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 ladies mingled freely on the imperial palace, ingesting saké and looking at kabuki dancing within the presence of the emperor's imperative consort. between those noblewomen was once an imperial concubine named Nakanoin Nakako, who in 1609 turned embroiled in a intercourse scandal regarding either courtiers and younger ladies within the emperor's provider. As punishment, Nakako was once banished to an island within the Pacific Ocean, yet she by no means reached her vacation spot. as a substitute, she was once shipwrecked and spent fourteen years in a distant village at the Izu Peninsula ahead of she was once ultimately allowed to come back to Kyoto. In 1641, Nakako begun a brand new experience: she entered a convent and have become a Buddhist nun.
Recounting the amazing tale of this resilient lady and her war-torn global, G. G. Rowley investigates aristocratic kin data, village storehouses, and the files 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 unearths the little-known lives of samurai ladies who sacrificed themselves at the fringes of the nice 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 awesome 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
We do not know what became of his Lady Iyo, or whether he ever saw her again. The times being as they were, and life being as it is, probably he did not. Hosokawa Yūsai Michikatsu’s whereabouts in 1581 are unknown. At some point during this year, however, he took refuge with the warrior Hosokawa Yūsai, who had once been a student of his late uncle Sanjōnishi Saneki. Michikatsu would spend the remainder of his long exile from court living under Yūsai’s protection. 25 His mother was born to the low-ranking yet still noble Kiyohara family, distinguished for its scholarship of the Chinese classics.
There would have been little Michikatsu could do but huddle over a brazier for warmth. Inoue transcribes several poems from this period that reveal Michikatsu rehearsing the expression of disgruntlement at his misfortune. 40 The first is on “admiring the blossoms”: yoso ni shite omou mo hana ni urami are ya ōmiyabito no haru no kokoro o Away from it all, how I resent the blossoms! Especially when I recall the feelings they inspire in courtiers in spring. Even the imagined sight of cherry blossoms upsets him, he claims—the eleventh month, when Michikatsu composed these poems, is midwinter.
Lll What would Nakako’s early childhood have been like? At its most fundamental level, what would she have eaten every day, what would she have worn, who would have educated her and her elder brothers? Doubtless the family’s staple food consisted of grains such as barley, brown rice, and millet. They would also have eaten a variety of vegetables—ferns, pulses, and roots—simmered or pickled, as well as cooked seaweeds. Protein in the traditional Japanese diet was supplied by tofu and other soybean products, and in Tanabe there would have been fresh fish from the sea, whereas in landlocked Kyoto all but river fish had to be preserved in either salt or vinegar before transport there.
An Imperial Concubine's Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and Salvation in Seventeenth-Century Japan by G. G. Rowley