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Early Women Writers






Heian-kyo (modern day Kyoto), Kamakura




An adopted child of Taira no Norishige, Abutsu-ni grew in fame through her service at court as a lady-in-waiting to Princess Kuni-Naishinnō (Empress Ankamon-in). Her reputation as an educated poet may have been instrumental in securing a court appointment. She was also a renowned scholar of “The Tale of Genji”. In approximately 1250 she married fellow poet Fujiwara no Tameie. She had two children with him. Following his death in 1275, she became a nun. A dispute over her son's inheritance led her to travel from Kyoto to Kamakura in order to plead on her son's behalf. Her account of this journey, told in poems and letters, was published as “Izayoi nikki” ("The Journal of the Sixteenth-Night Moon"), her most well-known work. Abutsu was responsible for establishing the Reizei School of poetry. Althought her career was short, Abustu led a controversial life. She is known as a poet, diarist, memoirist, and as a travel writer.


The Izayoi nikki (Journal of the Sixteenth-Night Moon), Fubokushō (Private anthology of 59 poems),Ankamon-in no Shijo gohyakushu (Manuscript, The Five Hundred Poem Sequence by Ankamon-in no Shijo),
Utatane no ki (Record of a Nap),
Yoru no tsuru (The Night Crane),
Niwa no oshie (Garden Instructions).




Travel writing, Diarist, Memoir, Essays, Poetry

Editions and Translations

Reischauer, Edwin O. "The Izayoi Nikki." Translations from Japanese Literature. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1951. ; McCullough, Helen Craig. Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1991. ; Carter, Steven D. Waiting for the Wind: Thirty-Six Poets of Japan's Late Medieval Age. New York: Columbia UP, 1989.


"Japanese Women Writers: A Bio-critical Sourcebook", edited by Iriem Mulhern, Chieko, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994, London, pp. 3-8.

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