Imakagami (The Mirror of the Present) (今鏡)

"Imakagami" is a historical tale. Ten volumes in total. It was completed in the last stage of the Heian period. According to the preface of "Imakagami," it was completed in 1170, in the era of the Emperor Takakura, but some say that it was completed later. The prevailing view is that FUJIWARA no Tametsune (Jakucho) was the author. Other than that, there are those who name Tadachika NAKAYAMA or MINAMOTO no Michichika. "Imakagami" is also called "Shoku Yotsugi" or "Kokagami." "Shoku Yotsugi" means that it is the continuation of "Okagami," and "Kokagami" means that it is a present history. It is also called "Tsukumogami no Monogatari" (literally, tale of old lady's gray hair).

From the viewpoint of the order of completion of the so-called Shikyo (the four historical narratives of the late Heian and early Kamakura periods with the word "mirror" in the title), it is in the second. In terms of content, it is an extension of "Okagami" and treats the third oldest age. There is a thirteen-year gap between "Imakagami" and "Masukagami," which is in the fourth with respect to time period covered. Reportedly, it is because "Iyayotsugi," which was a historical tale written by FUJIWARA no Takanobu (a son of Jakucho before Jakucho became a priest) and does not exist any more, treated the period in question.


Continuing Okagami, it treats the history for 13 generations, 146 years, from 1025, the era of the Emperor Goichijo to the Emperor Takakura in biographical historiography. Its form is that of a tale by an old lady, who was a granddaughter of Yotsugi OYA over 150 years old, on the way to visit the Hase-dera Temple.

The first 3 volumes are used for teiki (records of emperor's family tree), the middle 5 volumes for retsuden (a series of biographies) and the last 2 volumes for ancient practices and episodes of the society of nobles. Among retsuden, Volumes 4 through 6 are used for sekkanke (families which produced the Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor), Volume 7 for Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan) and Volume 8 for imperial princes.

Notwithstanding that there were large changes and turmoil in political and social situations in the transitional stage from the end stage of the Heian dynasty to the medieval period, interest in politics seems low and it emphasizes learning and public entertainment such as ceremonies and rituals as well as furyu-inji (elegant aestheticism and writing poems). On the other hand, descriptions are rather faithful to historical facts. There is a view that says that the contemporary tendency to emphasize Buddhist precepts and wishing for gokuraku ojo (peaceful death) suppressed creativity in story telling as seen in the fact that a scene in which the old lady argued against criticism of the tales of the time, and a rumor that Murasakishikibu, who wrote "Genji Monogatari," descended into hell under mogokai (a Buddhist admonition not to tell a lie) was included.

[Original Japanese]