daughter of Ōe
Masamune, another Governor of Echizen. In 995, she married Tachibana
Michisada, Governor of Izumi, hence her name. From this gentleman she
was divorced, but just when we do not know, and he died shortly after,
probably during the great pestilence which played such havoc throughout
Japan and in which Murasaki Shikibu's husband had also died. Her
daughter, who followed in her mother's footsteps as a poet, had been
born in 997. But Izumi Shikibu was too fascinating and too petulant to
nurse her disappointment in a chaste seclusion. She became the mistress
of Prince Tametaka, who also died in 1002. It is very soon after this
event that the Diary begins. Her new lover was Prince Atsumichi, and
the Diary seems to have been written solely to appease her mind, and
to record the poems which passed between them and which Izumi Shikibu
evidently regarded as the very essence of their souls.

In the beginning, the affair was carried on with the utmost secrecy,
but clandestine meetings could not satisfy the lovers, and at last the
Prince persuaded her to take up her residence in the South Palace as
one of his ladies. Considering the manners of the time, it is a little
puzzling to see why there should have been such an outcry at this,
but outcry there certainly was. The Princess took violent umbrage at
the Prince's proceeding and left the Palace on a long visit to her
relations. So violent grew the protestations in the little world of
the Court that, in 1004, Izumi Shikibu left the Palace and separated
herself entirely from the Prince. It was probably to emphasize the
definiteness of the separation that, immediately after her departure,
she married Fujiwara Yasumasa, Governor of Tango, and left with him for
that Province in 1005. The facts bear out this supposition, but we do
not know it from her own lips, as the Diary breaks off soon after she
reaches the South Palace.

In 1008, she was summoned back to Kiōto to serve the Queen in the same
Court where Murasaki Shikibu had been since 1005. Whatever effect the
scandal may have had four years earlier, her receiving the post of
lady-in-waiting proves it to have been worth forgetting in view of
her fame, and Queen Akiko must have rejoiced to add this celebrated
poet to her already remarkable bevy of ladies. Of course there was
jealousy--who can doubt it? No reader of the Diaries can imagine that
Izumi Shikibu and Murasaki Shikibu can have been sympathetic, and we
must take with a grain of salt the latter's caustic comment: "Lady
Izumi Shikibu corresponds charmingly, but her behavior is improper
indeed. She writes with grace and ease and a flashing wit. There is a
fragrance even in her smallest words. Her poems are attractive, but
they are only improvisations which drop from her mouth spontaneously.
Every one of them has some interesting point, and she is acquainted
with ancient literature also, but she is not like a true artist who is
filled with the genuine spirit of poetry. Yet I think even she cannot
presume to pass judgment on the poems of others." Is it possible that
Izumi Shikibu had been so rash as to pass judgment on some of Murasaki
Shikibu's efforts?

Of course it is beyond the power of any translation to preserve the
full effect of the original, but even in translation, Izumi Shikibu's
poems are singularly beautiful and appealing. In her own country, they
are considered never to have been excelled in freshness and freedom of
expression. There is something infinitely sad in this, which she is
said to have written on her death-bed, as the end of a passionate life:

     "Out of the dark,
     Into a dark path
     I now must enter:
     Shine [on me] from afar
     Moon of the mountain fringe."[1]

In Japanese poetry, Amita-Buddha is often compared to the moon which
rises over the mountains and lights the traveller's path.

Very different again is the lady who wrote the "Sarashina Diary,"
and it is a very different kind of record. Murasaki Shikibu's Diary
is concerned with a few years of her life, Izumi Shikibu's with one
episode only of hers, but the "Sarashina Diary" covers a long period in
the life of its author. The first part was written when she was twelve
years old, the last entry was made when she was past fifty. It begins
with a journey from Shimōsa to Kiōto by the Tōkaidō in 1021, which is
followed by a second journey some years later from Kiōto to Sarashina,
a place which has never been satisfactorily identified, although some
critics have supposed it to have been in the Province of Shinano. The
rest of the Diary consists of jottings at various times, accounts of
books read, of places seen, of pilgrimages to temples, of records of
dreams and portents, of communings with herself on life and death, of
expressions of resignation and sorrow.

The book takes its name from the second of the journeys, "Sarashina
Nikki," meaning simply "Sarashina Diary," for, strangely enough, we
do not know the author's name. We do know, however, that she was
the daughter of Fujiwara Takasué, and that she was born in 1009. In
1017, Takasué was appointed governor of a province, and went with his
daughter to his new post. It is the return journey, made in 1021, with
which the Diary opens.

Takasué's daughter shared with so many of her contemporaries the deep
love of nature and the power to express this love in words. I have
already quoted one or two of her entries on this journey. We follow the
little company over mountains and across rivers, we camp with them by
night, and tremble as they trembled lest robbers should attack them. We
see what the little girl saw: "The mountain range called Nishitomi is
like folding screens with good pictures," "people say that purple grass
grows in the fields of Mushashi, but it is only a waste of various
kinds of reeds, which grow so high that we cannot see the bows of our
horsemen who are forcing their way through the tall grass," and share
her disappointment when she says: "We passed a place called 'Eight
Bridges,' but it was only a name, no bridge and no pretty sight."

They reach Kiōto and a rather dull life begins, enlivened only by the
avid reading of romances, among them the "Genji Monogatari." Then
her sister dies giving birth to a child, and the life becomes, not
only dull, but sorrowful. After a time, the lady obtains a position
at Court, but neither her bringing up nor her disposition had suited
her for such a place. She mentions that "Mother was a person of
extremely antiquated mind," and it is evident that she had been taught
to look inward rather than outward. An abortive little love affair
lightens her dreariness for a moment. Life had dealt hardly with the
sensitive girl, from year to year she grows more wistful, but suddenly
something happens, a mere hint of a gleam, but opening a possibility
of brightness. Who he was, we do not know, but she met him on an
evening when "there was no starlight, and a gentle shower fell in the
darkness." They talked and exchanged poems, but she did not meet him
again until the next year; then, after an evening entertainment to
which she had not gone, "when I looked out, opening the sliding door on
the corridor, I saw the morning moon very faint and beautiful," and he
was there. Again they exchanged poems and she believed that happiness
had at last arrived. He was to come with his lute and sing to her. "I
wanted to hear it," she writes, "and waited for the fit occasion, but
there was none, ever." A year later she has lost hope, she writes a
poem and adds, "So I composed that poem--and there is nothing more to
tell." Nothing more, indeed, but what is told conveys all the misery of
her deceived longing.

The last part of the Diary is concerned chiefly with accounts of
pilgrimages and dreams. She married, who and when is not recorded, and
bore children. Her husband dies, and with his death the spring of her
life seems to have run down. Her last entry is very sad: "My people
went to live elsewhere and I lived alone in my solitary home." So we
leave her, "a beautiful, shy spirit whose life had known much sorrow."

[1] Translation by Arthur Waley in _Japanese Poetry._




A.D. 1009-1059

I was brought up in a distant province[1] which lies farther than
the farthest end of the Eastern Road. I am ashamed to think that
inhabitants of the Royal City will think me an uncultured girl.

Somehow I came to know that there are such things as romances in the
world and wished to read them. When there was nothing to do by day
or at night, one tale or another was told me by my elder sister or
stepmother, and I heard several chapters about the shining Prince
Genji.[2] My longing for such stories increased, but how could they
recite them all from memory? I became very restless and got an image of
Yakushi Buddha[3] made as large as myself. When I was alone I washed my
hands and went secretly before the altar and prayed to him with all my
life, bowing my head down to the floor. "Please let me go to the Royal
City. There I can find many tales. Let me read all of them."

When thirteen years old, I was taken to the Royal City. On the third of
the Long-moon month,[4] I removed [from my house] to Imataté, the old
house where I had played as a child being broken up. At sunset in the
foggy twilight, just as I was getting into the palanquin, I thought of
the Buddha before which I had gone secretly to pray--I was sorry and
secretly shed tears to leave him behind.

Outside of my new house [a rude temporary, thatched one] there is no
fence nor even shutters, but we have hung curtains and sudaré.[5] From
that house, standing on a low bluff, a wide plain extends towards
the South. On the East and West the sea creeps close, so it is an
interesting place. When fogs are falling it is so charming that I rise
early every morning to see them. Sorry to leave this place.

On the fifteenth, in heavy dark rain, we crossed the boundary of the
Province and lodged at Ikada in the Province of Shimofusa. Our lodging
is almost submerged. I am so afraid I cannot sleep. I see only three
lone trees standing on a little hill in the waste.

The next day was passed in drying our dripping clothes and waiting for
the others to come up.[6]

On the seventeenth, started early in the morning, and crossed a deep
river. I heard that in this Province there lived in olden times a
chieftain of Mano. He had thousand and ten thousand webs of cloth woven
and dipped them [for bleaching] in the river which now flows over
the place where his great house stood. Four of the large gate-posts
remained standing in the river.

Hearing the people composing poems about this place, I in my mind:

     _Had I not seen erect in the river_
     _These solid timbers of the olden time_
     _How could I know, how could I feel_
     _The story of that house?_

That evening we lodged at the beach of Kurodo. The white sand stretched
far and wide. The pine-wood was dark--the moon was bright, and the soft
blowing of the wind made me lonely. People were pleased and composed
poems. My poem:

     _For this night only_
     _The autumn moon at Kurodo beach shall shine for me,_
     _For this night only!--I cannot sleep._

Early in the morning we left this place and came to the Futoi River[7]
on the boundary between Shimofusa and Musashi. We lodged at the ferry
of Matsusato[8] near Kagami's rapids,[9] and all night long our luggage
was being carried over.

My nurse had lost her husband and gave birth to her child at the
boundary of the Province, so we had to go up to the Royal City
separately. I was longing for my nurse and wanted to go to see her,
and was brought there by my elder brother in his arms. We, though in
a temporary lodging, covered ourselves with warm cotton batting, but
my nurse, as there was no man to take care of her, was lying in a wild
place [and] covered only with coarse matting. She was in her red dress.

The moon came in, lighting up everything, and in the moonlight she
looked transparent. I thought her very white and pure. She wept and
caressed me, and I was loath to leave her. Even when I went with
lingering heart, her image remained with me, and there was no interest
in the changing scenes.

The next morning we crossed the river in a ferry-boat in our
palanquins. The persons who had come with us thus far in their own
conveyances went back from this place. We, who were going up to the
Royal City, stayed here for a while to follow them with our eyes; and
as it was a parting for life all wept. Even my childish heart felt

Now it is the Province of Musashi. There is no charm in this place. The
sand of the beaches is not white, but like mud. People say that purple
grass[10] grows in the fields of Musashi, but it is only a waste of
various kinds of reeds, which grow so high that we cannot see the bows
of our horsemen who are forcing their way through the tall grass. Going
through these reeds I saw a ruined temple called Takeshíba-dera. There
were also the foundation-stones of a house with corridor.

"What place is it?" I asked; and they answered:

"Once upon a time there lived a reckless adventurer at Takeshiba.[11]
He was offered to the King's palace [by the Governor] as a guard to
keep the watch-fire. He was once sweeping the garden in front of a
Princess's room and singing:

    _Ah, me! Ah, me! My weary doom to labour here in the Palace!_
    _Seven good wine-jars have I--and three in my province._
    _There where they stand I have hung straight-stemmed gourds of_
    _the finest--_
       _They turn to the West when the East wind blows,_
       _They turn to the East when the West wind blows,_
       _They turn to the North when the South wind blows,_
       _They turn to the South when the North wind blows._
    _And there I sit watching them turning and turning forever--_
       _Oh, my gourds! Oh, my wine-jars!_

"He was singing thus alone, but just then a Princess, the King's
favourite daughter, was sitting alone behind the misu.[12] She came
forward, and, leaning against the door-post, listened to the man
singing. She was very interested to think how gourds were above the
wine-jars and how they were turning and wanted to see them. She became
very zealous for the gourds, and pushing up the blind called the guard,
saying, 'Man, come here!' The man heard it very respectfully, and with
great reverence drew near the balustrade. 'Let me hear once more what
you have been saying.' And he sang again about his wine-jars. 'I must
go and see them, I have my own reason for saying so,' said the Princess.

"He felt great awe, but he made up his mind, and went down towards the
Eastern Province. He feared that men would pursue them, and that night,
placing the Princess on the Seta Bridge,[13] broke a part of it away,
and bounding over with the Princess on his back arrived at his native
place after seven days' and seven nights' journey.

"The King and Queen were greatly surprised when they found the Princess
was lost, and began to search for her. Some one said that a King's
guard from the Province of Musashi, carrying something of exquisite
fragrance[14] on his back, had been seen fleeing towards the East.
So they sought for that guard, and he was not to be found. They
said, 'Doubtless this man went back home.' The Royal Government sent
messengers to pursue them, but when they got to the Seta Bridge they
found it broken, and they could not go farther. In the Third month,
however, the messengers arrived at Musashi Province and sought for the
man. The Princess gave audience to the messengers and said:

"'I, for some reason, yearned for this man's home and bade him carry
me here; so he has carried me. If this man were punished and killed,
what should I do? This is a very good place to live in. It must have
been settled before I was born that I should leave my trace [i.e.
descendants] in this Province--go back and tell the King so.' So the
messenger could not refuse her, and went back to tell the King about it.

"The King said: 'It is hopeless. Though I punish the man I cannot bring
back the Princess; nor is it meet to bring them back to the Royal City.
As long as that man of Takeshiba lives I cannot give Musashi Province
to him, but I will entrust it to the Princess.'

"In this way it happened that a palace was built there in the same
style as the Royal Palace and the Princess was placed there. When
she died they made it into a temple called Takeshíba-dera.[15] The
descendants of the Princess received the family name of Musashi. After
that the guards of the watch-fire were women."[16]

We went through a waste of reeds of various kinds, forcing our way
through the tall grass. There is the river Asuda along the border of
Musashi and Sagami, _where at the ferry Arihara Narihira had composed
his famous poem._[17] In the book of his poetical works the river is
called the river Sumida.

We crossed it in a boat, and it is the Province of Sagami. The mountain
range called Nishitomi is like folding screens with good pictures. On
the left hand we saw a very beautiful beach with long-drawn curves
of white waves. There was a place there called Morokoshi-ga-Hara[18]
[Chinese Field] where sands are wonderfully white. Two or three days
we journeyed along that shore. A man said:, "In Summer pale and deep
Japanese pinks bloom there and make the field like brocade. As it is
Autumn now we cannot see them." But I saw some pinks scattered about
blooming pitiably. They said: "It is funny that Japanese pinks are
blooming in the Chinese field."

There is a mountain called Ashigara [Hakoné] which extends for ten
and more miles and is covered with thick woods even to its base. We
could have only an occasional glimpse of the sky. We lodged in a hut
at the foot of the mountain. It was a dark moonless night. I felt
myself swallowed up and lost in the darkness, when three singers came
from somewhere. One was about fifty years old, the second twenty, and
the third about fourteen or fifteen. We set them down in front of our
lodging and a karakasa [large paper umbrella] was spread for them. My
servant lighted a fire so that we saw them. They said that they were
the descendants of a famous singer called Kobata. They had very long
hair which hung over their foreheads; their faces were white and clean,
and they seemed rather like maids serving in noblemen's families. They
had clear, sweet voices, and their beautiful singing seemed to reach
the heavens. All were charmed, and taking great interest made them
come nearer. Some one said, "The singers of the Western Provinces are
inferior to them," and at this the singers closed their song with the
words, "if we are compared with those of Naniwa" [Osaka].[19] They were
pretty and neatly dressed, with voices of rare beauty, and they were
wandering away into this fearful mountain. Even tears came to those
eyes which followed them as far as they could be seen; and my childish
heart was unwilling to leave this rude shelter frequented by these

Next morning we crossed over the mountain.[20] Words cannot express my
fear[21] in the midst of it. Clouds rolled beneath our feet. Halfway
over there was an open space with a few trees. Here we saw a few leaves
of aoi[22] [_Asarum caulescens_]. People praised it and thought strange
that in this mountain, so far from the human world, was growing such a
sacred plant. We met with three rivers in the mountain and crossed them
with difficulty. That day we stopped at Sekiyama. Now we are in Suruga
Province. We passed a place called Iwatsubo [rock-urn] by the barrier
of Yokobashiri. There was an indescribably large square rock through a
hole in which very cold water came rushing out.

Mount Fuji is in this Province. In the Province where I was brought up
[from which she begins this journey] I saw that mountain far towards
the West. It towers up painted with deep blue, and covered with eternal
snow. It seems that it wears a dress of deep violet and a white veil
over its shoulders. From the little level place of the top smoke was
going up. In the evening we even saw burning fires there.[23] The Fuji
River comes tumbling down from that mountain. A man of the Province
came up to us and told us a story.

"Once I went on an errand. It was a very hot day, and I was resting on
the bank of the stream when I saw something yellow come floating down.
It came to the bank of the river and stuck there. I picked it up and
found it to be a scrap of yellow paper with words elegantly written on
it in cinnabar. Wondering much I read it. On the paper was a prophecy
of the Governors [of provinces] to be appointed next year. As to this
Province there were written the names of two Governors. I wondered
more and more, and drying the paper, kept it. When the day of the
announcement came, this paper held no mistake, and the man who became
the Governor of this Province died after three months, and the other
succeeded him."

There are such things. I think that the gods assemble there on that
mountain to settle the affairs of each new year.

At Kiyomigaseki, where we saw the sea on the left, there were many
houses for the keepers of the barriers. Some of the palisades went even
into the sea.

At Tagonoura waves were high. From there we went along by boat. We went
with ease over Numajiri and came to the river Ōi. Such a torrent I have
never seen. Water, white as if thickened with rice flour, ran fast.

I became ill, and now it is the Province of Totomi. I had almost lost
consciousness when I crossed the mountain pass of Sayo-no-Nakayama [the
middle mountain of the little night]. I was quite exhausted, so when
we came to the bank of the Tenryu River, we had a temporary dwelling
built, and passed several days there, and I got better. As the winter
was already advanced, the wind from the river blew hard and it became
intolerable. After crossing the river we went towards the bridge at

When we had gone down towards the East [four years before when her
father had been appointed Governor] there had been a log bridge, but
this time we could not find even a trace of it, so we had to cross in
a boat. The bridge had been laid across an inland bay. The waves of
the outer sea were very high, and we could see them through the thick
pine-trees which grew scattered over the sandy point which stretched
between us and the sea. They seemed to strike across the ends of the
pine branches and shone like jewels. It was an interesting sight.

We went forward and crossed over Inohana--an unspeakably weary ascent
it was--and then came to Takashi shore of the Province of Mikawa. We
passed a place called "Eight-Bridges," but it was only a name, no
bridge and no pretty sight.

In the mountain of Futamura we made our camp under a big persimmon
tree. The fruit fell down during the night over our camps and people
picked it up.

We passed Mount Miyaji, where we saw red leaves still, although it was
the first day of the Tenth month.

     _Furious mountain winds in their passing_
            _must spare this spot_
     _For red maple leaves are clinging_
            _even yet to the branch._

There was a fort of "If-I-can" between Mikawa and Owari. It is amusing
to think how difficult the crossing was, indeed. We passed the Narumi
[sounding-sea] shore in the Province of Owari. The evening tides were
coming in, and we thought if they came higher we could not cross. So in
a panic we ran as fast as we could.

At the border of Mino we crossed a ferry called Kuromata, and arrived
at Nogami. There singers came again and they sang all night. Lovingly
we thought of the singers of Ashigara.

Snow came, and in the storm we passed the barrier at Fuha, and over
the Mount Atsumi, having no heart to look at beautiful sights. In the
Province of Omi we stayed four or five days in a house at Okinaga. At
the foot of Mitsusaka Mountain light rain fell night and day mixed
with hail. It was so melancholy that we left there and passed by
Inugami, Kanzaki, and Yasu without receiving any impressions. The lake
stretched far and wide, and we caught occasional glimpses of Nadeshima
and Chikubushima [islands]. It was a very pretty sight. We had great
difficulty at the bridge of Seta, for it had fallen in. We stopped at
Awazu, and arrived at the Royal City after dark on the second day of
the Finishing month.

When we were near the barrier I saw the face of a roughly hewn
Buddha sixteen feet high which towered over a rude fence. Serene and
indifferent to its surroundings it stood unregarded in this deserted
place; but I, passing by, received a message from it. Among so many
provinces [through which I have passed] the barriers at Kiyomigata and
Osaka were far better than the others.

It was dark when I arrived at the residence on the west of the Princess
of Sanjo's mansion.[24] Our garden was very wide and wild with great,
fearful trees not inferior to those mountains I had come from. I could
not feel at home, or keep a settled mind. Even then I teased mother
into giving me books of stories, after which I had been yearning for so
many years. Mother sent a messenger with a letter to Emon-no-Myōgu, one
of our relatives who served the Princess of Sanjo. She took interest in
my strange passion and willingly sent me some excellent manuscripts in
the lid of a writing-box,[25] saying that these copies had been given
her by the Princess. My joy knew no bounds and I read them day and
night; I soon began to wish for more, but as I was an utter stranger to
the Royal City, who would get them for me?

My stepmother [meaning one of her father's wives] had once been a
lady-in-waiting at the court, and she seemed to have been disappointed
in something. She had been regretting the World [her marriage], and now
she was to leave our home. She beckoned her own child, who was five
years old, and said, "The time will never come when I shall forget you,
dear heart"; and pointing to a huge plum-tree which grew close to the
eaves, said, "When it is in flower I shall come back"; and she went
away. I felt love and pity for her, and while I was secretly weeping,
the year, too, went away.


"When the plum-tree blooms I shall come back"--I pondered over these
words and wondered whether it would be so. I waited and waited with my
eye hung to the tree. It was all in flower[26] and yet no tidings from
her. I became very anxious [and at last] broke a branch and sent it to
her [of course with a poem]:

     _You gave me words of hope, are they not long delayed?_
     _The plum-tree is remembered by the Spring,_
     _Though it seemed dead with frost._

She wrote back affectionate words with a poem:

     _Wait on, never forsake your hope,_
     _For when the plum-tree is in flower_
     _Even the unpromised, the unexpected, will come to you._

During the spring [of 1022] the world was disquieted.[27] My nurse, who
had filled my heart with pity on that moonlight night at the ford of
Matsuzato, died on the moon-birthday of the Ever-growing month [first
day of March], I lamented hopelessly without any way to set my mind at
ease, and even forgot my passion for romances.

I passed day after day weeping bitterly, and when I first looked out of
doors[28] [again] I saw the evening sun on cherry-blossoms all falling
in confusion [this would mean four weeks later].

     _Flowers are falling, yet I may see them again_
           _when Spring returns._
     _But, oh, my longing for the dear person_
           _who has departed from us forever!_

I also heard that the daughter of the First Adviser[29] to the King was
lost [dead]. I could sympathize deeply with the sorrow of her lord, the
Lieutenant-General, for I still felt my own sorrow.

When I had first arrived at the Capital I had been given a book of the
handwriting of this noble lady for my copy-book. In it were written
several poems, among them the following:

     _When you see the smoke floating up the valley of_
           _Toribe Hill,_[30]
     _Then you will understand me, who seemed as shadow-like_
           _even while living._

I looked at these poems which were written in such a beautiful
handwriting, and I shed more tears. I sat brooding until mother
troubled herself to console me. She searched for romances and gave them
to me, and I became consoled unconsciously. I read a few volumes of
Genji-monogatari and longed for the rest, but as I was still a stranger
here I had no way of finding them. I was all impatience and yearning,
and in my mind was always praying that I might read all the books of
Genji-monogatari from the very first one.

While my parents were shutting themselves up in Udzu-Masa[31] Temple,
I asked them for nothing except this romance, wishing to read it as
soon as I could get it, but all in vain. I was inconsolable. One day I
visited my aunt, who had recently come up from the country. She showed
a tender interest in me and lovingly said I had grown up beautifully.
On my return she said: "What shall I give you? You will not be
interested in serious things: I will give you what you like best." And
she gave me more than fifty volumes of Genji-monogatari put in a case,
as well as Isé-monogatari, Yojimi, Serikawa, Shirara, and Asa-udzu.[32]
How happy I was when I came home carrying these books in a bag! Until
then I had only read a volume here and there, and was dissatisfied
because I could not understand the story.

Now I could be absorbed in these stories, taking them out one by one,
shutting myself in behind the kichō.[33] To be a Queen were nothing
compared to this!

All day and all night, as late as I could keep my eyes open, I did
nothing but look at the books, setting a lamp[34] close beside me.

Soon I learnt by heart all the names in the books, and I thought that a
great thing.

Once I dreamt of a holy priest in yellow Buddhist scarf who came to me
and said, "Learn the fifth book of the Hokekkyo[35] at once."

I did not tell any one about this, nor had I any mind to learn it,
but continued to bathe in the romances. Although I was still ugly and
undeveloped [I thought to myself] the time would come when I should be
beautiful beyond compare, with long, long hair. I should be like the
Lady Yugao [in the romance] loved by the Shining Prince Genji, or like
the Lady Ukifuné, the wife of the General of Uji [a famous beauty]. I
indulged in such fancies--shallow-minded I was, indeed!

Could such a man as the Shining Prince be living in this world? How
could General Kaoru [literal translation, "Fragrance"] find such a
beauty as Lady Ukifuné to conceal in his secret villa at Uji? Oh! I was
like a crazy girl.

While I had lived in the country, I had gone to the temple from time to
time, but even then I could never pray like others, with a pure heart.
In those days people learned to recite sutras and practise austerities
of religious observance after the age of seventeen or eighteen, but I
could scarcely even think of such matters. The only thing that I could
think of was the Shining Prince who would some day come to me, as
noble and beautiful as in the romance. If he came only once a year I,
being hidden in a mountain villa like Lady Ukifuné, would be content.
I could live as _heart-dwindlingly_ as that lady, looking at flowers,
or moonlit snowy landscape, occasionally receiving long-expected lovely
letters from my Lord! I cherished such fancies and imagined that they
might be realized.


On the moon-birth of the Rice-Sprout month I saw the white petals
of the Tachibana tree [a kind of orange] near the house covering the

     _Scarce had my mind received with wonder;_
       _The thought of newly fallen snow--_
       _Seeing the ground lie white--_
     _When the scent of Tachibana flowers_
       _Arose from fallen blossoms._

In our garden trees grew as thick as in the dark forest of Ashigara,
and in the Gods-absent month[36] its red leaves were more beautiful
than those of the surrounding mountains. A visitor said, "On my way
thither I passed a place where red leaves were beautiful"; and I

     _No sight can be more autumnal_
            _than that of my garden_
     _Tenanted by an autumnal person_
            _weary of the world!_

I still dwelt in the romances from morning to night, and as long as I
was awake.

I had another dream: a man said that he was to make a brook in the
garden of the Hexagon Tower to entertain the Empress of the First
Rank of Honour. I asked the reason, and the man said, "Pray to the
Heaven-illuminating honoured Goddess." I did not tell any one about
this dream or even think of it again. How shallow I was!

In the Spring I enjoyed the Princess's garden. Cherry-blossoms waited
for!--cherry-blossoms lamented over! In Spring I love the flowers
whether in her garden or in mine.

On the moon-hidden day of the Ever-growing month [March 30, 1023], I
started for a certain person's house to avoid the evil influence of the
earth god.[37] There I saw delightful cherry-blossoms still on the tree
and the day after my return I sent this poem:

  _Alone, without tiring, I gazed at the cherry-blossoms of your garden._
  _The Spring was closing--they were about to fall--_

Always when the flowers came and went, I could think of nothing but
those days when my nurse died, and sadness descended upon me, which
grew deeper when I studied the handwriting of the Honoured Daughter of
the First Adviser.

Once in the Rice-Sprout month, when I was up late reading a romance, I
heard a cat mewing with a long-drawn-out cry. I turned, wondering, and
saw a very lovely cat. "Whence does it come?" I asked. "Sh," said my
sister, "do not tell anybody. It is a darling cat and we will keep it."

The cat was very sociable and lay beside us. Some one might be looking
for her [we thought], so we kept her secretly. She kept herself aloof
from the vulgar servants, always sitting quietly before us. She turned
her face away from unclean food, never eating it. She was tenderly
cared for and caressed by us.

Once sister was ill, and the family was rather upset. The cat was
kept in a room facing the north [i.e. a servant's room], and never
was called. She cried loudly and scoldingly, yet I thought it better
to keep her away and did so. Sister, suddenly awakening, said to me,
"Where is the cat kept? Bring her here." I asked why, and sister said:
"In my dream the cat came to my side and said, 'I am the altered
form of the late Honoured Daughter of the First Adviser to the King.
There was a slight cause [for this]. Your sister has been thinking of
me affectionately, so I am here for a while, but now I am among the
servants. O how dreary I am!' So saying she wept bitterly. She appeared
to be a noble and beautiful person and then I awoke to hear the cat
crying! How pitiful!"

The story moved me deeply and after this I never sent the cat away to
the north-facing room, but waited on her lovingly. Once, when I was
sitting alone, she came and sat before me, and, stroking her head, I
addressed her: "You are the first daughter of the Noble Adviser? I wish
to let your father know of it." The cat watched my face and mewed,
_lengthening her voice._

It may be my fancy, but as I was watching her she seemed no common cat.
She seemed to understand my words, and I pity her.

I had heard that a certain person possessed the Chogonka[38] [Song of
the Long Regret] retold from the original of the Chinese poet Li T'ai
Po. I longed to borrow it, but was too shy to say so.

On the seventh day of the Seventh month I found a happy means to send
my word [the suggestion of my wish]:

     _This is the night when in the ancient Past,_
     _The Herder Star embarked to meet the Weaving One;_
     _In its sweet remembrance the wave rises high in the River_
         _of Heaven.[39]_
     _Even so swells my heart to see the famous book._

The answer was:

     _The star gods meet on the shore of the Heavenly River,_
     _Like theirs full of ecstasy is my heart_
     _And grave things of daily life are forgotten_
     _On the night your message comes to me._

On the thirteenth day of that month the moon shone very brightly.
Darkness was chased away even from every corner of the heavens. It was
about midnight and all were asleep.

We were sitting on the veranda. My sister, who was gazing at the sky
thoughtfully, said, "If I flew away now, leaving no trace behind, what
would you think of it?" She saw that her words shocked me, and she
turned the conversation [lightly] to other things, and we laughed.

Then I heard a carriage with a runner before it stop near the house.
The man in the carriage called out, "Ogi-no-ha! Ogi-no-ha!" [Reed-leaf,
a woman's name or pet name] twice, but no woman made reply. The man
cried in vain until he was tired of it, and played his flute [a
reed-pipe] more and more searchingly in a very beautiful rippling
melody, and [at last] drove away.

