Akashi no himegimi (明石の姫君)

Akashi no himegimi (literally, princess of Akashi) is a character in "Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji), a novel written by Murasaki Shikibu. As no particular name was given to her, she was referred to by various titles as she grew, such as "Akashi no nyogo" (a high-ranking lady in the court (a consort of an emperor)), "Akashi no chugu" (the second consort of an emperor) and so on, however, she was never referred to with a name prefixed by "Akashi no" in the novel. She appears from the volume 'Miotsukushi' (literally, channel buoys) to the volume 'Tenarai' (literally, writing practice) among 54 quires.

She was the only daughter of Hikaru Genji and Akashi no okata. According to the dream her grandfather, Akashi no nyudo, had, she was promised her destiny to become a kokumo (mother of the emperor) in the future. Because she was born from a mother of low birth, Genji took her in and gave her high-level education to become an empress as an adopted daughter of his de facto legitimate wife, Murasaki no ue. Although Akashi no himegimi knew that Murasaki no ue was not her real mother, she was still a very affectionate adoptive mother and brought up Akashi no himegimi to be a beautiful young woman.

After her mogi (coming-of-age ceremony for girls), Akashi no himegimi entered into court through marriage as the crown princess (in Kiritsubo's palace). At that time, there was nobody who could compete with Genji's power and other nobles hesitated to have their daughters enter the palace as consorts because they had little chance of winning. In this regard, this is written in contrast with the case of Genji's real mother, Kiritsubo no koi (low class court lady).

After being referred to as Nyogo (or Kiritsubo no okata, miyasudokoro and so on), she stood highest in the favor of the crown prince and became pregnant (at the age of thirteen years old by the old Japanese system). Because the child was a boy (the first imperial prince), Akashi no nyudo's wish was fulfilled and he resigned from the world and began living on a mountain. Having read Nyudo's letter after giving birth, nyogo deeply recognized the sacrifice and affection of her grandfather and real mother for the first time and later grew to be a considerate lady. When the Crown Prince ascended the throne, the first prince became the crown prince (Wakana (New Herbs), Part Two) and she became a chugu in the volume 'Minori' (The Rites). When Murasaki no ue passed away, she attended her deathbed.

Similar to her paternal half-brother, Yugiri, she was blessed with many children and gave birth to four sons and a daughter with the emperor. In Uji jujo (The Ten Quires of Uji), she loved the third prince, Nioumiya, tenderly together with the emperor, but she worried about his freewheeling behavior. At first, she was against the love between Nioumiya and Uji no nakagimi, but, when they gave birth to a son, she held ubuyashinai (a party to celebrate the birth of a baby) to celebrate it. She worried about the affair with Ukifune and, when she learned that Ukifune was alive, she informed Kaoru while keeping it secret from Nioumiya.

[Original Japanese]