Fujitsubo (藤壺)

Fujitsubo is the name created for a fictional empress who appears in the story and whose real name is unknown. Originally, fujitsubo is another name for Higyosha, which is one of the shichiden gosha (literally, seven palaces and five houses) of the kokyu (empress's residence) of the dairi (Imperial Palace). Figuratively, it was used as the name of the empress who was allowed to live in Higyosha. Known examples in addition to three fujitsubo who appear in "Genji Monogatari" (Tale of Genji) is Atemiya in "Utsubo Monogatari" (Tale of the Hollow Tree).

Chugu (second consort) of the Emperor Kiritsubo, and the mother of the Emperor Reizei. Described below.

Nyogo of the Emperor Suzaku, and the mother of Onna Sannomiya
Younger sister with different mother of the Chugu of the Emperor Kiritsubo.

Nyogo of the present Emperor (Genji Monogatari), and the mother of Onna Ninomiya
Fujitsubo is a fictional character who appears in a novel written by Murasaki Shikibu, "Genji Monogatari." There are three ladies who are called Fujitsubo in the story. In order to avoid confusion, she is also called Fujitsubo no Miya or Fujitsubo Chugu. She is Hikaru Genji's first love.

Onna Shinomiya (fourth imperial princess) of the previous emperor and the empress. She had an elder brother with the same mother, Hyobukyo no Miya (later becomes Shikibukyo no Miya, father of Murasaki no Ue) and a younger sister with a different mother, Genji Nyogo (empress of the Emperor Suzaku, mother of Onna Sannomiya; also called Fujitsubo).

She was a beautiful lady and exactly like Kiritsubo no Koi (lower class court lady). The Emperor Kiritsubo, who was overwhelmed with grief after the death of Kiritsubo no Koi, heard of her and eagerly requested her and she entered court at the age of fourteen. The Emperor Kiritsubo dearly loved Fujitsubo and his most beloved son Genji like an actual mother and a child, partly because of their beauty. Fujitsubo was called 'kagayakuhinomiya' (literally, lady of the shining sun) to Genji's 'Hikarukimi' (literally, shining boy)('Kiritsubo').

Genji, who was only 5 years younger, was taught that Fujitsubo looked exactly like his dead mother and became attached to her, continued to yearn for her and gradually came to love her as his ideal lady. Then, when Fujitsubo took temporary leave from court because of her illness, she had an affair with Genji and Fujitsubo gave birth to a boy (later, Emperor Reizei, crown prince to Emperor SUZAKU) who looked exactly like Genii. Emperor Kiritsubo, who did not know about the affair, was delighted and doted on the imperial prince born from noble Fujitsubo as his 'flawless gem,' but Fujitsubo had mixed feelings. She became chugu ('Momiji no Ga '- The Autumn Excursion) in autumn of the same year.

The era changed from Emperor Kiritsubo to Emperor Suzaku and after the death of the Retired Emperor Kiritsubo, the power of Kokiden Nyogo (mother of the Emperor Suzaku) increased day by day. The decline of the power of Genji and sadaijin (Minister of the left) was significant and Fujitsubo, who did not have an influential guardian, decided to become a priestess in order to protect the crown prince after being annoyed by further courtship from Genji ('Sakaki').

She exhibited her political capability as the empress dowager (kokumo (mother of the Emperor)) equivalent to the position of Daijo Tenno (the retired Emperor) after the crown prince celebrated his coming of age and became the emperor such as to help the former saigu (later, Akikonomu chugu) enter the court of Emperor Reizei. At the critical age of thirty-seven years old, she fell seriously ill, and died while thanking Genji for his guardianship of Emperor Reizei. Since she died in the volume of 'Usugumo' (Wisps of Cloud), she was called 'Usugumo no Nyoin' after taking vows by the readers of later eras (Fujitsubo is never called 'nyogo' and 'nyoin' in the book and the opinions of researchers on Fujitsubo's position are divided).

She resented it and appeared in Genji's dream when Genji carelessly told Murasaki no Ue about Fujitsubo after her death, ('Asagao (Genji Monogatari)'). Genji found Murasaki no Ue because she was the niece of Fujitsubo and had her good looks ('Wakamurasaki'). Later, when the Emperor Suzakuin proposed the marriage of Onna Sannomiya to Genji, he accepted it because she was the niece of Fujitsubo same as Murasaki no Ue (first volume of 'Wakana' (Genji Monogatari)). Throughout Genji's life, Fujitsubo was his eternal love who continued to deeply influence the basis of his relationships with women.

[Original Japanese]