     _Flute music in the night,_
     _"Autumn Wind"[40] sighing,_
     _Why does the reed-leaf make no reply?_

Thus I challenged my sister, and she took it up:

     _Alas! light of heart_
     _Who could so soon give over playing!_
     _The wind did not wait_
     _For the response of the reed-leaf._

We sat together looking up into the firmament, and went to bed after

At midnight of the Deutzia month [April, 1024] a fire broke out, and
the cat which had been waited on as a daughter of the First Adviser was
burned to death. She had been used to come mewing whenever I called
her by the name of that lady, as if she had understood me. My father
said that he would tell the matter to the First Adviser, for it is a
strange and heartfelt story. I was very, very sorry for her.

Our new temporary shelter was far narrower than the other. I was sad,
for we had a very small garden and no trees. I thought with regret of
the old spacious garden which was wild as a deep wood, and in time
of flowers and red leaves the sight of it was never inferior to the
surrounding mountains.

In the garden of the opposite house white and red plum-blossoms grew
in confusion and their perfume came on the wind and filled me with
thoughts of our old home.

     _When from the neighbouring garden the perfume-laden air_
     _Saturates my soul with memories,_
     _Rises the thought of the beloved plum-tree_
     _Blooming under the eaves of the house which is gone._

On the moon-birth of the Rice-Sprout month my sister died after giving
birth to a child. From childhood, even a stranger's death had touched
my heart deeply. This time I lamented, filled with speechless pity and

While mother and the others were with the dead, I lay with the
memory-awakening children one on either side of me. The moonlight found
its way through the cracks of the roof [perhaps of their temporary
dwelling] and illumined the face of the baby. The sight gave my heart
so deep a pang that I covered its face with my sleeve, and drew the
other child closer to my side, mothering the unfortunate.


After some days one of my relatives sent me a romance entitled "The
Prince Yearning after the Buried," with the following note: "The late
lady had asked me to find her this romance. At that time I thought it
impossible, but now to add to my sorrow, some one has just sent it to

I answered:

     _What reason can there be that she_
     _Strangely should seek a romance of the buried?_
     _Buried now is the seeker_
     _Deep under the mosses._

My sister's nurse said that since she had lost her, she had no reason
to stay and went back to her own home weeping.

     _Thus death or parting separates us each from the other,_
     _Why must we part? Oh, world too sad for me!_

"For remembrance of her I wanted to write about her," began a letter
from her nurse--but it stopped short with the words, "Ink seems to have
frozen up, I cannot write any more."[41]

     _How shall I gather memories of my sister?_
     _The stream of letters is congealed._
     _No comfort may be found in icicles._

So I wrote, and the answer was:

     _Like the comfortless plover of the beach_
     _In the sand printing characters soon to be washed away,_
     _Unable to leave a more enduring trace in this fleeting world._

That nurse went to see the grave and returned sobbing, saying:

     _I seek her in the field, but she is not there,_
     _Nor is she in the smoke of the cremation._
     _Where is her last dwelling-place?_
     _How can I find it?_

The lady who had been my stepmother heard of this [and wrote]:

     _When we wander in search of her,_
     _Ignorant of her last dwelling-place,_
     _Standing before the thought_
     _Tears must be our guide._

The person who had sent "The Prince Yearning after the Buried" wrote:

     _How she must have wandered seeking the unfindable_
     _In the unfamiliar fields of bamboo grasses,_
              _Vainly weeping!_

Reading these poems my brother, who had followed the funeral that
night, composed a poem:

     _Before my vision_
       _The fire and smoke of burning_
       _Arose and died again._
     _To bamboo fields there is no more returning,_
       _Why seek there in vain?_

It snowed for many days, and I thought of the nun who lived on Mount
Yoshino, to whom I wrote:

       _Snow has fallen_
     _And you cannot have_
       _Even the unusual sight of men_
     _Along the precipitous path of the Peak of Yoshino._

On the Sociable month of the next year father was looking forward with
happy expectation to the night when he might expect an appointment as
Governor of a Province. He was disappointed, and a person who might
have shared our joy wrote to me, saying:

        "I anxiously waited for the dawn with uncertain hope."

     _The temple bell roused me from dreams_
     _And waiting for the starlit dawn_
     _The night, alas! was long as are_
     _One hundred autumn nights._

I wrote back:

     _Long was the night._
     _The bell called from dreams in vain,_
     _For it did not toll our realized hopes._

Towards the moon-hidden days [last days] of the Rice-Sprout month
I went for a certain reason to a temple at Higashiyama.[42] On the
way the nursery beds for rice-plants were filled with water, and the
fields were green all over with the young growing rice. It was a
smile-presenting sight. It gave a feeling of loneliness to see the
dark shadow of the mountain close before me. In the lovely evenings
water-rails chattered in the fields.

     _The water-rails cackle as if they were knocking at the gate,_
     _But who would be deceived into opening the door, saying,_
     _Our friend has come along the mountain path in the dark night?_

As the place was near the Reizan Temple I went there to worship.
Arriving so far I was fatigued, and drank from a stone-lined well
beside the mountain temple, scooping the water into the hollow of my
hand. My friend said, "I could never have enough of this water." "Is
it the first time," I asked, "that you have tasted the satisfying
sweetness of a mountain well drunk from the hollow of your hand?" She
said, "It is sweeter than to drink from a shallow spring, which becomes
muddy even from the drops which fall from the hand which has scooped it
up."[43] We came home from the temple in the full brightness of evening
sunshine, and had a clear view of Kioto below us.

My friend, who had said that a spring becomes muddy even with drops
falling into it, had to go back to the Capital.

I was sorry to part with her and sent word the next morning:

     _When the evening sun descends behind the mountain peak,_
     _Will you forget that it is I who gaze with longing_
     _Towards the place where you are?_

The holy voices of the priests reciting sutras in their morning service
could be heard from my house and I opened the door. It was dim early
dawn; mist veiled the green forest, which was thicker and darker than
in the time of flowers or red leaves. The sky seemed clouded this
lovely morning. Cuckoos were singing on the near-by trees.

     _O for a friend--that we might see and listen together!_
     _O the beautiful dawn in the mountain village!--_
     _The repeated sound of cuckoos near and far away._

On that moon-hidden day cuckoos sung clamorously on trees towards the
glen. "In the Royal City poets may be awaiting you, cuckoos, yet you
sing here carelessly from morning till night!"

One who sat near me said: "Do you think that there is one person, at
least, in the Capital who is listening to cuckoos, and thinking of us
at this moment?"--and then:

     _Many in the Royal City like to gaze on the calm moon._
     _But is there one who thinks of the deep mountain_
     _Or is reminded of us hidden here?_

I replied:

     _In the dead of night, moon-gazing,_
     _The thought of the deep mountain affrighted,_
     _Yet longings for the mountain village_
     _At all other moments filled my heart._

Once, towards dawn, I heard footsteps which seemed to be those of many
persons coming down the mountain. I wondered and looked out. It was a
herd of deer which came close to our dwelling. They cried out. It was
not pleasant to hear them near by.

     _It is sweet to hear the love-call of a deer to its mate,_
     _In Autumn nights, upon the distant hills._

I heard that an acquaintance had come near my residence and gone back
without calling on me. So I wrote:

     _Even this wandering wind among the pines of the mountain--_
     _I've heard that it departs with murmuring sound._

[That is, you are not like it. You do not speak when going away.]

In the Leaf-Falling month [September] I saw the moon more than twenty
days old. It was towards dawn; the mountain-side was gloomy and the
sound of the waterfall was all [I heard]. I wish that lovers [of
nature] may see the after-dawn-waning moon in a mountain village at the
close of an autumn night.

I went back to Kioto when the rice-fields, which had been filled with
water when I came, were dried up, the rice being harvested. The young
plants in their bed of water--the plants harvested--the fields dried
up--so long I remained away from home.

'T was the moon-hidden of the Gods-absent month when I went there again
for temporary residence. The thick grown leaves which had cast a dark
shade were all fallen. The sight was heartfelt over all. The sweet,
murmuring rivulet was buried under fallen leaves and I could see only
the course of it.

     _Even water could not live on--_
     _So lonesome is the mountain_
     _Of the leaf-scattering stormy wind._

[At about this time the author of this diary seems to have had some
family troubles. Her father received no appointment from the King--they
were probably poor, and her gentle, poetic nature did not incline
her to seek useful friends at court; therefore many of the best
years of her youth were spent in obscurity--a great contrast to the
"Shining-Prince" dreams of her childhood.]

I went back to Kioto saying that I should come again the next Spring,
could I live so long, and begged the nun to send word when the
flowering-time had come.

It was past the nineteenth of the Ever-growing month of the next year
[1026], but there were no tidings from her, so I wrote:

     _No word about the blooming cherry-blossoms,_
     _Has not the Spring come for you yet?_
     _Or does the perfume of flowers not reach you?_

I made a journey, and passed many a moonlit night in a house beside a
bamboo wood. Wind rustled its leaves and my sleep was disturbed.

     _Night after night the bamboo leaves sigh,_
     _My dreams are broken and a vague, indefinite sadness fills my

In Autumn [1026] I went to live elsewhere and sent a poem:

     _I am like dew on the grass--_
     _And pitiable wherever I may be--_
     _But especially am I oppressed with sadness_
     _In a field with a thin growth of reeds._

After that time I was somehow restless and forgot about the romances.
My mind became more sober and I passed many years without doing
any remarkable thing. I neglected religious services and temple
observances. Those fantastic ideas [of the romances] can they be
realized in this world? If father could win some good position I
also might enter into a much nobler life. Such unreliable hopes then
occupied my daily thoughts.

At last[44] father was appointed Governor of a Province very far in the

[Here the diary skips six years. The following is reminiscent.]

He [father] said: "I was always thinking that if I could win a
position as Governor in the neighbourhood of the Capital I could take
care of you to my heart's desire. I would wish to bring you down to
see beautiful scenery of sea and mountain. Moreover, I wished that
you could live attended beyond [the possibilities] of our [present]
position. Our Karma relation from our former world must have been bad.
Now I have to go to so distant a country after waiting so long! When
I brought you, who were a little child, to the Eastern Province [at
his former appointment], even a slight illness caused me much trouble
of mind in thinking that should I die, you would wander helpless in
that far country. There were many fears in a stranger's country, and
I should have lived with an easier mind had I been alone. As I was
then accompanied by all my family, I could not say or do what I wanted
to say or do, and I was ashamed of it. Now you are grown up [she was
twenty-five years old] and I am not sure that I can live long.

It is not so unusual a fate to be helpless in the Capital, but the
saddest thing of all would be to wander in the Eastern Province like
any country-woman.[45] There are no relatives in the Capital upon whom
we could rely to foster you, yet I cannot refuse the appointment which
has been made after such long waiting. So you must remain here, and I
must depart for Eternity.--Oh, in what way may I provide a way for you
to live in the Capital decently!"

Night and day he lamented, saying these things, and I forgot all about
flowers or maple leaves, grieving sadly, but there was no help for it.

He went down[46] on the thirteenth of the Seventh month, 1032.

For several days before that I could not remain still in my own room,
for I thought it difficult to see him again.

On that day [the 13th] after restless hours, when the [time for]
parting came, I had lifted the blind and my eye met his, from which
tears dropped down. Soon he had passed by.[47] My eyes were dim with
tears and soon I concealed myself in bed [tears were bad manners]. A
man who had gone to see him off returned with a poem written on a bit
of pocket paper.

A message from her father:

     _If I could do as I wish_
     _I could acknowledge more profoundly_
     _The sorrow of departing in Autumn._

[The last line has, of course, reference to his age and the probability
of never returning.]

I could not read the poem to the end.

In the happier time I had often tried to compose halting poems
[literally, of broken loins], but at present I had no word to say.

     _--never began to think in this world even for_
              _a moment from you to part. Alas!_

No person came to my side and I was very lonely and forlorn musing and
guessing where he would be at every moment. As I knew the road he was
taking [the same which is described in this journal], I thought of
him the more longingly and with greater heart-shrinking. Morning and
evening I looked towards the sky-line of the eastern mountains.

In the Leaf-Falling month I went to the temple at Udzumaza [Korinji] to
pass many days.

We came upon two men's palanquins in the road from Ichijo, which had
stopped there. They must have been waiting for some one to catch up
with them. When I passed by they sent an attendant with the message:
"Flower-seeing go?--we suppose."

I thought it would be awkward not to reply to such a slight matter, and

                         _Thousand kinds[48]--_
     _To be like them in the fields of Autumn._

I stayed in the temple for seven days, but could think of nothing but
the road to the East.

I prayed to the Buddha, saying: "There is no way to change the present,
but grant that we may meet again peacefully after this parting"--and I
thought the Buddha would pity and grant my prayer.

It was midwinter. It rained all day. In the night a cloud-turning wind
blew terribly and the sky cleared. The moon became exquisitely bright,
and it was sad to see the tall reeds near the house broken and blown
down by the wind.

     _Dead stalks of reeds must be reminded of good Autumn days._
     _In midwinter depths the tempest lays them low,_
     _Confused and broken._

["Their fate is like my own," is intangibly expressed in this poem.]

A messenger arrived from the East.

Father's letter:

        "I wandered through the Province [Hitachi, now
        Ibarakiken] going into every Shinto shrine and saw
        a wide field with a beautiful river running through
        it.[49] There was a beautiful wood. My first thought was
        of you, and to make you see it, and I asked the name of
        that grove. 'The grove of Longing After One's Child' was
        the answer. I thought of the one who had first named it
        and was extremely sad. Alighting from my horse I stood
        there for two hours.

     _After leaving--_
     _Like me he must have yearned_
     _Sorrowful to see--_
     _The forest of Longing After One's Child."_

To see that letter is a sadder thing than to have seen the forest.

[The poem sent in return presents difficulties in the way of
translation as there is a play upon words, literally it is something
like this:]

The grove of "Longing After One's Child"; left; Father-caressed[50]
Mountain; [Chichibusan] hard Eastern way--

     _The grove of Longing After One's Child--_
     _Hearing of it I think of the Father-caressed Mountain:_
     _Towards it hard is the Eastern way_
       _For a child left [here alone]._

Thus I passed days in doing nothing, and I began to think of going
to temples [making pilgrimages]. Mother was a person of extremely
antiquated mind. She said: "Oh, dreadful is the Hatsusé Temple! What
should you do if you were caught by some one at the Nara ascent?
Ishiyama too! Sekiyama Pass [near Lake Biwa] is very dreadful!
Kurama-san [the famous mountain], oh, dreadful to bring you there! You
may go there when father comes back."

As mother says so, I can go only to Kiyomidzu Temple.[51] My old habits
of romantic indulgence were not dead yet, and I could not fix my mind
on religious thoughts as I ought.

In the equinoctial week there was a great tumult [of festival], so
great a noise that I was even afraid of it, and when I lay asleep I
dreamt there was a priest within the enclosure before the altar, in
blue garments with loose brocade hood and brocade shoes. He seemed
to be the intendant of the temple: "You, being occupied with vain
thoughts, are not praying for happiness in the world to come," he said
indignantly, and went behind the curtain. I awoke startled, yet neither
told any one what I had dreamt, nor thought about it much.

My mother had two one-foot-in-diameter bronze mirrors cast and made a
priest take them for us to the Hatsusé Temple. Mother told the priest
to pass two or three days in the temple especially praying that a
dream might be vouchsafed about the future state of this woman [the
daughter]. For that period I was made to observe religious purity [i.e.
abstain from animal food.]

The priest came back to tell the following:

"I was reluctant to return without having even a dream, and after
bowing many times and performing other ceremonies I went to sleep.
There came out from behind the curtain a graceful holy lady in
beautiful garments. She, taking up the offered mirrors, asked me if
no letters were affixed to these mirrors. I answered in the most
respectful manner, 'There were no letters. I was told only to offer
these.' 'Strange!' she said. 'Letters are to be added. See what is
mirrored in one, it creates pity to look at it.' I saw her weep
bitterly and saw appear in the mirror shadows of people rolling over in
lamentation. 'To see these shadows makes one sad, but to see this makes
one happy,' and she held up the other mirror. There, the misu was fresh
green and many-coloured garments were revealed below the lower edge of
it. Plum-and cherry-blossoms were in flower. Nightingales were singing
from tree to tree."

I did not even listen to his story nor question him as to how things
seemed in his dream. Some one said, "Pray to the Heavenly Illuminating
Honoured Goddess," and my irreverent mind thought, "Where is she? Is
she a Goddess or a Buddha?"

At first I said so, but afterwards grew more discreet and asked some
one about her, who replied: "She is a goddess, and takes up her abode
at Isé.[52] The goddess is also worshipped by the Provincial Governor
of Kii. She is worshipped at the ancestor shrine in the Imperial Court."

I could not by any means get to Isé. How could I bow before the
Imperial shrine? I could never be allowed to go there. The idea flowed
through my mind to pray for the heavenly light.

A relative of mine became a nun, and entered the Sugaku Temple. In
winter I sent her a poem:

     _Even tears arise for your sake_
     _When I think of the mountain hamlet_
     _Where snow-storms will be raging._


     _I seem to have a glimpse of you_
     _Coming to me through the dark wood,_
     _When close over head is Summer's growth of leaves._

1036. Father, who had gone down towards the East, came back at last. He
settled down at Nishiyama, and we all went there. We were very happy.
One moon-bright night we talked all the night through:

     _Such nights as this exist!_
     _As if it were for Eternity, I parted from you--_
     _How sad was that Autumn!_

At this father shed tears [of happiness] abundantly, and answered me
with a poem:

     _That life grows dear and is lived with rejoicing_
     _Which once was borne with hate and lamentation_

My joy knew no bounds when my waiting was at an end after the supposed
parting "for Eternity," yet my father said: "It is ridiculous to lead
a worldly life when one is very old. I used to feel so when I saw old
men, but now it is my turn to be old, so I will retire from social
life." As he said it with no lingering affection for this world, I felt
quite alone.

Towards the East the field stretched far and wide and I could see
clearly from Mount Hiyé[53] to Mount Inari. Towards the West, the pines
of the forest of Narabigaoka were sounding in my ear, and up to the
tableland on which our house stood the rice-fields were cultivated in
terraces, while from them came the sound of the bird-scaring clappers,
giving me a homely country sentiment.

One moonlight evening I had a message from an old acquaintance who had
had an opportunity to send to me, and this I sent back:

     _None calls upon me, or remembers me in my mountain village._
     _On the reeds by the thin hedge, the Autumn winds are sighing._

1037. In the Tenth month we changed our abode to the Capital. Mother
had become a nun, and although she lived in the same house, shut
herself up in a separate chamber. Father rather treated me as an
independent woman than as his child. I felt helpless to see him
shunning all society and living hidden in the shade.

A person [the Princess Yuko, daughter of the Emperor Toshiyaku] who had
heard about me through a distant relative called me [to her] saying it
would be better [to be with her] than passing idle lonely days.

My old-fashioned parents thought the court life would be very
unpleasant, and wanted me to pass my time at home, but others said:
"People nowadays go out as ladies-in-waiting at the Court, and then
fortunate opportunities [for marriage] are naturally numerous; why not
try it?" So [at the age of twenty-six] I was sent to the Court against
my will.

I went for one night the first time. I was dressed in an eight-fold
uchigi of deep and pale chrysanthemum colours, and over it I wore the
outer flowing robe of deep-red silk.

As I have said before, my mind was absorbed in romances, and I had no
important relatives from whom I could learn distinguished manners or
court customs, so except from the romances I could not know them. I
had always been in the shadow of the antiquated parents, and had been
accustomed not to go out but to see moon and flowers. So when I left
home I felt as if I were not I nor was it the real world [to which I
was going]. I started in the early morning. I had often fancied in my
countrified mind that I should hear more interesting things for my
heart's consolation than were to be found living fixed in my parents'

I felt awkward in Court in everything I did, and I thought it sad, but
there was no use in complaining. I remembered with grief my nieces who
had lost their mother and had been cared for by me alone, even sleeping
at night one on either side of me.

Days were spent in musing with a vacant mind. I felt as if some one
were [always] spying upon me, and I was embarrassed.[54] After ten days
or so I got leave to go out. Father and mother were waiting for me with
a comfortable fire in a brazier.

Seeing me getting out of my palanquin, my nieces said: "When you were
with us people came to see us, but now no one's voice is heard, no
one's shadow falls before the house. We are very low-spirited; what can
you do for us who must pass days like this?" It was pitiful to see them
cry when they said it. The next morning they sat before me, saying: "As
you are here many persons are coming and going. It seems livelier."

Tears came to my eyes to think what virtue [literally, fragrance] I
could have that my little nieces made so much of me.

It would be very difficult even for a saint to dream of his prenatal
life. Yet, when I was before the altar of the Kiyomidzu Temple, in a
faintly dreamy state of mind which was neither sleeping nor waking, I
saw a man who seemed to be the head of the temple. He came out and said
to me:

"You were once a priest of this temple and you were born into a better
state by virtue of the many Buddhist images which you carved as a
Buddhist artist. The Buddha seventeen feet high which is enthroned in
the eastern side of the temple was your work. When you were in the act
of covering it with gold foil you died."

"Oh, undeservedly blessed!" I said. "I will finish it, then."

The priest replied: "As you died, another man covered it and performed
the ceremony of offerings."

I came to myself and thought: "If I serve with all my heart the Buddha
of the Kiyomidzu Temple ... by virtue of my prayers in this temple in
the previous life...."[55]

In the Finishing month I went again to the Court. A room was assigned
for my use.

I went to the Princess's apartment every night and lay down among
unknown persons, so I could not sleep at all. I was bashful and timid
and wept in secret. In the morning I retired while it was still dark
and passed the days in longing for home where my old and weak parents,
making much of me, relied upon me as if I were worthy of it. I yearned
for them and felt very lonely. Unfortunate, deplorable, and helpless
mind!--That was graven into my thought and although I had to perform my
duty faithfully I could not always wait upon the Princess. She seemed
not to guess what was in my heart, and attributing it only to shyness
favored me by summoning me often from among the other ladies. She used
to say, "Call the younger ladies!" and I was dragged out in spite of

[Illustration: THREE KICHŌ PUT TOGETHER The curtains of the screen, or
kichō, varied with the seasons. This is a summer one with decorations
of summer grasses and flowers]

Those who were familiar with the court life seemed to be at home there,
but I, who was not very young, yet did not wish to be counted among
the elderly, was rather neglected, and made to usher guests. However,
I did not expect too much of court life, and had no envy for those who
were more graceful than I. This, on the contrary, set me at ease, and I
from time to time presented myself before the Princess; and talked only
with congenial friends about lovely things. Even on smile-presenting,
interesting occasions I shrank from intruding and becoming too popular,
and did not go far into most things.

Sleeping one night before the Princess, I was awakened by cries and
fluttering noises from the waterfowl in the pond.

     _Like us the water jowl pass all the night in floating sleep,_
     _They seem to be weary_
     _With shaking away the frost from their feathers._

My companions passed their leisure time in talking over romances with
the door open which separated our rooms, and they often called back one
who had gone to the Princess's apartment. She sent word once, "I will
go if I must" [intending to give herself the pleasure of coming].

     _The long leaves of the reed are easily bent,_
     _So I will not forcibly persuade it,_
     _But leave it to the wind._

In this way [composing poems] we passed [the hours] talking idly.
Afterwards this lady separated from the Court and left us. She
remembered that night and sent me word--

     _That moonless, flowerless winter night_
     _It penetrates my thought and makes me dwell on it--_
               _I wonder why?_

It touched my heart, for I also was thinking of that night:

     _In my dreams the tears of that cold night are still frozen._
     _But these I weep away secretly._

The Princess still called my stepmother by the name of
Kazusa[56]--Governor's lady. Father was displeased that that name was
still used after she had become another man's wife, and he made me
write to her about it:

     _The name of Asakura in a far-off country,_
     _The Court now hears it in a divine dance-song:--_
     _My name also is still somewhere heard [but not honourably].[57]_

One very bright night, after the full moon, I attended the Princess to
the Imperial Palace. I remembered that the Heaven Illuminating Goddess
was enthroned within, and wanted to take an opportunity to kneel before
the altar. One moon-bright night [1042 A.D.] I went in [to the shrine]
privately, for I know Lady Hakasé[58] who was taking care of this
shrine. The perpetual lights before the altar burned dimly. She [the
Lady Hakasé] grew wondrously old and holy; she seems not like a mortal,
but like a divine incarnation, yet she spoke very gracefully.

The moon was very bright on the following night and the Princess's
ladies passed the time in talking and moon-gazing, opening the
doors [outer shutters] of the Fujitsubo.[59] The footsteps of the
Royal consort of Umetsubo going up to the King's apartment were so
exquisitely graceful as to excite envy. "Had the late Queen[60] been
living, she could not walk so grandly," some one said. I composed a

     _She is like the Moon, who, opening the gate of Heaven,_
            _goes up over the clouds._
     _We, being in the same heavenly Palace, pass the night_
            _in remembering the footfalls of the past._

The ladies who are charged with the duty of introducing the court
nobles seem to have been fixed upon, and nobody notices whether
simple-hearted country-women like me exist or not. On a very dark night
in the beginning of the Gods-absent month, when sweet-voiced reciters
were to read sutras throughout the night, another lady and I went out
towards the entrance door of the Audience Room to listen to it, and
after talking fell asleep, listening, leaning, ...[61] when I noticed a
gentleman had come to be received in audience by the Princess.

"It is awkward to run away to our apartment [to escape him]. We will
remain here. Let it be as it will." So said my companion and I sat
beside her listening.

He spoke gently and quietly. There was nothing about him to be
regretted. "Who is the other lady?" he asked of my friend. He said
nothing rude or amorous like other men, but talked delicately of the
sad, sweet things of the world, and many a phrase of his with a strange
power enticed me into conversation. He wondered that there should have
been in the Court one who was a stranger to him, and did not seem
inclined to go away soon.

There was no starlight, and a gentle shower fell in the darkness;
how lovely was its sound on the leaves! "The more deeply beautiful
is the night," he said; "the full moonlight would be too dazzling."
Discoursing about the beauties of Spring and Autumn he continued:
"Although every hour has its charm, pretty is the spring haze; then
the sky being tranquil and overcast, the face of the moon is not too
bright; it seems to be floating on a distant river. At such a time the
calm spring melody of the lute is exquisite.

"In Autumn, on the other hand, the moon is very bright; though there
are mists trailing over the horizon we can see things as clearly as if
they were at hand. The sound of wind, the voices of insects, all sweet
things seem to melt together. When at such a time we listen to the
autumnal music of the koto[62] we forget the Spring--we think that is

"But the winter sky frozen all over magnificently cold! The snow
covering the earth and its light mingling with the moonshine! Then the
notes of the hitchiriki[63] vibrate on the air and we forget Spring and
Autumn." And he asked us, "Which captivates your fancy? On which stays
your mind?"

My companion answered in favour of Autumn and I, not being willing to
imitate her, said:

     _Pale green night and flowers all melting into one_
            _in the soft haze--_
     _Everywhere the moon, glimmering in the Spring night._

So I replied. And he, after repeating my poem to himself over and over,
said: "Then you give up Autumn? After this, as long as I live, such a
spring night shall be for me a memento of your personality." The person
who favoured Autumn said, "Others seem to give their hearts to Spring,
and I shall be alone gazing at the autumn moon,"

He was deeply interested, and being uncertain in thought said: "Even
the poets of the Tang Empire[64] could not decide which to praise
most, Spring or Autumn. Your decisions make me think that there must
be some personal reasons when our inclination is touched or charmed.
Our souls are imbued with the colours of the sky, moon, or flowers of
that moment. I desire much to know how you came to know the charms
of Spring and Autumn. The moon of a winter night is given as an
instance of dreariness, and as it is very cold I had never seen it
intentionally. When I went down to Isé to be present as the messenger
of the King at the ceremony[65] of installing the virgin in charge of
the shrine, I wanted to come back in the early dawn, so went to take
leave of the Princess [whose installation had just taken place] in a
moon-bright night after many days' snow, half shrinking to think of my

"Her residence was an other-worldly place awful even to the
imagination, but she called me into an adequate apartment. There were
persons [in that room] who had come down in the reign of the Emperor
Enyu.[66] Their aspect was very holy, ancient, and mystical. They told
of the things of long ago with tears. They brought out a well-tuned
four-stringed lute. The music did not seem to be anything happening in
this world; I regretted that day should even dawn, and was touched so
deeply that I had almost forgotten about returning to the Capital. Ever
since then the snowy nights of winter recall that scene, and I without
fail gaze at the moon even though hugging the fire. You will surely
understand me, and hereafter every dark night with gentle rain will
touch my heart; I feel this has not been inferior to the snowy night at
the palace of the Isé virgin."

With these words he departed and I thought he could not have known who
I was.

In the Eighth month of the next year [1043] we went again to the
Imperial Palace, and there was in the Court an entertainment throughout
the night. I did not know that he was present at it, and I passed that
night in my own room. When I looked out [in early morning] opening
the sliding doors on the corridor I saw the morning moon very faint
and beautiful. I heard footsteps and people approached--some reciting
sutras. One of them came to the entrance, and addressed me. I replied,
and he, suddenly remembering, exclaimed, "That night of softly falling
rain I do not forget, even for a moment! I yearn for it." As chance did
not permit me many words I said:

     _What intensity of memory clings to your heart?_
     _That gentle shower fell on the leaves--_
         _Only for a moment [our hearts touched]._

I had scarcely said so when people came up and I stole back without his

That evening, after I had gone to my room, my companion came in to tell
me that he had replied to my poem: "If there be such a tranquil night
as that of the rain, I should like in some way to make you listen to my
lute, playing all the songs I can remember."

I wanted to hear it, and waited for the fit occasion, but there was
none, ever.

In the next year one tranquil evening I heard that he had come into the
Princess's Palace, so I crept out of my chamber with my companion, but
there were many people waiting within and without the Palace, and I
turned back. He must have been of the same mind with me. He had come
because it was so still a night, and he returned because it was noisy.

     _I yearn for a tranquil moment_
     _To be out upon the sea of harmony,_
     _In that enchanted boat._
     _Oh, boatman, do you know my heart?_

So I composed that poem--and there is nothing more to tell. His
personality was very excellent and he was not an ordinary man, but time
passed, and neither called to the other.

In Winter, though the snow had not come yet, the starlit sky was
clear and cold. One whole night I talked with those who were in the

Like a good-for-nothing woman I retired from the Court life.

On the twenty-fifth of the End month [Christmas Day, 1043] I was
summoned by the Princess to the religious service of reciting Buddha's
names. I went for that night only. About forty ladies were there all
dressed in deep-red dresses and also in deep-red outer robe. I sat
behind the person who led me in--the most shadow-like person among
them--and I retired before dawn. On my way home it snowed in fluttering
flakes, and the frozen, ghostly moon was reflected in my dull-red
sleeves of glossy silk. Even that reflection seemed to be wet and
sad. I thought all the way: "The year comes to a close and the night
also--and the moon reflected in my sleeve--all passes. When one is in
Court, one may become familiar with those who serve there, and know
worldly things better, and if one is thought amiable one is received
as a lady and favours may be bestowed"--such had been my thought, but
father was now disappointed in me and kept me at home; but how could
I expect that my fortunes should become dazzling in a moment? It was
father's idle fancy, yet he felt that it had betrayed him.

