Lady Wisteria was a courtesan and tayu who worked in the pleasure quarter of Yoshiwara. She assisted Sano Ichirō in his first case, then later was the subject of another case of his four years later.
Wisteria was born into a poor family and from a young age was considered to be a problem child by her mother, Madam Yue. From the start, her family sacrificed to buy her pretty clothes and things, which she did not appreciate or treat kindly. After her father died at the age of thirteen, her mother remarried a younger and handsomer man who owned a boatyard in the city, and soon after, Wisteria began an affair with her stepfather. Madam Yue found her and her new husband in a sexual embrace, and at first thought her new husband was raping Wisteria. But upon rescuing her, she was shocked to see that Wisteria was not at all cowed or ashamed, but was proud of what she had done, telling her mother that her new husband was going to leave her and marry Wisteria instead. When Madam Yue heard this, she flew into a rage and beat her daughter. Madam Yue then took Wisteria to the pleasure quarter of Yoshiwara, and auctioned her off to the highest bidder. According to Wisteria, she started out as the lowest maid in the house until her friend Noriyoshi took a special interest in her and helped raise her to the position of one of the highest courtesans where she worked.
Lady Wisteria's friend Noriyoshi was one of two participants in what appeared to be a double suicide. Yoriki Sano Ichirō came to Wisteria for her help, which at first she did not want to give. But when Sano said he believed it was a murder, she decided to give him information. Along with a false story about how she was sold to the brothel when she was ten by a farmer from Dewa, she informed Sano that Noriyoshi had taken a special interest in her and helped her by giving her lessons in elegance and how to exceed at being a prime courtesan. She also told Sano that she and Noriyoshi were not lovers, as Noriyoshi preferred the company of men. Wisteria helped Sano identify two other suspects in the murder, Kikunojo and a sumo wrestler. After she revealed this to him, she tempted Sano into sleeping with him. Afterwards, Sano observed her over a small funeral memorial with things that had belonged to Noriyoshi. She wept for him, then drove Sano from her room.
Sano later returned to Yoshiwara to rescue Tokugawa Tsunayoshi from a plot against his life. He sought out Wisteria for help, to discover that due to her actions in helping him, she had been demoted to the rank of the lowest courtesan, known as hashi, wearing robes of cotton and appearing very haggard. She drove Sano away, saying he had already done enough to her and disappeared into the festival crowds. After rescuing the shogun, one of Sano's favors was that Wisteria be released from her prison at Yoshiwara. The shogun consented.
Between Shinjū and The Pillow Book of Lady WisteriaEdit
True to the promise that he made, the shogun freed Wisteria on Sano's request. Wisteria expected that Sano would come and take her to the Edo Palace and make her his paramour. However, this was not the case, as Sano only returned to her a few times before his marriage to Reiko. Also during this time, Wisteria returned to her former home and tore up her mother's kimonos and urinated on them, telling Madam Yue that she would pay for the all wrong she had done to Wisteria, and that Wisteria had found a benefactor (Sano) that would help her through her hard times. Wisteria then moved into a lifestyle she was accustomed to, renting an expensive mansion and employing a household staff, as well as buying herself nice things. However, she ran into massive debt, and as a result was forced to return to being a tayu in the Yoshiwara quarter. She expected Sano to return to save her, but he never did. This later caused Lady Wisteria to desire revenge against him.
Four years after the events of Shinju, Sano is called upon to investigate the murder of Lord Matsudaira Mitsuyoshi, the heir and favorite companion of the shogun. Upon arriving at his death scene in Yoshiwara at a brothel called Owariya, Sano is dismayed to discover that Mitsuyoshi was murdered in the room of a concubine who worked at the brothel. And it is not just any concubine. It is Lady Wisteria. Also disappeared is Lady Wisteria's pillow book. Sano begins to investigate the murder, while trying to keep his past relationship with Lady Wisteria a secret from his beloved wife Reiko. While Sano tries to unravel the murder. Wisteria has fled with her paramour, a Mori clan member named Lightning, to a secret hideout. She escaped the Yoshiwara disguised as a boy in a group of Mori gang members. Once there, Lightning gives her a splendid kimono as a gift, but then proceeds to rape Lady Wisteria. As Sano closes in on them, she and Lightning move to a bath house, where they engage in an argument in a tub. Lightning attempts to drown Wisteria and Wisteria fights back. She soon is defeated, but realizes she can't stay with Lightning for her own safety.
After discovering that Lightning and Wisteria were the forces behind Mitsuyoshi's death, Sano tracked them down to a warehouse along the Sumida River. When Lightning realized he was cornered, he used Lady Wisteria as bait, holding a sword to her throat and telling Sano that he would come in as an extra hostage. Despite the objections of his assistant, Hirata, Sano agreed. He entered and was forced to be subserviant to Lightning. Wisteria attempted to seduce Sano into rescuing her, but Lightning put a fast stop to it. While waiting for the money to arrive, Wisteria attempted to pin the blame for the murder on Lightning. But Lightning then told the true tale, stating that Wisteria wanted revenge on several people, including Fujio, Treasury Minister Nitta, and her yarite, Momoko. She waited till all three people were present at the Owariya, then used Momoko's hair pin to stab and kill Mitsuyoshi. She then ordered Lightning to behead and place a dead body in Fujio's villa outside of Edo, and told Fujio of Nitta's embezzling from the treasury, knowing Fujio would tell Sano of it. She also tried to destory Sano's life in revenge for what happened to her after he freed her from Yoshiwara, writing a fake pillow book that implicated Sano in the murder. When Lightning began attacking Wisteria again when she tried to pin the blame on him, Sano was sorely tempted to leave Wisteria to Lightning, but he decided to save her. He fought to save Wisteria, and eventually succeeded, even though Wisteria tried to escape. In the end, Wisteria was beheaded along with Lightning for her role in the murders.
Personality and TraitsEdit
Lady Wisteria's eyes were unusually round, therefore her face appeared exotic even provocative.