Fact or Fiction #8 Answer

MurasakiShikibu.2  Fujiwara no Himiko is a fictional character, but she is based in part on two historical figures that lived centuries apart. Those figures are Queen Himiko (also called Pimiko), who ruled the Yamatai kingdom in Japan in the Third Century and Murasaki Shikibu, who lived during the Heian Era and wrote the Tale of the Genji (she is depicted in the picture above).

In The Accidental Samurai, Fujiwara no Himiko is a brilliant and talented woman who is keenly aware of the political disabilities faced by women in her time. She does not agree with the exclusion from politics and commerce women faced. Himiko has incredible strength, but most men only see her beauty. She refuses to dye her teeth black, her face white and paint her eyebrows, all important aspects of the aristocratic vision of beauty during the Heian era, but her natural beauty and strength shine through. Her inner-strength, political instincts, and leadership are modeled on the legends of Queen Himiko. Queen Himiko ruled from 189-248 C.E., and she is documented in contemporary Chinese writings. Much of what is known about her comes from Chinese records, but legends about her leadership and strength have entered Japanese culture.

The other character Himiko is based on is the author and poet Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote what many consider to be the world’s first novel, The Tale of the Genji. Himiko does not revel in the aristocratic society that Shikibu was a part of, but like Shikibu she is talented in the arts, which were highly valued during the Heian era. Also like Shikibu, her talent rises above her station in society.

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