     _Though a thousand times, how many! I gathered parsley_[68]
           _in the fields_
              _Yet my wishes were by no means fulfilled._

I grumbled so far, and no farther.

I regretted deeply the idle fancies of old days, and as my parents
would not accompany me to temples [on pilgrimages] I could hardly
suppress my impatience. I wish to strengthen my spirit to bring up
my child who is still in the germ. Moreover, I wish to do my best to
pile up virtuous deeds for the life to come, so encouraging my heart I
went to the Ishiyama Temple after the twentieth day of the Frost month
[1045]. It snowed and the route was lovely. On coming in sight of the
barrier at Osaka Pass, I was reminded that it was also in Winter when I
passed it on my way up to Kioto. Then also it was a windy tempestuous

     _The sound of the Autumn wind at the barrier of Osaka!_
     _It differs not from that heard long ago._

The temple at Seki, magnificent though it was, made me think of the old
roughly hewn Buddha. The beach at Uchidé has not changed in the passing
of months and years, but my own heart feels change.

Towards evening I arrived at the temple and after a bath went up to the
main shrine. The mountain wind was dreadful. I took it for a good omen
that, falling asleep in the temple [I heard a voice], saying: "From the
inner shrine perfume has been bestowed. Tell it at once." At the words
I awoke, and passed the night in prayer.

The next day the wind raged and it snowed heavily. I comforted my
lonely heart with the friend of the Princess who came with me. We left
after three days.

On the twenty-fifth of the Tenth month of the next year [1046] the
Capital was in great excitement over the purification ceremonies before
the Great Ceremony.[69]

For my part I wanted to set out that same day for Hasé [Temple] for my
own religious purification. They stopped me, saying it was a sight to
be seen only once in one reign; that even the country-people come to
see the procession, and it was madness to leave the city that very day.
"Your deeds will be spread abroad and people will gossip about you,"
said my brother angrily. "No, no, let the person have her own will";
and according to my wish he [her husband] let me start. His kindness
touched me, but on the other hand I pitied those who accompanied me
[her retinue], who with longing hearts wanted to see the ceremony.

But what have we to do with such shows? Buddha will be pleased with
those who come at a time like this. I wanted without fail to receive
the divine favour, and started before dawn. When I was crossing the
great bridge of Nijo, with pine torches flaming before me, and with my
attendants in pure white robes, all the men on; horseback, in carriage,
or on foot who encountered me on their way to the stands prepared for
sight-seers said, in surprise, "What is that?" and some even laughed or
scolded me. As I was passing before the gate of Yoshinori the Commander
of the Bodyguard and his men were standing there before the wide-open
portals. They said, laughing, "Here goes a company to the temple--there
are many days and months in the world [to do that in]!" But there
was one [standing by] who said: "What is it to fatten the eyes for a
moment? They are firmly determined. They will surely receive Buddha's
favour; we ought also to make up our minds [for the good] without
sight-seeing." Thus one man spoke seriously.

I had wanted to leave the city before broad daylight, and had started
in the middle of the night, but had to wait for belated persons till
the very thick fog became thinner. People flowed in from the country
like a river. Nobody could turn aside to make room for anybody else,
and even the ill-behaved and vulgar children, who passed beside my
carriage with some difficulty, had words of wonder and contempt for us.

I felt sorry that I had started that day, yet praying to Buddha with
all my heart, I arrived at the ferry of Uji. Even there the people
were coming up to the city in throngs, and the ferry-man, seeing
these numberless people, was filled with his own importance, and grew
proud. He, tucking up his sleeves against his face and leaning on his
pole, would not bring the boat at once. He looked around whistling
and assumed an indifferent air. We could not cross the river for a
long time, so I looked around the place, which I had felt a curiosity
to see, ever since reading Genji-monogatari which tells that the
daughter of the Princess of Uji lived here. I thought it a charming
spot. At last we managed to get across the river and went to see the
Uji mansion.[70] I was at once reminded that the Lady Ukifuné [of the
romance] had been living here.

As we had started before daybreak, my people were tired out, and rested
at Hiroichi to take food. The Guard said: "Is that the famous mountain
Kurikoma? It is towards evening, be ready with your armour" [to
protect from robbers or evil spirits], I listened to these words with
a shudder, but we passed that mountain [without adventure] and the sun
was on its summit when we arrived at the lake of Nieno. They went in
several directions to seek a lodging and returned saying there was no
proper place, only an obscure hut; but as there was no other place we
took that.

In the house there were only two men, for the rest had all gone to the
Capital. Those two men did not sleep that night at all, but kept watch
around the house. My maids who were in the recess [perhaps the outer
part of the hut used as kitchen] asked, "Why do you walk about so?" and
the men answered, "Why? we have rented our house to perfect strangers.
What should we do if our kettles were stolen? Of course we cannot
sleep!" I felt both dread and laughter to hear them.

In the early morning we left there and knelt before the great East
Temple.[71] The temple at Iso-no-Kami was antique and on the verge of
ruin. That night we lodged at Yamabé Temple. Although I was tired out,
I recited sutras and went to sleep. In my dream I saw a very noble and
pure woman. At her coming the wind blew deliciously. She found me out,
and said, smiling, "For what purpose have you come?" I answered, "How
could I help coming?" [since you are here], and she said, "You would
better be in the Imperial Court, and become intimate with the Lady
Hakasé." I was very much delighted and encouraged.

We crossed the river and arrived at the Hatsusé Temple at night. After
purifying, I went up to the Temple. I remained three days, and slept
expecting to start in the morning. At midnight I dreamt that a cedar
twig[72] was thrown into the room as a token bestowed by the Inari god.
I was startled, but waking found it only a dream.

We began our return journey after midnight, and as we could not find a
lodging, we again passed a night in a very small house, which seemed to
be a very curious one somehow. "Do not sleep! Something unexpected will
happen!" "Don't be frightened!" "Lie down even without breathing!" This
was said and I spent the night in loneliness and dread. I felt that I
lived a thousand years that night, and when the day dawned I saw that
we were in a robbers' den. People said that the mistress of that house
lived by a strange occupation.

We crossed the Uji River in a high wind and the ferry-boat passed very
near the fishing seine.

   _Years have passed and only sounds of waters have come to my ears,_
   _To-day, indeed, I may even count the ripples around the fishing net._

[This poem may seem a little obscure. It means that her own life had
been lived long in a kind of dreamland of her own creating, but was
gradually emerging into reality.]

If, as I am doing now, I continue to write down events four or five
years after they have happened, my life will seem to be that of a
pilgrim, but it is not so. I am jotting down the happenings of several
years. In the spring I went to Kurama Temple. It was a soft spring day,
with mist trailing over the mountain-side. The mountain people brought
tokoro [a kind of root] as the only food and I found it good. When I
left there flowers were already gone.

In Gods-absent month I went again, and the mountain views along the way
were more beautiful than before, the mountain-side brocaded with the
autumn colours. The stream, rushing headlong, boiled up like molten
metal and then shattered into crystals.

When I reached the monastery the maple leaves, wet with a shower, were
brilliant beyond compare.

     _The pattern of the maple leaves in Autumn dyed with the rain--_
     _Beautiful in the deep mountain!_

After two years or so I went again to Ishiyama. It seemed to be
raining, and I heard some one saying rain is disagreeable on a journey,
but on opening the door I found the waning moon lighting even the
depths of the ravine. What I thought rain was the stream rippling below
the roots of the trees.

     _The sound of the mountain brook gives an illusion of rain drops,_
     _Yet the calm of the waning moon shines over all._

The next time I went to Hasé Temple, my journey was not so solitary
as before. Along the route various persons invited me to ceremonious
dinners, and we made but slow progress. The autumn woods were beautiful
at the Hahasono forest in Yamashiro. I crossed the Hasé River. We
stayed there for three days. This time we were too many to lodge in
that small house on the other side of the Nara Pass, so we camped in
the field. Our men passed the night lying on mukabaki[73] spread on the
grass. They could not sleep for the dew which fell on their heads. The
moon clear and more picturesque than elsewhere.

     _Even in our wandering journey,_
     _The lonely moon accompanies us lighting us from the sky,_
     _The waning moon I used to gaze at in the Royal City._

As I could do as I liked, I went even to distant temples for worship,
and my heart was consoled through both the pleasures and fatigues of
the way. Though it was half diversion, yet it [her prayers] gave me
hope. I had no pressing sorrow in those days and tried to bring up my
boy in the manner I thought best, and was impatient of passing time.
The man I depended upon [her husband] wished to attain to happiness
like other people, and the future looked promising. A dear friend
of mine, who used to exchange poems with me and continued to write,
through many changes of situation, although not so often as of old,
married the Governor of Echizen and went down to that Province. After
that all communication between us ceased, so I wrote her a poem finding
the means of sending it with great difficulty:

              _Undying affection!_
     _Can it end at last, overlaid with time_
     _Even as snow covers the land in the Northern Province?_

She wrote back:

     _Even a little pebble does not cease to be,_
     _Though pressed under the snow of Hakusan;_
     _So is my affection even though hidden._

I went down to a hollow of Nishiyama [in the western hills of Kioto].
There were flowers blooming in confusion. It was beautiful, yet lonely.
There was no sight of man. A tranquil haze enclosed us.

     _Far from towns, in the heart of the mountain,_
     _The cherry blooms, and wastes its blooms away_
            _With none to see._

When the sorrow of the World[74] troubled my heart I made a retreat in
the Uzumasa Temple. To me there arrived a letter from one who served
the Princess. While I was answering it the temple bell was heard.

     _The outer world of many sorrows_
     _Is not to be forgotten even here._
     _At the sound of the evening bell_
     _Lonely grows my heart._

To the beautifully tranquil palace of the Princess I went one day to
talk with two congenial friends. The next day, finding life rather
tedious, I thought longingly of them and sent a poem:[75]

     _Knowing the place of our meeting to be the sea of tears,_
     _Where memories ripple, and affections flow back,_
     _Yet we ventured into it--and my longing for you grew stronger_
            _than ever._

One wrote back:

     _We ventured into that sea,_
     _To find the pearls of consolement,_
     _No pearls, but drops of sad, sweet tears we found!_

And the other:

     _Who would venture into the sea of tears_
     _Seeking for the chance with zealous care,_
     _Had not the flowers of lovely vision floated in it!_

That friend being of the same mind with me, we used to talk over every
joy and sorrow of the world, but she went down to the Province of
Chikuzen in Kyushu [extreme southwest of old Japan]. On a moon-bright
night I went to bed thinking of her with longing, for in the palace
we had been wont not to sleep on such a night, but to sit up gazing
into the sky. I dreamed that we were in the palace and saw each other
as we had done in reality. I awoke startled; the moon was then near
the western ridge of the mountain and I thought "I would I had not
wakened"[76] [quoting from a famous poem].

     _Tell her, oh, western-going moon,_
     _That dreaming of her I could sleep no more,_
     _But all the night_
     _My pillow was bedewed with loving tears._

In the Autumn [1056] I had occasion to go down to the Province of
Izumi.[77] From Yodo the journey was very picturesque. We passed a
night at Takahama. It was dark, and in the depths of the night I heard
the sound of an oar, and was told that a singer had come. My companions
called her boat to come alongside ours. She was lighted by a distant
fire, her sleeves were long, she shaded her face with a fan and sung.
She was charming. The next evening, when the sun was still on the
mountain-top, we passed the beach of Sumiyoshi. It was seen all in
mist, and pine branches, the surface of the sea, and the beach where
waves rolled up, combined to make a scene more beautiful than a picture.

     _It is an evening of Autumn_
     _--The seashore of Sumiyoshi!_
     _Can words describe it?_
     _What can be compared with it?_

Even after the boat was towed along, I looked back again and again,
never satiated.

In the Winter I returned to Kioto. We took our boat at Ōé Bay. That
night a tempest raged with such fury that the very rocks seemed to be
shaken. The god of Thunder[78] came roaring, and the sound of dashing
waves, the tumult of the wind, the horrors of the sea, made me feel
that life was coming to an end. But they dragged the boat ashore, where
we spent the night. The rain stopped, but not the wind, and we could
not start. We passed five or six days on these wide-stretching sands.
When the wind had gone down a little, I looked out, rolling up the
curtain of my cabin. The evening tide was rising swiftly and cranes
called to each other in the bay.

People of the Province came in crowds to see us, and said that if the
boat had been outside the bay that night it would have been seen no
more. Even the thought terrified me.

     _Off Ishitsu, in the wild sea_
     _The boat driven before the storm_
     _Fades away and is seen no more._

     _The wild gusts drive the boat--_
     _Into the wild sea she disappears--_
            _Off Ishitsu!_

I devoted myself in various ways for the World [her husband]. Even in
serving at Court one had like-wise to devote one's self unceasingly.
What favor could one win by returning to the parents' home from time to

As I advanced in age I felt it unbecoming to behave as young couples
do. While I was lamenting I grew ill, and could not go out to temples
for worship. Even this rare going out was stopped, and I had no hope of
living long, but I wanted to give my younger children a safer position
while I was alive.

I grieved and waited for the delightful thing [an appointment] for my
husband. In Autumn he got a position,[79] but not so good a one as we
had hoped, and we were much disappointed. It was not so distant as
the place from which he had returned, so he made up his mind to go,
and we hastily made preparations. He started from the house where his
daughter had recently gone to live.[80] It was after the tenth of the
Gods-absent month. I could not know what had happened after he started,
but all seemed happy on that day. He was accompanied by our boy. My
husband wore a red coat and pale purple kimono,[81] and aster-coloured
hakama [divided skirt], and carried a long sword. The boy wore blue
figured clothes and red hakama, and they mounted their horses beside
the veranda.

When they had gone out noisily I felt very, very lonely. As I had heard
the Province was not so distant I was less hopeless than I had been

The people who accompanied him to see him off returned the next day
and told me that they had gone down with great show [of splendour]
and, then continuing, said they had seen human fire[82] this morning
starting [from the company] and flying towards the Capital. I tried to
suppose it to be from some one of his retinue. How could I think the
worst? I could think of nothing but how to bring up these younger ones.

He came back in the Deutzia month of the next year and passed the
Summer and Autumn at home, and on the twenty-fifth of the Long-night
month he became ill.

1058. On the fifth day of the Tenth month all became like a dream.[83]
My sorrows could be compared to nothing in this world.

Now I knew that my present state had been reflected in the mirror
offered to the Hasé Temple [about twenty-five years before by her
mother] where some one was seen weeping in agony. The reflection of the
happier one had not been realized. That could never be in the future.

On the twenty-third we burnt his remains with despairing hearts, my
boy, who went down with him last Autumn, being dressed exquisitely and
much attended, followed the bier weeping in black clothes with hateful
things [mourning insignia] on them. My feeling when I saw him going
out can never be expressed. I seemed to wander in dreams and thought
that human life must soon cease here. If I had not given myself up to
idle fictions [she herself had written several] and poetry, but had
practised religious austerities night and day, I would not have seen
such a dream-world.

At Hasé Temple a cedar branch was cast down to me by the Inari god
and this thing [the loss of her husband] would not have happened if I
had visited the Inari shrine on my way home. The dreams which I had
seen in these past years which bid me pray to the Heaven Illuminating
Honoured Goddess meant that I should have been in the Imperial Court
as a nurse, sheltered behind the favour of the King and Queen--so the
dream interpreter interpreted my dream, but I could not realize this.
Only the sorrowful reflection in the mirror was realized unaltered. O
pitiful and sorrowful I! Thus nothing could happen as I willed, and I
wandered in this world doing no virtuous deed for the future life.

Life seemed to survive sorrows, but I was uneasy at the thought that
things would happen against my will, even in the future life. There was
only one thing I could rely on.

     _Ceaseless tears--clouded mind:_
     _Bright scene--moon-shadow._

On the thirteenth of the Tenth month [1055] I dreamed one night this

There in the garden of my house at the farthest ledge stood Amitabha
Buddha! He was not seen distinctly, but as if through a cloud. I could
snatch a glimpse now and then when the cloud lifted. The lotus-flower
pedestal was three or four feet above the ground; the Buddha was about
six feet high.

Golden light shone forth; one hand was extended, the fingers of the
other were bent in form of benediction. None but I could see him, yet
I felt such reverence that I dared not approach the blind to see him
better. None but I might hear him saying, "Then this time I will go
back, and afterwards come again to receive you." I was startled and
awoke into the fourteenth day. _This dream only was my hope for the
life to come._[84]

I had lived with my husband's nephews, but after that sad event we
parted not to meet again. One very dark night I was visited by the
nephew who was living at Rokuhara; I could not but welcome so rare a

     _No moon, and darkness deepens_
     _Around Obásuté. Why have you come?_
     _It cannot be to see the moon!_[85]

After that time [the death of her husband] an intimate friend stopped
all communication.

     _She may be thinking that I_
     _Am no more in this world, yet my days_
     _Are wasted in weeping._
     _Weeping, alas!_

In the Tenth month I turned, my eyes full of tears, towards the
intensely bright moon.

     _Even into the mind always clouded with grief,_
     _There is cast the reflection of the bright moon._

Years and months passed away. Whenever I recollected the dream-like
incident [of his death] my mind was troubled and my eyes filled so that
I cannot think distinctly of those days.

My people went to live elsewhere and I remained alone in my solitary
home. I was tired of meditation and sent a poem to one who had not
called on me for a long time.

     _Weeds grow before my gate_
     _And my sleeves are wet with dew,_
     _No one calls on me,_
     _My tears are solitary--alas!_

She was a nun and she sent an answer:

     _The weeds before a dwelling house_
       _May remind you of me!_
     _Bushes bury the hut_
     _Where lives the world-deserted one,_

[1] Her father Takasué was appointed Governor of Kazusa in 1017, and
the authoress, who was then nine years old, was brought from Kiōto to
the Province.

[2] Prince Genji: The hero of Genji-monogatari, a novel by

[3] Yakushi Buddha: "The Buddha of healing," or Sanscrit,

[4] Original, Nagatsuki, September.

[5] Ancient ladies avoided men's eyes and always sat behind sudaré
(finely split bamboo curtain) through which they could look out without
being seen.

[6] High personages, Governors of Provinces or other nobles, travelled
with a great retinue, consisting of armed horsemen, foot-soldiers, and
attendants of all sorts both high and low, together with the luggage
necessary for prolonged existence in the wilderness. From Tokyo to
Kiōto nowadays the journey is about twelve hours. It took about three
months in the year 1017.

[7] Futoi River is called the River Edo at present.

[8] Matsusato, now called Matsudo.

[9] Kagami's rapids, now perhaps Karameki-no-se.

[10] Common gromwell, _Lithospermum._

[11] Takeshiba: Now called Shibaura, place-name in Tokyo near
Shinagawa. Another manuscript reads: "This was the manor house of

[12] Misu: finer sort of sudaré used in court or in Shinto shrine. Cf.
note 2, p. 4.

[13] Seta Bridge is across the river from Lake Biwa, some seven or
eight miles from Kioto.

[14] In those days noblemen's and ladies' dresses were perfumed.

[15] Dera or tera = temple.

[16] The original text may also be understood as follows: "After that
the guards of the watch-fire were allowed to live with their wives in
the palace."

[17] In the _Isé-monogatari_ (a book of Narihira's poetical works)
the Sumida River is said to be on the boundary between Musashi and
Shimofusa. So the italicized words seem to be the authoress's mistake,
or more probably an insertion by a later smatterer of literary
knowledge who inherited the manuscript.

Narihira's poem is addressed to a sea-gull called _Miyakodori,_
which literally means _bird of the capital_. Narihira had abandoned
Kioto and was wandering towards the East. Just then his heart had
been yearning after the Royal City and also after his wife, and that
feeling must have been intensified by the name of the bird. (Cf. The
_Isé-monogatari_, Section 9.)

     _Miyakodori! alas, that word_
       _Fills my heart again with longing,_
     _Even you I ask, O bird,_
       _Does she still live, my beloved?_

[18] According to "Sagami-Fūdoki," or "The Natural Features of Sagami
Province," this district was in ancient times inhabited by Koreans. The
natives could not distinguish a Korean from a Chinese, hence the name
of _Chinese Field_. A temple near Oiso still keeps the name of Kōraiji,
or the Korean temple.

[19] This seems to be the last line of a kind of song called _Imayo,_
perhaps improvised by the singers; its meaning may be as follows: "You
compare us with singers of the Western Provinces; we are inferior to
those in the Royal City; we may justly be compared with those in Osaka."

[20] Hakoné Mountain has now become a resort of tourists and a place of
summer residence.

[21] Fear of evil spirits which probably lived in the wild, and of
robbers who certainly did.

[22] Aoi, or Futaba-aoi. At the great festival of the Kamo shrine in
Kioto the processionists crowned their heads with the leaves of this
plant, so it must have been well known.

[23] Mount Fuji was then an active volcano.

[24] The Princess was Sadako, daughter of King Sanjo, afterwards Queen
of King Goshujaku[1037-1045].

[25] Lacquered boxes, sometimes of great beauty, containing india ink
and inkstone, brushes, rolls of paper.

[26] Plum-trees bloom between the first and second months of the old

[27] By pestilence. People were often attacked by contagious diseases
in those days, and they, who did not know about the nature of
infection, called it by the name of "world-humor" or "world-disease,"
attributing its cause to the ill-humor of some gods or spirits.

[28] In those days windows were covered with silk and could not be seen

[29] Fujiwara-no-Yukinari: One of the three famous calligraphers of
that time.

[30] Place where cremation was performed.

[31] It is a Buddhist custom to go into retreat from time to time.

[32] Some of these books are not known now.

[33] A kind of screen used in upper-class houses: see illustration.

[34] Her lamp was rather like an Italian one--a shallow cup for oil
fixed to a tall metal stem, with a wick projecting to one side.

[35] Sadharmpundarika Sutra, or Sutra of the Lotus, in Sanscrit.

[36] In October it was the custom for all local gods to go for a
conference to the residence of the oldest native god, in the Province
of Idzumo; hence, _Gods-absent month_. This Province of Idzumo, full of
the folklore of old Japan, has become well known to the world through
the writings of Lafcadio Hearn.

[37] According to the superstition of those days people believed that
every house was presided over by an earth god, which occupied the
hearth in Spring, the gate in Summer, the well in Autumn, and the
garden in Winter. It was dangerous to meet him when he changed his
abode. So on that day the dwellers went out from their houses.

[38] Readers are urged to read the delightful essay of Lafcadio Hearn
called "The Romance of the Milky Way" (Chogonka). Here it must suffice
to relate the story of "Tanabata-himé" and the herdsman. Tanabata-tsume
was the daughter of the god of the sky. She rejoiced to weave garments
for her father and had no greater pleasure than that, until one day
Hikiboshi, a young herdsman, leading an ox, passed by her door.
Divining her love for him, her father gave his daughter the young
herdsman for her husband, and all went well, until the young couple
grew too fond of each other and the weaving was neglected. Thereupon
the great god was displeased and "they were sentenced to live apart
with the Celestial River between them," but in pity of their love they
were permitted to meet one night a year, on the seventh day of the
Seventh month. On that night the herdsman crosses the River of Heaven
where Tanabata-tsume is waiting for him on the other side, but woe
betide if the night is cloudy or rainy! Then the waters of the River of
Heaven rise, and the lovers must wait full another year before the boat
can cross.

Many of our beautiful poems have been written on this legend; sometimes
it is Tanabata-himé who is waiting for her lord, sometimes it is
Hikiboshi who speaks. The festival has been celebrated for 1100 years
in Japan, and there is no country village which does not sing these
songs on the seventh night of the Seventh month, and make offerings to
the star gods of little poems tied to the freshly cut bamboo branches.

[39] River of Heaven: Milky Way.

[40] Name of an old song.

[41] The continuous writing of the cursive Japanese characters is
often compared to a meandering river. "Ink seems to have frozen up"
means that her eyes are dim with tears, and no more she can write
continuously and flowingly.

[42] A mountain in a suburb of Kioto.

[43] This conversation in the original is a play upon words which
cannot be translated.

[44] In an old chronicle of the times one reads that it was on February
8, 1032.

[45] The country people of the Eastern Provinces beyond Tokyo were then
called "Eastern barbarians."

[46] Away from the Capital where the King resides is always _down;_
towards the capital is always _up._

[47] This scene will be better understood by the reader if he remembers
that her father was in the street in the midst of his train of
attendants--an imposing cavalcade of bow-men, warriors, and attendants
of all sorts, with palanquins and luggage, prepared to make a two
or three months' journey through the wilderness to the Province of
Hitachi, far in the East. She, as a Japanese lady could not go out to
speak to him, but unconventionally she had drawn up the blind and "her
eye met his."

[48] To translate: As there are a thousand kinds of flowers in the
autumn fields, so there are a thousand reasons for going to the fields.

[49] The Toné River.

[50] Name of mountain in eastern part of Japan.

[51] In the eastern part of Kioto, now a famous spot.

[52] The Isé shrine was first built in the year 5 B.C. See note on Isé
shrine in Murasaki Shikibu Diary.

[53] Mt. Hiyé: 2500 ft.

[54] The custom of the Court obliged the court ladies to lead a life of
almost no privacy--sleeping at night together in the presence of the
Queen, and sharing their apartments with each other.

[55] Some words are lost from this sentence.

[56] Kazusa: Name of Province in the East.

[57] Asakura is a place-name in Kyushu. There was a song entitled
"Asakura" which seems to have been popular in those days and was sung
in the Court.

[58] Hakasé is LL.D., so she might have been daughter of a scholar.

[59] Special house devoted to use of a King's wife.

[60] The Princess, whom our lady served, was the daughter of King
Goshijaku's Queen. The Queen died 1039. After this the Royal Consort
Umetsubo won the King's favour.

[61] Some words lost.

[62] A thirteen-stringed musical instrument.

[63] A pipe made of seven reeds having a very clear, piercing sound.

[64] Famous period in Chinese history.

[65] This gentleman's name is known.

[66] He ruled from 970 to 984. It was now 1045.

[67] Something seems to have occurred which may have been her marriage
to a noble of lower rank or inferior family than her own, but one can
only infer this, she does not tell it.

[68] There is an old fable about parsley: A country person ate parsley
and thought it very fine, so he went up to the Capital to present it
to the King, but the King was not so much pleased, for he could not
find it good. So "to gather parsley" means to endeavour to win others'
favour by offering something we care for but others do not.

[69] Goreizai, from 1046 to 1068.

[70] This is called the Byōdōin and is one of the famous buildings
now existing in Japan (see illustrations in Cram's _Impressions of
Japanese Architecture_), built upon an exquisite design, and original
in character. It had been the villa of the Prime Minister, but was made
into a temple in 1051, when the riches of the interior decorations
were more like the gorgeousness of Indian temples than the chaster
decorations of Japan.

[71] At Nara where the great Buddha, 160 feet high, was already

[72] In those days it was the custom for the person who wished to be
favoured by the Inari god to crown his head with a twig of cedar. The
Inari god was then the god of the rice-plant. He is now confused with
the fox-god whose little shrines, flanked by small stone foxes, are
seen everywhere.

[73] A kind of leathern shield made of untanned deerskin worn hanging
from the shoulder.

[74] The World: i.e. her husband.

[75] The following poems have been found impossible of literal
translation on account of play of words.


     _As I slept fondly thinking of him_
       _He appeared to my sight--_
     _Oh, I would I had not wakened_
       _To find it only a dream!_

[77] Her brother Sadayoshi was Governor of that Province.

[78] Kaminari sama.

[79] In 1057, as Governor of Shinano Province.

[80] She was thirty-five years old and her husband forty-one years old
when they were married. We may suppose that she was his second wife.
This daughter must have been borne by the first wife. The cause of
starting from his daughter's house is some superstitious idea, and not
the coldness of their relation.

[81] The rank of the person determined the colour of his clothes. Red
was worn by nobles of the fifth degree.

[82] The Japanese believed that "human fire" or spirit can be seen
leaving the body of one who is soon to die.

[83] Her husband died.

[84] At death the Lord Buddha coming on a cloud appears to the faithful
one and accompanies the soul to Heaven.

[85] The point of this is in the name of the place, Obásuté, which may
be translated, "Aunt Casting Away," or "Cast-Away-Aunt." It is a place
famous for the beauty of its scenery in moonlight.



A.D. 1007-1010

As the autumn season approaches the Tsuchimikado[2] becomes
inexpressibly smile-giving. The tree-tops near the pond, the bushes
near the stream, are dyed in varying tints whose colours grow deeper in
the mellow light of evening. The murmuring sound of waters mingles all
the night through with the never-ceasing recitation[3] of sutras which
appeal more to one's heart as the breezes grow cooler.

The ladies waiting upon her honoured presence are talking idly. The
Queen hears them; she must find them annoying, but she conceals
it calmly. Her beauty needs no words of mine to praise it, but I
cannot help feeling that to be near so beautiful a queen will be the
only relief from my sorrow. So in spite of my better desires [for a
religious life] I am here. Nothing else dispels my grief[4]--it is

It is still the dead of night, the moon is dim and darkness lies under
the trees. We hear an officer call,

"The outer doors of the Queen's apartment must be opened. The
maids-of-honour are not yet come--let the Queen's secretaries come
forward!" While this order is being given the three-o'clock bell
resounds, startling the air. Immediately the prayers at the five
altars[5] begin. The voices of the priests in loud recitation,
vying with each other far and near, are solemn indeed. The Abbot of
the Kanon-in Temple, accompanied by twenty priests, comes from the
eastern[6] side building to pray. Even their footsteps along the
gallery which sound to'-do-ro to'-do-ro are sacred. The head priest
of the Hoju Temple goes to the mansion near the race-track, the prior
of the Henji Temple goes to the library. I follow with my eyes when
the holy figures in pure white robes cross the stately Chinese bridge
and walk along the broad path. Even Azaliah Saisa bends the body in
reverence before the deity Daiitoku. The maids-of-honour arrive at dawn.


The Tsuchimikado, or Prime Minister's mansion, must have been like this]

I can see the garden from my room beside the entrance to the gallery.
The air is misty, the dew is still on the leaves. The Lord Prime
Minister is walking there; he orders his men to cleanse the brook. He
breaks off a stalk of omenaishi [flower maiden] which is in full bloom
by the south end of the bridge. He peeps in over my screen! His noble
appearance embarrasses us, and I am ashamed of my morning [not yet
painted and powdered] face. He says, "Your poem on this! If you delay
so much the fun is gone!" and I seize the chance to run away to the
writing-box, hiding my face--

     _Flower-maiden in bloom--_
     _Even more beautiful for the bright dew,_
     _Which is partial, and never favors me._

"So prompt!" said he, smiling, and ordered a writing-box to be brought
[for himself].

