Forced Affection -Rape as the First Act of Romance in Heian Japan (an essay)

While readers of Japanese literature from the Heian and Kamakura periods often find it difficult to determine when a sexual encounter has actually taken place, there are certain textual indicators that writers can use to make it plain that something carnal has, in fact, occurred. Writers may speak of the night as “dreamlike,” or describe the woman as “pliant” or “vulnerable,” and the use of these latter two terms hints at the fact that the encounter may have been more coercive than consensual. Some encounters are written to indicate so much forcefulness that they seem to the Western reader to be nothing less than rape. It is these forced encounters that I propose to examine in this paper.

Sexual relationships in Heian and Kamakura court literature (most notably in Monogatari) may often begin with a contact that can only be compared to rape, but the strictures of the court society force the woman to accept the conquest and even treat it as a matter-of-fact incident, often having to go so far as to respond to what may be an unwanted “morning-after letter” using her own wit and charm to indicate whether she is willing to continue the affair. Few relationships thus begun end in hostility, however, as many of them end up being long-term liaisons and often produce a child.

There are primarily three types of these forced sexual encounters: (1) one-night stands, prompted by simple lust for the woman or desire for a woman — any woman — and the object of the encounter happens to be available; (2) sexual initiations of the woman, occasionally planned well in advance; and (3) a period of unrequited, unacknowledged, or even secret love, ending as the man acts out his desires on the object of his affections.

These three categories can also be met with for the non-forced encounter, of course. In non-coercive sexual activity, I add a fourth category: (4) when both are already in love and their first sexual intercourse is a natural progression of their relationship. In such an instance, the lack of a forceful partner is perfectly reasonable. As this essay is not concerned with overtly non-coercive encounters, I will not discuss this fourth category.

Texts Used

In this essay, I will look at a sampling of several coerced sexual encounters. The texts I will use for this paper are Genji Monogatari, Torikaebaya Monogatari, Towazugatari, and Masu Kagami. A complete examination of this theme in Genji — a treasure trove of sexual couplings coerced and otherwise — is beyond the scope of this essay, so I use it more for reference.

The Genji Monogatari is perhaps the best-known Japanese book in existence. It was written by Murasaki Shikibu likely over a period of a decade or more, from her arrival at court sometime after 1001 as a lady-in-waiting to empress Akiko, until her death in c. 1015. This makes Lady Murasaki a contemporary of the famous acid-tongued (or rather, acid-brushed) Sei Shônagon, who was a lady-in-waiting for a rival imperial consort, the empress Teishi. It chronicles the rise, fall, and restoration of the eponymous Genji, the “shining prince,” and his family. Studies of the novel have become a cottage industry, making it one of the most analyzed and written-about books in the history of world literature. Genji is still being mined for topics, and there seems to be no end in sight.

There are at present two readily accessible translations in English and several partial translations. The older is the work of Arthur Waley, which over the years has come to be poorly regarded in academic circles for his lack of attention to the original text in his paraphrase and his elimination of an entire chapter and sections of others. The best known and more successful translation is by Edward Seidensticker, which, although containing all 54 chapters, is still shorter than Waley’s. Seidensticker’s is typically regarded as the “definitive” English translation so far, although Royall Tyler late of Canberra University in Australia has just finished a new translation of Genji which is scheduled for a November 2001 release, and should become the new definitive translation. (ed. This essay was written in 1999, before the Royall Tyler version was released.)

The Torikaebaya Monogatari is an anonymous work of the eleventh century, a revision of an earlier story that is now sadly lost. The book tells the tale of two half-siblings, a brother and sister, who are alike in their role-reversal; the male sibling has perfect female traits and interests, and the female sibling has perfect male traits and interests. They are raised as their apparent sexes dictate rather than their natural genders; that is, they switch places — the boy is raised as the daughter, and vice-versa. Eventually after both achieve considerabe success in their “alternate” lives, they switch places and return to their “natural role” in the world.

