The Tale of Genji Characters
by Lady Murasaki Shikibu

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Prince Genji

Prince Genji, the handsome and popular son of the emperor of Japan. This courtly romance of medieval Japan is primarily concerned with Genji’s amours.

The emperor of Japan

The emperor of Japan, Genji’s father.

Lady Kokiden

Lady Kokiden, the emperor’s consort.

Kiritsubo

Kiritsubo, Genji’s mother and the emperor’s concubine. Largely as a result of Lady Kokiden’s antagonism to her, Kiritsubo dies during Genji’s childhood.

Princess Aoi

Princess Aoi, who is married at the age of sixteen to twelve-year-old Genji. She is unhappy at first as a result of her husband’s youth, and later because of his many amours. He does come to appreciate and love her, but her affliction results in her death in childbirth.

Fujitsubo

Fujitsubo, the emperor’s concubine and one of Genji’s first paramours. She has a child by Genji, but fortunately for him the resemblance in looks is attributed to fraternity rather than to paternity. After Lady Kokiden’s death, Fujitsubo is made official consort.

Utsusemi

Utsusemi, a pretty young matron and another of Genji’s paramours. Realizing that the affair cannot last, she ends it. While pursuing her again, Genji becomes distracted by another young woman.

Ki no Kami

Ki no Kami, a young courtier, at whose home Genji meets Utsusemi.

Ygao

Ygao, a young noblewoman in love with Genji. They live together in secret within the palace grounds for a time, until Ygao dies tragically and strangely. Genji’s friends act to avert a scandal.

Murasaki

Murasaki, a young orphan girl of good family. Genji secretly rears her and, a year after Princess Aoi’s death, when Murasaki is of marriageable age, he makes her his wife.

Characters

(Epics for Students)

Lady Akashi
Daughter of a provincial governor turned priest, Genji woos her during his exile. She is daunted by his elevated position and refinement, but eventually succumbs and becomes one of Genji's secondary wives. Her daughter is adopted by Murasaki and eventually becomes empress.

Akikonomu
Akikonomu is the daughter of Prince Zembo and the Lady of Rokujo. She serves as high priestess of the Ise shrine and later, with Genji's backing, becomes the Reizei Emperor's (Genji's son) wife. She eventually becomes Empress. Genji inappropriately tries to seduce her.

Lady Aoi
Genji's first principal wife, Lady Aoi marries him when he is twelve and she is somewhat older. She is portrayed as cold and curt, and the two never seem compatible. Genji incurs the resentment of her family by his prolonged absences from her home at Sanjo. She is the only daughter of the Minister of the Left at the opening of the novel. Like her brother, Genji's friend To no Chujo, she is his child by his principal wife, Princess Omiya. At a lustration ceremony, Lady Aoi pushes her carriage past Lady Rokujo' s. This move humiliates Rokujo, and in turn inspires her spirit to take possession and kill Aoi. After her death, Genji mourns profusely. This deep mourning period may be explained by Genji's feelings of guilt, both for being a bad husband and for causing her premature death. Before Aoi dies, she gives birth to their son, Yugiri.

Princess Asagao
Princess Asagao is daughter of Prince Momozono, who was a brother of Genji's father. She is thus his first cousin. He pursues her from time to time, but without success.

Bennokimi
The daughter of Kashiwagi's late nurse, Bennokimi holds the true story of Kaoru's birth. She finally, after many years, tells Kaoru everything and hands over a packet of Kashiwagi's old love letters to his mother, Princess Nyosan.

Bishop Of Yokawa
The Bishop of Yokawa performs the exorcism that enables Ukifune to recover from her seemingly fatal illness. Later, he cuts her hair and allows her to take vows. He regrets having done this after he realizes Kaoru's attachment to the woman.

Chujo
The name means "captain.’’ Several female servants bear this name, probably taken from their fathers' rank. One is the servant of the wife of the Governor of Iyo. In a subsequent chapter, a different Chujo seems to be a servant of the...

(The entire section is 4,203 words.)