Izumi Shikibu (Japanese: 和泉式部, b. 976?) was a mid Heian period
Japanese poet. She is a member of the Thirty-six Medieval Poetry
Immortals (中古三十六歌仙, chūko sanjurokkasen). She was the
contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu, and
Akazome Emon at the court of
empress Joto Mon'in.
She "is considered by many to have been the greatest woman poet of the
Heian period." Her legacy includes 242 poems and 2 kashu.
"Torn between worldly ties and physical desire,
Izumi Shikibu left a
wealth of passionate love poetry, fueling rumors that purported that
she was a femme fatale with numerous lovers besides her two husbands
and two princely lovers.":155
1 Early life
1.1 Affairs, marriages
3 Later years
8 External links
Izumi Shikibu was the daughter of Oe no Masamune, governor of Echizen.
Her mother was the daughter of Taira no Yasuhira, governor of Etchu.
In 995, at the age of 20, Izumi was married to Tachibana no Michisada,
governor of Izumi, the origin for her name. Their daughter was born in
997, Koshikibu no Naishi, who also became a poet. However, Izumi soon
divorced, and her former husband died soon afterwards.:4,7,9
As is standard for
Heian period women, her name is a composite of
"Izumi" from her husband's charge (任国, ningoku) and her father's
official designation of master of ceremony (式部, shikibu).
She had a sequence of affairs at the Imperial court in Kyoto. In the
beginning, before her marriage to Michisada, she is believed to have
been the companion (some accounts say wife) of a man named Omotomaru
at dowager Queen Shoko's court.
While still married to Michisada, she fell in love and had an affair
with Emperor Reizei's third son, Prince Tametaka (Danjo no Miya
Tametaka Shinnō:弾正宮為尊親王 977-1002). As a result of the
scandal her husband divorced her and her family disowned her. The Eiga
Monogatari implies that Tametaka fell ill and died because of his
"continual nocturnal escapades.":8–9,11
After Tametaka's death, she was courted by Prince Atsumichi
(敦道親王, Atsumichi Shinnō, 981–1007), Tametaka's brother. The
first year of this affair is described in her semi-autobiographical
Diary. Her motive in writing the diary "seems to have been written
solely to appease her mind, and to record the poems which passed
between them." Izumi then moved into Atsumichi's residence, and the
two had a very public courtship until Atsumichi's death in 1007 at the
age of 27.:12–13
Soon after, probably in 1009, Izumi joined the court of Fujiwara no
Shōshi, who was the daughter of Fujiwara no Michinaga, and the
consort of Emperor Ichijō.:14
Further testimony of the scandal caused by her successive affairs with
the Princes Tametaka and Atsumichi can be found in two historical
tales (rekishi monogatari) about the period, A Tale of Flowering
Fortunes (or Eiga Monogatari), c. mid-eleventh century, and The Great
Mirror (or Ōkagami), c. late eleventh century.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Diary of Izumi Shikibu
Izumi Shikibu Nikki was written at the beginning of Izumi's
relationship with Prince Atsumichi and continues for about nine months
(1003-1004). Written in a third person narrative, the diary contains
waka poetry, with over one hundred poems including renga. The "plot"
is one of "alternate ardor and indifference on the part of the Prince,
and timidity and yearning on the part of Izumi.":25–26
Her important work is present in the
Izumi Shikibu Collection
(和泉式部集, Izumi Shikibu-shū) and the imperial anthologies.
Her life of love and passion earned her the nickname of The Floating
Lady (浮かれ女, ukareme) from Michinaga.
Also at the court at the same time as Izumi were Akazome Emon,
Murasaki Shikibu, and Ise no Tayu.:14
While at the court in 1009, she married Fujiwara no Yasumasa
(958-1036), a military commander under Michinaga famous for his
bravery, and left the court to accompany him to his charge in Tango
Province. She outlived her daughter Koshikibu no Naishi, but the year
of her death is unknown. The last Imperial correspondence from her was
a poem written in 1027. The
Eiga Monogatari includes this poem, which
accompanied Yasumasa's offering of jewels for a Buddha figure "made in
memory of the Empress
In contemporary arts, the
National Opera of Paris
National Opera of Paris and the Grand
Geneva jointly commissioned an opera based on her poems.
