The Tale of Genji

Reizei Character Analysis

Reizei is Genji and Fujitsubo's son, though he's conceived through secret rape and therefore grows up believing that the Emperor is his father. Though the novel never notes that Reizei is told outright that Genji is his biological father, the way that Reizei talks and writes suggests that he is eventually made aware of this fact. Reizei is, like Genji, a beautiful baby and child, and he's skilled like his father in music and language. This is a major source of anxiety for Fujitsubo, as she fears that the resemblance will out the secret of Reizei's paternity. The Emperor is so taken with Reizei, he names him crown prince when he's still an infant and never appears to suspect that Reizei isn't his child. When Suzaku takes the throne and the Emperor dies, the conflict between Fujitsubo and Genji comes to a head and Genji begins to ignore Reizei as a way to punish Fujitsubo. However, he soon abandons this route, and the two agree to make peace for their child’s sake. At age eleven, Reizei comes of age and becomes emperor. His grandfather, the Minister of the Left, acts as his regent. Reizei is a great art lover and so the two ladies competing for his hand, the Kokiden girl and Akikonomu, do whatever they can in order to have the most and the best art. Akikonomu has a special advantage, as she's a painter. She's also several years older than Reizei. When she wins the competition and presumably goes on to marry Reizei, the adults hope that her maturity will help her guide Reizei and solidify his position.

Reizei Quotes in The Tale of Genji

The The Tale of Genji quotes below are all either spoken by Reizei or refer to Reizei. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Tale of Genji published in 1976.
An Autumn Excursion Quotes

Fujitsubo was tormented by feelings of guilt and apprehension. Surely everyone who saw the child would guess the awful truth and damn her for it. People were always happy to seek out the smallest and most trivial of misdeeds.

Related Characters: Genji, Fujitsubo, Reizei, The Emperor
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:
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In the Seventh Month, Fujitsubo was made empress [...] Making plans for his abdication, the emperor wanted to name Fujitsubo's son crown prince. The child had no strong backing, however [...] The emperor therefore wanted Fujitsubo in an unassailable position from which to promote her son's career.

Related Characters: Genji, Fujitsubo, Suzaku, Reizei, The Emperor
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Heartvine Quotes

"Though I leave behind a world I cannot endure,

My heart remains with him, still of that world.

And will be muddied by it."

Related Characters: Genji, Fujitsubo, The Rokujō Lady, Reizei, Akikonomu
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
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Reizei Character Timeline in The Tale of Genji

The timeline below shows where the character Reizei appears in The Tale of Genji. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
An Autumn Excursion
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...finally, at the end of February, she finally gives birth to her and Genji’s son (Reizei). Not wanting to give Kokiden the satisfaction of seeing her die, her will to live... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
In April, Reizei is finally brought to the palace. He looks amazingly like Genji, which thrills the Emperor.... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...of his reach forever. Fujitsubo continues to fear that the secret will get out as Reizei grows and resembles Genji more and more. (full context)
The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...of February, the Emperor holds the festival of the cherry blossoms. He seats Fujitsubo and Reizei on one side of him and Genji on the other, which makes Kokiden extremely angry.... (full context)
Heartvine
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...when he moves out of the main palace. The Emperor, meanwhile, spends his time missing Reizei and worrying that he has no strong backers, so he asks Genji to be Reizei's... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...send her a note, though he doesn't visit. Aoi's son, Yugiri, looks so much like Reizei that it makes Genji feel he must see the other boy. Before returning to court,... (full context)
The Sacred Tree
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...to Genji and to ask Genji for advice. Suzaku agrees to follow his father's wishes. Reizei also visits the Emperor with Fujitsubo. Later, the Emperor tells Genji to take care of... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Fujitsubo continues to worry about Reizei. Though she's happy that the Emperor never found out about Reizei's paternity, she's still afraid... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...of empress to appease Kokiden. She resolves to become a nun and goes to see Reizei. While at court, she remembers why she can't live there: the stress of worrying about... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji ignores Reizei to punish Fujitsubo for her "cruelty." He attempts to avoid gossip by spending several days... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...read it. She understands she needs to remain friendly with Genji for the sake of Reizei, and Genji realizes the same. (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...him in the matter. They discuss all manner of things and finally, they talk about Reizei and Fujitsubo. As Genji leaves the emperor's chambers, one of Kokiden's nephews boldly insults Genji... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...tell her his true thoughts. Fujitsubo sends out a note that her heart remains with Reizei. Finally, Genji leaves. (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
Genji wonders what will happen to Reizei all night. In the morning, he throws himself into getting the nunnery ready for Fujitsubo... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Fujitsubo's household is passed over entirely. She devotes herself to prayer and reminds herself that Reizei's security is the most important thing. Genji, the Minister of the Left, and Tō no... (full context)
Suma
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Emperor's grave and but stops in first to see Fujitsubo. They discuss their worries about Reizei and Genji refrains from bringing up old complaints. The nighttime ride to the grave is... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
As the seasons pass, Genji thinks often of Murasaki, Reizei, and Yugiri. He sends letters to Murasaki, Fujitsubo, and Oborozukiyo. In her grief and loneliness,... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...expresses sadness that he and Oborozukiyo don't have children. Suzaku says he'd like to adopt Reizei, but fears doing so because of guaranteed objections from those in power. (full context)
Akashi
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...Year arrives, the Suzaku Emperor is still ill. Suzaku realizes he must abdicate and allow Reizei to rule. Finally, he decides to go against Kokiden and in the summer, summons Genji... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...titles and they talk happily all night. Genji sets about commissioning prayers, checks in on Reizei and Fujitsubo, and sends a note to Akashi. The Gosechi dancer is disappointed that Genji... (full context)
Channel Buoys
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
In February, eleven-year-old Reizei comes of age. Suzaku abdicates suddenly a few weeks later and makes one of his... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...Genji's children will become emperor and empress, while the third will be a chancellor. With Reizei's ascension to the throne, Genji feels as though all of this is coming true. (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
...and Fujitsubo is treated with the respect of a retired empress. She's able to see Reizei again and now, Kokiden is on the outs. Genji is cold towards Prince Hyōbu because... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...lover, but he decides it will be better to bring her to the court for Reizei. Genji makes sure that Akikonomu's other suitors are all turned away, and he learns that... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...to not know that Suzaku loves Akikonomu. When she accepts Akikonomu as a candidate for Reizei's hand, Genji makes plans to bring Akikonomu to his mansion to keep Murasaki company. Fujitsubo... (full context)
A Picture Contest
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...helps install Akikonomu at court and feels the Rokujō Lady would be proud. Fujitsubo tells Reizei about the new lady. Reizei fears that because she's older than he is she'll be... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...commissions painters to illustrate classic stories and installs the paintings in the Kokiden girl's apartments. Reizei loves them but is sad when Tō no Chūjō won't let Akikonomu look at the... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji notices the contest and suggests that Reizei should be present for the final judgments. The narrator notes that by now, the most... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...ladies' chambers are elegantly decked out and Tō no Chūjō, Genji, and other courtiers attend. Reizei asks Prince Hotaru, his uncle, to act as umpire. The debate is lively and by... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...paintings to Fujitsubo, promising to one day tell her everything. Tō no Chūjō hopes that Reizei won't forget the Kokiden girl after her loss in the art contest. Genji is thrilled... (full context)