Fujiwara Kintō (966-1041)was born the same year as Michinaga, and their rivalry stems back to their youth. Even as a young man Kintō seems to have excelled in every accomplishment, be it the composition of Chinese or Japanese poetry, painting, singing, or playing the flute—causing Michinaga's father to exclaim in chagrin, "It's mortifying! My sons can't even get close enough to step on his shadow!"

   Young Michinaga apparently retorted, "I may not tread on his shadow, but someday I'll walk all over his face!" Which is just what he eventually did as he rose to higher political position than his rival.

   Although he did not obtain particularly high rank or position, Kintō was nevertheless the prime arbiter of taste at court during Murasaki's time. The ladies were always self-conscious if they had to recite poetry in his presence since he was known to be so demanding.