An Imperial Concubine's Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and by G. G. Rowley

By G. G. Rowley

Japan within the early 17th century was once a wild position. Serial killers stalked the streets of Kyoto at evening, whereas noblemen and girls mingled freely on the imperial palace, consuming saké and looking at kabuki dancing within the presence of the emperor's primary consort. between those noblewomen used to be an imperial concubine named Nakanoin Nakako, who in 1609 grew to become embroiled in a intercourse scandal concerning either courtiers and younger women within the emperor's provider. As punishment, Nakako used to be banished to an island within the Pacific Ocean, yet she by no means reached her vacation spot. in its place, she was once shipwrecked and spent fourteen years in a distant village at the Izu Peninsula prior to she was once eventually allowed to come back to Kyoto. In 1641, Nakako started a brand new experience: she entered a convent and have become a Buddhist nun.

Recounting the notable tale of this resilient lady and her war-torn international, G. G. Rowley investigates aristocratic family members files, village storehouses, and the documents of imperial convents. She follows the banished concubine as she endures rural exile, gets an unforeseen reprieve, and rediscovers herself because the abbess of a nunnery. whereas unraveling Nakako's strange story, Rowley additionally finds the little-known lives of samurai girls who sacrificed themselves at the fringes of the good battles that introduced an finish to greater than a century of civil warfare. Written with willing perception and actual affection, An Imperial Concubine's Tale tells the genuine tale of a woman's remarkable existence in seventeenth-century Japan.

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Extra resources for An Imperial Concubine's Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and Salvation in Seventeenth-Century Japan

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The response of some was to cling ever more tightly to what remained of their cultural capital, especially literary texts and the practices that had grown up around them. These included giving lectures on the interpretation of important texts, compiling written commentaries on which such lectures were based, and holding parties where poetry was publicly presented. Paying warrior students sometimes attended, even hosted, p ­ oetry-composing parties, where they could rub shoulders with their noble, if impoverished teachers—even though, as in the case of Hideyoshi, such gatherings could be tense affairs.

In his diary, only fragments of which survive, Michikatsu records the visit of one Genzaburō from Kaga, where the family estates were located. Inoue Muneo, Michikatsu’s biographer, speculates that the man was a steward responsible for ensuring that income from the estates was remitted. 13 In the summer of 1569, when Michikatsu was thirteen, his uncle Sanjōnishi Saneki had finally returned to Kyoto after more than a decade spent earning his living in the entourage of the Imagawa, a provincial warrior family with courtly pretensions based in Sunpu.

Nonetheless, he seems to have made Michikatsu welcome in every way he could. One favor he did his noble guest was to provide him with a wife. ”30 What does this complex designation mean? To answer this question, we must briefly recount the relationship between the Hosokawa and the Isshiki family to which the young woman was born. The story serves to illustrate many features of this savage age: first, the destruction of the a Courtier’s life, in and out of the world • 27 old Ashikaga order by new forces allied to powerful provincial warlords; second, the unceasing brutality of the warfare in which warriors engaged; third, the fragility of the loyalties that such incessant warfare produced; and finally, the role of women in making all sorts of bonds between men, from political alliances to literary friendships.

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