His answer:

     _The silver dew is never partial._
     _From her heart_
     _The flower-maiden's beauty._

One wet and calm evening I was talking with Lady Saisho. The young
Lord[7] of the Third Rank sat with the misu[8] partly rolled up. He
seemed maturer than his age and was very graceful. Even in light
conversation such expressions as "Fair soul is rarer than fair face"
come gently to his lips, covering us with confusion. It is a mistake
to treat him like a young boy. He keeps his dignity among ladies, and
I saw in him a much-sought-after romantic hero when once he walked off
reciting to himself:

     _Linger in the field where flower-maidens are blooming_
     _And your name will be tarnished with tales of gallantry._

Some such trifle as that sometimes lingers in my mind when really
interesting things are soon forgotten--why?

Nowadays people are carrying pretty folding fans.

Since the twentieth of the Eighth month, the more favoured court
nobles and officers have been on night duty, passing the nights in
the corridor, or on the mats of the veranda idly amusing themselves.
Young men who are unskilled in koto or fué [harp or flute] amuse
themselves with tonearasoi[9] and imayo,[10] and at such a time this
is entertaining. Narinobu, the Queen's Grand Chamberlain, Tsunefusa,
the Lieutenant-General of the Left Bodyguard and State Councillor, and
Narimasa, the Major-General of the Bodyguard and Governor of Mino,
passed the night in diversions. The Lord Prime Minister must have been
apprehensive, for he has forbidden all public entertainment. Those who
have long retired from the court have come in crowds to ask after the
Queen's welfare, so we have had no peace.

Twenty-sixth day. We finished the preparation of perfume[11] and
distributed it to all. A number of us who had been making it into
balls assembled together. On my way from Her Majesty's chamber I
peeped into Ben Saisho's room. She was sleeping. She wore garments
of hagi[12] and shion[12] over which she had put a strongly perfumed
lustrous robe. Her face was hidden behind the cloth;[13] her head
rested on a writing-case of gold lacquer. Her forehead was beautiful
and fascinating. She seemed like a princess in a picture. I took off
the cloth which hid her mouth and said, "You are just like the heroine
of a romance!" She blushed, half rising; she was beauty itself. She
is always beautiful, but on this occasion her charm was wonderfully

Dear Lady Hyoé brought me some floss[14] silk for chrysanthemums. "The
wife of the Prime Minister favours you with this present to drive away
age,[14] carefully use it and then throw it away."

     _May that lady live one thousand years who guards the flowers!_
     _My sleeves are wet with thankful tears_
     _As though I had been walking_
     _In a garden of dewy chrysanthemums._

I wanted to send it, but as I heard that she had gone away I kept it.

The evening I went to the Queen's chamber. As the moon was beautiful,
skirts overflowed from beneath the misu.[15] By and by there came Lady
Koshosho and Lady Dainagon. Her Majesty took out some of the perfume
made the other day and put it into an incense burner to try it. The
garden was admirable--"When the ivy leaves become red!" they were
saying--but our Lady seemed less tranquil than usual. The priests came
for prayers, and I went into the inside room but was called away and
finally went to my own chamber. I wanted only to rest a few minutes,
but fell asleep. By midnight everybody was in great excitement.

Tenth day of the Long-moon month.

When day began to dawn the decorations[16] of the Queen's chamber were
changed and she removed to a white bed. The Prime Minister, his sons,
and other noblemen made haste to change the curtains of the screens,
the bed cover, and other things.[16] All day long she lay ill at ease.
Men cried at the top of their voices to scare away evil spirits. There
assembled not only the priests who had been summoned here for these
months, but also itinerant monks who were brought from every mountain
and temple. Their prayers would reach to the Buddhas of the three
worlds. All the soothsayers in the world were summoned. Eight million
gods seemed to be listening with ears erect for their Shinto prayers.
Messengers ran off to order sutra-reciting at various temples; thus
the night was passed. On the east side of the screen [placed around
the Queen's bed] there assembled the ladies of the Court. On the west
side there were lying the Queen's substitutes possessed with [or who
were enticing] the evil spirits.[17] Each was lying surrounded by a
pair of folding screens. The joints of the screens were curtained
and priests were appointed to cry sutras there. On the south side
there sat in many rows abbots and other dignitaries of the priesthood,
who prayed and swore till their voices grew hoarse, as if they were
bringing down the living form of Fudo.[18] The space between the north
room and the dais [on which was the Queen's bed] was very narrow, yet
when I thought of it afterwards I counted more than forty persons who
were standing there. They could not move at all, and grew so dizzy that
they could remember nothing. The people [i.e. the ladies-in-waiting
and maids-of-honour] now coming from home could not enter the main
apartment at all. There was no place for their flowing robes and long
sleeves. Certain older women wept secretly.

Eleventh day. At dawn the north sliding doors were taken away to throw
the two rooms together. The Queen was moved towards the veranda. As
there was no time to hang misu, she was surrounded by kichō. The
Reverend Gyocho and the other priests performed incantations. The
Reverend Ingen recited the prayer written by the Lord Prime Minister
on the previous day adding some grave vows of his own. His words were
infinitely august and hopeful. The Prime Minister joining in the
prayer, we felt more assured of a fortunate delivery. Yet there was
still lingering anxiety which made us very sad, and many eyes were
filled with tears. We said, "Tears are not suitable to this occasion,"
but we could not help crying. They said that Her Majesty suffered
more because the rooms were too crowded, so the people were ordered
to the south and east rooms. After this there remained in the Royal
Apartment only the more important personages. The Prime Minister,
Lady Sanuki, and Lady Saisho were within the [Royal] screen. The
honoured priest of Ninna Temple and the court priest of Mii Temple
were summoned within. The Prime Minister gave various commands, and
his voice overpowered those of the priests. There were also Ladies
Dainagon, Koshosho, Miya-no-Naishi, Nakatsukasa-no-Kimi, Tayu-no-Myobu,
Daishikibu-no-Omoto, Tono-no-Senji--these last were venerable ladies
of experience, but even they were bewildered with good reason. I am
yet a novice, and I felt with all my heart that the occasion was
serious. Also, in the place a little behind, outside the curtain, there
were the nurses of the Princesses Naishi-no-Kami and Nakatsukasa, of
the Queen's sister Shōnagon, and of her younger sister Koshikibu.
These nurses forced their way into the narrow passage behind the two
screens and there walked back and forth, so that none could pass
that way. There were many other persons bustling about, but I could
not distinguish them. The Prime Minister's son, Lieutenant-General
Saisho, Major-General Masamichi of the Fourth Rank, not to speak of
Lieutenant-General Tsunefusa, of the Left Bodyguard, and Miya-no-Tayu,
who had not known Her Majesty familiarly, all looked over her screen
for some time. They showed eyes swollen up with weeping [over her
sufferings], forgetting the shame of it. On their heads rice[19] was
scattered white as snow. Their rumpled clothes must have been unseemly,
but we could only think of those things afterward. A part of the
Queen's head was shaved.[20] I was greatly astonished and very sorry to
see it, but she was delivered peacefully. The after-birth was delayed,
and all priests crowded to the south balcony, under the eaves of the
magnificent main building, while those on the bridge recited sutras
more passionately, often kneeling.

Among the ladies-in-waiting on the east side were seen some of the
courtiers.[21] Lady Kochujo's eye met that of the Lieutenant-General.
People afterwards laughed over her astonished expression. She is a very
fascinating and elegant person, and is always very careful to adorn
her face. This morning she had done so, but her eyes were red, and her
rouge was spoiled by tears. She was disfigured, and hardly seemed the
same person. The imperfectly made-up face of Lady Saisho was a rare
sight, but what about my own? It is lucky for me that people cannot
notice such things at such a time.

As the after-birth came, it was fearful to hear the jealously
swearing voices of the evil spirits. Shinzo-Azari took charge of Lady
Ben-no-Kurodo; Sōyo took charge of Hyoé-no-Kurodo; a priest Hojuji
took charge of Ukon-no-Kurodo;[22] Chiso Azari took charge of Lady
Miya-no-Naishi. This last priest was overpowered with the evil spirit,
and as he was in a too pitiable state Ninkaku Azari went to help him.
It was not because his prayer had little virtue, but the [evil] spirit
was too strong. Priest Eiko was in charge of Lady Saisho's supplicator
of the spirit [i.e. Queen's substitute]. This priest swore all night
till his voice became hoarse. Most ladies who were summoned in order
that the spirits might enter into them remained safe, and they were
much troubled [thinking that it would be to the Queen's advantage were
they attacked]. At noon we felt that the sun came out at last. The
Queen was at ease!

She is now at peace. Incomparable joy! Moreover, it is a prince, so the
joy cannot be oblique. The court ladies who had passed the previous
day in anxiety, not knowing what to do, as if they were lost in the
mist of the early morning, went one by one to rest in their own rooms,
so that before the Queen there remained only some elderly persons
proper for such occasions. The Lord Prime Minister and his Lady went
away to give offerings to the priest who had read sutras and performed
religious austerities during the past months, and to those doctors who
were recently summoned. The doctors and soothsayers, who had invented
special forms of efficacy, were given pensions. Within the house they
were perhaps preparing for the ceremony of bathing the child.

Large packages [of ceremonial clothes] [23] were carried to the
apartments of the ladies-in-waiting. Karaginu[24] and embroidered[24]
trains were worn. Some wore dazzlingly brilliant trains embroidered and
ornamented with mother-of-pearl. Some lamented that the fans which had
been ordered had not come. They all painted and powdered. When I looked
from the bridge I saw Her Majesty's first officials, and the highest
officers of His Highness the Crown Prince [the newborn child] and other
court nobles. The Prime Minister went out to have the brook, which had
been choked with mud, cleaned[25] out.

All the people seem happy. Even those who have some cause for
melancholy are overtaken by the general joy. The First Official of our
Queen has naturally seemed happier than anybody, though he does not
show special smiles of self-satisfaction and pride.

The Lieutenant-General of the Light Bodyguard has been joking with the
King's Adviser of the Middle Rank, sitting on a mat on the balcony of
the side building. The sword of His Highness the young Prince has been
brought from the Imperial Court. The Lieutenant-General, and First
Secretary Yori-sada, on his way home from the shrine at Isé[26] where
he had gone as Imperial Messenger to offer nusa,[27] stopped at the
gate [as he could not enter the house] [28] to inquire for Her Majesty.
He was given some present, I did not see it.

The navel cord was cut by the Prime Minister's Lady. Lady Tachibana of
the Third Rank gave the breast for the first time [ceremonial]. For the
wet-nurse Daisaémon-no-Omoto was chosen, for she has been in the Court
a long time and is very familiar with it; the daughter of Munetoki,
courtier and Governor of Bitchu, and the nurse of Kurodo-no-Ben were
also chosen as nurses.

The ceremony of bathing was performed at six o'clock in the evening.
The bath was lighted [by torches]. The Queen's maid in white over green
prepared the hot water. The stand for the bathtub was covered with
white cloth.

Chikamitsu, Governor of Owari [Province], and Nakanobu, the Head
Officer attached to the Queen, presented themselves before the misu.

There were two stands for kettles.

Lady Kyoiko and Lady Harima poured the cold water. Two ladies, Omoku
and Uma, selected sixteen jars from among those into which the hot
water was poured [choosing the purest]. These ladies wore gauze outer
garments, fine silk trains, karaginu, and saishi.[29] Their hair was
tied by white cords which gave the head a very fair look. In the bath
Lady Saisho became the partner of bathing [i.e. entered the bath
with the royal infant]. Lady Dainagon in her bathing-dress--she was
especially beautiful in this rare costume. The Lord Prime Minister
took the August Prince in his arms; Lady Koshosho held the sword, and
Lady Miya-no-Naishi held up a tiger's head before the Prince.[30] Lady
Miya-no-Naishi wore karaginu with a pattern of pine cones. Her train
was woven in a marine design of sea-weeds, waves, etc.; on the belt a
vine-pattern was embroidered. Lady Koshosho wore an embroidered belt
with a pattern of autumn leaves, butterflies, and birds, which was
bright with silver thread. Brocade was forbidden except for persons of
high rank and they used it only for the belt. Two sons of the Prime
Minister and Major-General Minamoto Masamichi were scattering rice in
great excitement.[31] "I will make the most noise," each shouted to the
other. The priest of Henchi Temple presented himself to protect the
August Child. The rice hit him on his eyes and ears so he held out
his fan and the young people laughed at him. The Doctor of Literature,
Kurodo Ben-no-Hironari, stood at the foot of the high corridor and read
the first book of Sikki [historical records]. Twenty bow-string men
twanged the bow-string to scare away evil spirits, they were ten men of
the fifth, and ten men of the sixth degree [of rank] arranged in two
rows. The same ceremonies of bathing were repeated in the evening. Only
the Doctor of Literature was changed. Doctor Munetoki, Governor of Isé,
read the Kokyo [book on filial piety], and Takachika read a chapter of
Buntei [in the Historical Records of Chinese Kings].

For seven nights every ceremony was performed cloudlessly. Before
the Queen in white the styles and colours of other people's dresses
appeared in sharp contrast.[32] I felt much dazzled and abashed,
and did not present myself in the daytime, so I passed my days in
tranquillity and watched persons going up from the eastern side
building across the bridge. Those who were permitted to wear the
honourable colours[33] put on brocaded karaginu,[34] and also brocaded
uchigi. This was the conventionally beautiful dress, not showing
individual taste. The elderly ladies who could not wear the honourable
colours avoided anything dazzling, but took only exquisite uchigi[35]
trimmed with three or five folds,[36] and for karaginu brocade either
of one colour or of a simple design. For their inner kimonos they
used figured stuffs or gauzes. Their fans, though not at first glance
brilliant or attractive, had some written phrases or sentiments
in good taste, but almost exactly alike, as if they had compared
notes beforehand. In point of fact the resemblance came from their
similarity of age, and they were individual efforts. Even in those fans
were revealed their minds which are in jealous rivalry. The younger
ladies wore much-embroidered clothes; even their sleeve openings were
embroidered. The pleats of their trains were ornamented with thick
silver thread and they put gold foil on the brocaded figures of the
silk. Their fans were like a snow-covered mountain in bright moonlight;
they sparkled and could not be looked at steadily. They were like
hanging mirrors [in those days made of polished metal].

On the third night Her Majesty's major-domo gave an entertainment.
He served the Queen himself. The dining-table of aloe wood, the
silver dishes, and other things I saw hurriedly. Minamoto Chunagon
and Saisho presented the Queen with some baby clothes and diapers,
a stand for a clothes chest, and cloth for wrapping up clothes and
furniture. They were white in colour, and all of the same shape, yet
they were carefully chosen, showing the artist mind. The Governor of
Omi Province was busy with the general management of the banquet. On
the western balcony of the East building there sat court nobles in
two rows, the north being the more honourable place. On the southern
balcony were court officials, the west being the most honourable seat.
Outside the doors of the principal building [where the Queen was] white
figured-silk screens were put.

On the fifth night the Lord Prime Minister celebrated the birth. The
full moon on the fifteenth day was clear and beautiful. Torches were
lighted under the trees and tables were put there with rice-balls
on them. Even the uncouth humble servants who were walking about
chattering seemed to enhance the joyful scene. All minor officials were
there burning torches, making it as bright as day. Even the attendants
of the nobles, who gathered behind the rocks and under the trees,
talked of nothing but the new light which had come into the world, and
were smiling and seemed happy as if their own private wishes had been
fulfilled. Happier still seemed those in the Audience Chamber, from
the highest nobles even to men of the fifth rank, who, scarcely to be
counted among the nobility, met the joyful time going about idly, and
bending their bodies busily [i.e. obsequiously].

To serve at the Queen's dinner eight ladies tied their hair with
white cords, and in that dress brought in Her Majesty's dining-table.
The chief lady-in-waiting for that night was Miya-no-Naishi. She was
brilliantly dressed with great formality, and her hair was made more
charming by the white cords which enhanced her beauty. I got a side
glance of her when her face was not screened by her fan. She wore a
look of extreme purity.

The following are the maids-of-honour who tied their hair; Minamoto
Shikibu, daughter of the Governor of Kaga Province; Kozaémon, daughter
of the late Michitoki, Governor of Bitchu; Kohyoé, daughter of Akimasa,
Governor of the Left Capital; Osuké, daughter of Sukechika, the head
priest of the Isé shrine; O Uma, daughter of Yorinobu, an officer of
the Right Bodyguard; Ko Uma, daughter of Michinobu, an officer of the
Left Bodyguard; Kohyoé, daughter of Naritaka, Recorder of the Capital;
Komoku [or Dakumi], daughter of Nobuyoshi. These were all young and
pretty. It was a sight worth seeing. This time, as they chose only
the best-looking young ladies, the rest who used to tie their hair on
ordinary occasions to serve the Queen's dinner wept bitterly; it was
shocking to see them.

More than thirty ladies were sitting in the two rooms east of the
Queen's canopy, a magnificent sight. The august dinner trays were
carried by unemé.[37] Near the entrance of the great chamber folding
screens surrounded a pair of tables on which these dining-trays
had been placed. As the night advanced the moon shone brightly.
There were unemé, mohitori,[38] migusiagé,[39] tonomori,[40]
kanmori-no-nyokwan,[41]--some with whose faces I was not familiar.
There were also doorkeepers, carelessly dressed and with hairpins
falling out, crowded together towards the eastern corridor of the
principal building as if it were a public holiday. There were so
many people there was no getting through them. After dinner the
maids-of-honour came outside the misu and could be plainly seen by
the light of the torches. The train and karaginu of Lady Oshikibu was
embroidered to represent the dwarf pine-wood at Mount Oshio. As she is
the wife of Michinoku, Governor of the eastern extremity of the island,
she serves now in the Prime Minister's household. Dayu-no-Miyobu
neglected the ornamentation of her karaginu, but she adorned her train
with silver dust representing sea-waves. It was pleasing to the eye,
though not dazzling. Ben-no-Naishi showed on her train a beach with
cranes on it painted in silver. It was something new. She had also
embroidered pine branches; she is clever, for all these things are
emblematic of a long life. The device of Lady Shosho was inferior to
these--many laughed at her silver foil. She was sister to Sukemitsu,
the Governor of Shinano, and has lived at the court a long time.
People wanted to see this entertainment. A priest was there who used
to attend the court to beguile the night with religious and other
stories. I said to him, "You cannot see such a lovely thing every day."
"Indeed! indeed!" said he, neglecting his Buddha and clapping his
hands for joy. The court nobles rose from their seats and went to the
steps [descending from the balcony]. His Lordship the Prime Minister
and others cast da.[42] It was shocking to see them quarrelling about
paper. Some [others] composed poems. A lady said, "What response shall
we make if some one offers to drink saké with us?" We tried to think of

Shijo-no-Dainagon is a man of varied accomplishments. No ladies can
rival him in repartee, much less compete with him in poetry, so they
were all afraid of him, but [this evening] he did not give a cup to any
particular lady to make her compose poems. Perhaps that was because he
had many things to do and it was getting late. At this ceremony the
ladies of high rank are given robes, together with babies' dresses
presented by the Queen. The ladies of the fourth rank were each given
a lined kimono, and those of the sixth rank were given hakama.[44] So
much I saw.

The next night the moon was very beautiful. As it is the delightful
season, young people went boating. They were all dressed uniformly
in white and their hair showed better than when they wear coloured
clothes. Kotaibu, Minamoto Shikibu, Miyaki-no-Jiju, Gosetchi-no-Ben,
Ukon, Kohyoé, Koeimon, Uma, Yasurahi, Isebito--these were on the
veranda when the Lieutenant-General of the Left Bodyguard, and the
Lieutenant-General, the Prime Minister's son, came to take them out in
the boat punted by Lieutenant-General Kanetaka of the Right Bodyguard.
The rest of the ladies were neglected and followed them with their
eyes. They seemed to be jealous in spite of themselves. Into the very
white garden[45] the moon shone down and added to the beauty of the
maids-of-honour in their white dresses. There were many palanquins
waiting at the shelter [for conveyances] near the north entrance.
They were those of the ladies-in-waiting of His Majesty's court,
Tosaumi, Koshosho, Uma, Ukon, Chikuzen, Omi--so far I have heard, but
as I don't know them well there may be some mistakes. The people in the
boat came in in confusion [hearing that visitors from the King's Court
had arrived]. The Lord Prime Minister came out to welcome them and put
them in good humour. He seemed to be perfectly happy. Gifts were made
to them according to their rank.


(For explanation see List of Illustrations)]

On the seventh day His Majesty celebrated the birth. His secretary and
Major-General, Michimasa, came as King's Messenger with a long list [of
the presents] put into a wicker box. A letter was immediately sent from
the Queen to the King. The students from the Kangakuin[46] came keeping
step. The list of visitors' names was presented to Her Majesty. Some
may perhaps receive gifts.

The ceremony of the evening was noisier than ever. I peeped under the
Queen's canopy. She who is esteemed by the people as the mother of
the nation did not seem to be in good spirits. She appeared a little
weary. She had grown thinner, and her appearance in bed was slenderer,
younger, and gracefuller. A little lantern was hung under the canopy
which chased the darkness away even from the corners. Her fair
complexion was pale and transparently pure. I thought her abundant
hair would be better tied up. There is great impropriety in writing
about her at all, so I will stop here.

The general ceremonies were the same as the other day. The gifts to
the courtiers were bestowed from within the misu. The women's dresses
and the Queen's dress [perhaps from the Queen's wardrobe] were added
to them. The chief of the King's secretaries and court nobles received
them, approaching the misu.

His Majesty's gifts were uchigi, and kimonos, and rolls of silk in
the usual court fashion.[47] The gifts to Tachibana-no-Sanmi [who
offered the breast to the young Prince for the first time] were a set
of women's clothes and rolls of brocade, a silver clothes chest, and
wrappings for clothes [which perhaps were white]. I have heard that
something wrapped up was added also, though I could not see it in

On the eighth day all changed their dress [which had been white, the
colour of purification]. On the ninth evening the Vice-Governor[48] of
the August Crown Prince's retinue celebrated the birth. The present was
put on a white cabinet. The ceremony was quite in the new style. On
the silver clothes chest a raised ornament was carved, and the island
of Horai[49] was also represented as usual, but in finer and newer
fashion. I am sorry I cannot describe it all exactly. This evening the
winter screens were used, and the ladies wore richly coloured dresses.
They seemed all the more charming as it was the first time after the
birth [to see them]. The rich and brilliant colours shone through the
karaginu. The women's figures also showed more distinctly and that
enhanced their beauty. This was the night that Lady Komano-no-Omoto was
put to shame.

It was after the tenth day of the Gods-absent month, but the Queen
could not leave her bed. So night and day ladies attended her in
her apartment towards the West. The Lord Prime Minister visited her
both during the night and at dawn. He examined the breasts of the
wet-nurses. Those nurses who were in a sound sleep were much startled
and got up while still asleep; it was quite a pity to see them. He
very naturally devoted himself with the utmost care, while there was
anxiety about the August Child. Sometimes the Honourable Infant did a
very unreasonable thing and wet the Lord Prime Minister's clothes. He,
loosening his sash, dried his dress behind the screen. He said: "Ah!
it is a very happy thing to be wet by the Prince. When I am drying
my clothes is my most comfortable moment!" So he said rejoicing. He
especially favoured Prince Murakami, and as he thinks I am related to
that Prince he talked to me very familiarly. I know many things which
may be expected to happen![50]

The day of the King's visit was approaching, and the Lord's mansion
was improved and adorned. Beautiful chrysanthemums were sought for
everywhere, to plant in the garden. Some were already fading, others in
yellow were especially lovely. When they were planted and I saw them
through the shifting morning mists, they seemed indeed to drive away
old age.

I wish I could be more adaptable and live more gaily in the present
world--had I not an extraordinary sorrow--but whenever I hear
delightful or interesting things my yearning for a religious life
grows stronger. I become melancholy and lament. I try to forget, for
sorrow is vain. Am I too sinful? So I was musing one morning when I saw
waterfowl playing heedlessly in the pond.[51]

     _Waterfowl floating on the water--_
     _They seem so gay,_
     _But in truth_
     _It is not gay to live anxiously seeking means of existence._

I sympathized with them who outwardly have no other thought but
amusement, yet in reality are seeking a livelihood in great anxiety.

Lady Koshosho sent me a letter, and when I was writing the answer a
brisk shower came pattering down. The sky looked threatening and the
messenger was in a hurry, so I think I wrote but a broken-legged poem.
After dark the messenger returned with a strongly perfumed and deeply
coloured paper[52] on which was written:

     _The dark sky dulls my dreamy mind,_
     _The down-dripping rain lingers--_
     _O my tears down falling, longing after thee!_

I have forgotten what I wrote to her except the poem:

     _There are pauses between the showers of the outer world,_
     _But there is no time when my sleeves, wet with tears, are dry._

That day the Queen saw the new boats which were presented for her
inspection. The dragon's head and the phoenix at the prow made me think
of animated living figures.

The visit[53] of His Majesty was to be made at eight or nine o'clock in
the morning. From early dawn ladies adorned themselves with great care.
As the seats of the courtiers were placed in the west side building
the Queen's apartment was not so much disturbed. I have heard that the
ladies serving at the Imperial shrine dressed very elaborately in the
rooms of the first maid-of-honour.

In the early morning Lady Koshosho came back from her father's. We
dressed our hair together. In spite of the fixed hour His Majesty's
coming will be delayed, we thought, and our relaxed minds were still
indolent. Some ladies had ordered unornamented silk fans and were on
tiptoe with expectancy when the drums were heard [announcing Royalty]
and they were in an awkward predicament.[54] We welcomed the Royal
equipage. The boatmen's music was very good. When the Royal palanquin
drew near, the bearers, though they were rather honourable persons,
bent their heads in absolute humility as they ascended the steps. Even
in the highest society there are grades of courtesy, but these men
were too humble. The Royal dais was prepared at the west side of the
Queen's.[55] His honourable chair was placed in the eastern part of
the south veranda. A little apart from it on the east side were hung
misu, and two of the court ladies in attendance on the King came out
from behind that misu. The beautiful shape of their hair, tied with
bands, was like that of the beauties in Chinese pictures. Lady Saémon
held the King's sword. She wore a blue-green patternless karaginu and
shaded train with floating bands and belt of "floating thread" brocade
dyed in dull red. Her outer robe was trimmed with five folds and was
chrysanthemum-coloured. The glossy[56] silk was of crimson; her figure
and movement, when we caught a glimpse of it, was flower-like and
dignified. Lady Ben-no-Naishi held the box of the King's seals. Her
uchigi was grape-coloured, her brocaded train and karaginu were the
same as the former lady. She is a very small and smile-giving person
and seemed a little shy and I was sorry for her. Her face and clothes
were in better taste than those of the other ladies. Her hairbands were
blue-green. Her appearance suggested one of the ancient dream-maidens
descended from heaven.

The officers of the King's Bodyguard managed things connected with the
state carriage [perhaps drawn by a bullock] in fine style. They were
elegantly dressed. The First Lieutenant-General took His Majesty's
sword and gave it to Lady Saémon.

Looking over those who were inside the misu I saw that persons who were
permitted to wear honourable colours were in karaginu of blue or red,
painted trains, and uchigi which were as a rule brocade of old red
and old rose. Only the Right Bodyguard wore clothes of shrimp pink.
The beaten[57] stuffs were like the mingling of dark and light maple
leaves in autumn. The under garments were in deep and pale jasmine
yellow or in green and white. Some wore scarlet and green, and others
dresses trimmed with three folds. Among those who were not permitted to
wear figured silk the elderly persons wore blue, or dull red and old
rose five-fold-bordered uchigi. The colour of the sea painted on their
trains was tasteful and quiet. On their belts was a repeated design.

The younger ladies wore five-fold-trimmed karaginu of chrysanthemum
colours according to their taste. The first garment was white and
those who wore a blue dress covered it with a red one. Those who
wore old rose on the outside took more richly coloured garments
underneath.[58] Among those whose dress was in combination with white,
only those who made skilful combinations seemed well dressed. I saw
some fans exquisitely strange and original. We can compare their
tastes more easily in their everyday dress, but on such an occasion
as this, when they give their whole minds to the costumes, vying with
each other, they all seem like so many works of art. They look rather
alike, and it is difficult to distinguish ages, or to know whether
hair is thick or thin. Their faces and heads were hidden by fans, yet
some ladies seemed more dignified and others inferior. Ladies who seem
distinguished at such a time must be beautiful indeed. Five ladies who
had formerly served both the King and our Queen were assembled here.
They were, two ladies-in-waiting, two maids-of-honour, and one cook.[59]

To serve the dinner Ladies-in-Waiting Chikuzen and Sakyo, their hair
tied with bands, came out near the square pillar where the court
ladies sat. They were like beautiful angels [Japanese word, tennin].
Sakyo wore karaginu of white, and blue under white. Lady Chikuzen wore
five-fold-trimmed karaginu of chrysanthemum colours. The ornament of
their trains was dyed by rubbing.[60] Lady Tachibana of the Third Rank
prepared the dinner. She is an old lady and wore blue[61] karaginu,
and yellow chrysanthemum uchigi woven in a "floating thread" pattern.
A sudaré was rolled up, but a post obscured the view. The Lord Prime
Minister, taking the August young Prince in his arms went before the
King. His Majesty took the child himself. The Honourable Infant cried
a little in a very young voice. Lady Ben-no-Saisho stood holding the
Prince's sword. The Prince was taken to the Lord Prime Minister's wife,
who sat on the west side of the inner door. After His Majesty had gone,
Ben-no-Saisho came out and said to me: "I was exposed to brightness
[i.e. the radiance of the King's presence]. I felt discomposed." Her
blushing face was beautiful in every feature, and set off her dress

When night came we had beautiful dances. The court nobles presented
themselves before the King [to dance]. The names of the dances
performed were:

    The Pleasures of Ten Thousand Ages.
    The Pleasures of a Peaceful Reign.
    The Happy Palace.

When they danced the "Long-Pleasing[62] Son," the closing one, they
went out singing and danced along the road beyond the garden hills.[63]
As they went farther away the sound of flute and drum mingled with
the sound of wind in the pine-wood towards which they were going. The
garden brook, cleansed very carefully, was refreshing to us and the
[sound of the] water rippling on the pond gave us a chilly feeling.
Lady Sakyo offered the Queen sympathy, not knowing that she had doubled
her undergarments, so people laughed secretly. Lady Chikuzen talked of
the late King Enyu,[64] who had visited her often. She talked about
the events of those days, and I felt that she was about to utter
things unfit for this happy occasion, so I did not answer her saying
I was too tired. We were sitting with a curtain between us. If there
had been some one to ask, "Alas, what things?" she would have spilled
the unfit words.[64] The dancing before the King had begun and it
was very delightful, when the voice of the young Prince was heard
crying beautifully. The Minister of the Right said flatteringly that
the August Child's voice was in accord with the music. The Commander
of the King's Left Bodyguard recited with others "The Pleasures of
Ten Thousand Years" and "The Pleasures of Ten Thousand Autumns."
Our honourable host, the Lord Prime Minister, said, "Ah! I held the
previous condescending visit as a great honour, but this is the
greatest." He wept in intoxication of joy. There's really no need of
my saying it, but he is so grateful to the King and so conscious of his
happiness it is lovely to see it.

