The Kunai-Kyo was a real person. “Kunai-Kyo” was the title of the Head of the Imperial Household. In The Accidental Samurai, the Kunai-Kyo is also a close confidant of the Emperor. In the Heian era social rank was quite important, and someone holding the position of the Kunai-Kyo would have been of a high rank and would have had a lot of contact with the Emperor and his family. In the book, the Kunai-Kyo was given a higher social rank by the Emperor based on merit rather than family status. This disturbed some people.
There are no known paintings of Emperor Murakami’s Kunai-Kyo. The above image is a representation of a Heian era aristocrat. Despite a good deal of research I was unable to determine the proper name of Emperor Murakami’s Kunai-Kyo. At first I created a name for the character, but after writing a good bit of the book I decided to refer to him by his title. He is a likeable and complex person, who is quite serious about his duties, so using his title rather than a proper name adds to his mystique.