A Brief Genji Character List and Glossary

This list is designed to help readers keep track of the characters in The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki Shikibu in the English translations by Arthur Waley (1933), Edward G. Seidensticker (1976), and Royall Tyler (2001), especially the earlier, most often anthologized chapters. There are frequent differences, since the author follows the custom of her time in referring to individuals indirectly, by nicknames or titles, and translators have taken different approaches to the problems thus raised. Extensive intermarriage make it more difficult. Lady Murasaki herself says at the end of chapter 39: "The relationships between these people are all too complicated to explain" (Tyler translation), though she seems to have kept them all in her head herself.

For another net list, see http://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/~pmjs/resources/genji/genji-chart-names.html. For a summary of all 54 chapters, see http://www.taleofmurasaki.com/taleofgenjipage.htm. Also worth looking at is http://www.taleofgenji.org/, a site with many useful Genji resources. There is a list of major characters in the Seidenstecker translation and a very full glossary in the Tyler translation. This list also draws on material in Ivan Morris, The World of the Shining Prince (1964), and William J. Puette, The Tale of Genji: A Reader's Guide (1983). Lisa Dalby, the author of Geisha, has written a novel about the work's author, The Tale of Murasaki (2000), weaving together material from the novel, from Murasaki's diary (also available in translation), and a more general imaginative recreation of the period.

  • Agemaki Name used in Waley translation for Oigimi, the eldest daughter of the Eighth Prince (known in Waley as Prince Hachi).
  • Akashi (ah-kah-shee) A seaside village which gives its title to chapter 13. It is about 5 miles from Suma where Genji begins his exile before moving to Akashi.
  • Akashi, Lady of Daughter of a former provincial governor turned priest, she becomes one of Genji's secondary wives. Her daughter is adopted by Murasaki and eventually becomes empress, giving birth to Prince Niou, one of the chief figures in the last ten chapters. For a period of time, she lives near Genji's Nijo palace at Oi.
  • Akikonomu (ah-kee-koh-noh-moo) She is the daughter of Prince Zembo and the Lady of Rokujo. She is entrusted to Genji by her dying mother, and he raises her as his ward, though he is attracted to her himself. She serves as high priestess of the Ise shrine and later as the principal wife and empress of the Reizei emperor.
  • Aoi (ah-oy)Genji's first principal wife, married to him when he is 12 and she is four years older. Not surprisingly, she finds him childish, and their relations remain uncomfortable until her death. She is the only daughter of the Minister of the Left at the opening of the novel, and their marriage is meant to cement her father's close relations with the imperial family. Like her brother, Genji's friend To no Chujo, she is his child by his principal wife, Princess Omiya. She is the mother of Yugiri. Her death is attributed to the jealous spirit of the Lady of Rokujo
  • Asagao, Princess (ah-sah-gah-oh) Named for a flower ("morning glory" in Seidensticker, "bluebell" in Tyler). 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.
  • Ben. Used for several attendants, including: (1) A daughter of Shonagon, the nurse of Murasaki. (2) Ben no Ama. ("Bennokimi" in Seidensticker). A nurse of Kashiwagi or the nurse's daughter, she is a lady-in-waiting/nun at Uji. At the end of chapter 45, she tells Kaoru that Kashiwagi is his true father. Over the next several chapters she serves as an intermediary between Kaoru and Ukifune.
  • Chujo (choo-joh)The name means "captain." Several female attendants bear this name, probably taken from their fathers' rank.
    -- One is the servant of the wife of the Governor of Iyo in chapter 2, Utsemi.
    -- In chapter 3, another seems to be a lady-in-waiting of the Lady of Rokujo; leaving her mistress, Genji makes advances toward her, which she wards off gracefully.
    -- In chapter 41, after Murasaki's death, Genji finally sleeps with one whom he has long fancied
  • Chunagon (choo-nah-gohn) A series of ladies in waiting bear this name. In chapter 7, a Chunagon is mentioned as an attendent of Lady Aoi, and he sleeps with her in Chapter 12. In that chapter (and again in Chapter 34), another Chunagon attends Oborozukiyo and serves as Genji's intermediary. The Third Princess also as an attendant with this name. In Chapter 41, after Murasaki's death, one of the women Genji spends time talking with is Chunagon.