The Prime Minister withdrew and His Majesty retired from the chamber.
He summoned the Minister of the Right to order him to record that the
Queen's officials and Prime Minister's stewards were to be advanced in
rank. Tō-no-Ben presented to him all who were to be thus honoured. The
nobles of the Fujiwara clans[65] arrived together, but there were only
those immediately connected with the Prime Minister's family, the other
three families were not among them. Then came the chief officers of the
Right Bodyguard, the high officials of the Queen Dowager, the officials
of our Queen to whom additional duties were assigned, and other members
of the court who had been promoted and who came to thank the King. His
Majesty went in beside the Queen, but as the night was far advanced it
was not long before the Prime Minister called the Royal carriage and
the King returned to his own palace.

The next day Royal messengers came here before the morning mist had
cleared up. I arose late and did not see them. Last evening was the
first time that His Majesty the King had met the Queen during these
months. After the visit the duties of the August Prince's attendants
and ladies were made public. Some who had not heard about it before
were disappointed and jealous. The decorations of the Queen's
apartment, which had been neglected, were improved. Things became
more attractive in the Queen's presence. For years the Prime Minister
had felt anxious [as the Queen had had no child], but his hopes being
realized he and his wife devoted themselves to taking care of the
Queen. The August Child seems to have shed brightness around him.

In the evening the moonlight was very beautiful. The Second Official of
the August young Prince came, perhaps thinking that his thanks might
be offered by a court lady. The bridge opposite the door was wet with
vapour from the bath. No one answered, so he went to the room of Lady
Miya-no-Naishi which is next the bridge of the eastern building. Lady
Saisho was in the inner room. The man, holding back the unlocked door,
asked again, "Is some one within?" But she did not come out. Just then
the Queen's First Officer appeared and called, "Is some one there?"
She felt it impossible not to reply, so made a faint answer. The new
official was in a gay humour and said reproachfully, "You did not
answer me, but you especially favour the Head Officer! It is natural
enough, but not kind; is there so much difference between the nobles in
this place? It is too much!" He sung "The August Happiness of the Day."
As the night advanced the moon became brighter; "It would be better to
take away the obstruction from before the door," said he persuasively.
I thought it awkward that a noble of the Court should stand there
below me like that, but I did not open the door. If I were younger, I
thought, my inexperience would be my excuse were I to talk with him or
open the door, but one cannot talk thoughtlessly when one is young no
longer, so I did not open the door but held it with my hand.

The first day of the Frost month was the fiftieth day after the birth.
The persons who were to present themselves came in full dress. The
sight before her presence was like a picture of a poet's assembly.
Many kichō were arranged along the east side of the Queen's dais from
the inner room to the veranda. The Royal dining-table was placed
towards the south front of the house. At the west side was prepared
the Queen Dowager's dinner. It was placed on a tray of aloe wood. I
don't know what kind of a stand it was on because I did not see it.
She wore a grape-coloured kimono trimmed with five folds and red
uchigi. Those serving the dinner were Lady Saisho and Lady Sanuki.
The maids-of-honour dressed their hair with saishi and bands. Lady
Dainagon served the August Prince's dinner at the east side--a little
dining-table, plate, stand for chopsticks, with a central decoration
representing a bit of seashore--all as small as play-things for dolls.
At the east end where the sudaré was a little rolled up, there were in
waiting such ladies as Ben-no-Naishi, Lady Nakatsukasa, Lady Koshosho;
as I was inside I could not see in great detail. That night Lady
Sefu, the nurse, was permitted to wear a dress of honourable colour.
She seemed still girlish, as she took the August Prince in her arms
and gave him to the Lord Prime Minister who was within the dais. He
came out quietly and they were plainly seen in the flickering light
of the torches. It was very lovely. The August Prince was dressed in
red brocade with shaded skirt--exquisitely pretty. The Mochi[66] was
given to him by the Lord Prime Minister. The seats of the courtiers had
been prepared at the west side of the east building; there were two
ministers present. They came out onto the bridge and were very drunk
and boisterous.

As the torches burnt low, the Major-General of the Fourth Rank was
called to light lanterns. Boxes and baskets of food,[67] the Prime
Minister's gifts, were borne in by the attendants and piled up on the
balcony near the railing. Some of the boxes were to be taken to the
King's kitchen, and as the next day was to be a day of abstinence for
religious devotion they were carried away at once.


The Queen's First Officer came to the misu and asked if the court
nobles should be invited there. As the answer was "yes," every one
came led by the Prime Minister, and approached the east door. Ladies
stood in two or three rows; the misu was rolled up by those who were
nearest it, Lady Dainagon, Lady Koshosho, and others. The Minister of
the Right came dancing wildly and made a hole in the kichō behind which
ladies were sitting. They laughed, saying, "He has long passed the age
for that." He did not notice, but made a great many unbecoming jokes,
taking away ladies' fans. The August Prince's First Officer took a saké
cup[68] and stepped out; he sung a song; although it was unaccompanied
by dancing it was very delightful. Farther towards the east, leaning
against a door-post, the General of the Right was standing, studying
the ladies' sleeves and the skirts of their garments showing below
the misu. He is different from other men. The ladies, thinking that
after all the intoxicated men were only trying to seem young and
irresistible, made light of their behavior and said, "It is nothing,
nobody else will behave so." Compared with such men the General is far
superior. He was afraid of the saké cup, and when it came to him passed
it by, singing the song which begins "One Thousand and Ten Thousand
Ages." The First Officer of the Light Bodyguard said, "I think Lady
Murasaki must be somewhere here!" I listened, thinking, "How can she
be here in a place where there is no such graceful person as Prince
Genji?"[69] The Minister of the Right said, "Sanmi-no-Suké [officer
of the third rank], accept this cup!" When the officer came out from
below the Lord Keeper of the seal [an inferior position] the drunken
man wept. The King's Adviser, leaning in a corner, was flirting with
Lady Hyobu. The Prime Minister did not forbid even unmentionable jokes.
It was an awful night of carousal, so after the ceremony I signalled
to Lady Saisho and we hid ourselves, but there came noisily the Prime
Minister's sons and Lieutenant-General Saisho, so, although we two had
remained hidden behind the screen, even this was taken away and we were
captives. "Compose a poem each, and you shall be excused," said the
Lord Prime Minister. I was frightened and helpless, and made haste to

     _How can I number the years of the Prince!_
     _One thousand, nay, eight thousand, may he live, and more._

"Well done!" said he, reciting it twice, and he answered immediately:

     _O would I might live the life of a crane--_
     _Then might I reckon the years of the Prince_
     _Up to one thousand!_

He was much intoxicated, but the poem had feeling, for it came from
his innermost desire. The child cherished in this way will have a very
bright future. Even such as I can imagine the thousand prosperous years
of His August Highness! He felt satisfied with his own poem and said,
"Has Your Majesty heard the poem? I have made a poem!" and then--"I am
worthy to be your father and you are worthy to be my daughter--Mother
is smiling, she must think she is happy. She may be thinking she has
got a good husband!" said he in extreme intoxication. As is usual with
drunken persons all were listening. His wife seemed to be embarrassed
by this conversation and retired. "Mother will be angry if I do not
follow her," said he, and went through the dais hurriedly, muttering,
"Excuse me, Your Majesty, but a child is adored because of its father!"
and everybody laughed.

The day for the Queen's return to the palace approaches and her ladies
have no tranquil hours because of continual ceremonies. Her Majesty had
had blank books made, so from early morning I was summoned to attend
her to arrange the paper and to write letters which were sent with the
books and the romances to be copied. I also spent days in compiling
these into books. "What fancy is this? Why do you do such things these
chilly days?" the Lord Prime Minister said, but he himself brought out
fine papers, brushes and ink, and even writing-boxes. These were given
to the ladies by the Queen's own hand. They were bashful, but excuses
were in vain, and they went into corners and composed and came back
blushing, saying, "I have done this," only to be given more brushes
and ink. I had brought my romances from home and hidden them in my
own room, but one day the Prime Minister entered it secretly to hunt
about and found them and gave them to the first lady-in-waiting. As the
books are not at all clearly written, I am ashamed to think what their
opinion must be.[70]

The infant Prince begins to babble and crow. His Majesty is naturally
impatient to have him. The waterfowl have begun to come more and more
to the pond before the house.

I longed for snow while we were staying there, but just then I had to
go home to my parents. Two days after retiring from the Court a great
snow came. The old familiar trees of my home reminded me of those
melancholy years when I used to gaze upon them musing when the colours
of flowers, the voices of birds, the skies of Spring and Autumn, moon
shadows, frost and snow, told me nothing but that time was revolving,
and that I was menaced with a dreary future. Before I went to Court I
tried to avoid sadness by writing to those who were in the same state
of mind, even to those with whom I was only slightly acquainted, and
associating with them I consoled my heart in various ways. Although
an unimportant person I had passed my life without feeling any sort
of contempt of myself until I went to Court--since then, alas! I have
experienced all the bitterness of it. To-day I took out romances,
but they no longer interested me. I was ashamed to think what those
melancholy persons to whom I used to write had thought of me since I
went to Court, so I had no courage to write to them again. Those with
whom I am now intimate would have to publish my letters broadcast,
so how can I write to them my inmost heart?--thus my letters have
inadvertently grown few. I had a feeling that association with some of
the younger ladies who used to visit me before I went to Court could
not continue. Some of them I had to refuse when they came, and in my
home all these trifles have made me feel more deeply that I have gone
into a world not intended for me. I write only to those from whom I can
never part, to whom my heart prompts me to speak. O worthless heart,
that feels love only for those with whom it daily associates! I long
for Lady Dainagon with whom I spent every night before the Queen, when
we told each other all our heart's secrets--is it also my worldly heart
that longs for a companion other than Buddha?

     _Like two wild ducks_
     _Floating with unrestful slumber,_
     _Yet even those nights I would recall--_
              _Feathers wet and cold--_
     _But colder tears!_

Lady Dainagon returned this answer:

          _Midnight sleep was broken_
         _But no friend to brush away the cold tears!_
     _I envy the Oshidori[71] which has ever its mate by its side._

Her handwriting is very elegant. She is a very true-hearted person.

A lady wrote me, "The Queen has seen the snow, and she regrets deeply
that you are not here at Court." The Prime Minister's Lady wrote to me,
"When I tried to stop your going away you said you would go at once
that you might come back soon. Was not that true?--for many days have
passed." She may not have been in earnest, yet as I received such a
letter I went back to the Court.

It was on the seventeenth of the Frost month that the Queen went
back to the palace. The time had been fixed for eight o'clock in
the evening, but the night was far advanced. I could not see more
than thirty ladies who tied up their hair. To the east balcony of
the Queen's apartments came more than ten ladies-in-waiting from His
Majesty's Court [to escort the Queen]. Her Majesty's senji [woman who
repeats the Queen's words to outsiders] went in Her Majesty's coach
with her. The Lord Prime Minister's wife and Lady Sen, the nurse,
holding the August Infant in her arms, went in a coach adorned with
silk fringes. Lady Dainagon and Lady Saisho were in a gold-studded
coach. In the next one went Lady Koshosho and Lady Miya-no-Naishi.
The Lieutenant-General of His Majesty's stud was in the next one. I
was to go in that one. His manner expressed dissatisfaction with so
mean a companion and I was much discomposed. Lady Jiyu, Ben-no-Naishi,
Lady Saémon, the Prime Minister's first attendant, and Lady Shikibu
went in their proper order in their palanquins. As it was bright
moonlight I was greatly embarrassed, and in the palace I followed
the Lieutenant-General not knowing where I trod. If some one had
been _looking at me from behind_ [Japanese expression signifying
"gossiping about or criticizing"], I must have been ashamed indeed.


I passed that night in the third little room on the corridor of the
Kokiden.[72] Lady Koshosho came and we talked of the sadness of our
lives. We took off our kimonos and put on doubly wadded ones, and
making a fire in an incense-burner we were complaining of the cold when
the Chamberlain and the State Councillor and Lieutenant-General Kinnobu
came to inquire for us. I wished I might have been entirely forgotten
this evening. It annoyed more than it pleased us; nevertheless, as
they had come to make inquiries, I said: "To-morrow I will return
the compliment and go to inquire after you. To-night I am shivering
with cold." Saying these words we secretly stole away from that room.
Some were now preparing to go back to their homes; we thought them to
be some of the lower officials. I do not say this as comparing them
with myself. By the way, Lady Koshosho is very noble in character and
beautiful, but I notice she is thinking sadly of the World.[73] One
reason is her father's rather humble rank which makes good fortune
delay to come to her.

This morning Her Majesty saw in detail last evening's presents from
the Prime Minister. The hair ornaments in a case were more lovely than
words can express. There were a pair of salvers. On one of them were
poem papers and bound blank books. On the other were the poetical
collections of the Kokinshu, Gosenshu, and Juishu.[74] Each was bound
in five volumes. The copyists of these volumes were the King's Adviser
and attendant of middle rank and Enkwan.[75] The covers were of thin
figured silk; the fastenings of braided silk of the same material.
They were fitted into a basket. There were also ancient and modern
poetical collections of various families, such as those of Yoshinobu
and Motosuké. The copies made by Enkwan[75] and Chikazumi[75] were kept
for the Queen's private use. They were made in the new fashion.

On the twentieth day of the Frost month the dance of Gosetchi[76]
was performed. A costume was given to the young lady whom the
King's attendant and State Councillor offered for the dance. The
Lieutenant-General asked for a garland for his dancer, which was given.
At the same time a box of perfume ornamented with artificial leaves
and plum blossoms was given her. As the arrangements had been made
a long time beforehand this year, there was great rivalry among the
dancers. Torches were lighted in close rows along the outer doors of
the eastern veranda so there was day-brightness, and it was really
awkward to walk there. I felt for the girls, but it was not they only
who were embarrassed. Young nobles looked at the girls face to face,
almost bringing the lights down in front of them. They tried to draw a
curtain before themselves, but in vain, and the nobles' eyes were still
on them. My heart throbs even at the memory of it.

The helpers[77] of courtier Narito's daughter were dressed in brocaded
karaginu, which was distinctive and pleasing even at night. She was
overwhelmed by her dress and her movements were ungraceful, yet the
nobles paid her special attention. The King came to see the dance. The
Lord Prime Minister, too, crept in from the side entrance, so we felt

The helpers of Nakakyo's daughter were all of the same height. They
were graceful and charming, and people agreed that they were not
inferior to any ladies.

The State Councillor and Lieutenant-General had all his maids as
helpers of his daughter. One of them was ungraceful, being fat and
countrified, so all were laughing at her. The daughter of Tō [State
Councillor] gave a fresh and distinct impression because of her
family.[78] She had ten helpers.

The ladies who were proud of their good looks seemed more beautiful in
this artificial light.

On the morning of the day of the Tiger[79] the courtiers assembled.
Although it is a common custom to have the dance, the younger ones were
especially curious to see the dancers. Was it because they had acquired
rude country manners during these months of absence from the Court?
There the dress dyed by rubbing the leaves of the indigo plant was not
to be seen. When night came the second official of the Crown Prince was
summoned and perfumes were bestowed upon him. Quantities of it were
heaped up in a large box.

That night the dance was performed in the Seiry-oden.[80] The King was
present to see it. The Prime Minister's wife sent a messenger to the
Governor of Owari.

As the August young Prince was to be present, rice was thrown to keep
off evil spirits, and people reviled them [the spirits] and called them
names. It gave us a queer feeling. I was weary and wanted to rest a
little, so I remained in our chamber thinking to present myself when
it should be necessary. Lady Kohyoé and Lady Kohyobu sat beside the
brazier. We were saying that the hall was crowded and nothing could
be seen distinctly, when the Lord Prime Minister came in. "Why do you
stay here? Come with us!" so we went reluctantly. I watched the dancers
thinking how tired they must be, and what a heavy task they had before
them. The daughter of the Governor of Owari became ill and retired.
Human fate is like a dream, it seems! After the dance His Majesty

Young noblemen talk of nothing these days but the rooms of those
dancers.[81] Even the borders of the curtains hanging over the sudaré
were varied according to the taste of the dancer. Their hair-dressing
and their style also varied extremely, so the young men talked about
that, and more improper things too. Even in ordinary years [when there
was no unusual festivity] the dancing girls' hearts are always filled
with anxiety, how much more so this year. While I was thinking about it
they came out in single file. My heart swelled with sympathy. It may
be they have no great patrons to depend on who could protect them. As
they are all chosen for their beauty all are attractive, and it would
be difficult to say which is superior to the other, although the man
of fashion may perhaps perceive differences. In this brilliant light
they may not even shade their faces with their fans. They are placed
in rivalry with each other in rank, in prudence, and in wit, and must
struggle each to excel the other, although at the same time they feel
shyness in the presence of the young men. Surrounded by the young
nobles, they are forced to hold their own among them worthily. I feel
sorry for them.

Governor Tamba's daughter wore a darkish blue gown. The State
Councillor Tō's daughter wore red. The maids of the latter wore the
blue karaginu of a girl and were so beautiful that they made us women
jealous. One girl did not seem at all dignified. The daughter of the
State Councillor and Lieutenant-General was tall and had beautiful
hair. Her attendants wore deep-coloured clothes trimmed with five folds
and their outer garments were varied according to taste. The last
girl wore a plain grape-coloured one, and that simple dress was more
beautiful, as it showed taste in colour combination.

The secretaries of the sixth rank went towards them to take away their
fans. They threw them down themselves. Though they were graceful they
did not seem like girls. If we were in their places it would seem like
a dream to us. I had never supposed I should mingle with these court
ladies! Yet the human heart is an invisible and dreadful being. If I
became accustomed to [court life] my bashfulness would be overcome and
I could easily stand face to face with men. As if in a vision my future
appeared to me, and such a state of things appeared to me undesirable.
My mind was greatly troubled and I could observe nothing.

The apartment temporarily given to the dancer who was the daughter
of the King's Adviser and State Councillor was just across the way
[in the building of another queen, see map of palace] on the corridor
opposite to that of our Queen. A part of the sudaré of that room was
in sight above the outer shutter, although we could hear voices but
faintly. The State Councillor and Lieutenant-General, who knew about it
all, said, "There are ladies called Sakyō and Uma who once served that
Queen over there." "It was Sakyō who sat in the eastern part of the
hall last night as a helper of a certain young lady who danced," said
Genshosho, who knew her. Some of our Queen's ladies chanced to overhear
these remarks. "How extraordinary! Yet she must remember old times,"
said they; "how is it possible that a former lady-in-waiting should
return to the court as a maid? She may be thinking it will never be
known, but we will one day bring it to light!"

Our ladies may have been scheming for this when they chose among the
multitude of fans kept by the Queen those representing the Island of
Horai[82]--did she feel it, I wonder?

Ground-pine [Lycopodium] was made into a wreath and put into a
box-cover [probably of a writing-box, in those days large and elegantly
lacquered]. A comb and face-powder were put in also, for the young
courtiers had said, "that lady, who is rather advanced in years, wears
a curved comb suitable for a young lady." So the comb which was put
into the box was curved too much in the vulgar new fashion with perfume
balls clumsily covered with paper. A poem was added to it written by
Lady Saifu:

     _Among the many ladies that night of the dance_
     _The belle was the one who wore the lycopodium._

The Queen said: "If you are going to send at all, send something
clever, here are many fans for it." But some ladies replied: "That
will attract too much attention. It is too unusual. If you send this
publicly you will not succeed in puzzling her; perhaps we would better
send it anonymously." Therefore a lady who was an entire stranger to
her was chosen. She went, and, speaking loudly, said: "Here is a letter
from Lady Chunagon. It is sent by her Queen to Lady Sakyō." I thought
it would be awkward if the messenger were caught by them, but she ran
away as soon as she had put down the things. She reported that she
heard some one saying, "Whence do you come?" There is no doubt she
really thought it a gift from our Queen.

Days passed without any interesting events. After that evening of
dancing the Court became absolutely dull. The preparatory music on the
eve of the Omi ceremony[83] was very fine. The young courtiers were
still filled with thoughts of the dancers. After the Queen's return
to the palace, the little sons of another wife of the Prime Minister
were permitted to come in to play with the ladies-in-waiting. They
came to us without end, which was a great bother. I did not show myself
to them, taking advantage of my advanced age. They were not thinking
of the dancers, but were playing by the side of Ladies Yasurahi and
Kohyoé, joking and chattering like little birds.

At the occasional festival of the Kamo shrine the
Vice-Lieutenant-General [first son of the Prime Minister] was made
the King's substitute. It was a day of fasting also, so the Lord
Prime Minister had passed the night at the palace. The nobles and
dancers passed the night of the festival in making a great noise
with much merriment in the corridors. Next morning an attendant of
the Chamberlain brought something to an attendant of the Lord Prime
Minister. It was the box-cover of the previous night.[84] There was in
it a silver case for romances, besides a mirror, a comb of aloe wood,
and a silver kogai. The comb seemed to be given to adorn the hair of
the messenger at the festival. Something was written on the box-cover
in reed style in raised characters. It was the answer to the poem of
the lycopodium. Two characters were omitted and it was difficult to
read. She seemed to have misunderstood. The Chamberlain thought it
really was a gift to her from our Queen, so the return was made thus
openly. It was but a foolish joke and I felt sorry for her.

The Prime Minister's wife came to court to see the festival. His son,
adorning his head with artificial wisteria, appeared quite a man, noble
and dignified. The Lady Kura [his nurse], not taking any notice of the
dancers, wept for joy watching her young lord. As it was still the day
of fasting, they came back from the shrine at two in the morning, and
the sacred dance was performed listlessly, as the important persons
were absent. Kanetoki [a dancer] who had been very handsome last year,
was much fallen off. Though a stranger to him I felt regret, being
reminded of the fleeting life of us all.

[Here an interval occurs.]

On the twentieth of the Finishing month I went again to Court. It was
the anniversary of the day on which I had first come. I remembered my
former career as a wanderer on dream paths, and I loathed myself for
having become so familiar with court life. The night was far advanced
and as the Queen was fasting, we did not present ourselves before her.
I felt lonely and was lying down. The maids-of-honour around me said:
"The hours here are very different from those at home. There all would
be sleeping by this time, but here our dreams are broken by the sound
of shoes along the corridor." Hearing them girlishly talking I murmured
to myself:

     _My life and the year are closing together._
     _At the sound of the wind dreary is my heart._

On that moon-hidden night [last night of the year] the driving off of
evil spirits was soon finished. We dyed our teeth [black], and after
finishing decorating our faces we sat at ease. Ben-no-Naishi came, and
after talking she went to sleep. The Queen's seamstress sat in the
doorway watching the maid Ateki sewing. Just then we heard an unusual
noise from the direction of Her Majesty's apartment. I tried to wake up
Ben-no-Naishi, but she was heavy with sleep. Some one was heard crying
wildly. I was frightened and could not think what to do. Was it a fire?
But no, it was not that. I pushed the seamstress forward, saying, "Go
there! over there! Oh, dear!!" Then, "Her Majesty is in her own room,
we must by all means get to her!" I shook Ben-no-Naishi roughly to
awaken her and we three ran trembling--flying rather than walking. We
saw two naked persons. They were Lady Yugei and Lady Kohyobé. It seemed
that they had been robbed of their clothes, and I felt more distressed
than before. The kitchen servants had all gone out; even the Queen's
guards had retired after devil-driving. We clapped our hands, but no
one came. Some went to call the women attendants, while I, forgetting
my shyness, said, "Call Hyobu-no-Jo, the secretary." He was sought
for, but had left the palace. I felt irritated indeed, but at last an
assistant to the Master of Ceremonies came who poured oil into several
lamps. We found many who had fainted. At the news a messenger arrived
from the King, but we were too frightened to receive him properly.
He took out dresses from the royal wardrobe to give them. The new
dresses for New Year's Day were not stolen, so these ladies took their
misfortune lightly--but unforgettably dreadful is a nude form. I can
never call it laughable. It was too dreadful to speak of, but we could
not help talking.

The New Year's Day [1008] was inauspicious. The rice-cake [mochi] [85]
ceremony was deferred. However, on the third day, the August Crown
Prince went up to the King and the rice-cake festival was given for
him. His attendant was Lady Dainagon. The dress of the ladies on the
first day was karaginu of purple and old rose colour, red kimono and
shaded train; on the second day, red and purple brocade, deep violet
glossy silk, green karaginu, train dyed by rubbing flowers. On the
third day we wore white and rose-coloured brocaded garments, trimmed
with many folds. The karaginu was of dull red and old rose brocade.
When we wear deep violet-coloured shining silk the inner robe is of
crimson; when we wear crimson outside the inner dress is usually
of deep violet. The pale and deep colour of spring leaf buds, dull
red, golden yellow, and light and dark crimsons--dresses of these
ordinary colours were worn trimmed with six folds in very beautiful

Lady Saisho held the August Prince's honourable sword. The Lord
Prime Minister took the August Prince in his arms and they presented
themselves before the King. Lady Saisho's dress was a garment trimmed
with three and five folds, and figured of the same colour trimmed
with seven folds. The uchigi was adorned with a pattern of oak-leaves
beautifully embroidered. She wore a karaginu and train trimmed
with three folds. Her unlined inner kimono was woven in a pattern.
Her costume was in the Chinese style. Her hair was ornamented more
elaborately than usual. Her style of dress and manner showed great
knowledge of the world. She is rather tall and has a well-rounded
figure. Her face is very small and exquisitely tinted.

[The following eleven paragraphs are portraits of prominent ladies of
the court.]

LADY DAINAGON is very small and refined, white, beautiful, and round,
though in demeanour very lofty. Her hair is three inches longer than
her height. She uses exquisitely carved hairpins. Her face is lovely,
her manners delicate and charming.

LADY SENJI is also a little person, and haughty. Her hair is fine and
glossy and one foot longer than the ordinary. She puts us to shame, her
carriage is so noble. When she walks before us we feel so much in the
shade that we are uncomfortable. Her mind and speech make us feel that
a really noble person ought to be like her.

--If I go on describing ladies' manners I shall be called an old
gossip, so I must refrain from talking about those around me. I will be
silent about the questionable and imperfect.

LADY KOSHOSHO, all noble and charming. She is like a weeping-willow
tree at budding-time. Her style is very elegant and we all envy her
her manners. She is so shy and retiring that she seems to hide her
heart even from herself. She is of childlike purity even to a painful
degree--should there be a low-minded person who would treat her ill or
slander her, her spirit would be overwhelmed and she would die. Such
delicacy and helplessness make us anxious about her.

LADY MIYA-NO-NAISHI, also a beauty of good height. Her appearance as
she sits is very dignified. She is fashionable. Although no single
feature is especially beautiful she has altogether an air of youth and
beauty. Her face is [literal translation] high in the middle and she
excels others in the fairness of her skin. Her hair-ornaments, her
forehead, oh, beautiful! produce an effect of refinement and elegance.
She is very frank and unaffected in manner, and never the least bit
awkward about anything. She is naturalness itself. Her character may be
an example for us. She never tries consciously to attract, and she has
no vanity.

LADY SHIKIBU is her younger sister. She is too plump, and her
complexion is a fragrant white. She has a bright small face and
beautiful hair, although it is not long. She presents herself before
the Queen with false hair. Her plump appearance, oh, smile-giving! Her
eyes and forehead are lovely indeed; her smile is full of sweetness.

Among the younger ladies I think KODAYU and GENSHIKIBU are beautiful.
The former is a little person quite modern in type. Her pretty hair
is abundant at the roots, but gets too thin at the end, which is one
foot longer than she is. Her face is full of wit. People will think her
very pretty, and indeed there is no feature one would wish to improve.
The latter is tall and rather superior. Her features are fine; she
is smile-giving and lovable. She is very refined and seems to be a
favourite daughter of some person of dignity.

LADY KOHYOÉ-NO-JO is also refined. These ladies cannot be looked down
upon by court nobles. With every one some fault is to be found, but
only those who are ever mindful to conceal it _even when alone,_ can
completely succeed.

LADY ATTENDANT MYAKI is a very pretty person. Her hair is scarcely
longer than her uchigi, the ends are beautifully cut. Her face was
agreeable also when I last saw it.

There is also LADY GOSETCHI-NO-BEN.[87] She is the adopted daughter
of Middle Adviser Hei. Her face is like a picture. She has a broad
forehead and eyelids drooping at the corners. Her features are not
remarkable at any point, but her complexion is white, her hands and
arms are pretty. When I saw her in the spring for the first time her
hair, which was profusely abundant, was one foot longer than herself,
but it suddenly became thinner at the ends, and now it is only a little
longer than she is.

A LADY KOMA had very long hair, an agreeable lady in those days; now
she has become like the bridge of a lute which has been immovably
fastened with glue. She has gone home.

So much for their appearance and now for their dispositions. Here few
can be selected, though each has some good points and few are entirely
bad. It is very difficult to possess such qualities as prudence, wit,
charm, right-mindedness, all at once. As to many ladies, the question
is whether they excel most in charms of mind or person. It is hard to
decide! Wicked, indeed, to write so much of others!

There is LADY CHUJO who waits upon the Princess dedicated to the
service of the Kamo shrine. I had heard of her and secretly managed to
see her letters addressed to other persons. They were very beautifully
written but with such an exalted opinion of herself; in the whole world
she is the person of profoundest knowledge! None to compare with her,
it seems she is thinking. On reading them my heart beat faster, I was
furiously indignant for every one here [the ladies of her own Queen's
Court], although it maybe it is wrong to feel so. "Be it in composition
or poetry who can judge save our Princess-Abbess, who will have bright
futures but the ladies attending our Princess?"!! It may be reasonable,
yet I have never seen, compared to ours, any good poems by the lady
attendants of that Princess-Abbess. They seem to be living an idle
poetic life, but if they were to compete with us, it is not necessarily
certain they would be superior, though no one knows them well. On a
beautiful moonlight night or morning, at the time of flowers or of
cuckoo, courtiers might visit their residence. Other-worldly and sacred
it is, and made to the taste of their Princess. There they remain
undisturbed, admiring her. On the other hand, with us many things
occur. The Queen has to go up to His Majesty's apartment, the Lord
Prime Minister comes, and we have to keep watch at night. But there is
nothing of all this in that world all their own where they may indulge
in elegance and avoid blunders. If I could live there like an old
piece of buried wood thrown in among them, I might succeed in freeing
myself from the reproach of shallowness--would that I might indulge in
elegance there, relaxing myself! Forward young ladies there can devote
themselves to dress, making themselves inferior to none and pleasing to
courtiers. On the other hand, in our Queen's Court we rather neglect to
adorn ourselves, for our Queen has no rivals now. Moreover, she thinks
unfavourably of frivolous women, so those who wish to serve her and
remain in favour keep from association with men. Of course everywhere
there are light-hearted, unashamed, thoughtless women, and men who
visit our court to find them say we are awkward and unversed in social
usage. Our ladies of the higher ranks are, indeed, much too reserved
and haughty; it is not in this way that they can bring honour to our
Queen. It is painful to see them. The attendants of the Princess-Abbess
seem to have been alluding to these ladies, but both defects and merits
are found in every one, so we may not be inferior to them after all.
Even our young ladies nowadays have heard of self-respect. It would be
embarrassing if they were too frivolous, but one would not wish them to
be heartless either.

