Because women in ancient Japan enjoyed high status, they were well-educated and reasonably independent. They also produced much of the country's best literature. Three of these amazing ladies wrote these diaries, among them the highly skilled writer Murasaki Shikibu (ca. 973–1025 a.d.). A lady-in-waiting to the Japanese Empress, she became very adept at observing the daily activities and attitudes of the upper classes. Her diary is a remarkable record of events staged with rare and exquisite taste. The Sarashina Diary, filled with an appreciation of nature, begins with a nine-year-old girl's dreams and ends with the grown woman's account of her husband's funeral (1009–1059 a.d.). Izumi Shikibu's diary is a delicately written work, with poetic thoughts characteristic of the lady's shy reserve. Brimming with poetry and understated social observations, all three provide an extraordinary glimpse of court life in old Japan. Unabridged republication of the edition originally published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 1920. 2 color illustrations. 12 black-and-white illustrations. Appendix.