There is one English translation by Rosette F. Willig which bears the unfortunate title of The Changelings. Willig’s translation is sadly uninspired, and some critics say she owes as much to the Japanese editor’s footnotes for “textual material” as the original book itself. What makes the book particularly interesting, though, is that Willig, in departure from the otherwise common Japanese ambiguity of pronouns, consistently refers to the daughter as “he” (when in male persona) and the son as “she” (when in female persona). It is a most interesting concept.

Towazugatari has been translated into English by Karen Brazell as The Confessions of Lady Nijô. The writer, known variously as “Lady Nijô”, “Nakanoin no Masatada no musume” (“the daughter of Nakanoin no Masatada”), or “Go-Fukakusa-In Nijô,” composed this autobiography in 1307 – 1313. Lady Nijô was a concubine of the retired emperor Go-Fukakusa, hence her last listed epithet. In Towazugatari, she tells of her long association with the court and her many lovers — both willingly taken and not — and her career in retirement as a nun.

The Masu Kagami is a history of the Imperial court from the reigns of Go-Toba (r. 1183 – 1198, d. 1239) to Kameyama (r. 1259 – 1274, d. 1305). It was compiled around 1375. In the fashion of several earlier historical writings, the narrator, a superannuated nun, tells the tales to her enrapt listeners. An excellent translation was recently completed by George W. Perkins and titled The Clear Mirror.

The One-Night Stand

The one event in Genji that I will present in detail is the quintessential one-night-stand, coercive intercourse scene. In the eighth chapter (“Hana no en”), the amorous Shining Prince is on the prowl after the emperor’s “Cherry Blossom Feast” and is frustrated at finding no one available to bed. In this scene, he anonymously forces himself on a random young woman. In Genji literature she is given the name Oborozukiyo due to a poem she recites. Unbeknownst to Genji, the woman is trouble. Not only is she the sister of Empress Kokiden, Genji’s greatest enemy at court, she is also betrothed to Prince Suzaku, Genji’s step-brother and the man who is destined to be the next emperor. By committing this act, Genji will have now slept with the wife of one emperor and the fiancée of an emperor-to-be. In the set-up to the encounter, Genji, finding doors locked to him, mutters “This will never do!” As G. G. Rowley points out, “If he cannot sleep with Fujitsubo, he must find someone to sleep with”. Walking through the corridors, Genji at last espies the form of a young woman. As Rowley translates the encounter:

Utterly delighted, he immediately grasped her sleeve. The woman, who appeared to feel frightened, said “Oh, horrors. Who is this?” “What’s there to be upset about?” he said. . . . He gently embraced her, lowered her, and shut the door. The sight of her, aghast with terror, was very fetching and pretty. Trembling, she said, “Come here, someone,” but he said, “I am permitted what I please by everyone; so even if you summon someone, what is to come of it? Now just be quiet. ” At the sound of his voice, she determined that it was he, and took some small comfort in that.

This passage, especially the use of the phrase “the sight of her, aghast with terror, was very fetching and pretty” certainly must strike the unsuspecting Western reader with distaste for Genji’s manner and morality. We would expect him — if he truly cared about people — to have pity on her, to refrain from his actions. Followed with his bold claim that whatever he wants to do he is allowed so she should “just be quiet,” Genji loses his “shining” appeal in modern eyes. But in the terms of Heian morality, is Genji in the wrong? Of course not, for his actions are his actions, and as the author Lady Muraski herself tells us, Genji is “not a man to do anything improper.”

Acting Out on Unrequited Love

In a society in which peeping between blinds or screens on supposedly unsuspecting women had been elevated to a near art form, it should come as no surprise that men frequently became enamored of women they had not even met socially. In fact, they might not even ever socially meet, as even in close quarters women usually carried on conversations from behind curtains of state. The sequence in the Uji chapters of Genji, in which Genji’s son Kaoru peeks in on the daughters of the Eighth Prince and falls for them, is a classic case in point.

