Characters in the Tale of Genji (源氏物語の登場人物)

The list of characters in the Tale of Genji is the list of fictional characters appearing in the story.

This list is basically in order of appearance, but some characters are categorized by family relationships.

The main characters

Hikaru Genji: The second prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. His mother was Kiritsubo no Koi.

Hikaru Genji's parents

Emperor Kiritsubo: Hikaru Genji's father. He bestowed favor upon Kiritsubo no Koi despite her rank being low. Although for a time he thought of making Genji, as something to remember his mother by, the Crown Prince, after considering his son's future, he reduced him in status to a commoner.

Kiritsubo no Koi: Hikaru Genji's mother. She was the daughter of the late Azechi no Dainagon. Although she stood in high favor with Emperor Kiritsubo, she died due to sickness when Genji was three years old.

Hikaru Genji's brothers

Emperor Suzaku: The first prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. His mother was Lady Kokiden. He is Hikaru Genji's older paternal half-brother.

Hotaru Hyobukyo no Miya: Emperor Kiritsubo's son and crowned prince. He is the younger brother of Hikaru Genji. Fujitsubo's older brother is a different person. (His rank is Sochi no Miya (the Viceroy Prince) at the beginning and Hyobukyo no MIYA (His Highness of War) after 'Otome' (The Maidens), and he is called by this name because he is a main character in 'Hotaru' (The Fireflies)). He is a man of refined taste, and has an especially good knowledge of incense. He and Genji were on good terms with each other, and their relations continued even when many people cut their relations with Genji just before he left the capital for Suma. He falls in love with Tamakazura, Hikaru Genji's adopted daughter.

Uji Hachi no Miya (the Eighth Prince): He appears in the ten chapters of Uji jujo (the Ten Books of Uji). He is the eighth prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. Uji Hachi no Miya became involved in the plot to dethrone Emperor Reizei during the years when he was crown prince, and later retreated into seclusion in Uji.
He devoted himself to Buddhism and was called 'the saint who is still in this world.'
He became close with Kaoru who also despaired of the world, and indirectly asked Kaoru to become his daughter's husband.

Hikaru Genji's wives and ladies

Empress Fujitsubo: The fourth imperial princess of the former emperor. She is Emperor Kiritsubo's empress. She looks exactly like Kiritsubo no Koi.

Lady Aoi: Hikaru Genji's first lawful wife. She died young after giving birth to Yugiri.

Lady Murasaki: She is also called Wakamurasaki. Genji favored her the most among his wives and ladies after the death of Lady Aoi, although she was not his lawful wife. She lives in the spring quarter in the Rokujo-in estate with Hikaru Genji.

Lady Akashi: Hikaru Genji's lover and Lady Akashi's (later Empress Akashi) biological mother. She is the mistress of the winter quarter in the Rokujo-in estate.

Hanachirusato: The mistress of the summer quarter in the Rokujo-in estate. She is Yugiri's and Tamakazura's foster mother.

Onna San no Miya (the Third Princess, also called Nyo San no Miya): The third princess of Suzakuin (the name of Emperor Suzaku after his abdication). She was the second lawful wife of Hikaru Genji. She is also Kaoru's mother.

Utsusemi: The second wife of Iyo no suke (assistant governor of Iyo Province).

Nokiba no Ogi: Utsusemi's daughter-in-law. In a room with no light, Genji mistook her for Utsusemi and had an affair with her.

Yugao: To no Chujo's lover and the mother of Tamakazura.

Suetsumuhana: The princess of Prince Hitachi. She is an unattractive woman. Her name, Suetsumuhana, means safflower.

Gen no Naishinosuke: An elder court lady who is in service of Emperor Kiritsubo. Her husband is Suri no kami (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs).

Oborozukiyo: The sixth daughter of the Udaijin (Minister of the Right). She is the younger sister of Lady Kokiden, and Emperor Suzaku's Naishi no kami (Principal Handmaid).