Titled “Da Gelo a Gelo” by
Salvatore Sciarrino and sung in
Italian, the work draws on 65 poems from
Izumi Shikibu Nikki that
features her passion for Prince Atsumichi. It was performed in early
2008 by the Grand Theater of
Geneva with the Chamber Orchestra of
A page 2nd collected works of
Izumi Shikibu 12th century
karu mo kaki fusu wi no toko no wi wo yasumi sa koso nezarame kakarazu
loosely: Trampling the dry grass the wild boar makes his bed, and
sleeps. I would not sleep so soundly even were I without these
Goshūi Wakashū 14:821)
kurokami no midaremo shirazu uchifuseba madzu kakiyarishi hito zo
loosely: My black hair is unkempt; unconcerned, he lies down and first
gently smooths it, my darling!
Goshūi Wakashū 13:755)
nodoka naru ori koso nakere hana wo omou kokoro no uchi ni kaze wa
loosely: "There is not even a moment of calmness. In the heart that
loves the blossoms, the wind is already blowing."
A large number of her poems are poems of lamentation (哀傷歌,
aishō no uta). A few examples, first to Tametaka:
naki hito no kuru yo to kikedo kimi mo nashi wa ga sumu yado ya
tamanaki no sato
loosely: They say the dead return tonight, but you are not here. Is my
dwelling truly a house without spirit?
Goshūi Wakashū 10:575)
Upon seeing her daughter Koshikibu no Naishi's name on her Imperial
robes she received after her death:
morotomo ni koke no shita ni ha kuchizu shite udzumorenu na wo miru zo
loosely: Beneath the moss, imperishable, her name of high renown:
seeing it is a great sadness.
Kin'yō Wakashū 10:620)
^ McMillan, Peter (2008). One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each. Columbia
University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9780231143998.
^ a b Mulhern, Chieko (1994). Japanese Women Writers: A Bio-Critical
Sourcebook. Greenwood Press. p. 154. ISBN 0313254869.
^ a b c d e f g Cranston, Edwin (1969). The
Izumi Shikibu Diary.
Harvard University Press. p. 15,17,203,205.
^ a b c d Lowell, Amy (1920). Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan.
The Riverside Press Cambridge. p. 13.
^ Sato, Hiroaki (1995). Legends of the Samurai. Overlook Duckworth.
p. 30. ISBN 9781590207307.
Edwin Cranston. Izumi Shikibu.
Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan.
Hiroaki Sato (2008). Japanese women poets: an anthology. M.E. Sharpe,
Earl Miner; Hiroko Odagiri; Robert E. Morrell (1985). The Princeton
Companion to Classical Japanese Literature. Princeton University
Press. pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-691-06599-3.
Shūichi Katō (October 1995). A History of Japanese Literature.
Kodansha. ISBN 1-873410-48-4.
Janet Walker (June 1977). "Poetic Ideal and Fictional Reality in the
Izumi Shikibu nikki". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Harvard
Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1. 37 (1): 135–182.
doi:10.2307/2718668. JSTOR 2718668.
Jane Hirshfield; Mariko Aratani (1990). The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems
by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of
Japan. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-72958-5.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Izumi Shikibu
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Izumi Shikibu Nikki online". University of Virginia Library Japanese
Text Initiative. Retrieved 2006-07-07.
The Diary of Izumi Shikibu, by
Izumi Shikibu (974- ) Publication:
Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan. translated by Annie Shepley
Omori and Kochi Doi, with an introduction by Amy Lowell. Boston and
New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920, pp. 147–196.
ISNI: 0000 0000 7978 4637
BNF: cb121265794 (data)