The Masu Kagami gives us a few examples of love-from-afar turned into coercive intercourse. During the reign of Emperor Kameyama, a certain middle captain — Arifusa by name — was enamoured of the princess Rinshi. He had loved her for a long time, but the difference in their stations kept them apart. The princess was the daughter of a retired emperor, while at the time he was only a guards middle captain holding the junior fourth court rank. Finally, the middle captain found his chance one night as he chatted with the princess through her blinds late into the evening.

When dawn approached, the princess drew her curtain stand close and lay down to sleep, only to find a man lying at his ease next to her. It was like a dream. As she stared at him, he burst into passionate speech.

“I have loved you for years. Over and over, I’ve told myself that it wouldn’t do — that you are far too high-born for me — but I can’t stand it any longer. I just want to ease the pain a little.” It was the middle captain; he had not left.

The princess began to cry, outraged and dismayed. Her nearness and vulnerability made it still more impossible for him to control his feelings, and he bent her to his will, even though he pitied her and regretted the suddenness of his actions. She wept without restraint, her mind obsessed with the hateful karma that had reduced her to this helpless state, this boundless misery; and she seemed to him more appealing than ever.

Bells rang out and the cocks crowed, summoning sleepers from their fleeting dreams, but the middle captain, tortured by self-inflicted anxiety, could not bring himself to leave. . . .

The princess saw nothing to admire in the appearance of the man who seemed so loathe to bid her farewell.

After their night together, the middle captain kept sending her letters, and although “the princess found them distasteful and unpleasant,” she seems to have tolerated it, as “the middle captain . . . visited the princess night after night. ” It was yet another instance of a successful romance beginning with a forced encounter.

It is interesting to note that on that first night, as her struggles were their most vehement and her despair deepest, Arifusa was most attracted to her. Compare this to the shining prince’s attitude when Oborozukiyo responds in a frightened manner at his assault on her.

Retired emperor Go-Fukakusa (r. 1246 – 1259, d. 1304), a well-known libertine, found himself enamoured of Princess Gaishi, the Ise virgin and his own half-sister. Note 16 One night in 1274, Go-Fukakusa decided that, half-sister or not, he had to have her. The princess was visiting the retired emperor in the capital. The first encounter is recorded in the Masu Kagami.

His Majesty approached the princess in the dim realm between dream and reality. The princess was upset, but not to the point of hysteria. Innocent and pliant, she was an appealing figure. At length, roosters crowed time after time, and the retired emperor began to fidget. Solicitous of the princess’s reputation despite his reluctance to leave her, he disappeared into the darkness before dawn. . . .

The retired emperor sent her a message with a poem, but she pleaded illness and refused to receive it. Go-Fukakusa’s actions of the night before didn’t engender hostility on her part, though, as the Masu Kagami relates that she received him again that night with only slightly less reticence. That night, after an evening banquet with drinking, music, and general merriment, Go-Fukakusa feigned sleep, waiting for the rest of the merry-makers to go to bed. Knowing that the princess was planning on returning home the next day,

[t]he retired emperor, consumed by a desire to spend this one last night with her . . . stole toward her room, timing his movements to coincide with sounds elsewhere. She did not exactly yield to his blandishments, but seemed gentle and pliant, with a placid manner that he found sweet and appealing, even though he was conscious of feeling less ardor than when he had yearned from afar. . . . The retired emperor was by no means ready to leave, and the princess herself seemed grieved when the hour of parting arrived.

The text tells us that for various reasons, not the least due to the distance between Ise and the capital, for the retired emperor it would have been “awkward to visit her,” so Go-Fukakusa never met her again for an assignation, and that as a result “the princess existed in a state of unrelieved gloom.”Note Her gloom was not so unrelieved, however, that she was unable to take a few additional lovers and bear at least one child with one of them before her death in the second month of 1284.

