The Murasaki Shikibu Diary (紫式部日記)

"The Murasaki Shikibu Diary" is said to have been written by Murasaki Shikibu.

Some people regard Kurokawa bon, the manuscript owned by the Imperial Household Agency, as the best manuscript, but it is said that there is a manuscript which has partly better contents than Kurokawabon. The title on the cover of the manuscript says "Murasaki Diary," but the diary does not contain the author's name, Murasaki Shikibu, so it is unknown since when it has been called "The Murasaki Shikibu Diary."

It consists of two volumes in total: The first volume is a collection of records, and the second volume contains both letters and records. The common view that Murasaki Shikibu authored "The Tale of Genji" is based on a legend and the description written in this "Murasaki Diary."


It is widely considered that the diary was completed in 1010. The diary covers the incidents ranging in date from the autumn of 1008, when the Empress FUJIWARA no Shoshi was nearing her confinement, to the New Year of 1010. In the diary she described people vividly, which other historical materials did not do, so the work also has historical value. It contains gossips about "The Tale of Genji," private letters in which she described her view of life, and comments about her colleagues at the Imperial Court such as Izumi Shikibu, Akazome Emon and her rival, Seisho Nagon.

She appreciated the talented younger colleague, Izumi Shikibu, but also gave frank advice about her unrestrained love affairs. She showed her respect to the senior colleague, Akazome Emon. She could be severely critical, particularly of Seisho Nagon.
Sei Shonagon is a woman who assumes an air of importance.'
She thinks herself so clever and litters her writings with Chinese characters.'
However, if you take a look at them, you will find that most of them have been written with awkward brushstrokes.'
Those who want to act as if they were superior to others will lose by comparison with others.'
(...) 'How could the future turn out well for such a woman?'

During the 13th century (the Kamakura period), an illustrated scroll of color painting on paper called "Murasaki Shikibu Nikki Emaki" was made. It is not known who the author was.

A part of "Eiga Monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes) contains exactly the same writing as the diary, and in its afterword the author writes that part of the tale was transcribed from the diary.

[Original Japanese]