Towazugatari (The Confessions of Lady Nijo) (とはずがたり)

Towazugatari is the diary and travel book thought to have been written by Nijo GOFUKAKUSA-IN (Lady Nijo) in the middle or late Kamakura period.

Although no one requested it ('Towazugatari' literally means "a tale nobody asked for"), Lady Nijo wrote her autobiographical tale as she served as Emperor Gofukakusa's lady-in-waiting from the age of 14 (1271) to around 49 (1306). It records her relationships with the Gofukakusa-in and other lovers, ceremonies at court, and her travels after becoming a nun. It is written in the form of a confession by Lady Nijo, but some scholars think that it also includes elements of narrative fiction. It is comprised of five books in five volumes. It seems to have been completed by approximately 1313.

The only existing version of this diary is the Katsura no Miya text (a manuscript written in 後代 - the early Edo period)included in the Katsura no Miya collection owned by the Imperial Household Archives. Until found in 1940 by Tokuhei YAMAGISHI, its existence had been known to very few people. When Tokuhei YAMAGISHI discovered "Towazugatari" in the Imperial Household Archive (at that time known as the Bureau of Drawings and Books), he felt intuitively that it was equal to even "Kagero Nikki" (The Gossamer Years). The work was introduced in his article 'Notes on Towazugatari,' in the September issue of 'Kokugo to Kokubungaku' (Japanese Language and Literature). Its first publication was in the 15th volume of the Katsura no Miya series of texts in 1950. Although several fragments of an old manuscript exist that are believed to date from the late Kamakura period, the text is strikingly different from the Imperial Household Archive version.

Main characters

Lady Nijo': the daughter of Masatada KOGA. She was either called 'Akako,' (thought to be her childhood name) according to one theory, or 'Agako' ("my child") according to another.

Emperor Gofukakusa': the retired emperor. Nijo's husband.

Emperor Kameyama': the brother of Gofukakusa-in.

Snow Dawn': thought to be Sanekane SAIONJI.

Dawn Moon': an ajari (holy teacher)
Thought to be the Cloistered Imperial Prince Shojo, although another theory believes him to be the Cloistered Imperial Prince Hojo.

Minister of the Imperial Guard': thought to be Kanehira TAKATSUKASA.


The first volume: Lady Nijo loses her mother at the age of 2, is taken under the wing of the Gofukakusa-in at 4, and accepts his affections at the age of 14, despite the presence of 'Snow Dawn,' a man she feels deeply about. She becomes pregnant with the child of the Cloistered Emperor, and soon after her father dies. She gives birth to the Cloistered Emperor's son.
Despite losing her support she continues to serve the Cloistered Emperor as a lady-in-waiting, while also continuing her relationship with 'Snow Dawn.'
She gives birth to Snow Dawn's daughter, but gives her away. The Cloistered Emperor's son dies prematurely at about the same time.

The second volume: the commotion over the rice-gruel stick and atonement. She begins a relationship with 'Dawn Moon' on his insistence. At onnagaku (a musical performance by women performed for the Imperial court), she clashes with her grandfather Takachika SHIJO, Minister of War. She unwillingly begins a relationship with the Minister of the Imperial Guard.

The third volume: she gives birth to Dawn Moon's son, but gives him away. Dawn Moon's death. She gives birth to another son by Dawn Moon, but this time she looks after him herself. She leaves the imperial palace.

The fourth volume: the days after becoming a nun. After Atsuta-jingu Shrine, she travels to Kamakura, Zenko-ji Temple, and Asakusa. She meets the Cloistered Emperor Gofukakusa again at Hachimangu Shrine. She travels to Ise.

The fifth volume: She travels to Itsukushima, and the Cloistered Emperor Gofukakusa dies. The epilogue.

The influence of "The Tale of Genji"

Young Murasaki: The passage where Gofukakusa-in takes and raises Lady Nijo, the daughter of his beloved wet nurse Dainagon-no-suke, is strongly reminiscent of Young Murasaki in "The Tale of Genji."

Onnagaku: An onnagaku is held imitating the one held in the second volume of Wakana ('New Herbs,' a book from 'The Tale of Genji'), in which the lady of the east wing represents Murasaki-no-ue (Lady Murasaki), the daughter of Nijo's grandfather, Takachika, represents Onnasan-no-miya (the Third Princess), and Lady Nijo herself, playing the Biwa lute, represents Akashi-no-okata (Lady Akashi), the most humble of the three.

Connections with "Masukagami" (The Clear Mirror)

"Masukagami" (written in the Northern and Southern Court period of Japan) uses several paragraphs from "Towazugatari." Also, because there were very few records of Emperor Gofukakusa's romances before "Towazugatari" was found, some scholars used to think that the descriptions of his romances in "Masukagami" were fictional or had been confused with those of his brother Emperor Kameyama, but after the discovery of "Towazugatari," it was confirmed that there was a basis for the descriptions in "Masukagami."

[Original Japanese]