This event is also briefly related by Lady Nijô in Towazugatari, although Nijô, who indicates she was an ear-witness, gives it a different spin. Nijô has accompanied Go-Fukakusa to the princess’s room, and feigns sleep to allow events to follow their expected course. “I was not far from the curtains surrounding the high priestess’s bed,” she writes. “It was a pity, I thought, that she required so little persuasion. How much more interesting it would have been if she had held out till dawn.” Nijô indicates that she believes that Go-Fukakusa did not go back the second night, but she and the others had gone to bed after the retired emperor seemed to have, so on this event the Masu Kagami may be more accurate. Of the encounter, the Emperor tells Nijô on their way back to his room after the first night that, “The cherry blossom is beautiful to behold, but too easily broken.”

What are we to make of the different stories? If Nijô, as a witness, is telling the truth, we can only assume that the author of the Masu Kagami account is altering the flavor of the account to fit the sensibilities of his audience, sensibilities which expect the woman to put up a fight, but not too much of one. Perhaps, in Nijô’s mind, that is exactly what happened; the princess’s struggle had not been as “enthusiastic” as it should have been.

In Torikaebaya Monogatari, the most striking scene of sexual conquest long in the planning must be when the emperor, having lusted for years after the heroine Naishi-no-kami, who is functioning in the palace as the companion to one of the imperial princesses, and not realizing that “she” had in fact been the male sibling in his cross-dressing phase, finally makes his move. The emperor has been patient long enough, for court women with the title Naishi were generally considered imperial playthings and available for the taking at any time, and this emperor has kept his hands off for too long.

Fortunately for him, the siblings have recently traded places back to normal, so that Chûnagon (as the cross-dressing daughter was known by “his” male rank) is now a really a male and Naishi-no-kami is now really a female. The emperor catches up with Naishi-no-kami and grabs her, and she begins to struggle, he speaks:

“My dear, don’t think that way. What will be will be. If only you felt the same [as I], it is certain that nothing bad would happen to you.” There is no way I can reproduce it so you can hear the manner in which he cried as he said this. . . . She was still minded not to surrender, but she didn’t want to appear cold. There was nothing she could do about the violation. It was embarrassing, painful. She considered just raising her voice, but had she done so, even under the eyes of others he would not refrain from this rash act. Even if someone heard and — suspecting something — came in, given the Emperor’s calm demeanor there was nothing that they would be able to do. The emperor looked at her closer, finding her yet more splendid up close than she had seemed from a distance. He felt that being separated from her for but half an hour was inconceivable, and wanted to be with her ever more, even in the afternoons. But what’s this? Something was wrong, it had already happened! His heart fell, and his thoughts that he would die to have her became diluted. . . .

Of course, his appearance and passion didn’t indicate he thought something wrong had happened, nor that he suspected her. Still, it was obvious, and there was nothing she could do. She was ashamed, and she felt her tears flow as one with her perspiration.

The emperor finds her not to be a virgin. This was the result of an earlier tussle with another court functionary, Saishô, who was her closest confidant when she had been Chûnagon and dressed as a male. During a playful wrestling match, Saishô, upon finding that his friend of several years was in fact a woman, does the only thing he can think of — he rapes her.

Chûnagon stood. What must Saishô have been thinking? He had the feeling that he couldn’t leave. “My dear!” he said, suddenly grasping Chûnagon violently.

“What is this? Have you lost your mind?” Chûnagon cried, but Saishô wasn’t listening. Chûnagon, in appearance certainly a healthy man, was behaving in a standoffish manner, but when grasped by Saishô there was nothing he could do. His heart weak, weeping tears, he sobbed, “What is this?”