  • Cicada Shell, Lady of the. In Tyler, the usual name for Utsusemi
  • Dame of Staff. A court position held by Gen no Naishi, an elderly admirer of Genji, and later by the daughter of Koremitsu
  • Eighth Prince. ["Prince Hachi" in Waley translation.] A half-brother of Genji, son of the same Emperor by another secondary wife. He is the father of Oigimi, Nakanokimi, and (by a secondary wife) the unfortunate Ukifune. He is less interested in his daughters than in the pursuit of salvation, and eventually abandons them to become a monk, trusting that Kaoru) will take care of them.
  • Evening Faces, Lady of the. Mistress of To no Chujo, by whom she has a daughter, Tamakazura. After his coldness makes her flee, she is briefly the mistress of Genji, till slain by the jealous spirit of the Lady of Rokujo, a tale told in Chapter 4. Her name comes from the white flowers on the eaves of the building she is living in when Genji comes across her.
  • Falling Flowers. See Hanachiru Sato.
  • Fujitsubo (foo-jee-tsoo-boh) A secondary but favorite wife of Genji's father, though she is only five years older than Genji himself. She is the brother of Prince Hyobu, and thus the aunt of Murasaki. She is the mother of the Reizei emperor, who is actually Genji's child rather than his father's.
  • Hachi, Prince. Name used for Eighth Prince in Waley translation and some critical sources.
  • Hanachirusato. Literally "falling flowers" or the "village of falling flowers," this is the title of chapter 11, which introduces the younger sister of Lady Reikeiden. She is thereafter known as "the lady of the village of falling flowers" in Waley and Tyler and, since the flowers are orange blossoms, as the "lady of the orange blossoms" in Seidensticker. She is later installed in the east pavillion at Rokujo. In chapter 21 Genji gives her responsibility for Yugiri, who has been raised in his mother's house by his grandmother, now too ill to do so. Yugiri develops a strong relationship with her and confides his marital problems to her in chapter 39.
  • Heian Kyo (hay-ahn kyo) Capital of Japan in Genji's time. The modern Kyoto.
  • Hiei (hee-ay) Mountain north of the capital..
  • Higekuro, Prince (hee-geh-koo-roh) His father was a Minister of the Right. His principal wife is a daughter of Prince Hyobu. Makibashira is their daughter (though Waley uses the name for Higekuro's wife). He marries Genji's ward Tamakazura, driving his first wife mad. His sister Shokyoden becomes the principal wife and empress of the Suzaku emperor, so Higekuro is an uncle of the emperor reigning at the novel's end.
  • Higo. A southern province where Tamakazura is taken as a child by her nurse. She leaves it when she attracts the unwelcome attentions of local big shot.
  • Hitachi. A province. The deputy governor of Iyo is made deputy governor (for an absent prince) of Hitachi.
  • Hotaru, Prince (hoh-tah-roo) A younger brother of Genji. His first principal wife is a sister of his stepmother Kokiden. He later marries the daughter of Prince Higekuro. In chapter 25, he is a suitor for Genji's ward Tamakazura. Genji gives him a glimpse of Tamakazura's beauty by releasing fireflies in her room at night, and this gives him the name used for him in the novel, which means "firefly."
  • Hyobu, Prince (hyoh-boo) Son of a former emperor and brother of Fujitsubo. Genji's love Murasaki is his child by a concubine. A daughter of his principal wife becomes the principal wife of Prince Higekuro.
  • Hyobukyo, Prince. Name of Prince Hyobu in the Waley translation and secondary sources following it. This longer form is a title (Minister of War) held by that prince and also by Prince Hotaru.
  • Ise. The site of the chief shrine of the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, from whom the imperial family claimed descent. Lady Akikonumu serves for a time as priestess at the shrine. After her marriage to the emperor, she is sometimes known as the Ise Consort.
  • Iyo. A province. Utsusemi is the wife of a governor of Iyo, known in Tyler as the Iyo Deputy.