Asagao (also called Princess Asagao and Asagao, the high priestess of Kamo): The daughter of Prince Momozono, and the high priestess of Kamo. She received a marriage proposal from Genji, but she never accepted it.

Rokujo no Miyasudokoro: The consort of the former Crown Prince. Although she was a cultivated and elegant lady, she becomes a vengeful spirit and curses Genji's wives and ladies due to both love and resentment for Genji. She is the mother of Empress Akikonomu.

Hikaru Genji's children

Emperor Reizei: The tenth prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. In truth, however, he was the son of Hikaru Genji born by Empress Fujitsubo.

Yugiri: The first son of Hikaru Genji. His mother was Lady Aoi.
(Actually, the eldest son was Emperor Reizei, Yugiri was the second son.)

Young Lady Akashi (also called Empress Akashi and Lady Akashi): The eldest daughter of Hikaru Genji. Her mother was Lady Akashi. She became the adopted daughter of Lady Murasaki. She was the mother of Niou no Miya.

Kaoru (also called Kaoru no Kimi): Officially he is the second son of Hikaru Genji, but in fact he was the son of Kashiwagi born by Onna San no Miya.

The House of the Sadaijin (Minister of the Left)

This is the family Genji entered into by marrying one of their daughters. The Fujiwara clan. There is a vehement power struggle within the Udaijin's family, who are of the same Fujiwara clan. Being Genji's guardian, his political stance during the reign of Emperor Kiritsubo was close to Genji's. Their relationship continued even after the death of Lady Aoi, when Genji requested that he look after Yugiri. Despite To no Chujo being the head of the family, he was always in competition with Genji for power and always failed to take it from him. Furthermore, when the story reaches the "ten chapters of Uji jujo" (the Ten Books of Uji), Kobai is the head of the family and Yugiri has become the Sadaijin.

While the lineage between Genji and Emperor Reizei as a father and son is implied to be skill in pictures and painting, the Fujiwara clan regards music as their specialty. However, Yugiri has a deeper knowledge and skill in music, which might be because he has a stronger relationship with the House of the Sadaijin.

To no Chujo: The son of the Sadaijin and Omiya. He is lady Aoi's older maternal half-brother. Later he served as the Minister of the Palace and the Grand Minister.

The Sadaijin (also called Hidari no Otodo): The father of Lady Aoi and To no Chujo. He is Genji's father-in-law. The head of the House of the Sadaijin of the Fujiwara clan. He has close relations with Emperor Kiritsubo and Genji both in public and private. He was also Genji's guardian when Genji was young. When Emperor Reizei ascended to the throne, he was appointed as the Grand Minister (at the age of 63, in 'Miotsukushi' (Channel Buoys)) at the request of Genji. He died at the age of 66. ('Usugumo' (Wisps of Cloud)).

Omiya: Emperor Kiritsubo's sister and the lawful wife of the Sadaijin. She was the mother of Lady Aoi and To no Chujo.

The fourth daughter of the Udaijin: The younger sister of Grand Empress Kokiden, and older sister of Oborozukiyo. She was To no Chujo's lawful wife. She was estranged from her husband in her youth. She is the mother of Kashiwagi, Kobai and Empress Kokiden.

Kashiwagi: The eldest son of To no Chujo (Minister of the Palace). He and his cousin Yugiri are good friends. He fell in love with Onna San no Miya, Genji's second lawful wife.

Kobai: The second son of To no Chujo (Minister of the Palace), and Kashiwagi's younger brother. His mother is the fourth daughter of the Udaijin.

Kokiden no nyogo (Empress Kokiden): The daughter of To no Chujo (Minister of the Palace). Emperor Suzaku's mother (Grand Empress Kokiden) is her aunt. She was Emperor Reizei's first consort. She was close to the emperor in age and had been in his favor. However, she could not match Empress Akikonomu, who was under the guardianship of Genji, and was not able to win the status of empress.

Kumoi no Kari: The daughter of To no Chujo (Minister of the Palace). She was Yugiri's lawful wife. Her mother came from the royal family, but became estranged from her husband and later married Azechi no Dainagon.

