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"Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan", a 1920 translation of the diaries of three 11th-century Japanese women: "Lady Sarashina", Murasaki Shikibu, and Izumi Shikibu.

All three women were ladies-in-waiting in the Japanese court during the Heian Period. Lady Murasaki is the author of The Tale of Genji, often attributed to be the world's first novel,—she and Lady Izumi were also poets—despite the restricted lives of women in this period.

The translation into English was made by Annie Shepley Omori (an American artist resident in Japan) and Kōchi Doi (a Japanese Professor of English at the Imperial University in Tokyo). The Wikisource edition was proofread as part of the Proofread of the Month collaborative exercise.

Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan 004.jpg

I was brought up in a distant province which lies farther than the farthest end of the Eastern Road. I am ashamed to think that inhabitants of the Royal City will think me an uncultured girl.

Somehow I came to know that there are such things as romances in the world and wished to read them. When there was nothing to do by day or at night, one tale or another was told me by my elder sister or stepmother, and I heard several chapters about the shining Prince Genji. My longing for such stories increased, but how could they recite them all from memory? I became very restless and got an image of Yakushi Buddha made as large as myself. When I was alone I washed my hands and went secretly before the altar and prayed to him with all my life, bowing my head down to the floor. "Please let me go to the Royal City. There I can find many tales. Let me read all of them."

(Read on...)