  • Jiju A maid who ghosts the letters of the lady of the Suetsumuhana chapter.
  • Kaoru (kah-oh-roo) A son of Genji's second principal wife, the Third Princess, he learns as an adult that his true father is not Genji but Kashiwagi. His rivalries with his cousin Prince Niou are the main topic of the last quarter of the novel.
  • Kashiwagi (kah-shee-wa-gee) A son of To no Chujo. His principal wife is the Second Princess (aka Princess Ochiba), a daughter of the Suzaku Emperor. He is a suitor for Genji's ward Tamakazura. He seduces Genji's second principal wife, the Third Princess and is the true father of Genji's son Kaoro. He dies young, commending the care of the Second Princess to Yugiri.
  • Kawachi. A province. The former governor of Kii becomes governor of Kawachi.
  • Kii. The governor of Kii hosts Genji and his entourage in chapter 2. His father is a governor of Iyo, and he is attracted to his pretty young stepmother, Utsusemi, with whom Genji spends the night in Chapter 2. In the next chapter, Genji sleeps with the sister (Nokiba no Ogi) of the governor of Kii by mistake, when her stepmother gives him the slip. Later governor of Kawachi, he renews his attention to Utsusemi after his father's death (chapter 16); she is not happy with this.
  • Kiritsubo, Lady Genji's mother, a favorite wife of his Emperor father, but persecuted by her rivals at court, who resented the favors granted someone of relatively undistinguished birth. She dies when he is very young.
  • Kobai The eldest son of To No Chujo. After the death of his first wife, he has an affair with Makibashira, the widow of Prince Hotaru, and then takes her as his second principal wife. In chapter 43, he tries to get Prince Niou for his daughter.
  • Kogimi. The usual name (it means "little one") for Utsusemi's younger brother, whom Genji takes into his service as a useful go-between with his sister, a role he takes to with enthusiasm.
  • Kokiden (koh-kee-den)Genji's wicked stepmother, the jealous and power-hungry principal wife and empress of his father. Under the reign of their son, the Suzaku Emperor, she and her father, a Minister of the Right, are very powerful. A sister seems to be married to Prince Hotaru. A younger sister, Oborozukiyo, is married to the Susaku emperor.
  • Koremitsu (koh-ray-mee-tsoo) The son of Genji's old nurse, he is a faithful retainer of Genji and employed on confidential missions. He is particularly involved in Genji's pursuit of the lady of the evening faces and in his clandestine marriage to Murasaki. By chapter 21 he has been made Governor of Tsu. His daughter (see just below) become a concubine of Yugiri
  • Koremitsu's daughter is sponsored by Genji as a Gosechi dancer in chapter 21. She shows to advantage and he makes her a Dame of Staff. She is seduced by Genji's son Yugiri, by whom she eventually has six children. In chapter 39 she has an exchange of poems with Kumoi after the latter has left Yugiri. Her daughter with Yugiri, Roku-no-kimi, will eventually marry Prince Niou.
  • Koto A Japanese stringed instrument, rather like a zither. There are several varieties, with different numbers of strings. The most common was the 13-string variety, but Genji himself was a master of the 7-string. These are of Chinese origin. To no Chujo and his son play the indigenous 6-string koto.
  • Kozeri. Name used in Waley translation for the Nakanokimi who marries Prince Niou.
  • Kumoinokari, Lady. [In the Waley translation, just "Kumoi" is used.] A daughter of To No Chujo, she becomes the principal (and for many years the only) wife of Genji's son Yugiri, leaving him when he brings home the Second Princess as another wife.
  • Locust Shell, Lady of the. In Seidensticker, the usual name for Utsusemi
  • Makibashira The daughter of Prince Higekuro and his principal wife. She is married to Prince Hotaru, by whom she had a daughter. When widowed, she married Kobai, a son of To no Chujo. She and Kobai have a son.