Tamakazura: The daughter of To no Chujo (Minister of the Palace) and Yugao. Genji adopted her as his daughter.

Omi no Kimi (the Omi Daughter): An illegitimate daughter of To no Chujo (Minister of the Palace). Before he knew that Tamakazura was his own daughter, he envied having such a daughter, and wondered if he too might have a daughter somewhere, so he had someone look for her. Although she resembles her father and looks charming and friendly, she is not educated enough due to her upbringing and is an extremely fast-speaker. She became a laughingstock to the people around her. Her father treated her coldly and made her be a court lady for Empress Kokiden. She desired to be a Naishi no Kami (Principal Handmaid) and even did toilet cleaning. However, this had the opposite effect and caused her brothers to be unkind to her. Her position in the story is 'an object of ridicule' similar to Gen no Naishinosuke. She is fond of backgammon.

Lady Gosechi: A lady-in-waiting for Lady Omi. Similar to Omi, there is something flippant about her, and the author describes them as being merry while playing backgammon. She behaves as if she and Omi were friends. She is different from Koremitsu's daughter, Lady Gosechi (as mentioned below).

Genji's political opponents

Kokiden no nyogo (Lady Kokiden): Emperor Kiritsubo's wife and Emperor Suzaku's mother (later called Grand Empress Kokiden). Kiritsubo no Koi stole Emperor Kiritsubo's favor from Kokiden. Because of this, Kokiden feels hatred for Kiritsubo, Genji, whom she left behind, and Empress Fujitsubo. When Genji's secret affair with Oborozukiyo was laid bare, she took it as an opportunity to try to exile Genji, who withdrew to Suma. However, she was ultimately unable to make Genji lose his political position, and died a disappointed person.

The Udaijin: The Fujiwara clan. He is the father of Lady Kokiden, Oborozukiyo and others. At one time he intended to take Genji into his family as Oborozukiyo's husband.

Hyobukyo no Miya: Empress Fujitsubo's brother. He is Lady Murasaki's father.

Kita no kata (wife): Hyobukyo no Miya's lawful wife. She has strong hostile feelings towards her stepdaughter, Lady Murasaki. She had a strong influence on Hyobukyo no Miya, which became a factor in his becoming estranged from his daughter, and later, became the cause of his being opposed to Genji.

Genji's retainers

FUJIWARA no Koremitsu: Hikaru Genji's foster brother. In Genji's youth, he appeared frequently as an attendant on Genji's evening strolls and accompanied him even when he withdrew to Suma. However, as his own rank grew higher and he entered manhood, he appeared significantly less often. He served as the governor of Settsu Province (at the time of 'Otome') and later rose in rank to Councilor. He is one of the few characters whose real name is clear, in addition to MINAMOTO no Yoshikiyo, who is mentioned later.

Lady Gosechi, To no Naishinosuke: Koremitsu's best and favorite daughter. Koremitsu dotes on her so much that even her brothers can seldom see her. By Genji's order, Koremitsu reluctantly complied with her entering service at the court. She is Yugiri's consort. She had four children by him.

MINAMOTO no Yoshikiyo: Hikaru Genji's retainer. He is a Shonagon (lesser councilor of state). He is the son of a zuryo (provincial governor). He accompanied Genji during his withdrawal to Suma. In the past, he had proposed marriage to Lady Akashi but was refused by her father Priest Akashi. As well as the aforementioned Koremitsu, he is one of the few characters whose real name is clear.

Jo no Kurodo: A person who lost his official rank in 'Suma' due to his being on good terms with Genji. When Genji withdrew to Suma, he requested to accompany him.

Tayu no Myobu: Genji's foster sister. Her parents were divorced, and her mother went to Chikuzen after her second marriage. She is a woman who has been in love several times. She had a connection with the late Prince Hitachi's family, and introduced Genji to the princess there (Suetsumuhana).

