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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.