Episode 431 – The Tale of Nakako, Part 1

This week on the podcast, we’re exploring the life of a woman whose story would normally be confined to the sidelines: an imperial concubine in the early 1600s by the name of Nakanoin Nakako? Who was this young woman and how did she become a part of the emperor’s household?


Rowley, G.G. An Imperial Concubine’s Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and Salvation in 17th Century Japan.

Caddeau, Patrick, Lewis Cook, Wiebke Denecke, Michael Emmerich, Michael Jamentz, Christina Laffin, James McMullen, et al. Reading The Tale of Genji: Sources from the First Millennium. Edited by Thomas Harper and Haruo Shirane.


Hosokawa Yusai, who sponsored and protected Nakanoin Michikatsu during his exile.
This is a print edition of the Tale of Ise, a classic work of Japanese literature, from 1608–this particular edition was assembled under Nakanoin Michikatsu’s supervision, giving you some idea of how authoritative he was as a literary scholar. From the University of Illinois Library.
Tanabe Castle (now sometimes called Maizuru castle), where Nakanoin Nakako was born. I have not been, but I’ve heard there’s a lovely museum!
All three volumes of a modern version of The River Min Enters Chu. Gives you some idea of why it took 10 years!
A replica of the Kyoto Imperial Palace (north is to the left).
The Otsunegoten, the building which housed the imperial household, where Nakanoin Nakako would have waited upon Emperor Go-Yozei.