Our Queen of perfect mind, enviably lovely, is reserved and never
obtrusive, for she believes that few who are forward can avoid
blunders. In fact, imperfect wit is worse than reserve. Our Queen when
she was very young was much annoyed to hear persons of shallow culture
saying vulgar, narrow things with conceit, so she favoured ladies who
made no mistakes, and childlike persons pleased her very well. This is
why our ladies have become so retiring. As Her Majesty grows older,
she begins to see the world as it is, the bad and good qualities of
the human heart. Reserve or boldness--she knows neither is good. The
court nobles rather look down on us--"Nothing interesting here!" they
seem to say. The Queen knows this, but she knows we cannot please
everybody. If we stumble, hideous things may happen. Yet we must not
be faint-hearted and bashful either, so Her Majesty says, but our old
habits are not so easily shaken off, and all the young nobles of the
present day are, on their side, only indulgent pleasure-seekers.

The ladies around the Abbess, who indulge in æsthetic pursuits, gazing
at the moon and admiring flowers, may talk only of these things to the
nobles, boastfully and intentionally, and the nobles might say that it
is difficult to find ladies with whom they can chatter light-heartedly
morning or evening, or discuss interesting topics occasionally;
although, as I haven't heard them say it, I don't know really what they
think. In general conversation it is awkward to say profound things. It
is far better to speak with simplicity, and the nobles seem to think
so. The difficulty is to understand the occasion and adapt one's self
to it.

When the First Official of Her Majesty comes to report to her, the
delicate, shy ladies-in-waiting cannot meet him on common ground, or
converse fluently, not because they are deficient in words or thoughts,
but because of their extreme timidity. They fear their faults may be
noticed so they cannot decide what to say. Others [Abbess ladies] may
not be so. Even women of high birth must follow the general custom when
they become ladies-in-waiting at the Court, but many behave as if they
were still daughters at home.

The Great Adviser[88] is displeased to be received by ladies of low
rank, so when he comes to the Queen's court to make some report
and suitable ladies to receive him are not available, he goes away
without seeing Her Majesty. Other court nobles, who often come to make
reports, have each a favourite lady, and when that one is away they are
displeased, and go away saying to other people, that the Queen's ladies
are quite unsatisfactory. There may be some reason in it, yet it is
quite unreasonable for the Abbess's ladies to say that we are unworthy
to be seen or heard. It is easy to criticize, and difficult to realize
our own ideals. These ladies, however, do not know that, and being full
of conceit, they treat others with disdain, thus revealing their own
limitations. Oh, how I wanted to show the letters to the Queen, but
they had been stolen by the lady who secretly showed them to me, and
they were soon taken back. I coveted those letters!

LADY IZUMI SHIKIBU[89] corresponds charmingly, but her behaviour is
improper indeed. She writes with grace and ease and with a flashing
wit. There is fragrance even in her smallest words. Her poems are
attractive, but they are only improvisations which drop from her mouth
spontaneously. Every one of them has some interesting point, and she is
acquainted with ancient literature also, but she is not like a true
artist who is filled with the genuine spirit of poetry. Yet I think
even she cannot presume to pass judgment on the poems of others.

The wife of the Governor of Tamba Province is called by the Queen
and Prime Minister MASA HIRA EMON.[90] Though she is not of noble
birth, her poems are very satisfying. She does not compose and scatter
them about on every occasion, but so far as we know them, even her
miscellaneous poems shame us. Those who compose poems whose loins are
all but broken, yet who are infinitely self-exalted and vain, deserve
our contempt and pity.

LADY SEISHONAGON.[91] A very proud person. She values herself highly,
and scatters her Chinese writings all about. Yet should we study her
closely, we should find that she is still imperfect. She tries to be
exceptional, but naturally persons of that sort give offence. She is
piling up trouble for her future. One who is too richly gifted, who
indulges too much in emotion, even when she ought to be reserved, and
cannot turn aside from anything she is interested in, in spite of
herself will lose self-control. How can such a vain and reckless person
end her days happily!

[Here there is a sudden change from the Court to her own home.]

Having no excellence within myself, I have passed my days without
making any special impression on any one. Especially the fact that I
have no man who will look out for my future makes me comfortless. I do
not wish to bury myself in dreariness. Is it because of my worldly mind
that I feel lonely? On moonlight nights in autumn, when I am hopelessly
sad, I often go out on the balcony and gaze dreamily at the moon. It
makes me think of days gone by. People say that it is dangerous to look
at the moon[92] in solitude, but something impels me, and sitting a
little withdrawn I muse there. In the wind-cooled evening I play on the
koto,[93] though others may not care to hear it. I fear that my playing
betrays the sorrow which becomes more intense, and I become disgusted
with myself--so foolish and miserable am I.

My room is ugly, blackened by smoke. I play on a thirteen or
six-stringed koto, but I neglect to take away the bridges even in
rainy weather, and I lean it up against the wall between the cabinet
and the door jamb. On either side of the koto stands a lute [Japanese
biwa]. A pair of big bookcases have in them all the books they can
hold. In one of them are placed old poems and romances. They are the
homes of worms which come frightening us when we turn the pages, so
none ever wish to read them. [Perhaps her own writings, she speaks so
slightingly of them.] As to the other cabinet, since the person[94] who
placed his own books [there] no hand has touched it. When I am bored
to death I take out one or two of them; then my maids gather around me
and say: "Your life will not be favoured with old age if you do such
a thing! Why do you read Chinese? Formerly even the reading of sutras
was not encouraged for women." They rebuke me in the [shade i.e. behind
my back]. I have heard of it and have wished to say, "It is far from
certain that he who does no forbidden thing enjoys a long life," but
it would be a lack of reserve to say it [to the maids]. Our deeds vary
with our age and deeds vary with the individual. Some are proud [to
read books], others look over old cast-away writings because they are
bored with having nothing to do. It would not be becoming for such a
one to chatter away about religious thoughts, noisily shaking a rosary.
I feel this, and before my women keep myself from doing what otherwise
I could do easily. But after all, when I was among the ladies of the
Court I did not say what I wanted to say either, for it is useless to
talk with those who do not understand one and troublesome to talk with
those who criticize from a feeling of superiority. Especially one-sided
persons are troublesome. Few are accomplished in many arts and most
cling narrowly to their own opinion.

Pretty and coy, shrinking from sight, unsociable, proud, fond of
romance, vain and poetic, looking down upon others with a jealous
eye--such is the opinion of those who do not know me, but after seeing
me they say, "You are wonderfully gentle to meet with; I cannot
identify you with that imagined one."

I see that I have been slighted, hated, and looked down upon as an old
gossip, and I must bear it, for it is my destiny to be solitary. The
Queen said once, "You were ever mindful not to show your soul, but I
have become more intimate with you than others." I hope that I may not
be looked at obliquely even by those who are ill-natured, affected,
and unsociable. As a rule one is easy at the back [i.e. not afraid of
gossip] who is modest, gentle, and of tranquil disposition. Even a
coquettish and frivolous person is not rebuked if she is good-natured
and of a disposition not embarrassing to others. A person who is
self-exalted and eccentric with scornful mouth and demeanor can be
unmistakably perceived, and one can be on one's guard; by observing
closely one may discover faults of speech and behaviour. Those whose
words and deeds are not in harmony, or who are always trying to outdo
one another, attract notice. One seldom wishes to criticize those who
have defects, but are good-natured. One cannot but sympathize with
them. Those who habitually do evil with intention deserve to be freely
talked about and laughed at even though sometimes they do it without
intention. We ought to love even those who hate us, but it is very
difficult to do it. Even the Buddha of Profound Mercy does not say that
the sins against Buddha, the laws of religion, and priests, are slight.
Moreover, in this muddy world it is best to let alone the persons
who hate us. If we compare one who tries to excel in hatred saying
extraordinary words and watching [their effect] ill-humouredly face to
face, with one who coldly hides her heart with a tranquil manner, we
can see which is superior.

There is a lady, Saémon-no-Naishi, who unreasonably cherished hatred of
me. I was not at first aware of it, but later heard of much criticism
of me in my absence. Once the King was listening to a reading of
my Genji-monogatari, and said, "She is gifted, she must have read
the Chronicle of Japan." This lady heard of it, and unreflectingly
spread abroad among the courtiers the idea that I am very proud of my
learning, giving me the name of "The Japanese Chronicle lady"--it is
laughable, indeed! I am reserved even before the maids of my own house;
how then should I show my learning in Court? When my elder brother
Shikibu-no-Jo was a boy he was taught to read "Chinese Historical
Records."[95] I listened, sitting beside him, and learned wonderfully
fast, though he was sometimes slow and forgot. Father, who was devoted
to study, regretted that I had not been a son, but I heard people
saying that it is not beautiful even for a man to be proud of his
learning, and after that I did not write so much as the figure one
in Chinese. I grew clumsy with my [writing] brush. For a long time I
did not care for the books I had already read. Thus I was ashamed to
think how others would hate me on hearing what Lady Saémon said, and I
assumed an air of not being able to read the characters written on the
Royal screen. But the Queen made me read [to her] the poetical works
of Li T'ai Po, and as she wished to learn them I have been teaching
her since the Summer of two years ago the second and third volumes
of that collection very secretly when none were present. Her Majesty
and I tried to conceal it, but His Majesty the King and the Lord
Prime Minister finding it out, the latter presented to the Queen many
poetical books which he had had copied. I think that bitter Saémon does
not know it yet. If she did, how she would criticize me!

Everything in this world is burdensome. Now I shall not be afraid
whatever happens. Whatever others may say of me I will recite sutras
kneeling before Amitabha Buddha.[96] When my mind has become completely
free from the burden of the world, nothing will weaken my determination
to become a saint. Though I set myself devotedly against worldly
passions, it seems that there extends before me a limbo of dull
wanderings before I can mount the cloud.[97] I must be there now. I
am now of a fit age for the religious life. It is common to suppose
that men read sutras when they are old, yet really they are not read,
for minds grow more and more relax with age. I may be interpreted as
one who imitates persons of profound thought, but I will devote myself
to the religious life. The person of deep-rooted sin cannot succeed
even in such a hope [as that]. There happens many a circumstance which
makes me think of the [probable] wickedness of my prenatal life and
everything makes me sad.

[There seems to be an abrupt transition here and the following
paragraph seems to be part of a letter, perhaps sent with the diary or
other writing.]

I wish I could make known everything to you, good and bad, things of
the world, and those relating to my life--all that I could not write in
my letters. You could not expect such writing as this from your friend?
You feel weary of life; please look into my heart, also weary. Please
write to me--even a little--whatever comes into your mind. It would be
very unfortunate if my writings were scattered about and made known to
others. I have written many things of this sort, but recently I have
torn up all my old writings, burying some, and making dolls' houses of
the rest. Since that time I have received no letters and am determined
to write no more on fresh paper, so thrifty have I become! I think I am
not in the wrong. After reading, please return quickly. As I could not
revise all there may be some defects; read--overlooking them.

My mind has been wholly occupied with the things and persons of our
world, and as I close this writing I reflect on how deeply rooted
was my interest in them, but it was only accident that closed my
descriptions of others.

[Here an interval during which she returns to Court.]

On the eleventh of the First month, 1009, in the early morning they
went to the temple. The Lord Prime Minister's wife accompanied the
Queen, others went by boat. I was belated and went at night. There
was preaching. People made confession according to the custom of the
mountain temple.[98] Many pictures of pagodas were painted, and they
amused themselves. Most of the nobles had retired, and there were
few persons left when the midnight preaching began. The preachers
and interpreters of the sutras were twenty in number.... [Here is a
sentence whose meaning is lost.] They all preached in different ways
about the merit of the Queen's presence; there were many things laughed
at. After the preaching the courtiers went boating; they all rowed and
enjoyed themselves. At the eastern corner of the temple a bridge had
been built opposite the door opening towards the North. There the High
Official of the Crown Prince was leaning against the railing. The Lord
Prime Minister came for a little while and talked with Lady Saisho, but
as we were in the Queen's presence we could not be at our ease. It was
pretty both within and without the temple. The pale moon appeared, and
young nobles sang songs of the new fashion. A song related that those
who had gone into the boat were young and pretty. The old Secretary
of the Treasury was among them. He was ashamed with reason to sing
with the others, and stood there rather embarrassed. The back view of
him was comical and those within the misu [i.e. the ladies] secretly
laughed. Some one said, "He in the boat is regretting old age." The
High Official on the bridge heard it and sang, "The ancient seekers
for eternal life--the tradition is full of lies."[99] It sounded very
latest fashion, indeed. Some sang "The Duckweed" accompanied by the
flute. Even the morning wind gave us unusual impressions because of the

In the Queen's presence was placed Genji-monogatari. Once the Lord
Prime Minister saw it and after many playful words wrote to me on a
[poem] paper attached to a plum branch.

[The following poem depends for its point on the play upon a word with
two meanings.]

                                { _love_
     _Being notorious for_ { _sourness_
     _I think none pass by without breaking a branch!_

[Her answer]

     _No one in passing has ever broken the plum tree_
     _Who then can know if it be sour?_

Oh, regrettable! to be spoken of in such a way! One night I slept in
a room near the corridor. Some one came knocking at the door. I was
afraid and passed the night without making a sound. The next morning
the following poem was sent me [from the Prime Minister]:

     _All the night through, knocking louder than a water-rail,_
     _I stood in vain at the door of hinoki wood_
            _weary and lamenting._

I wrote back:

       _A cause of deep regret, indeed,_
     _Had the door opened at the knocking of the water-rail!_

[Here a space of nearly one year elapses.]

Third day of First month [1010]. The August Princes have presented
themselves before the King for three days[100] to receive gifts of
mochi. Ladies of high rank accompanied them. Saémon-no-Kami held the
Prince, and the mochi was brought to His Majesty by the Lord Prime
Minister. The King, facing towards the east door, gave it to the
August Princes.[101] It was a beautiful sight to see the young Princes
coming and returning through the corridor. The Queen Dowager did not
present herself. On the first day Lady Saisho served at table; her
colour combination was cunningly executed. Ladies Takumi and Hyogo
officiated as the Queen's secretaries. The ladies who tied their hair
were particularly attractive. The lady who was entrusted with the
preparation of toso[102] was very vain of her skill and behaved as if
she were a doctor of medicine. Ointment was distributed as usual.

The Prime Minister took the younger Prince in his arms and the King
embraced him lovingly, saying, "Long life and health" as usual. The
Lord Prime Minister replied, "I will uphold the younger Prince in my
arms"; but at that His Augustness the Crown Prince became jealous and
begged [to be taken up too], saying, "Ah! Ah!" The Prime Minister was
much pleased, and the General of the Right Bodyguard and others were
amused by it.

The Lord Prime Minister had an audience with the King and they came
out together to find amusement. The Minister was much intoxicated.
"Troublesome!" I thought, and hid myself away, but I was found. "You
are summoned by the father of the Queen, yet you retire so early!
Suspicious person!" said he. "Now, instead of the Queen's father it
is you who must compose a poem! It is quite an ordinary occasion, so
don't hesitate!" He urged, but it seemed to me very awkward to make
one only to have it laughed at. As he was very much in liquor, his face
was flushed and flamed out in the torchlight. He said, "The Queen had
lived for years alone and solitary. I had seen it with anxiety. It is
cheering to behold troublesome children on either side of her." And he
went to look at the Princes, who had been put to bed, taking off the
bedclothes. He was singing:

     _"If there be no little pines in the field_
     _How shall I find the symbol of 1000 ages?"_

People thought it more suitable that he should sing this old song than
make a new one. The next evening the sky was hazy; as the different
parts of the palace are built compactly in close rows I could only
catch a slight glimpse of it from the veranda. I admired his recitation
of last evening with the nurse Madam Nakadaka. This lady is of deep
thought and learning.

I went home for a while. For the fifty days' ceremony of the second
Prince, which was the fifteenth day of the Sociable Month, I returned
in the early morning to the palace. Lady Koshosho returned in
embarrassing broad daylight. We two live together; our rooms adjoin
and we throw them together, each occupying the whole when the other is
absent. When we are there together we put kichō between them. The Lord
Prime Minister says we must be gossiping about other people. Some may
be uneasy to hear that, but as there are no unfriendly strangers here
we are not anxious about it.

I went to the Queen's audience. My friend wore brocaded uchigi of
old rose and white, a red karaginu and figured train. My dress was
of red and purple and light green. My karaginu was green and white.
The rubbed design on the train was in the very latest fashion, and it
would perhaps have been better if a younger lady had worn it. There
were seventeen ladies of His Majesty the King's court who presented
themselves before the Queen. Lady Tachibana of the third rank served
the royal table. Ladies Kodayu and Shikibu on the balcony. The serving
of the young August Prince's dinner was entrusted to Lady Koshosho.
Their Majesties sat within the dais [one for each]. The morning sun
shone in and I felt too much brilliancy in their presence. The King
wore a robe with narrow sleeves. The Queen was dressed in red as usual.
Her inner kimonos were purple and red with pale and dark green and two
shades of yellow. His Majesty's outer dress was grape-coloured[103]
brocade, and his inner garment white and green--all rare and modern
both in design and colour.

It seemed to be too dazzling in their presence, so I softly slid away
into an inner room. The nurse, Madam Nakadaka, holding the young
Prince in her arms, came out towards the south between the canopied
King and Queen. She is short in stature, but of dignified demeanour.
She was perfectly tranquil and grave and a good example for the young
Prince [then not two months old!]. She wore grape-coloured uchigi and
patternless karaginu of white and old rose. That day all did their
utmost to adorn themselves. One had a little fault in the colour
combination at the wrist opening. When she went before the Royal
presence to fetch something, the nobles and high officials noticed
it. Afterwards, Lady Saisho regretted it deeply. It was not so bad;
only one colour was a little too pale. Lady Kotaiyu wore a crimson
unlined dress and over it an uchigi of deep and pale plum colour
bordered with folds. Her karaginu was white and old rose. Lady Gen
Shikibu appears to have been wearing a red and purple figured silk.
Some said it was unsuitable because it was not brocade. That judgment
is too conventional. There may be criticism where want of taste is too
apparent, but it were better to criticize manners. Dress is rather
unimportant in comparison.


From a print in an old book]

The ceremony of giving mochi to the Prince is ended and the table is
taken away. The misu of the anteroom was rolled up, and we saw ladies
sitting crowded at the west side of the dais. There were Lady Tachibana
of the third rank, and Naishi Nosuké, the younger attendant of the
August Princes sitting in the doorway. In the east anteroom near the
shioji[104] there were ladies of high rank. I went to seek Lady
Dainagon and Lady Koshosho, who were sitting east of the dais. His
August Majesty sat on the dais with his dining-table before him. The
ornaments of it were exquisitely beautiful. On the south balcony there
sat the Minister of the Right and Left and the Chamberlain, the first
officials of the Crown Prince and of the Queen and the Great Adviser
Shijo, facing towards the North, the West being the more honourable
seat. There were no officials of low rank. Afterwards they begun to
amuse themselves. Courtiers sat on the southeast corridor of the
side building. The four lower officials took their usual places [on
the steps below Royalty] to perform some music. They were Kagemasa,
Korekazé, Yukiyoshi, Tonomasa. From the upper seat the Great Adviser
Shijo conducted the music. To no Ben played the lute, Tsunetaka played
the harp [koto]. The Lieutenant-General of the Left Bodyguard and State
Councillor played the flute. Some outsiders joined in the music. One
made a mistake in the notes and was hissed. The Minister of the Right
praised the six-stringed koto. He became too merry, and made a great
mistake, which sent a chill even to the onlookers.

The Prime Minister's gift was flutes put into two boxes.

[1] This diary seems to have been jotted down in disconnected
paragraphs and the editors have preserved that form.

[2] Tsuchimikado: the residence of Prime Minister Fujiwara, the father
of the Queen.

[3] Priests are praying for the easy delivery of the Queen, who has
gone to her parents' house before the birth, in accordance with old
Japanese custom.

[4] The writer of this diary lost her husband in 1001.

[5] Altars before Fudo, Gosansé, Gunsari, Daiitoku, Kongoyasha.

[6] See the plan of a great house of those days.

[7] Yorimichi, the Prime Minister Fujiwara Michinaga's son, who was
then sixteen years old.

[8] Misu: a thin finely woven bamboo curtain, behind which one may see
but not be seen, hung before great personages and women's apartments.

[9] Tonearasoi: at present not known.

[10] Imayo, or "new style," a kind of song in vogue in those days. The
verse consists of eight or ten alternating seven-and five-syllable

[11] This perfume was composed of purified Borneo camphor, aloe wood
and musk, and was used to perfume clothing, etc.

[12] Hagi: violet-coloured dress with blue lining, the violet dye taken
from sapan-wood; Shion: pale purple dress with blue lining.

[13] A face covering used while sleeping.

[14] Floss silk was used to protect chrysanthemum flowers from frost.
The flower itself was believed to have the virtue of lengthening life.
The Imperial garden party undoubtedly originated from a belief in this
virtue in the flower.

[15] Ladies were crowded close behind the misu looking at the moon.

[16] Hangings, screens, and clothes of attendants were all white at the
time of a birth.

[17] Which would otherwise have attacked the Queen. Some of the
ladies-in-waiting undertook this duty. There is a difference of opinion
between the translators as to whether this was done with the intention
of deceiving the evil spirits into attacking the wrong person (by
introducing into her neighbourhood other women surrounded with screens
and attendants) or by transmitting the supposed evil spirits out of the
Queen into her ladies by a sort of mesmerization.

[18] Fudo: a terrible-looking Buddhist idol who was thought to have the
power to subdue all evil spirits.

[19] For good luck.

[20] So that she might be ordained as a priestess and insured a good
reception in the next world, only done when the sick person is in great

[21] This was contrary to etiquette and shows the extreme excitement
of the moment. Ladies and gentlemen of the court remained in separate
rooms on social occasions.

[22] Kurodo = secretary (in charge of court manuscripts).

[23] Everybody was still wearing white, colour of purification.

[24] See frontispiece.

[25] Every Japanese family does this to-day, for almost all gardens
have artificial brooks or ponds.

[26] Imperial shrine at Isé: the oldest shrine, built 5 B.C., dedicated
to the Heaven Shining Goddess, ancestor of the Imperial family. This
shrine is rebuilt every twenty years on the same model. It is the most
sacred spot in Japan, and all serious events pertaining to the Empire
or Imperial Household are announced there to the Goddess-Ancestor by
Imperial Messenger.

[27] Nusa: rolls of silk or paper offered by a worshipper.

[28] Because a birth in a house was defilement, while a messenger to or
from a god was holy.

[29] Saishi: a kind of gold ornament with five radiating points worn on
the forehead and tied on around the head. (See frontispiece.)

[30] This was to frighten away evil spirits.

[31] Rice-scattering; for good luck.

[32] Here occurs an untranslatable sentence. Literally it would seem to
be: _It seems hair growing in good monochromatic picture_. That might
mean that the Queen seemed like a beauty in a picture drawn with ink
and brush (see some illustrations in this book).

[33] Purple and scarlet.

[34] Karaginu: a short garment with long sleeves and worn of a
different colour from the uchigi. (See frontispiece.)

[35] Uchigi: long unconfined flowing robe put on over the dress. It
was made of elegant material and lined with another colour and was the
distinctive and beautiful part of the court dress of that day. Under
it were worn two or more other silk robes of different colours, one
often intended to show through and modify the colour of the other. They
were fastened in front by a belt like the present-day kimono, and over
them was hung at the back the long and elaborate train of heavy white
silk on which the last word of elegance in embroidery or painting was
placed. In the presence of Royalty the ladies knelt in rows one behind
the other, and doubtless these trains made a great display spread out
before those sitting behind. (See frontispiece.)

[36] See frontispiece.

[37] Unemé: beautiful women, selected from various provinces for their
beauty, especially to wait on the Royal table.

[38] Mohitori: officials who had charge of wells, shoyu (Japanese
sauce) and ice-houses.

[39] Migusiagé: attendants whose hair was done up with hairpins.

[40] King's housekeepers.

[41] Cleaners.

[42] Da: a gambling game now not known. It was played with dice.

[43] (The following poem, then composed, is made with words of two
meanings. It is impossible to arrange it in poetic form in English, but
we present the two meanings in separate phrases, which the reader may
combine for himself.)

Japanese words with their meanings:

Mezurashiki hikari = uncommon light.

Sashi sou = { added.
            { pour more saké into.

Sakazuki wa = { waxing moon.
              { a cup.

Chiyomo = four a tousand ages.

                     { circulate, O moon never waning!
Megurame = circulate { circulate the cup to all persons
                     {    countless times.


First meaning:

_We pray that the waxing moon_ [i. e, the young Prince] _may never
wane, but shine for a thousand ages without change!_

Second meaning:

_May this cup_ [of joy] _be full as soon as emptied and circulate
freely to all!_

[44] A pleated divided skirt worn by both men and women.

[45] In Kioto it used to be the custom to cover the earth of the
gardens with very white fine sand.

[46] A school created in 825 A.D. by the Prime Minister Fujiwara
Fuyutsugu to educate the younger members of the Fujiwara family.

[47] This "court fashion" of sending rolls of silk as presents from the
Emperor or Empress prevails to-day, one thousand years later.

[48] This person was the second son of the Prime Minister; therefore
the Queen's brother or half-brother and uncle of the Crown Prince.

[49] The island of Horai; Japanese Elysium, a crystal island of eternal
youth and felicity, supposed to exist in mid-ocean. A miniature
presentation of this island is used on festal occasions as the emblem
of eternity, or unchangeableness.

[50] The Prime Minister wished to arrange a marriage between his eldest
son and the Prince's daughter. The authoress's cousin had adopted the
Prince's son.

[51] This incident has for some reason become very famous and artists
have used it as a subject for pictures. One of these is now hanging in
the Imperial Museum in Tokyo.

[52] Poems were written on oblongs of crimson, yellow, gold, or other
paper according to the feeling of the writer. Nowadays oblong poem
papers can be bought anywhere, but they are generally white or gray
with gold decoration.

[53] The King's visit was made October 16, 1008.

[54] It was _de rigueur_ for ladies to conceal their faces with fans.

[55] The left side is the more honourable position, but this time the
King sat at the right side because perhaps they could not move the
Queen's dais.

[56] A special effect of brilliant shining produced by beating the silk.

[57] A special effect of brilliant shining produced by beating the silk.

[58] These garments were evidently made of very thin material, colours
underneath being intended to modify the outer ones, hence the art of
dressing became very subtle.

[59] Doubtless this office was highly important and held in honour.
In those days poison and inferior foods were to be guarded against.
Throughout the journal it may be noticed that all directly serving the
King and Queen in any way are persons of high rank.

[60] In this curiously delicate operation the actual leaf or flower
from which the colour was obtained was rubbed onto the silk to make the
desired pattern.

[61] Light blue and some kinds of yellow are colours relegated to the
elderly in Japan. Babies and young people are dressed in bright colours
and showy patterns. The old wear plain stuffs and pale or dull colours.

[62] This dance was performed by court nobles at the coronation of the
present Emperor at Kioto, 1915.

[63] Artificial hills in Japanese gardens are intended to bring
mountain scenery to mind, whether large or small. They are sometimes of
considerable size.

[64] Reigned 970 to 984. This lady may have been his mistress or had
interesting reminiscences to relate.

[65] The feuds of the Fujiwara family. Fujiwara Fuhito had four sons
who became the founders of the four great Fujiwara families--Minami,
Kyo, Kita, and Shiki. They were all aspiring to the King's favour and
at enmity with each other, the present Prime Minister Michinaga far
outstripping the others in power.

[66] Mochi: a cake made of beaten rice flour paste.

[67] These dainty white wooden boxes of food arranged in a way pleasing
to the eye are still a feature of Japanese life. They are distributed,
with varying contents, at weddings and funerals, sold at railway
stations, and carried on picnics.

[68] At banquets a great cup was used which could contain one or two
quarts of liquor. When this was circulated among the guests each was
expected to empty the cup, and it was the pride of the drinker to toss
it off in one draught.

[69] The hero of Genji Monogatari.

[70] The Queen desired a literary Court to rival that of the first
Queen. See note on p. 131.

[71] A special kind of wild duck called oshidori which is always seen
in couples.

[72] Kokiden: residence of the first Queen.

[73] The World; i.e. matrimonial affairs.

[74] Three anthologies, of Ancient and Modern Poems, Later Selections
of Poems, and Miscellaneous Poems, respectively.

[75] These men were famous calligraphers.

[76] This famous dance, whose origin is given below, was performed at
the present Emperor's coronation at Kioto in 1915, by five daughters of
ancient noble families selected for their beauty. It is said that these
young ladies immediately thereafter received a great many offers of

Gosetchi was a great holiday succeeded by two days of feasting. The
dancing girls (of the diary) were all daughters of persons of high
rank, three being daughters of courtiers and two daughters of province
governors. Tradition says that when King Tenmu was at his palace of
Yoshino, heavenly maidens came down and danced before him fluttering
the long celestial sleeves of their feathery dresses five times. This
was the origin of the dance.

[77] Each dancer was attended by helpers who were sometimes persons
of degree. Their duties were to arrange trains and costumes in the
postures of the dance.

[78] Her father was Keeper of the Seal. Her aunt was one of the queens.

[79] See signs of the zodiac, of Old Japan.

[80] The name of a detached hall in the Imperial Palace.

[81] Like the knights' tents in the tournaments each girl's apartment
was distinguished by special devices of cloths or banners hung before

[82] Horai: an island of eternal life and felicity supposed to exist in
the eastern ocean. Horai symbolizes changelessness, and it must have
been intended as a hint at the impropriety of Sakyō's changed position.

[83] Festival of the ancient gods, for which preparation was made the
day before by fasting.

[84] This incident was very well known and is mentioned in several of
the writings of the period. The mirror is the symbol of the soul of a
Japanese woman. With the mirror Sakyō sent a poem:

     _Alas! the waving moss deceived your vision._
     _The clear mirror is never tarnished:_
     _Therefore look deep._

[85] Mochi: it is still the custom in Japan to serve a cake made of
beaten rice on New Year's Day, the great festival of the year. The
sound of this beating is heard from house to house throughout the
country, and gives everybody a holiday feeling. The ceremonies last
three days.