  • Minister of the LeftThe chief minister in charge of administrative departments, a post which dates back to the Taika Reforms of 702 A.D. When the position of Minister of the Center (or chancellor) was vacant, as it often was, the holder of this post is the prime minister, though actual power was sometimes elsewhere. In the Heian period, such posts were monopolized by the Fujiwara clan. The friendly rivalry between Genji and To No Chujo reflects some real tensions between the Fujiwaras and the imperial family. (1) The first of several occupants of this position during the novel is the father of To No Chujo and Princess Aoi. As the latter's father, he is Genji's father-in-law. Both are children of his principal wife, Princess Omiya.
  • Minister of the Right A powerful minister, though usually not quite so powerful as the Minister of the Left. (1) At the beginning of the novel, the position is held by the father of Kokiden and Oborozukiyo.
  • Murasaki (moo-rah-sah-kee) Lady Murasaki first enters the novel as a 10 year old child. She is the daughter of Prince Hyobu, but Genji carries her off because she reminds him of Hyobu's sister Fujitsubo, whom he loves. At 14, she becomes one of Genji's secondary wives and his favorite. Her name is from a plant which produces a lavender dye. Her prominence in the novel probably accounts for its author being known as Murasaki Shibiku.
  • Myobu. See Taifu.
  • Naishi In chapter 7, this court lady, though nearly 60, is involved with both Genji and To No Chujo in a farcial triangle. She annoys him in chapter 9 by sending him a suggestive poem.
  • Nakanokimi. The name means "miss middle." (1). In Seidensicker, it is used for the younger of the two daughters of the Eighth Prince by his principal wife. Introduced into the house at Uji by Kaoru, Prince Niou takes her as a secondary wife, and she bears him a son. When she takes her half-sister Ukifune into her household, Niou becomes infatuated with her. (2) Waley uses the name for the younger daughter of Kobai dangled at Prince Niou.
  • Nakatsukasa. In chapter 2, one of the women who attends Genji's wife.
  • Nijo. Genji's residence.
  • Niou, Prince. Son of the novel's last emperor and his empress, Genji's daughter by the Lady Akashi, he is the likely heir to his father. His rivalry with his cousin Kaoru recalls that of Genji with To No Chujo, but the tone is darker, and their mutual love of Ukifune ends up badly for all concerned. His wives include her sister Nakanokimi and a daughter of Yugiri.
  • Nokiba no Ogi. The traditional name of sister of the Governor of Kii. In chapter 3, Genji sleeps with her by mistake, thinking he's managed to catch Utsusemi. In chapter 4, he sends her a poem (from which her name derives) on hearing that she has married a young lieutenant.
  • Nyosan, Princess Name used for Third Princess, Genji's second principal wife, in Waley translation and elsewhere.
  • Oborozukiyo (oh-boh-roh-zoo-kee-yoh) A younger sister of Kokiden, she seems to be a concubine of her nephew, the Suzaku Emperor, but has an affair with Genji, which earns him exile. When the Emperor retires to religious life in Chapter 34, Genji approaches her again but she turns him down, albeit with some regret.
  • Ochiba no Maya. See Second Princess.
  • Oi In Chapter 18, the father of the Akashi lady builds a retreat for her and her mother near Genji's Nijo palace. And Genji visits her there. She is then "the lady at Oi" until Genji moves her into his new palace at Rokujo at the end of Chapter 21.
  • Oigimi. ["Agemaki" in Waley translation] The elder of two daughters of the Eighth Prince by his principal wife and a half sister of Ukifune. Kaoru pursues her, but she dies without having surrendered to him.
  • Omiya (oh-mee-yah)Genji's aunt and mother-in-law. A sister of Genji's father, married to a Minister of the Left. Mother of Genji's best friend, To no Chujo, and his wife, Aoi. After Aoi's death, she has responsibility for raising Yugiri.
  • Onna San no Miya. See the Third Princess.
  • Omyobu (oh-myoh-boo) One of the women who attend Fujitsubo.
  • Orange Blossoms, Lady of the. See Hanachirusato.
  • Reikeiden, Lady (ray-kay-den) A one-time minor wife of Genji's father, fallen on hard times. Genji is interested himself in her younger sister, the lady of the orange blossoms
  • Reizei (ray-zay) Emperor. Son of Fujitsubo. He abdicates early, partly as a result of discovering that he is the child of Genji rather than of Genji's father. His principal wife and empress is Akikonomu.