Saishô’s thoughts of the others combined into one peculiar sensation, but that was something to be considered at a more appropriate time. He had seen it all, and there was nothing of Chûnagon’s secret left. Thinking upon this, Saishô wondered — had anything ever moved his heart so much! The turmoil in his heart saddened him. Seeing that he couldn’t understand, Chûnagon wondered what Saishô was thinking. He was in pain. It was because he had continued to live in the world that the unpleasantness of his situation had been discovered. His tears were unquenching — an unmatched, beautiful and emotion-inspiring thing.

Saisô, too, wept. “Now I can’t bear for us to be apart for even half an hour! What must I do?” Although the dawn began to break, there was no indication that he was going to leave. . . . Time and again pledging his bond, Saishô left. Chûnagon was left with the sensation that it had all been a dream.

As Saishô finally tears himself away, Chûnagon, left alone to think upon all that has transpired, sees it to have been “like a dream.” Chûnagon, breakfasting with his father (the Minister of the Left) is surprised to receive a morning-after letter from Saishô, who, despite the odd circumstances, can only do as he was brought up and follow all the Heian courting traditions.

The two begin an extremely clandestine affair, and in due time Chûnagon turns out to be pregnant. Saishô spirits “him” off to a remote location where “he” can have the baby in secrecy; no one else yet knows Chûnagon’s secret. At length, Chûnagon realizes that “he” must exchange places with Naishi-no-Kami, so the child is abandoned and the two switch places, with Saishô too dense to ever to realize what has happened. It is at this point, or somewhat after it, that the emperor forces himself on Naishi-no-Kami, the erstwhile Chûnagon, which incident thus becomes her second forced sexual encounter.

Sexual Initiations

One of the most famous scenes of sexual initiation in Japanese literature is when Prince Genji, distraught over the death of his principle wife Aoi, enters the chamber of his young ward, Murasaki, and after some peremptory wedding rituals Murasaki is unaware of, forces himself upon her, taking her virginity and — in a very real sense — her innocence. Murasaki has no idea that this is going to happen, and that she is in fact a yukari for another woman from Genji’s past. That makes the scene all the more stunning and memorable. Their relationship of course changes, and although Murasaki is with Genji until she dies, something of the trust has been taken away never to be returned.

In Towazugatari, we have the opportunity to read a first-person account of a woman undergoing what is obviously an unwanted and unexpected sexual initiation. In this genre, this is a near-unique situation. Nowhere else do we get an opportunity to get into the mind of the woman who is being forced into a sexual relationship against her will. The girl, Lady Nijô, describes herself as fourteen at the time, which given the vagaries of the Buddhist system of counting ages, makes her twelve or thirteen. The affair had been arranged by her own family, yet another development that surely would shock the sensibilities of the Western reader unfamiliar with the operation of Heian society.

I suddenly awakened to find the lights dim, the curtains lowered, and inside the sliding door, right beside me, a man who had made himself comfortable and had fallen fast asleep.

“What is this?” I cried. No sooner did I get up to leave that His Majesty wakened. Without rising, he began to tell me how he had loved me ever since I was a child, how he had been waiting for me until I was fourteen, and so many other things that I have not words enough to record them all. But I was not listening, I could only weep until even his sleeves were dampened with my tears as he tried to comfort me. He did not attempt to force me, but he said, “You have been indifferent to me for so long that I thought on this occasion, perhaps… How can you continue to be so cold, especially now that everyone knows about this?” . . .

The night passed without my offering even a single word of response. . . . He tried both scolding and comforting me, but I refused to answer. “Oh, what’s the use?”Note he said at last; then he got up, put on his robe, and ordered his carriage.

Nijô’s family and servants think at first the evening had been a success, as she, distraught, refuses to get up and they mistakenly assume for a moment it is discomfort (for she is young, after all) after her first night with a man. When the truth is made known, she is instructed that under no circumstances should she refuse this night, for Go-Fukakusa was coming back.

