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
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
a novel about the work's author, The Tale of Murasaki (2000),
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, 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.
(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
Chujo (choo-joh)The name means "captain."
Several female attendants bear this name, probably taken from their
-- One is the servant of the wife of the Governor of Iyo in chapter
-- 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
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
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.
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
Heian Kyo (hay-ahn kyo) Capital of Japan in
Genji's time. The modern Kyoto.
Hiei (hee-ay) Mountain north of the
Higekuro, Prince (hee-geh-koo-roh)
His father was a Minister of the Right. His
principal wife is a daughter of
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
Hotaru, Prince (hoh-tah-roo) A younger
brother of Genji. His first principal wife is a sister of his stepmother
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
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
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.
a suitor for Genji's ward
He seduces Genji's second principal wife,
the Third Princess and is the true father of
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
(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
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
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
Mother of Genji's best friend,
To no Chujo, and his wife,
Aoi. After Aoi's death, she has responsibility for
Onna San no Miya. See the Third Princess.
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
Rokujo (roh-koo-joh)The Sixth Ward of the capital city of
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 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:
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
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
, who is reigning at the end of the novel.
His daughter the Third Princess (by Genji no Miya)
Genji's second principal wife.
Another daughter (by Lady Ichijo), the Second
Princess is the principal wife of
To no Chujo's son,
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
(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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Name given the lady of the evening faces in Waley
translation and critics who use it. The flower "evening faces" is the
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.
(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 email@example.com]