Gen no Naishinosuke (源典侍)

Gen no Naishinosuke is a nickname for a character in "The Tale of Genji." She appears in the tale as a high-ranking court lady who is lustful, though she is old.

Her circumstances

She first appears in the chapter of 'Momiji no ga' (The Autumn Excursion) as Naishi no suke (assistant director of the Naishidokoro [a place where the sacred mirror is enshrined], equivalent to Jushiinoge [Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade]) in Emperor Kiritsubo's Imperial court. As her family name of MINAMOTO (Gen) suggests, her ancestors were related to the Imperial family. She was good at playing the biwa (Japanese lute), and a perfect court lady in regards to her hobby, education, social standing among her family, competence, and so on, however, she was known for her lustfulness despite her age.


She entered the Imperial court as a court lady while she was still young, and came to earn the Emperor's trust.

When Hikaru Genji and Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain) tried approaching her, she would pretend to be interested in them as if she were a young lady, which would quickly disinterest them. Despite the Emperor making fun of her about it, she spread a rumor about her relationship with Genji, and even after she was interrupted by Tono Chujo, who tried to expose her secret meeting with Genji, without learning her lesson, she continued to approach Genji and in doing so acted disgracefully.

She seems to have lived to a great age, reappearing in the chapter of 'Asagao' (The Morning Glory), and it is known that she became a nun to be a disciple of Onna Gonomiya, an aunt of Asagao no Saiin (Priestess of Morning Glory); she was about 70 around this time.
Genji lamented unreasonably that 'good people die young, but those who are not have a long life.'

Personal Profile

She was a woman filled with talent, sexiness, and vitality. She seems to have been sought after very much when she was young, but she made two young noblemen disinterested due to her words and deeds being inappropriate for her age. The most famous episode of this is when she walked around with a deep red fan designed for young people, on which a meaningful poem ('The weeds growing under the trees are getting old, ---') was written. In the tale, she is regarded as 'a clown' as is Omi no Kimi.

She is said to be an unsuitable character in the otherwise graceful love story, but some say that she may be modeled after the old woman in the tale of 'Tsukumo' in "Ise Monogatari" (The Tales of Ise), toward whom a young nobleman was often sympathetic. Considering that Hikaru Genji's living in seclusion at Suma reflects ARIWARA no Narihira's traveling from Kyoto to the eastern provinces, this opinion seems to be reliable. Also, there is a theory that she was modeled after a real person, MINAMOTO no Akiko, an older sister-in-law of the author, Murasaki Shikibu.

In addition, in the comic book of "Asakiyumemishi "(The Tale of Genji seen in a Shallow Dream), Gen no Naishinosuke twisted Genji and Tono Chujo around her finger together with Suri no kami, her lover, but this is a setting only used in the comic book.

[Original Japanese]