Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


The Term “imamekashi” in Eiga monogatari
and the Tradition of naka no kanpaku-ke


(The Graduate University of Advanced Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies, Department of Japanese Literature)

Key words:

naka no kanpaku-ke, imamekashi, The Tale of Eiga, The Tale of Genji, The Tale of Ochikibo, The Tale of Utsuho

The family of Fujiwara no Michitaka has been called the naka no kanpaku-ke till now. The court lady Akazome Emon, the author of the Eiga monogatari (The Tale of Eiga, trans. as A Tale of Flowering Fortunes) presents in volume three the tradition of the naka no kanpaku-ke as “imamekashi.” However, if one checks other tales, there is nothing to support this characterization. Although Dr. Kanō Shigefumi indicated in 1971 that a family tradition is considered to be information acquired by hearsay, it may point the way in this case to understanding the discrepancy.

Beginning with the work of Dr. Shinma Shinichi, many researchers have tried to make clear the meaning of “imamekashi” and suggest that it is a “hanayaka” (a flowery expression) that refers to “keihaku” (frivolity). But what remains unclear is the reason why the tradition of naka no kanpaku-ke is said to be “imamekashi.”

This paper examines the use of imamekashi in previous tales written in the Heian period. In The Tale of Utsuho, The Tale of Ochikubo, and The Tale of Genji, all written before Eiga monogatari, imamekashi refers to a rival family. It seems that when the latter tale was written, Akazome Emon did not consult previous writings about naka no kanpakuke nor the tradition connected with them. She used this word imamekashi for naka no kanpaku-ke with her own intention. This understanding became the family tradition. As a result of my inquiry, I try to clarify this process.