Fujiwara Korechika (973-1010) was the big loser in the political struggle that took Michinaga to power. He seemed so well placed-as the son of Regent Michitaka, twenty-two year old Korechika even took charge of the government upon his father's death. His sister Teishi was empress, so he was perfectly positioned to take over the regency. Yet it did not happen-largely due to the sway of Dowager Empress Senshi, his aunt. This influential woman (who was Ichijō’s mother) favored her brother Michinaga for the position of regent. Was it Korechika's youth and notorious hot-headedness that gave his aunt pause? Did Michinaga frame him with trumped up charges of treason? Whatever the reason, Korechika seems to have been a flamboyant and impulsive man who did not play his political cards very cleverly.

   He watched from the sidelines in despair as the fortunes of his sister Teishi sank after Michinaga gave his own daughter Shōshi to Ichijō in marriage. By the time of Teishi's third pregnancy, Korechika was desperate. His sister's survival and the advancement of her children were his last threads of hope for political power. As described in my novel, Teishi's death spelled the end of Korechika's chances. Korechika has long been mentioned as a possible real-life model for Murasaki Shikibu's Prince Genji, and my character of Murasaki is fascinated by him. Certainly he is more Genji-like than the crafty and powerful Michinaga could ever have been. The Japanese have a long literary tradition of favoring noble losers (Ivan Morris wrote an entire book, The Nobility of Failure, dedicated to this theme) believing there is something inherently romantic about them.