Yowa no Nezame (Awaken at Midnight) (夜半の寝覚)

"Yowa no Nezame" is a story of the ocho monogatari (tales of the Heian and Kamakura periods) written in the latter half of the Heian period (supposedly around the latter half of 11th century). It is also called "Yoru no Nezame," "Nezame Monogatari" or "Nezame." There is currently no definitive theory on who the author was. However, it is very likely that it was written by SUGAWARA no Takasue's daughter, who also authored "Sarashina Nikki" (Sarashina Diary) and "Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari" (The Tale of Hamamatsu Chunagon). It is considered to be an imitation of The Tale of Genji. It was not seen as important in the past because a large portion of the story is missing from the main text. However, it began to receive much attention after the war because of research advancements in this area, as well as re-evaluation of ocho monogatari by people such as Shinichiro NAKAMURA. The story is characteristic in the sense that it uses a unique technique of establishing the characters by precise observation and exquisite depiction of their mentalities. Nowadays, it is considered a fictional story that represents the latter Heian period. There exists a revised version, "Yonezame Monogatari," which is considered to have been written in the 14th century.


Information on the author is largely deficient, and there is no definitive theory on who the author was.
The theory that says that it was a work by SUGAWARA no Takasue's daughter originates from a comment found in the postscript of Sarashina Nikki, a book of Imperial collection written by FUJIWARA no Sadaie, 'The diary of the daughter of SUGAWARA no Takasue, Governor of Hitachi Province, her mother was a daughter of Tomoyasu Ason (a high-ranking hereditary title), she was a daughter of Crown Prince's tutor's mother, Yowa no Nezame and Mitsu no Hamamatsu みつからくゆる あさくら なとは were written by the author of this diary.'
This was the long-accepted theory. However, similar elements were pointed out between "Sarashina Nikki" and "Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari' in the research of nezame after the war. On the other hand, it became clear that there are many elements in "Nezame" that are not similar to either one. Currently, there is a theory that says that the story was written by a different author. However, there is an opposing theory based on the view that the originality of "Nezame" is the author's style. Therefore, it cannot be denied that there is certain credibility to the theory that places Takasue's daughter as the author.


Chapter One
The wife of Dajodaijin (Grand Minister of State) passed away, and he was taking care of all of his four children, who had different mothers. Among them, Naka no Kimi (later called 'Nezame no Ue') was talented in music, and so (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings) was her specialty. Heavenly beings must have also loved her talent. On the night of the full moon when she was thirteen, a heavenly being descended and taught her a secret music for biwa (Japanese lute). Furthermore, he descended again on the night of the full moon in the following year, and he foretold her unhappy fate, then left.

Naka no Kimi's older sister, Okimi, was engaged to Chunagon (Middle Councilor), the eldest son of the Minister of the Left (later called 'Kanpaku', or Chancellor). When Chunagon visited his wet nurse he unexpectedly had a relationship with Naka no Kimi, who happened to be there in order to avoid directional misfortune. Chunagon left, thinking that she was someone else. Naka no Kimi became pregnant with Chunagon's child through this one-night relationship. She agonized, not knowing who the man was.

Completely unaware, Chunagon married Okimi. He later learned for the first time that Naka no Kimi was Okimi's younger sister. He secretly took the girl to whom Naka no Kimi gave birth, and he raised her under Minister of the Left. However, the secret did not last long. Okimi found out his relationship with Naka no Kimi, and his marriage finally failed.

Chapter 2 onward have been lost
However, it is considered that the story mainly depicts what happened to the man, the woman, and the elderly Kanpaku who became the woman's husband. Chapter three portrays the woman at the age of 26, deepening her thoughts through hardships she underwent, such as the Emperor's advance on her.

Also, although it does not exist now, chapter 4 is thought to describe the woman living her life as a mother, based on a review by the author of Mumyozoshi (Story without a Name, critique of tales) from the time period where all chapters did exist. Depending on the researcher, there is some doubt as to whether the woman had a happy ending or not.

Nezame Monogatari Emaki (illustrated hand scroll)

This is an illustrated hand scroll depicting Yowa no Nezame created in the late Heian period. 25.8 cm in height, colored paper book. It is not a complete set of scrolls, but it is an incomplete set of scrolls with a very small surviving portion. It belongs to The Museum of Yamatobunkakan. As a text, it is the oldest, and it is presumed to be from the latter half of Chapter 5 which is not in existence now.

[Original Japanese]