Lady Kokiden (弘徽殿女御)

Lady Kokiden is the name for fictitious empresses in stories whose real names were unknown. Famous examples are two women in "The Tale of Genji."

1. The wife of the Emperor Kiritsubo and the mother of the Emperor Suzaku. She will be described below.

2. The wife of the Emperor Reizei. She was the eldest daughter of Naidaijin (To no Chujo) and her mother was the fourth princess of Udaijin (the Minister of the Right) at the time of the Emperor Kiritsubo. She was a niece of 1. Lady Kokiden is a fictitious person in "The Tale of Genji" written by Murasaki Shikibu. She was later called the Empress Kokiden.

She was a daughter (probably the eldest) of Udaijin at the time of the Emperor Kiritsubo, and was the first empress married to Kiritsubo when he was still the crown prince. She had the first prince (crown prince, later the Emperor Suzaku) and two princesses (Ippon no Miya and Sai-in). She lived in the Kokiden of the highest prestige among the empresses' residences and exerted power, but Kiritsubo no Koi (lower class court lady) took away the love of the Emperor Kiritsubo from her, and that was why she detested Hikaru Genji, the son of Kiritsubo no Koi, even after his mother died. She was particularly outraged by Genji's relation with Aoi no ue (Lady Aoi) and her younger sister Oborozukiyo (the misty moon), because she hoped to make both of them to be empresses of the crown prince. Therefore, she vehemently rejected Udaijin's plan to marry Oborozukiyo to Genji after the death of Lady Aoi.

She also had strong hostility toward Fujitsubo who was the very image of Kiritsubo no koi, because Genji became attached to Fujitsubo. Later, when Fujitsubo gave birth to a prince (later the Emperor Reizei who was actually Genji's son) and became Chugu (the Empress), Lady Kokiden was very upset because she was supposed to be Chugu as the birth mother of the next emperor (chapter 'Momiji no Ga' (The Autumn Excursion)).

She became the Empress Dowager when the Emperor Suzaku ascended the throne (hereafter she was called the Empress Kokiden). After that, when Genji's affair with Oborozukiyo who was Naishi no tsukasa (female palace attendant) was revealed, the Empress Kokiden succeeded in ruining Genji and exiling him to Suma; when her father Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister and ex-Minister of the Right) died and her own health deteriorated due to illness, however, she couldn't stop the Emperor Suzaku from pardoning Genji. In chapter 'Otome' (Maidens) it is described that when Genji and the Emperor Reizei visited her, she regretted her cruel treatment of them but still she acted willfully again and again that bothered the Suzakuin (the name of Emperor Suzaku after retirement). She was referred to only by name in the chapter 'Hatsune' (First Warbler) for the last time and in the chapter 7Wakana: Jo' (New Herbs, Part I) it was told that she had already been dead.

Lady Kokiden came from a powerful family and was so fierce that the mother of Fujitsubo Chugu was afraid of the request from the Emperor Kiritsubo to send her daughter into the court, but it was a proof of her dignified presence. Particularly after she became the Empress Dowager, she exerted absolute power as the mother of the emperor. She tends to be regarded as a villain who tortured Genji the most among his political opponents, but she is also a typical character to depict the empress's residence and Sekkan-ke, the families which produced the Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor, at the time of the story.

It is said that a model of Lady Kokiden is modeled on FUJIWARA no Onshi who was the Emperor Daigo's Empress, because the life of Lady Kokiden resembled her life.

[Original Japanese]