The daughter of the old emperor's private secretary: Young lady Akashi's wet nurse. Her father was Kunaikyo (Minister of the Sovereign's Household) and councilor. She had also been in the service of Emperor Kiritsubo. She is a pretty young woman. Due to her loneliness after losing her parents, she accepted Genji's offer and went to Akashi.

Nakatsukasa, Chujo: Ladies-in-waiting. They are Genji's lovers. After the events regarding 'Suma,' they became Lady Murasaki's ladies-in-waiting.

Dainaiki (Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Central Affairs): Yugiri's teacher of academics. Due to his eccentric nature he had not been promoted, however, as he was academically talented, Genji took him into his service.


Empress Akikonomu (also addressed as the high priestess of Ise and Lady Plum Pavilion): Her father was the former Crown Prince and the younger brother of Emperor Kiritsubo. Her mother was Rokujo no Miyasudokoro. She entered Emperor Reizei's court as Hikaru Genji's adopted daughter, and was selected as empress. She is the mistress of the autumn quarter in the Rokujo-in estate.

Lady Reikeiden: Hanachirusato's older sister. She is one of the consorts of Emperor Kiritsubo.

O no Myobu: Empress Fujitsubo's aide. Because she knew of Genji's love for Fujitsubo, she could not but help him.

Characters around Lady Murasaki

The Nun: Lady Murasaki's grandmother. She was the wife of the late Azechi (inspector of the provincial government) Dainagon (a chief councilor of the state). She became a Buddhist nun after the death of her husband.

The Prelate: The Nun's older brother.

Shonagon: Lady Murasaki's wet nurse. When Lady Murasaki was taken away by Genji, Shonagon was also brought to the Nijo-in mansion as her caretaker.

O no Nyogo: The daughter of Hyobukyo no MIYA. She became one of the consorts of Emperor Reizei. She is Lady Murasaki's younger paternal half-sister.

Characters around Lady Akashi

Priest Akashi: Lady Akashi's father. He is Kiritsubo no Koi's cousin.

The Akashi Nun: Lady Akashi's mother. Her grandfather was Prince Nakatsukasa.

Characters around Tamakazura

Ukon: Yugao's lady-in-waiting. She served Genji after Yugao died. She met Tamakazura again when she made a pilgrimage to the Kannon of Hatsuse.

Tayu no Gen: A person of influence in Chikushi. He is rough and uncultured. Ignoring a false rumor that 'she had something abnormal in her body,' he proposed marriage to Tamakazura. Tamakazura's aversion to him triggered her return to the capital.

Higekuro, the Commander of the Right: Uncle of the emperor regnant. He is called Higekuro due to his thick beard and dark face ("hige" meaning beard and "kuro" meaning dark). He is a character of deeply sincere and straightforward honesty, but considered a person with defects as a noble of the Heian period, namely being unable to treat his several wives equally. He had been married to the daughter of Hyobukyo no MIYA for years and had been enduring her mental illness. However, he was captivated by Tamakazura at first glance and, through a coercive relationship, took her as his wife.

Higekuro's wife: Hyobukyo no MIYA's daughter. She is Lady Murasaki's paternal half sister. She is 'a woman possessed by an evil spirit' and sometimes suffers seizures. After Higekuro married Tamakazura, she returned to her family's home with Makibashira.

Makibashira: The daughter of Higekuro. She grew up at the house of her grandfather, Hyobukyo no MIYA. She married Hotaru Hyobukyo no Miya and had a daughter, unfortunately they did not get along. After the death of Hotaru Hyobukyo no Miya, she married Dainagon (chief councilor of state) Kobai, and formed a good relationship with him during this second marriage.

Characters around Ochiba no Miya

Ochiba no Miya: The second princess of Suzakuin. She is Kashiwagi's lawful wife. She became Yugiri's wife after the death of Kashiwagi.

Miyasudokoro: Suzakuin's koi (lower class consort). She is the mother of Ochiba no Miya. She mistakenly believed that Yugiri seduced Ochiba, and died due to an illness she had long suffered from compounded by sheer anguish due to this misbelief, leaving behind a poem of resentment.