I was informed that His Majesty had arrived. Before I had time to ponder what might happen at this meeting, he pushed open the door and entered my room with an air of intimacy. “I understand you’re ill. What’s the trouble?” he inquired. Feeling not the least inclination to reply, I lay motionless where I was. He lay down beside me and began to talk of what was uppermost in his heart, but I was so dazed that I could only worry about what would happen next. . . . Tonight, when Go-Fukakusa could not elicit a single word of reply from me, he treated me so mercilessly that my thin gowns were badly ripped. By the time I had nothing more to lose, I despised my own existence. I faced the dawn with dread.

Despite her feelings, as the retired emperor dresses to leave, Nijô has to admit that she is suddenly more attracted to him than she had been before. She is taken back to the palace where she is installed as one of his concubines. Go-Fukakusa is not one to be jealous, however, and he frequently “loans her out” to friends and relatives. In one scene he indicates a barely negative response to what may have been intended as a possible ménage à trois with the two of them and his brother, the emperor Kameyama, as suggested by the latter. Sometimes Nijô is willing to have the encounters take place, but more than once she is forced into it by the man.

Morning-After Displeasure

The “distaste” with men so smitten that they fail to perform the socially-accepted manly duty of leaving at dawn seems to be a common theme. The problem of men not leaving in a prompt and decorous manner was clearly a social faux pas. Taking too long or rushing too quickly — either could be fatal to the man’s standing as far as the woman was concerned. (In fact, Sei Shônagon wrote about men leaving in an indecorous manner as one of her “hateful things.”)

This distaste on the part of the woman is recorded in non-coerced encounters as well, so it can’t be considered totally a result of the sexual encounter being a non-consensual one. Nevertheless, this must be explored as an element of these encounters.

While men who are so sensitive that they weep at the drop of a fan are accepted and even respected in Heian literature, it appears that men who deeply love and express possessive or unseemly strong attachments with their women are objects of scorn by these same women, even as they continue to receive their attentions. It seems like a paradox, but this attitude may be driven by the woman’s position vis-à-vis Heian society.

In this society, women — often even wives — live at the homes of their parents while their lovers visit them in overtly clandestine assignations. To maintain the shallow fiction that they are not being bedded, the man must leave at dawn. Note 30 If he does not, the illusion of the illusion is shattered, and her reputation may be besmirched, while his reputation becomes that of a weak-willed individual who cannot conform to social norms.

The fervent affections of the middle captain with Princess Naishi is one example of this; although she found his frequent communications distasteful (although this may in part be based on the gulf between their social positions) and his unwillingness to leave her that first day was “nothing to admire,” she maintained the relationship he had so forcefully begun, and even bore him a child at a discreet house into which he had moved her for that purpose.

Why Feelings of Guilt?

During the act of conquest, with the prospective bed partner fighting back, perhaps pleading, perhaps in tears, many men are — according to the writers, at any rate — smitten with feelings of guilt. This is not enough for them to stop, but it is interesting that they seem to feel the emotion. The problem, of course, is that many of these texts are written by women, so we don’t really know the emotions the men are feeling. Are the references to feelings of guilt in histories — written by men — merely repetition, then, of a socially accepted literary tradition, or is it, in fact, a true emotion? It is impossible to say.

This brings up the question: Are they in fact doing what they are expected to do if they feel guilty about it? If it is what they are supposed to do — just part of the game, the give-and-take of the [possible start of a] Heian relationship — why would they feel guilt? This is the Heian dance.

The answer is something that modern Western readers would have difficulty discerning.

Could the Woman Refuse?

Lady Nijô, at her deflowering by the retired emperor Go-Fukakusa, was able to actually put intercourse off a night by maintaining her shocked and hurt demeanor, but the second night she had no choice — the emperor would do as he wished. Should she have refused the first night at all? She had been expected to. All court women, it seems, were expected to put up a struggle unless there was some pre-arranged understanding in place. “No means no” was not a Heian concept. The appeal of the woman in distress is born out in the account of the middle captain and Princess Naishi from Masu Kagami. As she struggles and cries more, the middle captain finds his interest increasing and her appeal growing stronger. Emperor Go-Fukakusa is reported to have been displeased with several women when they acquiesced too willingly, that they had not responded properly by making it more of a challenge.

