Nobunori

Fujiwara Nobunori (980-1011) was Murasaki's younger brother. He was the only son among Tametoki's three children by his first wife. There was the unknown eldest daughter (my "Takako"), Murasaki, and Nobunori. According to Murasaki's reminiscence in her Diary, Nobunori was not a terribly bright bulb. The scene from her childhood in which her father sighs about his daughter's ease in learning the Chinese texts so difficult for poor dim Nobunori, comes directly from the Diary. This impression of Nobunori's fecklessness is furthered by the two or three places where his name is mentioned in other historical sources. For example, there is the incident when Murasaki is staying at the Tsuchimikado Mansion and her brother arrives with a message for the empress. Nobunori gets waylaid by some old cronies who get him drunk and he disgraces himself. This is recorded as having occurred on the seventeenth day of the fifth month of 1008—and that is where I have worked it in.
   In the twelfth month of that same year there is a description of an incident where Nobunori was supposed to divide up a chest of cloth among a number of people, but gave the whole pile to one man, causing an uproar. Although the reason for his action is not stated, I have guessed that he was deeply hung-over. Given the many descriptions of drunken carousing in Murasaki's Diary and other sources, it appears that alcoholism was not a trivial problem in Heian Japan. It seemed reasonable to paint Nobunori's portrait with a brush dipped in saké.
   Nobunori obtained his first court appointment as a scribe in 1004, and was advanced to the position of Sixth Secretary in 1007. My characterization of Murasaki's uneasy relationship with Michinaga was suggested by that sudden promotion of her brother at that time. When Tametoki was posted to the province of Echigo late in his life, Nobunori accompanied him in 1011. He died there soon after arriving. His death and his poem exchange with Lady Chûjô( a woman in service to the Virgin Priestess whose letters Murasaki stole peeks at and despised) became the subject of other tales—with the image of Nobunori drawing his last breath with an unfinished poem to the lady in his hand. Despite the evidence of a bungling nature, Nobunori left a personal poem collection and even had ten poems included in imperial anthologies.