Ajari (a master in esoteric Buddhism; a high priest): A Buddhist priest who prays for Miyasudokoro. He told Miyasudokoro that Yugiri had been visiting Ochiba no Miya.

Characters around Onna San no Miya

Kojiju: The foster sister of Suzakuin's third princess (Onna San no Miya). She is Kashiwagi's maid. In response to the pleadings of Kashiwagi, she guided him to see Onna San no Miya.

People who appear in the ten chapters of Uji jujo (the Ten Books of Uji)

Kaoru (also called Kaoru no Kimi): Officially he is the second son of Hikaru Genji, but in fact, he is the son of Kashiwagi and Onna San no Miya.

Niou no Miya (Prince Niou): The third prince of the emperor regnant. His mother is Empress Akashi.

Oigimi (in Uji): The eldest daughter of the Eighth Prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. Although she was Kaoru's lover, she continued to turn down his marriage proposals to the very end. She was of delicate health and died young.

Naka no Kimi (in Uji): The second daughter of the Eighth Prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. Later she became the wife of Niou no Miya.

Ukifune: The illegitimate daughter of the Eighth Prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. She is another of Kaoru's lover. She was also asked for her hand by Niou no Miya later, and after much anguish, she attempted to drown herself.

Ben: The lady-in-waiting who serves princesses of the Eighth Prince. She is introduced as the daughter of Kashiwagi's wet nurse, and Kojiju, Suzakuin's Third Princess, is her cousin. She revealed the secrets concerning the circumstances of Kaoru's birth to him, and tried to act as an intermediary between him and Oigimi. After the death of Oigimi, she became a Buddhist nun. After Naka no Kimi went to the capital, Ben took charge of her residence in Uji during the absence of her mistress. In addition, she told Kaoru, who had been seeking out a woman as a substitute for Oigimi, about Ukifune's lineage and whereabouts.

The emperor regnant (also called the Crown Prince): The Crown Prince of Emperor Reizei. He is the first prince of Suzakuin. He chose Hikaru Genji's eldest daughter, Empress Akashi, as his empress.

Onna Ni no Miya (the Second Princess): The princess of the emperor regnant. Her mother was Lady Fujitsubo. She is Kaoru's lawful wife.

Roku no Kimi (the Sixth Daughter): The sixth daughter of Yugiri. Her mother was To no Naishinosuke, and she became an adopted daughter of Ochiba no Miya. Although she receives a marriage proposal from Kaoru, she becomes Niou no Miya's lawful wife.

To no Chujo: The eldest son of the Minister of the Left Yugiri. On an excursion to view the autumn leaves in Uji, he kept an eye on Niou no Miya by the order of Empress Akashi.

Chujo no Kimi: Ukifune's mother. She was in the service of the Eighth Prince of Emperor Kiritsubo, and she is his wife's niece. She became the Eighth Prince's lover temporarily after the death of his wife, but was treated coldly because she became pregnant with Ukifune and left his side. Oigimi and Naka no Kimi were her cousins.

Hitachi no suke (assistant governor of Hitachi Province): The husband of Chujo no Kimi. He had many children with his wife. However, he usually assumed a cold attitude toward Ukifune because his wife always paid more attention to her.

Kogimi: The daughter of Hitachi no suke and Chujo no Kimi. After Ukifune's disappearance, she served Kaoru to console him.

Sakon, a certain guards lieutenant: Ukifune's fiancé. He had been seeking Hitachi no suke's support. After he learned that Ukifune was not the biological daughter of Hitachi no suke, he broke off his engagement with her and made another engagement with Hitachi no suke's biological daughter.

Yokawa no Sozu (the Prelate of Yokawa): He saved Ukifune's life when she jumped into a body of water in an attempt to drown. Later, he helped Ukifune become a Buddhist nun in response to her request. He is a priest of such virtue that he was summoned to the Imperial Court.

[Original Japanese]