Show artwork for Top Girls: Lady Nijō

Top Girls: Lady Nijō

Li-Leng Au as Lady Nij� (Photography: Marcel Aucar)

Now I’m afloat, now sinking.

If the streams of the afterworld

Had shoals where we might meet,

I would hurl my body in to see you.

- from The Confessions of Lady Nij�

In 1271 Lady Nij�, from the powerful Fujiwara Nij� Family, became the concubine of a retired Japanese emperor, Emperor Go-Fukakusa. In this position she learnt the social skills required to maintain a high-ranking position in society.

Despite being favoured by Emperor Go-Fukakusa, NijÅ� took several other lovers at this time, including a powerful member of society and a priest, having three children by men other than the Emperor. The one child she bore to the Emperor died in infancy. Due to her behaviour in this position, Lady NijÅ� was disliked by Go-Fukakusa’s consort, who was eventually responsible for evicting NijÅ� from the court, forcing her to leave the palace.

At the age of 26, Lady Nij� became a Buddhist nun. However, unlike most people who entered Buddhist orders, Nij� travelled throughout Japan. During her travels she recorded her life story in the book The Confessions of Lady Nij�.

“The Confessions of Lady NijÅ�”:, translated by Karen Brazell (1983)

Li-Leng Au joins the cast as Lady NijÅ� in “Top Girls”:, playing at the MTC Theatre, Sumner from 25 August to 29 September.

Published on 15 August 2012