Okagami (The Great Mirror) (大鏡)

The Great Mirror is a historical tale written in the style of a biographical record. It was written in the late Heian period (the period of cloistered government by Emperor Shirakawa). Although the author is unknown, a convincing theory is that it was written by an official, probably a man who was close to the Fujiwara regent's line or to the Minamoto clan, which was related by marriage. It is the first of the so-called 'Four Mirrors,' although it describes the second-oldest period. It is a work in the style of a dialogue that shows a remarkable historical viewpoint, and is divided into three, six or eight parts.

Title

The Great Mirror' means 'an excellent mirror that reflects history clearly.'
It is also called 'The Tale of Yotsugi,' 'The Tale of Old Man Yotsugi (Yotsugi no okina ga monogatari)' or 'The Tale of Yotsugi's Mirror (Yotsugi no kagami no maki).'

Contents

It describes 176 years of the Imperial Court's history, the reigns of 14 emperors from Emperor Montoku's ascension up to 1025 and the reign of Emperor Go-ichijo, with the prosperity of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, and especially the glory of Michinaga FUJIWARA as its core, being written in the style of a dialogue between two extremely old men, 190-year-old OYAKE no Yotsugi and 180-year-old NATSUYAMA no Shigeki, with the criticisms of a young samurai, taking place at the enlightenment sermons (bodaiko) held at the Urinin.

It is written in a mix of wago (Yamato kotoba, native Japanese words) with kango (words of Chinese origin) and Buddhist terms, and is full of simple but dramatic expressions. In episodes such as the power struggle between brothers Kanemichi and Kaneie FUJIWARA, and Michikane FUJIWARA's deceiving Emperor Kazan into taking holy orders, the author vividly depicts the individual characters and strategies of the powerful, thus constituting some of the best parts of the work. There is also a touch of cynicism about the insatiable desire for power.

Also, when the work was expanded there was a story written about what happened afterwards, called 'The Tale of Another Old Man' (Ni no mai no okina no monogatari), which was said to have been written by 'a master of the Empress's household.'

Accordingly, it is assumed that probably MINAMOTO no Masasada (or his predecessor FUJIWARA no Ietada), who served as the master of the Empress's household during the period when Okagami is thought to have been expanded, was responsible for the additions.

Additionally, OYAKE no Yotsugi mentioned in the work that he was born on January 15 of the year of Emperor Seiwa's abdication, making his date of birth February 13, 876 (in the Julian calendar).

Structure

It is written in the style of a biographical and is divided into five parts.
Preface

A Record of Emperors

Biographies of regents, chancellors and ministers
FUJIWARA no Fuyutsugu, Sadaijin (Minister of the Left)
FUJIWARA no Yoshifusa (Regent), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Yoshimi, Sadaijin
FUJIWARA no Nagara, Acting Middle Counselor, Junii (Junior Second Rank), Commander of the Left Palace Guards
FUJIWARA no Mototsune (Regent, Chancellor), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Tokihira, Sadaijin
FUJIWARA no Nakahira, Sadaijin
FUJIWARA no Tadahira (Regent, Chancellor), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Saneyori (Regent, Chancellor), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Yoritada (Chancellor), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Morotada, Sadaijin
FUJIWARA no Morosuke, Udaijin (Minister of the Right)
FUJIWARA no Koretada (Regent), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Kanemichi (Chancellor), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Tamemitsu, Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Kinsue, Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Kaneie (Regent, Chancellor), Great Minister of State
FUJIWARA no Michitaka (Regent, Chancellor), Minister of the Palace
FUJIWARA no Michikane (Chancellor), Udaijin
FUJIWARA no Michinaga (Regent), Great Minister of State

Tales of the Fujiwara

Tales of the Distant Past