Izayoi nikki. The History of a Disputed Heritage in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333)
This paper aims to cast fresh new light upon Izayoi nikki (The Diary of the Sixteenth Night Moon, c. 1280), the most representative work of Nun Abutsu. After considering why it has long been undervalued by Japanese scholars, this study takes a close look at the long and complicated legal dispute described in the diary. In this legal dispute, Nun Abutsu played a central role as loyal mother and widowed nun in struggling to ensure a future for her children, the natural descendants of a famous dynasty of poets. To fully understand the strength of the reasons behind her actions, it would seem to be of fundamental importance to read Izayoi nikki from a different perspective, taking into account not only the personal story of the author but also the socio-historical framework of the Kamakura period, focusing in particular on inheritance practices and the kinds of responsibilities women were expected to bear in relation to the family.