Hikaru Genji (光源氏)
Hikaru Genji is a main character in "Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji), written by Murasaki Shikibu.
He appears from the first chapter, 'Kiritsubo' (The Paulownia Court) to the fortieth chapter, 'Maboroshi' (The Wizard), among the 54 chapters of "Genji Monogatari,"
Hikaru Genji' is a nickname that means 'A beautiful and shining Genji,' hence his actual name is not 'Hikaru' (shining).
He is a fictitious character, but there are various theories proposing that he was modeled after an actual person. The most likely theory is that Hikaru Genji was modeled after Shoichii (Senior First Rank) Kawara no Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) MINAMOTO no Toru of the Saga-Genji (Minamoto clan). Other people who were considered possible models for Hikaru Genji were Sadaijin MINAMOTO no Takaakira of Daigo-Genji (Minamoto clan), Emperor Koko, FUJIWARA no Michinaga, FUJIWARA no Korechika, MINAMOTO no Hikaru (a court noble), Emperor Saga and so on. Even if the character was modeled after a real person, other stories concerning court nobles during the Heian period seem to have been added.
Brief Personal History
He was the second prince of Emperor Kiritsubo. His mother was Kiritsubo no Koi (a court lady of lower status). Being blessed with shining beauty and talent as a child, he was given the nickname 'Hikaru Kimi' (literally, shining prince). His mother passed away when he was three. His deep feelings towards Fujitsubo, who resembles his mother, becomes his first love, and he holds sexual relationships with various women throughout his life as he searches for a woman with his mother's features. His father, Emperor Kiritsubo, had intended to make Hikaru Kimi the Crown Prince but instead demotes him to the status of a subject and gives him the family name of Genji because he fears the fact that his son would not be supported by his mother's family, and because a Korean predicted that the country will be in a state of disorder if Hikaru Kimi became emperor.
His feelings for Fujitsubo, who enters the kokyu (Empress's residence) of his father because she looks like his lost mother, became stronger and he has a sexual relationship with her (resulting in Emperor Reizei), but no one knows of their illicit affair. Hikaru Genji acts as regent to his child from his Crown Prince years, and when the child becomes Emperor Reizei and plans to abdicate the throne to Genji after learning the facts, Genji strongly refuses. Later though, he is given the title of Jun Daijo tenno (quasi ex-emperor), which exceeds the rank highest rank that a subject can attain. Subsequently, he comes to be called Rokujoin, after the name of his residence.
His legal wife was Aoi no ue, a daughter of Sadaijin (the Minister of the Left), whom he marries upon coming of age; and later, Onna San no Miya, a daughter of his older brother, Emperor Suzaku, becomes his legal wife. However, Murasaki no ue (also called Wakamurasaki or Murasaki no Kimi), whom Genji brought up to become his ideal woman, is his legal wife in all but name, and he loves her the most among his many women. Other concubines or lovers of Genji are Rokujo no Miyasudokoro, Utsusemi, Yugao, Suetsumuhana, Oborozukiyo, Hanachirusato, Akashi no Onkata, and so on. He also showed interest in his cousin, Asagao, and Empress Akikonomu, who was the former Saigu (Imperial Princess appointed to serve the deities of Ise-jingu Shrine) and the daughter of Rokujo no Miyasudokoro.
According to sukuyo (astrology), it was predicted that 'there would be three children: one will be an Emperor, one will be an Empress, and even the inferior one in the middle will be Dajo Daijin (Grand Minister of State)' (in the chapter of 'Miotsukushi' (Channel Buoys)), and the prediction comes true since his three children were: Emperor Reizei, the son with Fujitsubo; Yugiri, the eldest son with Aoi no ue; and Princess Akashi, the daughter with Akashi no Onkata. However, Emperor Reizei's birth was a secret, and Onna San no Miya's child was officially recognized as his second son, Kaoru (because of the prediction, Genji doesn't believe Onna San no Miya is pregnant at first, but it makes sense later when he learns of her affair with Kashiwagi). He adopts Empress Akikonomu, a daughter of the late Rokujo no Miyasudokoro, and Tamakazura, a daughter between Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain) and Yugao as his daughters.
After his older brother Emperor Suzaku ascends the throne, he goes into voluntary seclusion at Suma, and then at Akashi, under pressure from the Udaijin (Minister of the Right) and Kokiden no nyogo (Empress Kokiden) group, who were maternal relatives of the emperor and due to the scandal about his relationship with Oborozukiyo, who had become Naishi no Kami (Principal Handmaid). This is the time when he has a relationship with Akashi no Onkata, and as a result, the daughter who becomes Empress Akashi is born. After he returns to the capital, he makes a comeback as a guardian of Emperor Reizei, adopting Empress Akikonomu as his daughter and making her Emperor Reizei's wife. Subsequently, Genji becomes Dajo Daijin and builds the grand residence of Rokujoin consisting of four sections, which symbolizes his prosperity. The southwest quarter, or the Autumn Quarter (former residence of Rokujo Miyasudokoro) was assigned to Empress Akikonomu as her home, and he lived in the southeast quarter, or the Spring Quarter, together with Murasaki no ue and Princess Akashi. The northeast quarter, or the Summer Quarter, was assigned to Hanachirusato (later, Tamakazura was taken in here), and the northwest quarter, or the Winter Quarter, was assigned to Akashi no kimi, and he also took care of his former lovers at Nijo no Toin..
When he reaches 40 years of age, Emperor Reizei treats him as Jun Daijo tenno. When his older brother Suzakuin became a priest, he asked Genji, who was at the height of his glory, if he could be the guardian of Suzakuin's daughter and Genji's niece, Onna San no Miya, and take her as his legal wifebecause he did not have a noble wife with powerful guardians who was suitable as hihs legal wife. Even after the passing of Fujitsubo, it was hard for Genji to stop loving her, and he was swayed by the fact that Onna San no Miya was a niece of Fujitsubo as was Murasaki no ue, so he could not refuse the offer. However, after he marries Onna San no Miya, he was disappointed to find that she was just a childish girl, and Murasaki no ue was also shocked by Onna San no Miya's marriage out of the royal family that she eventually becomes ill due to stress. A shadow is beginning to fall over the glory of Rokujoin.
After a while, Onna San no Miya's affair becomes apparent, just like Genji, who once betrayed his father Emperor Kiritsubo. Although Genji's anger builds up against Onna San no Miya and her lover Kashiwagi, he sees a newborn baby (Kaoru) and realizes that it is the fruit of the sin that he committed in his youth (karmic retribution). Subsequently, his anger cools after Onna San no Miya becomes a nun and Kashiwagi passes away, and he considers that his deceased father might also have known of Genji's sin but did not blame him, so he makes up his mind to raise the child as his own without telling anybody the secret.
After the death of his beloved Murasaki no ue, he retires to Sagano, leads a priest's life for a few years and then passes away, as told later in the chapter of 'Yadorigi' (The Ivy). The work contains no description regarding the time from his becoming a priest to his death, and the chapter of 'Kumogakure' (Vanished into the Clouds), which is suggestive of the death of Genji, but some say that the text was lost.
The characteristics of a person who has worldly prosperity but always thinking of the Buddhist path despite his innumerable love affairs, are divided and inherited by the characters of the next generation, Kaoru and Nioumiya. It also influenced Sagoromo no Taisho, the main character of "Sagoromo Monogatari (The Tale of Sagoromo)," which was written shortly after "Genji Monogatari."