  • Rokujo (roh-koo-joh)The Sixth Ward of the capital city of Heian Kyo.
  • Rokujo, Lady (In Tyler, "Rokujo Haven," Rokujo no Miyasudokoro) Widow of a crown prince, Prince Zembo, and a longtime mistress of Genji. She is eight years older than Genji, who loses some interest in her once he overcomes her resistance. Her jealousy is so strong that her wandering spirit kills the lady of the evening faces and Aoi and attacks others. Mother of Akikonomu, whom she entrusts to Genji when she dies. Despite his successfully marrying Akikonumu off to an emperor, her ghost comes back and nearly kills Murasaki in chapter 35; when Genji has prayers said for the respose of the lady's soul, Murasaki recovers.
  • Roku-no-kimi. The child of daughter of Koremitsu. She is his Sixth Daughter and evidently prettier than the others. In chapter 42 he plans to dangle her before Kaoru and Niou, and in chapter 49 he more or less forces Niou and her to marry.
  • Safflower Lady. See Suetsumuhana.
  • Saisho. In chapter 25, a cousin of Tamakazura brought in by Genji to attend her.
  • Sanjo (sahn-joh) Location of the family home of Genji's friend, To no Chujo and his sister Lady Aoi, Genji's first principal wife, who remains in her family home till her death and is sometimes referred to as "the lady at Sanjo."
  • The Second Princess. Aka Ochiba (no Maya). Daughter of the Suzaku Emperor, wife and then widow of Kashiwagi. She is later pursued by Yugiri
  • The Secretary Captain. This is the translation of To no Chujo, the title born by Genji's friend when we first meet him in Chapter 2. Used in that chapter by Tyler.
  • Shokyoden (sho-koh-den) Sister of Prince Higekuro, principal wife of the Suzaku Emperor, and mother of the emperor reigning at the end of the novel.
  • Shonagon (shoh-nah-gohn) The nurse of Murasaki. Her name is the same as that of a famous contemporary of the author's, Sei Shonagon, a sharp-tongued woman who wrote the Pillow Book.
  • Sixth Daughter. Of the Minister of the Right: see Oborozukiyo. Of Yugiri: See Roku-no-kimi
  • Suetsumuhana. The title of chapter 6, this is the name of a kind of safflower or saffron flower. (In Waley, it is spelled Suetsumu (Hana)). In the chapter, Genji tracks down a forgotten princess in romantic straits, the daughter of Prince Hitachi, only to discover that she has a large red nose; in a poem, he alludes to this feature by citing the flower. This becomes her name in Waley: Seidenstecker calls her the "Safflower Lady"; in Tyler, she remains simply "Her Highness." Genji treats her reasonably well, anyway, though he makes fun of her to Murasaki. After his exile he discovers that her situation has worsened and vows to help her out (chapter 15).
  • Suma. Along the shore around the modern city of Kobe. Genji presumably chooses this as a place of exile because it had been the place of exile for Ariwara no Yukihara, a ninth century poet whose poems he recalls. The place gives its title to chapter 12. After a year, he leaves here for Akashi.
  • Sumiyoshi. A Shinto god with a shrine near Akashi and Suma
  • Suzaku (soo-zah-koo) Emperor. Genji's brother, the son of their father and his principal wife, Kokiden. He succeeds his father and is succeeded by the Reizei Emperor, who is succeeded in turn by the Suzaku emperor's son (by the sister of Prince Higekuro), , who is reigning at the end of the novel. His daughter the Third Princess (by Genji no Miya) becomes Genji's second principal wife. Another daughter (by Lady Ichijo), the Second Princess is the principal wife of To no Chujo's son, Kashiwagi. Another wife is own his maternal aunt, Oborozukiyo, who deceives him with Genji, so that the unfortunate results of his entrusting his daughter to Genji are a sort of poetic justice.
  • Taifu. The title of a minor official, this is used in Tyler's translation to refer to a noblewoman (myobu) who is the daughter of such an official and helps introduce Genji to the lady of the Suetsumuhana chapter. In Seidensticker, the name is spelled "Tayu"; Waley uses "Myobu" for the same character. She is the daughter of a former nurse of Genji.
