Matsura no miya Monogatari (松浦宮物語)

Matsura no miya Monogatari is a story or novel formed at the beginning of the Kamakura period.

The time of its formation is considered to be the latter half of the twelfth century because "Mumyozoshi" (critique of tales) commented on tales in the Kamakura period as 'many have recently appeared' and mentioned this work.


There is a description in "Mumyozoshi" that means 'Many that are told, as written by Sadaie shosho, cannot be true.'
Experts on Japanese literature avoid definite statements because they are trapped in positivism, but literature experts say it is clear that Sadaie FUJIWARA is the author.

Story line

Ujitada was born to TACHIBANA no Fuyuaki, who was Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) dainagon (a chief councilor of state) and Chue no daisho (Major Captain of the Imperial Guard) and the imperial princess of Asuka in the era of Fujiwara no Miya and was known for his excellent looks and wit, and he assumed the position of shikibu shoyu (Junior Assistant of the Ministry of Ceremonies), ushoben (Minor Controller of the Right) and Nakatsukasa no Shosho (Minor Captain of the Ministry of Central Affairs) concurrently and his rank was Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade)at the age of sixteen. He concentrated single-mindedly on studying and there were no rumors of any love affairs, but he secretly loved Princess Kannabi, whose mother was the empress. In the night of kikunoutage (literally, party of the chrysanthemum) in a undesignated year, he made love with her. Although he wanted to meet her again, she entered court and he was appointed as vice-envoy to Tang and was ordered to travel to Tang. At the time of departure, she sent him a waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) of farewell and his mother said she would build a palace on the mountain of Matsura live on looking towardst the sky of Tang until his return.

He arrived in Tang and won the Emperor of Tang's favor, but his homesickness was not cured. One night with a full moon, while he was wandering in the field of autumn flowers, he heard an excellent performance of the koto (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings) by an old man around eighty years old that echoed to the high buildings. He learned from the old man how to play the koto and was told that, as the younger sister of the emperor, Princess Kayoplays the koto at 'Mt. Sho' and he should learn from her. He went to 'Mt. Sho' and learned treasured pieces for the koto, but his heart fluttered because of Princess Kayo's beauty and promised to meet again in court on October 3 when he parted with her. Just then, the emperor was sick in bed and called Ben (Ujitada) to say "After my death, the country will fall in state of disorder, so please follow and help the crown prince." He made love with her, who was graceful, below the Gohoro house on the promised day. Her keepsake was a crystal ball and she predicted "If you do not forget me even after you return to Japan, take the ball to Hatsuse-dera Temple and carry out the Buddhist memorial service of the Twenty-First Day, then we can meet again," and she let her koto fly away and died like the dew. Then, the emperor died and his prediction came true that the country fell into a state of disorder, and Emperor's younger brother Eno rose in revolt seizing the chance that the crown prince was still an infant. He kept the promise with the late emperor and escaped towards Shokuzan and protected the the crown prince who became the new emperor and the empress dowager. However, the road was long and Eno closed in on them. Finally, he made up his mind to counterattack and killed the enemy general, Ubunkai. Luckily, he joined forces with reinforcements of 3,000 led by Kentoku and defeated Eno at the capital. Although peace returned to the world, his desire to go back to his country did not stop. Next year, on a spring night, he met the empress dowager and both were attracted to each other. The next evening, he made love with a mysterious lady, who played a Chinese bamboo flute, in a village where there was the scent of ume blossoms. Although he met this lady many times after that, he did not know her identity. One night, when the day of his return was coming up, the empress dowager said that the mysterious lady was her other self and disclosed the secret that "Ubunkai was Asura, I am tenshu (a god) of dainiten (the second god) and you are a tendo (the embodiment as a child of a ferocious god who protects the Buddhist Law) and both were sent from the svarga to punish Asura but obscene thoughts occurred because we are born into this world" and gave him a mirror as a memento.

Ben came back to Japan and assumed the position of sangi (councilor), Udaiben (Major Controller of the Right) and Chue no chujo (Middle Captain of the Imperial Guard). When he went to Hatsuse and conducted the Buddhist memorial service of the Twenty-First Day, the sound of koto was heard from the mountains and he was reunited with Princess Kayo. When both were playing the koto together, even Princess Kannabi who was a childhood friend, felt jealous. When he looked into the mirror given by the empress dowager, he could see his life up until then. When he met Princess Kannabi, she looked like the lady in Tang.

If this is really a work of FUJIWARA no Sadaie, this is his work when he was young around the latter half of his twenties and the composition of three volumes is not concise and the linkage between stories cannot be said to be good. The feelings of Shosho's parents are described in detail in the first half, but are forgotten in the latter half, and the description of the war in Tang is unusually detailed and there is a view that the existing text includes later additions by another person.

Also, a similarity to "Utsuho Monogatari" (The Tale of the Hollow Tree) and "Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari" (The Tale of Hamamatsu Chunagon (Middle Counselor)) has been pointed out.

However, the romantic, supernatural, and fantastic charm that can be seen throughout all the volumes cannot be ignored and the literary ability of the author should be highly appreciated.

[Original Japanese]