[86] These colour combinations were very subtle because the effect was
produced by the play of one or perhaps two colours showing through one

[87] One of the young women who had danced the Gosetchi.

[88] Fujiwara Michitaka, the Prime Minister's brother.

[89] This lady was one of the greatest poets Japan has ever produced.
See her diary, which is the record of her liaison with a young prince.

[90] A daughter of the famous court lady, poet, and historian Akazomé
Emon, to whom the court history of the time is traditionally ascribed.

[91] Seishonagon. A lady famous for her learning and wit and with a
little reputation for daring. Pretty and vivacious, learned and witty,
she was allowed liberties unrebuked--one may call her the New Woman of
the day. She served in the court of the first Queen Sadako, daughter
of the Prime Minister's brother. The two Queens were in rivalry.
Seishonagon was the literary light of that court, as Murasaki Shikibu
and Izumi Shikibu were of this.

[92] Because one may be bewitched; ancient belief dating from long
before her day.

[93] A koto is called a horizontal harp, but it consists of a number
of strings stretched the length of the instrument, the scale made by
an arrangement of bridges placed under the strings, and played upon by
four ivory keys worn on the four fingers of the right hand.

[94] Her husband who was a scholar in Chinese literature. He died in
1001. It is now 1008.

: Large and learned volumes by the Chinese scholar Seŭ-ma

[96] The Merciful Buddha of the West Paradise.

[97] It is believed that this Buddha comes to welcome the departing
soul of the believer mounted on a rainbow-coloured cloud.

[98] The great Enryakuji on Mount Hiyé, northeast of Kioto.

[99] A line from an old Chinese poem about Jofuku and Bunsei, seekers
of the herb of eternal life. When they entered the boat they were young
men, but were very old when they returned.

[100] The Japanese New Year ceremonies extend over three days.

[101] Both these little princes, grandsons of the Prime Minister,
eventually came to the throne.

[102] Toso: New Year's drink of spiced saké supposed to prolong life.

[103] The names of these colours are translated in modern terms.
The Japanese names of colours for dresses were all of colours in
combination, which often were called after flowers or plants. These
names could not convey the right idea. For instance, what is here
translated _old rose and white_, would be in those days called
_cherry_, intended to convey to the mind the thought of the cherry-tree
in bloom.

[104] Paper doors.



A.D. 1002-1003

Many months had passed in lamenting the World,[1] more shadowy than
a dream. Already the tenth day of the Deutzia month was over. A
deeper shade lay under the trees and the grass on the embankment was
greener.[2] These changes, unnoticed by any, seemed beautiful to
her, and while musing upon them a man stepped lightly along behind
the hedge. She was idly curious, but when he came towards her she
recognized the page of the late prince.[3] He came at a sorrowful
moment, so she said, "Is your coming not long delayed? To talk over the
past was inclined." "Would it not have been presuming?--Forgive me--In
mountain temples have been worshipping. To be without ties is sad, so
wishing to take service again I went to Prince Sochino-miya."

"Excellent! that Prince is very elegant and is known to me. He cannot
be as of yore?" [i.e. unmarried.] So she said, and he replied, "No,
but he is very gracious. He asked me whether I ever visit you
nowadays--'Yes, I do,' said I; then, breaking off this branch of
tachibana[4] flowers, His Highness replied, 'Give this to her, [see]
how she will take it.' The Prince had in mind the old poem:

     _The scent of tachibana flowers in May_
     _Recalls the perfumed sleeves of him who is no longer here._

So I have come--what shall I say to him?"

It was embarrassing to return an oral message through the page, and
the Prince had not written; discontented, yet wishing to make some
response, she wrote a poem and gave it to the page:

     _That scent, indeed, brings memories_
     _But rather, to be reminded of that other,_
     _Would hear the cuckoo's[5] voice._

The Prince was on the veranda of his palace, and as the page approached
him with important face, he led him into an inner room saying, "What is
it?" The page presented the poem.

The Prince read it and wrote this answer:

     _The cuckoo sings on the same branch_
     _With voice unchanged,_
     _That shall you know._

His Highness gave this to the page and walked away, saying, "Tell it to
no one, I might be thought amorous." The page brought the poem to the
lady. Lovely it was, but it seemed wiser not to write too often [so did
not answer].

On the day following his first letter this poem was sent:

     _To you I betrayed my heart--_
     _Alas! Confessing_
     _Brings deeper grief,_
     _Lamenting days._

Feeling was rootless, but being unlearned in loneliness, and attracted,
she wrote an answer:

     _If you lament to-day_
     _At this moment your heart_
     _May feel for mine--_
     _For in sorrow_
     _Months and days have worn away._

He wrote often and she answered--sometimes--and felt her loneliness a
little assuaged. Again she received a letter. After expressing feelings
of great delicacy:

     _[I would] solace [you] with consoling words_
     _If spoken in vain_
     _No longer could be exchanged._

        To talk with you about the departed one; how would it be
        [for you] to come in the evening unobtrusively?

Her answer:

        As I hear of comfort I wish to talk with you, but being
        an uprooted person there is no hope of my standing
        upright. I am footless [meaning, I cannot go to you].

Thus she wrote, and His Highness decided to come as a private person.

It was still daylight, and he secretly called his servant Ukon-no-zo,
who had usually been the medium by which the letters had reached the
Prince, and said,

"I am going somewhere," The man understood and made preparations.

His Highness came in an humble palanquin and made his page announce
him. It was embarrassing. She did not know what to do; she could not
pretend to be absent after having written him an answer that very day.
It seemed too heartless to make him go back at once without entering.
Thinking, "I will only talk to him," she placed a cushion by the west
door on the veranda, and invited the Prince there. Was it because
he was so much admired by the world that he seemed to her unusually
fascinating? But this only increased her caution. While they were
talking the moon shone out and it became uncomfortably bright.

He: "As I have been out of society and living in the shade, I am not
used to such a bright place as this "--It was too embarrassing!--"Let
me come in where you are sitting; I will not be rude as others are. You
are not one to receive me often, are you?" "No indeed! What a strange
idea! Only to-night we shall talk together I think; never again!" Thus
lightly talking, the night advanced--"Shall we spend the night in this
way?" he asked:

     _The night passes,_
     _We dream no faintest dream--_
     _What shall remain to me of this summer night?_


     _Thinking of the world_
     _Sleeves wet with tears are my bed-fellows._
     _Calmly to dream sweet dreams--_
     _There is no night for that._


He: "I am not a person who can leave my house easily. You may think me
rude, but my feeling for you grows ardent." And he crept into the room.
Felt horribly embarrassed, but conversed together and at daybreak he

Next day's letter:

In what way are you thinking about me? I feel anxiety--

     _To you it may be a commonplace to speak of love,_
     _But my feeling this morning--_
       _To nothing can it be compared!_

She answered:

     _Whether commonplace or not--_
     _Thoughts do not dwell upon it_
       _For the first time [I] am caught in the toils._

O what a person! What has she done! So tenderly the late Prince spoke
to her! She felt regret and her mind was not tranquil. Just then the
page came. Awaited a letter, but there was none. It disappointed her;
how much in love! When the page returned, a letter was given.

The letter:

     _Were my heart permitted even to feel the pain of waiting!_
     _It may be to wait is lesser pain--_
     _To-night--not even to wait for--_

The Prince read it, and felt deep pity, yet there must be reserve [in
going out at night]. His affection for his Princess is unusually light,
but he may be thinking it would seem odd to leave home every night.
Perhaps he will reserve himself until the mourning for the late Prince
is over;[6] it is a sign that his love is not deep. An answer came
after nightfall.

     _Had she said she was waiting for me with all her heart,_
     _Without rest towards the house of my beloved_
     _Should I have been impelled!_

        When I think how lightly you may regard me!

Her answer:

Why should I think lightly of you?

     _I am a drop of dew_
     _Hanging from a leaf_
     _Yet I am not unrestful_
     _For on this branch I seem to have existed_
     _From before the birth of the world._

        Please think of me as like the unstable dew which cannot
        even remain unless the leaf supports it.

His Highness received this letter. He wanted to come, but days passed
without realizing his wish. On the moon-hidden day [last day of month]
she wrote:

     _If to-day passes_
     _Your muffled voice of April, O cuckoo_
     _When can I hear?_

She sent this poem, but as the Prince had many callers it could only
reach him the next morning.

His answer:

     _The cuckoo's song in spring is full of pain._
     _Listen and you will hear his song of summer_
     _Full-throated from to-day._[7]

And so he came at last, avoiding public attention. The lady was
preparing herself for temple-going, and in the act of religious
purification. Thinking that the rare visits of the Prince betrayed his
indifference, and supposing that he had come only to show that he was
not without sympathy, she continued the night absorbed in religious
services, talking little with him.

In the morning the Prince said: "I have passed an extraordinary night"--

     _New is such feeling for me_
     _We have been near,_
     _Yet the night passed and our souls have not met._

And he added, "I am wretched."

She could feel his distress and was sorry for him; and said:

     _With endless sorrow my heart is weighted_
     _And night after night is passed_
     _Even without meeting of the eyelids._

For me this is not new.

May 2. The Prince wrote to her: "Are you going to the temple to-day?
When shall you be at home again:


     _In its season the time of gently falling rain will be over._
     _To-night I will drag from its bed the root of ayame._[8]

Went to the temple and came back after two or three days to find a
letter [from him]:

        My heart yearns for thee, and I wish to see thee, yet I
        am discouraged by the treatment of the other night. I am
        sad and ashamed. Do not suppose that I remain at home
        because my feeling is shallow.

     _She is cold-hearted, yet I cannot forget her._
     _Time wipes out bitterness, but deepens longings_
     _Which to-day have overcome me._

        Not slight is my feeling, although--

Her reply:

     _Are you coming? Scarcely believable are your words,_
     _For not even a shadow_
     _Passes before my unfrequented dwelling._

The Prince came as usual unannounced. The lady did not believe that he
would come at all, and being tired out with the religious observances
of several days, fell asleep. No one noticed the gentle knocking at the
gate. He, on the other hand, had heard some rumours, and suspecting
the presence of another lover, quietly retired. A letter came on the
morning of the next day:

     _I stood before your closed door_
     _Never to be opened._
     _Seeing, it became the symbol of your pitiless heart!_

        I tasted the bitterness of love, and pitied myself.

Then she knew that he had come the night before--carelessly fallen
asleep!--and wrote back:

     _How can you write the thought?_
     _The door of precious wood was closely shut,_
     _No way to read that heart._

        All is thy suspicion--O that I could lay bare my heart
        [to you]!

The next night he wanted to come again, yet he was advised against it.
He feared the criticism of the Chamberlain and Crown Prince, so his
visits became more and more infrequent. In the continuous rains the
lady gazed at the clouds and thought how the court would be talking
about them. She had had many friends; now there was only the Prince.
Though people invented various tales about her, she thought the truth
could never be known to any. The Prince wrote a letter about the
tedious rain:

     _You are thinking only of the long rains_
     _Forever falling everywhere._
     _Into my heart also the rain falls--_
     _Long melancholy days._

It was smile-giving to see that he seized upon every occasion to write
her a poem, and she also felt as he did that this was a time for

The reply:

     _Unaware of the sadness in your heart,_
     _Knowing only of the rain in mine._

And on another paper she wrote another poem:

     _It passes, the very sorrowful life of the world--_
     _By to-day's long_ { _rains_
                             { _meditation it can be known_
     _The_ { _high-water mark_
                { _flood will be exceeded._

        Is it still long? [before you come].

The Prince read this letter and the messenger came back with his answer:

     _Helpless man,_
     _I am weary even of life._
     _Not to you alone beneath the sky_
     _Is rain and dulness._

        For us both it is a stupid world.

It was the sixth day of the Fifth month--rain not yet stopped. The
Prince had been much more touched by her answer of the day before,
which was deeper in feeling, and on that morning of heavy rain he sent
with much kindness to inquire after her.

     _Very terrible was the sound of rain ..._
     _Of what was I thinking_
     _All the long night through_
     _Listening to the rain against the window?_

        I was sheltered, but the storm was in my heart.

The lady wrote thus to the Prince, and he thought, "Not hopeless."

His poem:

     _All the night through, it was of you I thought--_
     _How is it in a house where is no other_
     _To make rain forgotten?_

At noon people were talking about the flooding of the Kamo River, and
many went to see it, the Prince among them. He wrote:

        How are you at present? I have just come back from

     _The feeling of my heart, like the overflowing waters of the flood,_
     _But deeper my heart's feeling._

        Do you know this?

She wrote:

     _Toward me the waters do not overflow._
     _No depth lies there_
     _Though the meadow is flooded._

        Words are not enough.

In these words she replied to him; and his Highness made up his mind
to come, and ordered perfumery for himself. Just then his old nurse,
Jiju-no-Menoto, came up: "Where are you going?" she said,

"People are talking about it. She is no lady of high birth. If you
wish her to serve you, you may summon her here as a servant. Your
undignified goings-out are very painful for us. Many men go to her,
and some awkward thing may happen. All these improper things are
suggested by Ukon-no-Zo.[9] He accompanied the late Prince also. If
you wander out in the depths of night no good can come of it. I will
tell the Prime Minister[10] of the persons who accompany you in these
night visits. In the world there may be changes. No one can tell what
will happen to-morrow. The late Minister loved you much and asked the
present one to show you favour. You must keep yourself from these
indiscretions till worldly affairs are quite settled."

The Prince said: "Where shall I go? I am so bored, and am seeking
temporary recreation. People are foolish to make much of it."

He said this, although much hurt by the necessity for it. Besides that,
he thought her not unworthy of him and even wished to bring her to the
palace [as a concubine]. On the other hand, he reflected that in that
case things even more painful to hear would be said, and in his trouble
of mind days were passed.

At last he visited her. "I could not come in spite of my desires.
Please do not think that I neglect you. The fault is in you; I have
heard that there are many friends of yours who are jealous of me. That
makes me more reserved, and so many days have gone by."

The Prince talked gently, and said: "Now come for this night only.
There is a hidden place no one sees; there I can talk with tranquil
mind." The palanquin was brought near the veranda. She was forced to
enter it and went, without her own volition, with unsteady mind. She
kept thinking that people would know about it, but as the night was far
advanced no one found them out. The conveyance was quietly brought to a
corridor where no one was and he got out.

He whispered, "As the moon is very bright, get down quickly." She was
afraid, but hurriedly obeyed him. "Here there is no one to see us; from
this time we will meet here. At your honourable dwelling I am always
anxious about other men. I can never be at ease there." His words were
gentle, and when it was dawn he made her get into the palanquin and
said, "I wish to go with you, but as it is broad daylight I fear people
may think I have passed the night outside the Court."

He remained in the palace, and she on her way home thought of that
strange going out and of the rumours that would fly about--yet the
uncommonly beautiful features of the Prince at dawn were lingering in
her mind.

Her letter:

     _Rather would I urge your early return at evening_
     _Than ever again make you arise at dawn_
           _It is so sorrowful._

His reply:

     _To see you departing in the morning dew--_
     _It were better to come back in the evening unsatisfied._

        Let us drive away such thoughts. I cannot go out this
        evening on account of the evil spirit [i.e., he might
        encounter it]. Only to fetch you I venture.

She felt distress because this [sort of thing] could not go on always.
But he came with the same palanquin and said, "Hurry, hurry!" She felt
ashamed because of her maids, yet stole out into the carriage. At the
same place as last night voices were heard, so they went to another
building. At dawn he complained of the cock's crowing, and leading her
gently into the palanquin, went out [with her]. On the way he said, "At
such times as these, always come with me," and she--"How can it always
be so?" Then he returned.

Two or three days went by; the moon was wonderfully bright; she went to
the veranda to see it and there received a letter:

        What are you doing at this moment? Are you gazing at the

     _Are you thinking with me_
     _Of the moon at the mountain's edge?_
     _In memory lamenting the short sweet night--_
     _Hearing the cock, awake too soon!_

More than usually pleasing was that letter, for her thoughts were then
dwelling on the bright moon-night when she was unafraid of men's eyes
at the Prince's palace.

The answer:

     _That night_
     _The same moon shone down--_
     _Thinking so I gaze,_
     _But unsatisfied is my heart,_
     _And my eyes are not contented_
     _With moon-seeing._

She mused alone until the day dawned. The next night the Prince came
again, but she knew not of it. A lady was living in the opposite house.
The Prince's attendant saw a palanquin stopping before it and said to
His Highness, "Some one has already come--there is a palanquin." "Let
us retire," said the Prince, and he went away. Now he could believe the
rumours. He was angry with her, yet being unable to make an end of it
he wrote: "Have you heard that I went to you last night? It makes me
unhappy that you don't know even that.

     _Against the hill of pines where the maiden pines for me,_
     _Waves were high--that I had seen._
     _Yet to-day's sight, O ominous!"_[11]

She received the letter on a rainy day, O unlooked-for disaster! She
suspected slanderous tongues.

     _You only are my always-waited-for island--_
     _What waves can sweep it away!_

So she answered, but the Prince being somewhat troubled by the sight of
the previous night, did not write to her for a long time.

Yet at last:

     _Love and misery in various shapes_
     _Pass through my mind and never rest._

She wished to answer, but was ashamed to explain herself, so only wrote:

        Let it be as you will, come or not, yet to part without
        bitter feeling would lighten my sorrow.

From that time he seldom sent letters. One moon-bright night she was
lying with grieving thoughts. She envied the moon in its serene course
and could not refrain from writing to the Prince:

     _In her deserted house_
     _She gazes at the moon--_
     _He is not coming_
     _And she cannot reveal her heart--_
     _There is none who will listen._

She sent her page to give the poem to Ukon-no-Zo. Just then the Prince
was talking with others before the King. When he retired from the
presence, Ukon-no-Zo offered the letter. "Prepare the palanquin," he
said, and he came to her. The lady was sitting near the veranda looking
at the sky, and feeling that some one was coming had had the sudaré
rolled down. He was not in his court robe, but in his soft, everyday
wear, which was more pleasing to her eye. He silently placed his poem
before her on the end of his fan, saying, "As your messenger returned
too soon without awaiting my answer--" She drew it towards her with her

The Prince seemed to think of coming in, but went out into the garden,
singing, "My beloved is like a dew-drop on a leaf." At last he came
nearer, and said: "I must go to-night. I came secretly, but on such
a bright night as this none can escape being seen. To-morrow I must
remain within for religious duties, and people will be suspicious if
I am not at home." He seemed about to depart, when she--"Oh, that a
shower might come! So another brightness, more sweet than the heavenly
one, might linger here for a while!" He felt that she was more amiable
than others had admitted. "Ah, dear one," he said, and came up for a
while, then went away, saying:

     _Unwillingly urged by the moon on her cloudy track_
     _His body is going out, but not his heart_

When he was gone she had the sudaré rolled up and read his poem in the

     _She is looking at the moon,_
     _But her thoughts are all of me_
     _Hearing this_
     _It draws me to her side._

How happy! He seemed to have been thinking her a worthless woman, but
he has changed his mind, she thought. The Prince, on his side, thought
the lady would have some value for him when he wanted to be amused,
but even while he was thinking it, he was told that the Major-General
was her favourite and visited her in the daytime. Still others said,
"Hyobukyo is another of her lovers." The Prince was deterred by these
words and wrote no more.

One day His Highness's little page, who was the lover of one of her
maids, came to the house. While they were chattering the page was
asked if he had brought a letter, he answered: "No; one day my Lord
came here, but he found a palanquin at the gate. From that time he does
not write letters. Moreover, he has heard that others visit here."
When the boy was gone this was told. She was deeply humiliated. No
presumptuous thoughts nor desire for material dependence had been hers.
Only while she was loved and respected had she wished for intercourse.
Estrangement of any other kind would have been bearable, but her heart
was torn asunder to think that he should suspect her of so shameful
a thing. In the midst of mourning over her unfortunate situation, a
letter was brought her:

        I am ill and much troubled these days. Of late I visited
        your dwelling, but alas! at an unlucky time. I feel that
        I am unmanly.

     _Let it be--_
     _I will not look toward the beach--_
     _The seaman's little boat has rowed away._

Her answer:

        You have heard unmentionable things about me. I am
        humiliated and it is painful for me to write any more.
        Perhaps this will be the last letter.

     _Off the shore of_ { _aimlessness_
                             { _Sodé_
     _With burning heart and dripping sleeves,_
     _I am he who drifts in the seaman's boat._

It was already the Seventh month. On the seventh day she received many
letters from elegant persons in deference to the celestial lovers,[12]
but her heart was not touched by them. She was only thinking that
she was utterly forgotten by the Prince, who had never lost such an
opportunity to write to her; but [at last] there came a poem:

     _Alas! that I should become like the Herder-God_
     _Who can only gaze at the Weaving One_
     _Beyond the River of Heaven._

The lady saw that he could not forget her and she was pleased.

Her poem:

     _I cannot even look towards that shore_
     _Where the Herder-God waits:_
     _The lover stars also might avoid me._

His Highness would read, and he would feel that he must not desert her.
Towards the moon-hidden day [end of the month] he wrote to her:

        I am very lonely. Please write to me sometimes as to one
        of your friends.

Her reply:

     _Because you do not wake you cannot hear--_
     _The wind is sighing in the reeds--_
     _Ah, nights and nights of Autumn!_

The messenger who took the poem came back with one from him:

        O my beloved, how can you think my sleep untroubled?
        Lately sad thoughts have been mine and never sleep is

     _The wind blows over the reeds--_
     _I will not sleep, but listen_
     _Whether its sigh thrills my heart._

After two or three days, towards evening, he came unexpectedly and made
his palanquin draw into the courtyard. As she had not yet seen him in
the daylight, he was abashed, he said, but there was no help for it. He
went away soon and did not write for so long that anxiety began to fill
her heart, so at last she sent:

     _Wearily the Autumn days drag by--_
     _From him no message--_
     _Boding silence!_

        Sweet are man's promises, but how different is the heart!

Then he wrote that, though he never forgot her, of late he could not
leave the palace.

     _Though days pass_
     _And others may forget_
     _I can never lose the thought_
     _That meeting in the evening_
     _Of an Autumn day._

The lady was pitiable, having no one to depend on, and tried to sustain
herself with the uncertain consolations of a life of sentiment.
Reflection increased her wretchedness, and when the eighth month came
she went to Ishiyama Temple[13] to revive her doleful spirit intending
to remain there for seven days.

One day the Prince said to his page: "It is a long time since I wrote;
here is a letter for her." The page replied: "I went to her house the
other day and heard that she had lately gone to Ishiyama Temple."
"Then--it is already late in the day--to-morrow morning you shall go
there." He wrote a letter and the page went to Ishiyama with it.

Her mind was not in the presence of Buddha, but at home in the Royal
City. She was thinking that were she loved by him as at the beginning
there would have been no wandering like that. She was very sad, yet
sadness made her pray to the Buddha with all her heart.

Perceiving that some one approached, she looked down, wondering who it
might be. It was the Prince's page! As she had just been thinking of
the Prince, she hurriedly sent her maid to question him. The letter was
brought and opened with more agitation than usual. It was as follows:

        You seem to be steeped in Buddha's teaching. It would
        have given me pleasure to have been informed of it.
        Surely I am not loved so deeply that I am a hindrance
        to your devotion to Buddha. Only to think of your calm
        makes me jealous.

The poem:

     _Do you feel that my soul wanders after you,_
     _Passing across the Barrier?_
         _O ceaseless longing!_

        When shall you return?

When she was in his neighbourhood he wrote but seldom--gratifying that
he should send a letter so far!

The answer:

     _The way of_ { _meeting_
                  { _Omi_ [14]

     _She was thinking that he had quite forgotten--_
     _Who can it be that is coming across the barrier?_

        You ask when I shall go back--it is as yet uncertain.

   _On the Mount_ { _Nagara_
                  { _while being_
     _My yearning is towards the_ { _Biwa lake_
                                  { _open water_
   { _Uchi de no Hama_
   { _The beach of going out_
     _Does not lie towards_  { _Miyako_
                             { _the royal city._

The Prince read her poems and said to the page: "I am sorry to trouble
you, but please go once more."

His poem:

     _I sought for you in the_ { _Osaka Yama_
                               { _mount of meeting_
     _But though never forgetting you_
     _My way was lost in the trackless valley._

His second poem:

     _Being overwhelmed with sorrow_
     _I wished to remain in retirement_
     _But_ { _Omi no umi_
           { _the lake of meeting_
     _Is beyond_ { _Uchi de no Hama_
                 { _the beach of going out._

She wrote back only poems:

     _Tears which could not be restrained at the barrier_
     _Flow towards the_ { _Omi no umi--_
                        { _lake of meeting_

And on the margin she wrote:

     _Let me try you--_
     _My own heart also,_
     _Come and tempt me towards the royal city._

His Highness had never thought of going so far [to seek her], but he
thought he must go to her as he had received such a letter. He came and
they went back together.

His poem:

     _Infelicitous love! Although entered into the Way of Eternal Law.[15]_
                        _Who was it came_
        _And tempted back to the Royal City?_

The answer:

     _Out of the mountain to the darker path I wander,_
       _Because I met you once more._

Towards the moon-hidden day a devastating wind blew hard. It rained and
she was even sadder than usual, when a letter was brought. She thought
the Prince had not lost a fit occasion to inquire for her, and she
could harbour no hard thoughts of him.

His poem:

     _In sorrow I gaze upon the sky of Autumn_
     _The clouds are in turmoil_
     _And the wind is high._

Her answer:

     _A gentle wind of Autumn makes me sad_
     _O day of storm--_
     _No way to speak of it!_

The Prince thought in this he could read her true feeling, but days
passed before his visit.

It was after the tenth day of the Ninth month. He waked and saw the
morning moon.[16] It seemed a long time since he had seen her. He
felt that she was gazing at this moon, so followed by his page, he
knocked at her gate. The lady was lying awake and meditating, lost in
a melancholy which may have been due to the season. She wondered at
the knock, but knew not who the visitor might be. She waked the maid
lying beside her, who was in a sound sleep; the latter called out for
the manservant. When he went out, waking with difficulty, the knocking
had ceased and the visitor had gone. The guest must have thought her
a dull sleeper and been disheartened. Who was it likely to be? Surely
one of like mind with herself! Her man, who had gone out after much
rousing, and seen no one, complained that it was only her fancy. "Even
at night our mistress is restless--Oh, these unpeaceful persons!" Thus
he grumbled away, but went to sleep again at once.

The lady got up and saw the misty sky. When morning came she jotted
down her thoughts aimlessly, and while doing it received a letter:

     _In the Autumn night_
     _The pale morning moon was setting_
     _When I turned away from the shut door._

He must have thought her a disappointing woman. Yet she was happy to
think that he never failed to associate her with every changing season
and came to her door when he was attracted by the lovely sight of the
sky, so she folded the notes she had just written and sent them to His

The notes:

        Sound of wind; wind blows hard as if it were determined
        to blow away the last leaves on the branch. It grows
        cloudy and threatening, rain patters slightly. I am
        hopelessly desolate.

     _Before the Autumn ends_
     _My sleeves will be all rotted with tears,_
     _The slow rains cannot do more to them._

        I am sad, but no one remarks it; the leaves of trees and
        plants change day by day and so affection in him. In
        anticipation I feel the dreariness of the long winter
        rains; the leaves are pitifully teased by the winds; the
        drops on the leaves which may vanish at any moment--how
        like they are to my own life!

        The sight of the leaves ever reminds me strangely of
        my own sadness. I cannot go within, but lie on the
        veranda; mayhap my end is not far off. I feel a vague
        anger that others are in comfortable sleep and cannot
        sympathize with me. Just now I heard the faint cry of a
        wild goose.[17] Others will not be touched by it, but I
        cannot endure the sound.

     _How many nights, alas!--_
     _Only the calls of the wild geese--_

        Let me not pass the time in this way. I will open the
        shutter and watch the moon declining towards the western
        horizon. It seems distant and serenely transparent.
        There is mist over the earth; together comes the sound
        of the morning bell and the crowing of cocks. There will
        be no moment like this in past or future. I feel that
        the colour of my sleeves is new to me.

     _Another with same thoughts_
     _May be gazing at the pale morning moon_
     _Of the Long-night month--_
     _No sight is more sorrowful._

        Now there comes a knocking at the gate. What does it
        mean? Who passes the night with thoughts like mine?

     _There is one of like mind with me_
     _Musing upon the morning moon._
     _But no way to find him out!_


She had meant to send the last poem only to the Prince, but when she
learned that it was His Highness himself who had come she sent all.

The Prince read and did not feel that his visit had been in vain, if
she also had been awake and sadly dreaming. He wrote promptly and the
letter was presented while she was gazing aimlessly. She opened it
anxiously and read:

First poem:

     _She thinks her own sleeves only are wet_
     _But another's also are rotting._

Second poem:

     _Dew-life soon to vanish away,_
     _Hangs long suspended in forgetfulness of self_
     _On the long-blooming chrysanthemum flower._

Third poem:

     _Sleepless the call of wild geese on the cloud-track_
     _Yet the pain is from your own heart._

Fourth poem:

     _There may be another with thoughts like mine,_
     _Who is gazing toward the sky of the morning moon._

Fifth poem:

     _Although not together_
     _You too were gazing at the moon_
     _Believing that I went this morning to your gate,_

        O that gate hard to be opened!

So her writing had not been uselessly sent!

Towards the moon-hidden day she had another letter. After excusing
himself for his late neglect he wrote:

        I have an awkward thing to ask you. There is a lady with
        whom I have been secretly intimate. She is going away
        to a distant province and I want to send her a poem
        which will touch her heart deeply. Everything you write
        touches me, so please compose a poem for me.

She was unwilling conceitedly to carry out his wishes, but she thought
it too prudish to refuse him, so she wrote with the words: "How can I
satisfy you?"

Her poem:

     _In the tears of regret_
     _Your image will linger long_
     _Even after chilly Autumn has gone by._

        It is painful for me to write a heartfelt letter in your

And on the margin she wrote:

     _Leaving you, where can she go?_
     _For me no other life._

The Prince wrote back:

        Very good poem is all that I can say. I cannot say that
        you have expressed my heart. Forsaking me she wanders

     _So let it be._
     _Let me think of you, the unexcelled one._
     _There is not another._

        Thus I can live on.

It was the Tenth month and more than ten days had passed before the
Prince came to her.

"The inner room is too dark and makes me restless. Let me sit here near
the veranda." He said many heart-touching and tender words. She could
not help being pleased. The moon was hidden and rain came pattering
down; the scene was in harmony with their feeling. Her heart was
disturbed with mingled emotions. The Prince perceived her feeling and
thought: "Why is she so much slandered by others? She is always here
alone sorrowing thus." He pitied her and startled the lady a little
whose head was bowed in distress on her hand by reciting a poem:

     _It is not dripping rain nor morning dew_
     _Yet here lying, strangely wet are the sleeves of the arm-pillow._

She was overwhelmed by feeling and could not speak, but he saw her
tears glistening in the moonlight. He was touched and said: "Why do you
not speak? Have my idle words displeased you?" She replied: "I do not
know why, but I feel that my heart is anguished, though your words are
in my ears. You will see," she went on lightly; "I shall never forget
your poem on the sleeves of the arm-pillow."