  • Tamakazura (tah-mah-kah-zoo-rah) The daughter of To no Chujo and a mistress, the lady of the evening faces. Genji keeps her existence secret from her father and brings her to his own home, but she rebuffs him. He finally marries her to Prince Higekuro. Her unsuccessful suitors include To no Chujo's son, Kashiwagi and Genji's younger brother, Prince Hotaru. She reappears as a widow later in the novel.
  • Third Princess [Princess Nyosan (nyoh-sahn) in Waley translation.] A daughter of the Suzaku Emperor who becomes Genji's second principal wife after the death of Princess Aoi; her father wants someone to take care of her when he retires to religious life. This distresses Murasaki till she realizes that the girl is too childish (at 13) to interest the mature Genji (now 39) that much. She is, however, the mother of his son Kaoru, who is actually the fruit of an illicit affair with Kashiwagi. She becomes a nun after the birth.
  • To no Chujo (toh noh choo-joh) Genji's best friend and frequent rival. Eldest son of a Minister of the Left and Princess Omiya. Genji makes his acquaintance because he visits the house to see his principal wife, To No Chujo's sister Aoi. We first encounter him in chapter 2, when Genji is 17 and To No Chujo about the same. He is the father of Kashiwagi, Kobai, Kumoinakari, and (by the lady of the evening faces) Tamakazura. His principal wife is a daughter of the Minister of the Right. He succeeds his father as head of the all-powerful Fujiwara clan and is succeeded in turn by his son Kobai.
  • Tsu. A province. Koremitsu becomes Governor of Tsu.
  • Uji. A district only 10 miles south of the capital, but our characters find it distant and gloomy and the journey there hazardous. The last ten chapters are largely set here. In a house by the Uji river lives the ultra religious Prince Hachi.
  • Ukifune. An unrecognized daughter of the Eighth Prince and the tragic heroine of the last part of the book. Her status is lower than her birth might suggest because her mother later married a mere provincial governor, the Governor of Hitachi. Kaoru thinks this would make it impossible for him to take her openly as a secondary wife rather than a mistress. Involved with both Kaoru and Prince Niou.
  • Ukon (oo-kohn) A title meaning "watchman," it is used for several characters, including several female attendants. Of these, the most prominent are (1) one of the women of the lady of the evening faces in chapter 4, later employed by Genji, and (2) the more sensible of the ladies in waiting to Ukifune.
  • Utsusemi ("locust shell") The traditional name of the woman also known as "the lady of the locust shell" (Seidensticker) or "the lady of the cicada shell" (Tyler). Seduced (too forcefully) by Genji while she is the wife of the governor of Iyo, beginning a long relationship. In chapter 3, when she gives him the slip, he winds up sleeping with her stepdaughter, the sister of the governor of Kii. Her younger brother, Kogimi tries unsuccessfully to get her to see Genji again. She goes off to the provinces with her husband but they come back in the capital in chapter 16. Genji runs into their procession and again sends Kogimi to her with a message. He keeps after her. Her husband dies and she is also receiving advances from one of her stepsons, the former governor of Kii, now governor of Kawachi, a less tempting suitor altogether. She escapes all this by becoming a nun.
  • Yugao (yoo-gah-oh) Name given the lady of the evening faces in Waley translation and critics who use it. The flower "evening faces" is the yugao.
  • Yugiri (yoo-gee-ree) Son of Genji and Aoi. He eventually becomes an important minister of state. His principal wife is Lady Kumoinokari, the daughter of To no Chujo, who initially opposes the match. This is a love match, but he eventually becomes obsessed with the Second Princess, the widow of Kashiwagi, and makes her a secondary wife, so enraging his wife that she goes home to her father.
  • Zembo, Prince (zem-boh) Son of an emperor (Ichi no In?), brother of Genji's father and Princess Omiya. Married to the Lady of Rokujo. Father of Akikonomu. A one time crown prince, he is evidently dead before the novel begins.

    [Last posted May 12, 2006 by canary@uwp.edu]