As must be clear, refusal is not an option. Given such an environment, one must ask: how many of the women forced to have sexual intercourse with men they barely knew — or did not know at all — were “playing the game?” One must also ask, then, what of the ones who were sincerely struggling, as had been Naishi-no-Kami and Nijô? These women, considering that their conquerors were emperors, had no choice, regardless of their feelings. And what about Oborozukiyo? Well, as Genji stated, whatever he wished was allowed him.

Surely women who were taken by men of less exalted rank responded in the only way they could; namely, by discouraging the continuation of a relationship, by refusing the morning-after letters, or by sending letters and poems in response which were less than receptive or not even responding at all. If, however, the amorous court dandy chose to pursue the affair, what, then, could she do? Obviously, little or nothing, and we have seen that even differences in their social positions offers her no escape.

It must be observed that this concept is not strictly a Japanese phenomenon. Western romance literature is rife with heroes who must with brawn overcome women who, while perhaps desiring contact, are unwilling for it to occur. Rhett Butler slaps the face of Scarlett O’Hara before picking her up and carrying her — apparently against her will — upstairs to bed. James Bond bests Pussy Galore in a judo tussle and forces an embrace, into which she promptly melts. The masculine hero overcomes a woman’s protestations or disinterest by forcing his attentions, and she dutifully succumbs into his arms. How different is this from the Heian convention of rape as sexual play? And do we perceive it as the same thing? Does the woman’s acquiescence to the hero’s manliness lessen the force of his actions?

Given that, in Japanese literature at least, the actions of the men would seem to represent the cultural norms and nothing less than what is expected of them, how can we — or should we even try to — judge them?


The Changelings (Torikaebaya). Translated by Rosette F. Willig. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1983.

The Clear Mirror: A Chronicle of the Japanese Court During the Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333). Translated by George W. Perkins. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Morris, Ivan. The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan. 1994 edition. New York City: Kodansha International, 1964

Murasaki Shikibu. Genji Monogatari, 6 vols. Edited by Abe Akio et al. Nihon koten bungaku zenshû, vols. 5 – 11. Tokyo: Shôgakkan, 1994.

________. The Tale of Genji. Translated by Edward Seidensticker. Everyman’s Library, 1976. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992.

Nijô, Lady [“Nakanoin Masatada no musume”]. The Confessions of Lady Nijô. Translated by Karen Brazell. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1973.

________. Towazugatari. Edited by Fukuda Hideichi. Shinchô Nihon koten shûsei, vol. 204. Tokyo: Shinchô sha, 1978.

Rowley, G. G. “Textual Malfeasance in Yosano Akiko’s Shin’yaku Genji Monogatari.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 58:1 (June, 1998), pp. 201 – 219.

Sei Shônagon. The Pillowbook of Sei Shônagon. Translated by Ivan Morris, 1974 ed. London: Penguin Books, 1967.

Tyler, Royall. “The Erotic Pastimes of Murasaki Shikibu,” in East Asian History 12 (December, 1996), pp. 65 – 78.

Torikaebaya Monogatari. In Tsutsumi Chûnagon Monogatari / Torikaebaya Monogatari. Eds. Imai Gen’e et al. Kansho Nihon koten bungaku, vol 12. Tokyo: Kadokawa shoten, 1988.

Written by a fellow Japanese Historian, Anthony Bryant who unfortunately passed away last year. By posting this essay I hope to keep his work alive for other Japanese history enthusiasts.


  1. Fantastic essay~! Thanks for posting. 🙂 It’s one thing I definitely saw in Genji while I was reading it for college. And most other stories in the era.


  2. Reblogged this on KateLore and commented:
    As a fan of Anthony Bryant, I have been influenced by his insights. This essay is rich in detail and texture.


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