Thus the pitiful sad night was passed, and the Prince saw that she had
no other lover. He was sorry to go away from her in the early dawn, and
immediately sent a message: "How are you to-day? Are the tears dry this

Her answer:

     _In the morning they were dry,_
     _For only in a dream_
     _Were the sleeves of the arm-pillow wet._

He read it and smiled at the word "arm-pillow" which she had said she
should never forget.

His poem:

     _You say it was only in a dream_
     _That the sleeves were wet with tears:_
     _Yet I cannot dry them--the sleeves of the arm-pillow._

        I have never experienced so sorrow-sweet an autumnal
        night. Was it the influence of the time?

After that he could not live without seeing her, and visited her
oftener. As he saw her more intimately he saw that she was not a
faithless woman. Her helpless situation touched his heart more and
more, and he became deeply sympathetic with her. Once he said to her:
"Even though you live on thus in solitude, I shall never forget you,
but it would be better to come to my palace. All these slanderous
rumours are due to your living alone. I for my part never met any men
[here]; is it because I come from time to time? Yet others tell me
very improper things about you which should not be heard; it made me
unspeakably sad to turn away from your shut gate. Remembering that
you are living in loneliness I sometimes have made a decision; yet
being old-fashioned in my ways I hesitated to tell you of it because
I anticipated the profound sadness with which you would hear these
rumours; nevertheless, I cannot continue our relations in this way. I
fear that the rumour might become true; then I should not be allowed
to come, and you would become for me like the moon in the Heavenly
way. If you really feel the loneliness you speak of, please come to
me. There are many persons living there [in his palace], yet you will
have no feeling of constraint. As I have been unhappy in my domestic
relations, I do not linger in that desolate region [the house of his
Princess]; but am always alone, performing religious services; I hope
that my loneliness may be lessened by talking with you whose mind is in
sympathy with mine."


Her feeling was opposed to such a thing; she had never told him about
the late Prince. Yet there was no mountain retreat to which she could
fly from World-troubles and her present condition seemed like a
never-ending night. There had been many men who had wanted her; hence
many strange reports were flying about. She could have confidence in no
one but the Prince, so she was much tempted.

She thought: "He has his wife, yet she lives in a detached house, the
nurse does all for him. If I show my affection and take pride in it, I
shall be much blamed; my wish is that he should hide me from the world."

"Though to be visited by you is a rare occurrence, such a time soothes
my heart; there is nothing else. So let anything happen, I will yield
to your every wish. Elsewhere they are saying ugly things about us; if
they see the fact accomplished, how much harder their words will be!"

"Those harsh words will be said about me, not you, at any rate. I will
find you a completely retired house where we can talk tranquilly." He
gave her much hope, and went away in the depths of night--the barred
door [outer strong gate of lattice work] had been left open [for that

She thought within herself, being much troubled: "If I continue to live
alone, I can keep myself respected. If I were forsaken by him in his
palace, I should be laughed at."

After she retired this poem came:

     _I went along the path when night was opening._
     _Sodden were they,_
     _The sleeves of the arm-pillow._

"That idle fancy of the sleeves he has not forgotten." This pleased her.

Her poem:

     _Your sleeves are wet with the dews on the grass of the morning path._
     _The sleeves of my arm-pillow are wet, but not with dew._

The next night the moon was very bright. Here and there people were
gazing at it. The next morning the Prince wanted to send her a poem and
was waiting for the page [to take it]. The lady, too, had noticed the
whiteness of the hoar-frost [and sent this poem]:

     _There was frost on the sleeves of the arm-pillow,_
     _And in the morning,_
     _Lo! A frost-white world!_

The Prince was sorry the lady had got ahead of him. He said to himself:
"The night was passed yearning after the beloved and frost--"

Just then the page presented himself and His Highness said, with some
temper, handing his letter to the page: "Her messenger has already
come; I am beaten. I wish you had come earlier." The page ran to her,
and said: "I had been summoned before your messenger got there. I was
late and he is angry." The lady read the letter:

        The moon last night was very bright,

     _In a frosty morning_
     _I await_
     _With hope unwarranted_
     _One who cannot be expected._

His letter seemed not to have been suggested by hers, and she was
pleased that His Highness had been in the same mood with herself.

Her poem:

     _I did not sleep, gazing at the moon all night_
     _But the dawning of the day_
     _Was in whiteness of hoar-frost._

        You are angry with the page. He is very sorry, and it
        awakes my pity.

     _The morning sun shines on the frost_
     _So, like the sun, your face._

Two or three days passed without a word from him. Her heart was in his
promise which gave her hope, but she could not sleep for anxiety. While
lying awake in bed, she heard a knocking at the gate. It was just dawn.
"What can it be?" she wondered, and sent a servant to inquire. It was
the Prince's letter. It was an unusual hour for it and she wondered
sorrowfully whether the Prince had been conscious of her emotion. She
opened her shutter and read this letter in the moonlight:

     _Do you see that the little night opens_[18]
     _And on the ridge of the mountain, serenely bright,_
     _Shines the moon of a night of Autumn?_

The bridge across the garden pond was clearly seen in the moonlight.
The door was shut, and she thought of the messenger outside the gate
and hastened her answer:.

     _The night opens and I cannot sleep,_
     _Yet I am dreaming dreams,_
     _And, loving them, the moon I do not see._

The Prince thought the answer not invented, and that it would be
amusing to have her near him, to respond to his every fancy. After two
days he came quietly in a palanquin for women. It was the first time
she had shown herself to him in full[19] daylight, but it would be
unfriendly to creep away and hide, so she went to welcome him, creeping
a little nearer to the entrance. He excused himself for the absence of
those days and said: "Make up your mind quickly as to the thing I spoke
of the other day. I am always uneasy in these wanderings, yet more
uneasy when I cannot see you. O troublesome are the ways of this absurd

She replied: "I wish to yield to your mind, whatever it may be, yet
my thoughts are troubled when I anticipate my fate and see myself
neglected by you afterwards."

He said: "Try it, I can come very seldom." And he went away. On the
hedge there was a beautiful mayumi[20] and the Prince, leaning against
the balustrade:

     _Our words are like these leaves,_
     _Ever coloured deeper and deeper--_

And she took it up [completing the 31-syllable poem he had begun]:

     _Although it is only the pearl dew that deepens them._

The Prince was pleased and thought her not without taste.

He seemed very elegant. He was attired as usual, his underdress
exquisite. Her eye was much charmed, and she thought that she was too
frivolous [to be thinking about it].

Next day he wrote:

        Yesterday I was sorry that you were embarrassed, yet the
        more attracted by it.

She answered:

     _The Goddess of Mount Katuragi[21] would have felt so too--_
     _There is no bridge across the way of Kumé._

        I did not know what to do.

The messenger came back with his poem:

     _Were my devotion to be rewarded_
     _How could I stop,_
     _Though bridge were none at Katuragi San._

After that he came oftener, and her tiresome days were lightened.

But her old friends also sent letters and visited her, too, so she
wanted to go to the Prince's palace at once, lest some unlucky thing
should occur; yet her heart was anxious and hesitating.

One day he sent word: "Maple trees of the mountain are very beautiful.
Come! let us go together to see them." She answered, "I shall be glad
to do it." But the appointed day came and his Highness wrote: "To-day
I must confine myself for a religious service." But that night it
stormed, and the leaves were all gone from the trees. She waked and
wrote to the Prince how sorry she was that they could not have gone the
previous day.

His answer:

     _In the Godless month[22] it stormed--_
     _To-day I dream and dream_
     _And wonder if the storm was within my heart._

She returned:

     _Was it a rainstorm? How my sleeves are wet!_
     _I cannot tell--but muse profoundly._

        After the night storm there are no more maple leaves. O
        that we could have gone to the mountain yesterday!

His Highness returned:

        O that we might have gone to see the maple leaves, for
        this morning it is useless to think of it.

And on the margin there was a poem:

     _Though I believe_
     _No maple leaves are hanging on the boughs,_
     _Yet we may go to see_
     _If scattering ones remain._

And she answered:

     _Were the mountains of evergreens to change into red leaves,_
     _Then we would go to see them_
     _With tranquil, tranquil hearts._
     My poem will make you laugh!

The night came and the Prince visited her. As her dwelling was in an
unlucky direction,[23] he came to take her out of it.

"For these forty-five days I shall stop at my cousin's, the
Lieutenant-General of the Third Rank, on account of the unlucky
direction [of my own house]. It is rather embarrassing to take you to
that unfamiliar place." Yet he dared to take her there. The palanquin
was drawn into its shelter [small house built for it]; the Prince got
out and walked away alone, and she felt very lonesome. When all were
asleep he came to take her in and talked about various things. The
guards, who were curious about it, were walking to and fro. Ukon-no-Zo
and the page waited near the Prince. His feeling for her was so intense
at this moment that all the past seemed dull. When day dawned he took
her back to her own home, and hurriedly returned himself to get back
before people woke up.

She could no longer disregard the earnest and condescending wish of His
Highness, and she could no more treat him with indifference. She made
up her mind to go to live with him. She received kind advice against
it, but did not listen. As she had been unhappy, she wanted to yield
herself to good fortune; yet when she thought of the court servitude
she hesitated and said to herself: "It is not my inmost wish. I yearn
for a retired religious life far away from worldly troubles. What
shall I do when I am forsaken by the Prince? People will laugh at my
credulity. Or shall I live on as I am? Then I can associate with my
parents and brothers; moreover, I can look after my child,[24] who
seems now like an encumbrance." Nevertheless, at last she wanted to go,
and she did not write her heart to the Prince, for she thought he would
know everything about her if they should live together. Her old friends
sent letters, yet she did not answer them saying [to herself]: "There
is nothing to write."

A letter from the Prince--in it was written: "I was a fool to believe
in you." His words were few. There was an old poem:

     _You are faithless, yet I will not complain._
     _As the silent sea_
     _Deep is the hate in my heart._

Her heart was broken. There were many extraordinary rumours about her,
yet there were days when she believed that no harm could come of a
false rumour. Some one must have slandered her, suspecting that she
was yielding to the earnest desires of the Prince and going to live at
the palace.

She was sad, but could not write to him. She was ashamed to think of
what the Prince might have heard. The Prince, seeing that she did not
explain herself, wrote to her again:

        Why do you not answer? Now I believe in the rumour. How
        swiftly your heart changes! I heard something I did not
        believe, and wrote to you that you might wipe away such
        unpleasant thoughts from my mind.

These words opened [i.e. lightened] her bosom a little. She wanted to
know what he had heard and suddenly the wish to see him came to her.

        O could you come to me this instant! I hunger to see
        thee, but cannot go because I am buried in slander.

The Prince wrote back:

        You are too afraid of slanders and I read your mind in
        this caution. I am angry about it.

She thought he was teasing her, yet it saddened her, and she replied:

        I cannot help it, please come in any case!

He returned:

        I say to myself, "I will not suspect, I will not
        resent," but my heart does not follow my will.

Her answer:

        Your enmity will never cease. I rely upon you, yet I
        suspect your faithfulness.

In the evening the Prince came. He said: "I wrote to you not believing
the story. If you wish not to have such things said of you, come!"

She replied: "Then take me there!" But when it was dawn His Highness
returned alone. He wrote to her continually, yet he seldom visited her.
Once there was a great storm--the Prince did not inquire for her. She
thought His Highness did not sympathize with her solitude, so wrote to
him in the evening:

     _The season of the withering frost is sad,_
     _The autumnal wind rages_
     _And the sighing of the reed never stops._

The Prince's answer was:

     _The solitary reed which none but me remembers_
     _How it is sighing in the raging wind!_

        I am even ashamed to confess how much my mind is
        completely occupied with you.

She was pleased, indeed. The Prince sent his palanquin, saying that he
was going to the hidden rendezvous to avoid the unlucky direction of
his house. The lady went thither, thinking she would follow every wish
of his. They talked tranquilly for many days and nights, and her unrest
was chased away. She was now not unwilling to live with him, but when
the time for avoiding the unlucky direction was over, she was sent back
to her home. There she thought of him more longingly than ever, and
sent a poem:

     _In this hour of longing_
     _Reflection brings to mind each day gone by_
     _And in each one_
     _Was less of sorrow._

He replied:

     _Sorrows of love were less each yesterday,_
     _But how can those vanished days be caught again?_

        There is no other way but to resolve to come to me.

She was still cautious and could not take things so easily. She passed
many days in musing. By this time the coloured leaves [of Autumn] had
all fallen. The sky was clear and bright. One evening as the sun was
setting she felt very lonely and wrote to him:

     _You art always my consolation,_
     _Yet with the end of day sadness comes._

He replied:

     _All are sad when the day ends,_
     _Yet are you sadder than any--_
     _You who wait?_

        I can sympathize with you and I am coming.

The next morning the frost was very white; he sent to inquire for her,
asking, "How are you feeling now?" She sent a poem:

     _Not in repose was the night passed;_
     _But the frosty morning_
     _Brought its own charm,_

His answer contained many touching words, and a poem:

     _To think alone is [not life]._
     _If you were thinking the same thoughts--_

She answered:

     _You are you and I am I,_
     _Yet between your heart and mine is no separation._
     _Make no such distinctions._

The lady caught cold. Though not serious she suffered. The Prince often
inquired for her and at last she answered, saying:

        A little better. The thread of life thinned down and it
        seemed to be going to break, but now it is dear to me
        because of you. Is it because I am deep in sin?

He wrote back:

     _Gladly do I hear it:_
     _The thread of your life_
     _Cannot easily be broken,_
     _For it is tied together,_
     _With pledges of long-enduring affection._

The end of the year was at hand. The first day of the Frost month
seemed like a day of early spring, but the next morning it snowed. The
Prince sent a poem:

     _Since the god-age it has snowed,_
            _It is a known thing,_
     _Yet that snow seems very fresh this morning!_

She returned an answer:

     _First snow! I see it young every winter,_
     _Yet my face grows old_
     _As Winter comes._

Days were passed in exchanging these nothings. Again his letter:

        I become impatient to see you, and just now wanted to go
        to you, but my friends have met here to compose poems

She wrote:

     _Had you no time to come?_
     _Then I would go to you._
     _O that I knew_ { _an even way of love._
                          { _the art of composing poems._

He was pleased.

        Come to my house. Here is the even way and here's the
        way to see each other.

That night he visited her, and talked touchingly of many things. "Would
you be sad," he said, "if I should desert my house and become a monk?"
He spoke sadly, and she wondered why such a thought had entered his
mind, and whether it could be true or not. Overcome with melancholy
she wept. Outside was tranquil rain and snow: they slept not at all,
but talked together with feeling throughout the night as if the world
were all forgotten. She felt that his affection was deeper than she had
suspected. He seemed to feel everything in her, and could sympathize
with her every emotion. In that case she could accomplish her
determination from the beginning [to go to become a nun]. So she made
up her mind, but said nothing and sat lamenting. He saw her feeling and

     _Lovers' fancy of a moment held us both through the night,_

And she continued:

     _Tears came to their eyes,_
     _And without was the rain._

In the morning he talked of merrier things than usual, and went back.
Though she had no faith in it [i.e. the convent], yet she had been
thinking of it to comfort her solitude. Now her mind was confused,
trying to think how to realize it, and she told her perplexed feeling
to the Prince:

     _On waking I cannot think._
     _I wish that those were only dreams [of which we talked last night]._

And on the margin she wrote:

     _We made our vows so earnestly,_
     _Yet must these vows yield_
     _To the common fate of the changing world._

        I am sorry to think of it.

The Prince read it and made answer:

        I wanted to write to you first--

     _I will not think it real,_
     _Those sad things were only dreams_
     _Dreamed in a night of dreams._

        I wish that you would think so too. You dwell too much
        upon nothing.

     _Only life is fickle:_
     _We know not how it will end._
     _But promises shall endure_
     _As long as the pine-tree at Suminoye._[25]

        O my beloved, I spoke to you of what I did not heartily
        wish. You are too literal. I am sorry for that.

Yet the lady's thought lingered over that sad intention and she
lamented much. Once she was making haste to set out when she received
the Prince's letter:

     _Oh, I longed for it, though I had just seen it_
     _A yamato-nadeshiko[26] growing in the hedge of a mountain-dwelling._

It was painful to her present mind, yet she replied:

     _If you love, come and see,_
     _Even the thousand swift gods will not forbid_
     _Those who follow in the Way._

He smiled over the poem. As he was reading sutras those days he sent
the following poem:

     _The way of meeting is not god-forbidden._
     _But I am on the seat of the Law_
     _And cannot leave it._

Her answer:

     _Then will I go thither to seek you,_
     _Only do you enlarge the seat!_

Once it snowed heavily and he sent her a poem affixed to a branch
covered with snow:

     _Snow falls, and on all the branches_
     _Plum flowers are in bloom,_
     _Though it is not yet spring._

This was unexpected and she wrote back:

     _Thinking that plum flowers were in bloom_
     _I broke the branch,_
     _And snow scattered like the flowers._

The next morning early he sent a poem:

     _These winter nights lovers keep vigil._
     _Lying on one's lonely bed_
       _Day dawns_
     _And the eyelids have not met._

Her answer:

     _Can it be true?_
     _On Winter nights eyes are shut in ice [frozen tears]_
     _And midnight hours are desolate._
     _I wait for dawn, although no joy is in it._

What the Prince had been thinking of he wrote in heart-dwindling words,
saying, "I think I cannot live out my life in this world," so she wrote

     _For me, it is fitting to speak of these things,_
     _For they recall_
     _The romance of past days._

His poem:

     _I would not exist even for a moment_
     _In a world where sorrows_
     _Follow one another like the joints_
     _In the bamboo stalk._

He had been troubling himself to find out a fit place to conceal
her, but he reflected, "She is not used to such a life and would be
embarrassed by it. For my part, I should be much rebuked. It is simpler
to go myself and bring her as my maid."

So on the eighteenth of the Finishing month on a moon-bright night he
visited her. He said in the ordinary way, "Now, please come," and she
thought it for a night only. When she got into the palanquin alone,
"Take an attendant with you. If you are willing we will talk together
tranquilly to-morrow and the day after to-morrow."

He had not spoken in this way before, and she, guessing his intention,
took her maid with her. She was not carried to the same house as
before. The room was beautifully adorned, and he said, "Live here
privately; you may have several attendants." Now she was sure she had
understood him and she thought it fortunate to come thus secretly.
People would be astonished to find she had come here to live before
they were aware. When day dawned she sent her servant to fetch her case
of combs and other things. The Prince left the room, but the shutters
were still closed. It was not frightful, but uncomfortable.


"I wish," said the Prince, "to arrange that you shall live in the North
building. This room is near the Audience Room and has no charm in it"
[i.e. some one might discover her]. So she shut herself up and listened
in secret. In the daytime courtiers of the ex-Emperor [his father] came
to see him. He said: "How is it with you here? Can you stay? I feared
that you would find it disagreeable by my side"; and she answered, "I
feared just the same thing." He laughed and said: "To tell the truth,
take care of yourself while I am away; some impertinent fellows may
come to catch a glimpse of you. In a few days I will have you live
openly in the room where now is my housekeeper [nurse]. The room where
I pass the day has no visitors."

After two or three days she was removed to the North side building.[27]
People were astonished and ran and told the Princess, who said: "Even
without this event, I have not been treated as I ought to have been.
She is of no high birth; it is too much." She was angry because he had
told her nothing. His secrecy displeased her very much, and she was
more inconsolable than ever. The Prince felt sorry for her and tried to
be with her oftener. She said to him: "I am ill with hearing rumours
and have come to hate seeing people. Why have you not told me this
before? I would not have interfered: I cannot bear to be treated like a
woman of no importance. I am ashamed to think that people are laughing
at me." She said it weeping and weeping. He answered: "I brought her
for my maid, and I thought that you would allow it; as you are angry
with me the Lieutenant-General [her brother] hates me also. I brought
her to dress my hair and she shall serve you also." The Princess was
not softened by these words, but she was silenced.

Thus days passed and the lady became used to the court life. She
dressed his hair and served in everything. As he did not allow her to
retire to her private room, the visits of the Princess became more and
more rare. The Princess lamented it infinitely. The year turned back
and on the first day of the Social month all the courtiers came to
perform the ceremony of congratulation before the Emperor. The Prince
was among them. He was younger and fairer than any, and even this made
her ashamed of herself. From the Princess's house her ladies went
out to see the procession, yet they did not care so much to see the
courtiers as to look at her. They were in great disorder looking about;
it was an ugly sight.

After dark when the ceremony was over, His Highness came back and all
the court nobles came with him to amuse themselves. It was very gay and
a contrast to the solitary life of her old home. One day the Prince
heard that even the lowest servants were speaking evil of her. He
thought it was due to the behaviour of his wife, and being displeased
seldom went to the Royal dwelling. She was sorry for the Princess, yet
she did not know what to do. She remained there, thinking that she
would do as she was bid.

The Princess's elder sister was married to the Crown Prince and just
then was living with her parents. She wrote to the younger Princess:
"How are you? I have heard something of what people are saying these
days. Is it true? Even I feel disgraced. Come to us during the night."

The Princess could not console herself when she thought how much people
who make talk about nothing were gossiping. She wrote back to her
sister: "I have received your letter. I had been unhappy in the world
[married life] and now am in a painful situation. For a time I will go
back, and beholding the young Princess will comfort me. Please send
some one to summon me. I cannot go away when I desire, for he will not
permit it." She began to put her affairs in order, taking away those
things which must not be seen by others. She said: "I am going there
for a while, for if I stay here my husband will feel uncomfortable to
come to me. It is painful for both of us." And they said: "People are
talking and laughing about it a good deal. He went out himself to get
her. She is dazzling to the eye; she lives in the court ladies' room
over there. She goes to the Prince's hall three or four times a day. It
is quite right that you should punish him--going away with few words!"

All hated the lady, and he was sorry for her. His Highness suspected
what his wife was going to do, and he found his conjecture
realized when the sons of his brother-in-law came to fetch her. A
lady-in-waiting said to the housekeeper: "The princess has taken
important things with her; she is going away." The housekeeper was in
great anxiety and said to the Prince: "The Princess is going away. What
will the Crown Prince think of it! Go to comfort her."

It was painful to her [the lady] to see these things going on. She was
very sorry and pained, yet, as it was an unfit time to say anything,
she kept silence. She wanted to get away from this disagreeable place,
but thought that also not good. She thought she could never get rid
of her trouble if she stayed. His Highness went towards the Princess,
who met him as if nothing had happened. "Is it true," he said, "that
you are going to your elder sister? Why have you not asked me for the
palanquin?" She answered: "Something has happened. There is something
which demands me and they have sent messengers for me." She said
nothing more. The Princess's words, her letters, and those of her
sister were written roughly, from supposition.


[1] In the writings of the ladies of those days _World_ (yononaka) is
often used as a synonym of love-affair; i.e. their relations with men.

[2] In those days noblemen's houses were surrounded with an embankment,
instead of a wall.

[3] Prince Tametaka, the third Prince of the Emperor Rezrei who reigned
968-969. The Prince died on June 13, 1002. He had been Izumi Shikibu's

[4] Tachibana: a kind of orange.

[5] The cuckoo sings when the tachibana is in flower. In this instance
the "cuckoo" means the young Prince. Thus there is a suggestion here if
he chooses to take it.

[6] The period of mourning was to end on June 13, 1003.

[7] The cuckoo sings with low note in early spring, but when April is
passed his voice grows clear and loud. It is a favourite bird in Japan.

[8] The meaning of the poem is vague. _Ayame_ may mean _Iris
sibirica--rain-stop, darkness_--these are homonyms in Japanese. The
fifth day of the fifth month was a festival day, and people adorned
their houses with _iris sibirica_, so the last line might mean that she
wanted to prepare for the festival. If we take the word _ayame_ in the
meaning of rain-stop, then we can understand the poem as follows: "It
is the wet season now, and it is raining within my heart. To-night I am
going to the temple to pray that the rainy season will be over (and to
chase away the darkness from my soul). After that I wish you to come."

[9] Ukon-no-Zo, an officer in the Bodyguard. He seems to have been an
attendant of the late Prince Tametaka, before he served the present

[10] Prime Minister Fujiwara-no-Michinaga, the most powerful man of the
age. (See the Introduction and the Murasaki Shikibu diary.)

[11] In the Japanese Matsu, _n_.=pine-tree; Matsu, _v_.=to wait. This
poem refers to a famous one:

    _If my heart grows faithless, and beat for another man,_
    _May waves pass over the hill of pines, where I pine for my beloved!_

[12] For the Festival of the stars on the seventh day of the Seventh
month see the notes on pages 23, 24 of the Sarashina Diary. On this
evening it was customary to write letters or pay visits in memory of
the heavenly lovers.

[13] Ishiyama Temple is some five miles to the east of Kioto. To reach
there one must rise over the ascent of Osaka, and the barrier of Seki
at the foot of Mount Seki, where travellers were stopped and examined.
The temple commands a fine view of Lake Biwa, still more distant.

[14] This group of poems have as their base the play upon words of two
meanings, or place-names whose meanings make the necessary suggestive
idea. Omi is the name of the province in which are Ishiyama and Lake
Biwa. Here the word is used as the homophon of meeting. Mount Nagara is
near the Ishiyama Temple. _Nagara_ is the homophon of "while being (on
the mountain)."

[15] Law of Buddha.

[16] The waning moon is called the morning moon because it can be seen
after dawn.

[17] Wild geese visit Japan in Autumn and fly away northwards in the
early spring. They are never alone, and their cries calling to each
other make the solitary woman feel loneliness more keenly.

[18] It is the Japanese way to say _night opens_ instead of _day
dawns._ The word _little_ means nothing but a feeling of endearment.

[19] The Japanese lady in her dwelling where the light was softened by
her window-panes of white silk, or her sudaré, dwelt always in a sort
of twilight probably very becoming to beauty.

[20] Mayumi--_Evonymœus europus_. In Autumn the leaves of the tree
become purple or red, and they are so pretty that people call them
"mountain brocade."

[21] According to an ancient fable, En-no-Shokaku, a great magician who
could command even gods, once summoned gods of many mountains to make a
stone bridge at Kumé on Mount Katuragi in the Province of Yamato. The
goddess of Mount Katuragi was very shy, and, working only at night,
never showed herself before others. The magician grew angry with her,
and punished her by unveiling her. That was the cause of the failure in
the work. (The inmost soul hides itself and works in the dark. If you
try to bring it into clear consciousness, you will fail in your work.)

[22] The Godless month--the Tenth month; so called because in that
month all the gods left their abodes and went to the High Plain of
Heaven to hold counsel together.

[23] In those days they believed in lucky and unlucky directions. Those
who went in an unlucky direction might have some unfortunate incidents.
This belief still holds in the country life of the people. The writer
was once deprived of a good servant who wanted to come to her, but
could not because her house was in an "unlucky direction!"

[24] In 997 she had Koshikibu-no-Naishi (she was also a poetess and
court lady). Her husband was Tachibana Michisada, to whom she was
married before she knew Prince Tanetaka.

[25] The pine-tree at Suminoye is famous for its age.

[26] Yamato-nadeshiko--Japanese pink; the homonym means the caressed
girl of Yamato.

[27] See plan of palace or nobleman's house.




The year was divided according to a Lunar Calendar, which was one month
or so in advance of the present Solar Calendar.


    First month; Social month; Spring-birth month.
    Second month; Clothes-again-doubled month; Little-grass-growing month.
    Third month; Ever-growing month; Flowery month; Dreaming month.
    Fourth month; Deutzia month; First Summer month.
    Fifth month; Rice-sprout month; Tachibana month.
    Sixth month; Watery month (rice-fields filled with water).
    Seventh month; Rice-ear month; Literary month (people composed poems on
        the star festival).
    Eighth month; Rice-ear-swelling month; Mid-autumn.
    Ninth month; Chrysanthemum month; Long-night month.
    Tenth month; Gods-absent month; Thunderless month; Little Spring.
    Eleventh month; Frost month.
    Twelfth month; Last month; Spring-waiting month.



     974. Izumi Shikibu, the daughter of Masamune, Governor
          of the Province of Echizen, born.
     977. Prince Tametaka (future lover of Izumi Shikibu) born.
     978. Prince Atsumichi (future lover of Izumi Shikibu) born.
          Murasaki Shikibu, daughter of Fujiwara Tametoki, born.
     980. Prince Yasuhito (afterwards the Mikado Ichijo) born.
     988. Akiko, Michinaga's first daughter, born.
     990. Sadako, daughter of Michinaga's eldest brother Michitaka,
          comes to the Court, and later becomes Queen to Mikado Ichijo.
     991. Sei-Shōnagon comes to Court as one of Queen Sadako's ladies.
     994. Prince Atsumichi comes of age and marries the third
          daughter of Michitaka.
     995. Izumi Shikibu marries Tachibana Michisada.
          Prince Atsumichi divorces his first wife.
     996. Prince Atsumichi marries again.
     997. Murasaki Shikibu goes to Echizen with her father who
          has been made Governor of the Province.
          Akiko joins the Court.
          Izumi Shikibu's first daughter born.
     998. Murasaki Shikibu returns to Kiōto.
     999. Murasaki Shikibu marries Fujiwara Nobutaka.
    1000. Akiko made second queen.
          Murasaki Shikibu's daughter born.
    1001. Pestilence.
          Murasaki Shikibu's husband dies.
          Conflagration of the Palace.
    1002. Murasaki Shikibu probably began the writing of the
          "Genji Monogatari."
          Sei-Shōnagon probably began the "Makura-no-Sōshi."
          In June, Prince Tametaka (Izumi Shikibu's lover; her
          husband, from whom she was divorced, had died earlier)
          Izumi Shikibu begins a liaison with Prince Atsumichi.
    1003. Izumi Shikibu goes to live at the South Palace.
    1004. Izumi Shikibu leaves Prince Atsumichi's palace, and
          marries Fujiwara Yasumasa.
    1005. Murasaki Shikibu joins the Court.
          Conflagration of the Palace.
          Izumi Shikibu goes to the Province of Tango, her husband
          having been appointed Governor.
    1007. Akiko (second queen) gives birth to Prince Atsusada.
          Murasaki Shikibu begins to keep her diary.
    1008. Izumi Shikibu returns to become lady-in-waiting at the Court.
    1009. Fujiwara Takasué's daughter (author of Sarashina Diary) born.
    1017. Fujiwara Takasué appointed Province Governor, goes to
          his province with his daughter.
    1021. Takasué's daughter returns to Kiōto. Sarashina Diary begun.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan - The Sarashina Diary, The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu, The - Diary of Izumi Shikibu" ***

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