Arikoto: Ōoku: The Inner Chambers character explained

In Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Madenokoji Arikoto, a monk who was forced to break his vows and serve at the Ōoku, ends up becoming the Senior Chamberlain. Arikoto is voiced by Mamoru Miyano.

When Arikoto is appointed as the Abbot of Keiko-in, he comes to Edo Castle to report his succession and pay respect to the shogun. Arikoto is a handsome man whose beauty leaves people speechless, but he is also wise, kind, and dutiful.

His beauty catches the eye of Lady Kasuga, who decides to make him one of the shogun’s concubines. To do that, she has to make him break up his vows, which turns out to be a lot harder than expected.

Giving up monkhood

When Arikoto presents himself to the shogun, he is asked to stay at Edo Castle for some time, but he declines the invitation, as he cares about his temple and wishes to get back to his duties as soon as possible.

Ōoku The Inner Chambers Arikoto
Arikoto reports his succession to the shogun

Arikoto was a genius nobleman who made the choice to give up courtly life to help others. His only desire is to improve the lives of people around him. His father does not agree with his decision but still allows him to become a monk.

However, Lady Kasuga has other plans for him. She informs him that he will not be allowed to go back to Kyoto and will spend the rest of his life in the Ōoku, serving the shogun. 

Arikoto refuses to break his vows, even when Lady Kasuga brings courtesans to lure him. When that does not work, she kills one of the monks who accompanied Arikoto from Kyoto as well as a courtesan. 

To save the life of his second companion, Arikoto has no choice but to sleep with a courtesan and break his vows. His dream of helping others as the Abbot comes to an end, and he becomes a concubine at the Ōoku.

An unhappy ending

Arikoto is named O-Man by Iemitsu, the shogun. When he questions her about it instead of instantly accepting the name, she beats him up. Despite that, when the other Grooms of the Bedchamber insult her behind her back, he defends her.

Due to this, he is not welcomed at the Ōoku by the other men. He comes to be known as the man who gave up his vows and sold his body to rise above his station. On top of that, he finds out that his father gladly accepted the news of him serving at the Ōoku because his family was given gold.

Arikoto still tries to accept his fate with a smile. His circumstances change when Iemitsu gives him a cat and then starts visiting his chambers to play with it. She also tells him about the daughter she lost, and the two grow close after that.

Iemitsu’s disregard for others’ lives and sadness bothers Arikoto, and he questions her about being cruel to her subjects. He also screams at her and points out how she is not the only one suffering.

Later, when he realizes that Iemitsu is in pain and that he has the ability to save only her, he accepts the punishment that she gives him with a smile and comforts Iemitsu. This is how the two of them fall in love.

Ōoku The Inner Chambers Arikoto
Arikoto and Iemitsu fall in love

They make each other happy, but Lady Kasuga does not think twice before replacing Arikoto when Iemitsu fails to get pregnant even after a year with Arikoto. Lady Kasuga brings a new concubine, Sutezo, who resembles Arikoto a lot, for Iemitsu.

Arikoto is banned from entering Iemitsu’s room. For the sake of peace, Arikoto is forced to accept this decision. He is nice to Sutezo as well, even though his relationship with Iemitsu hurts him a lot. Iemitsu assures Arikoto that he is the only man she loves, but that does not help much. 

Arikoto’s influence

Apart from falling in love with Iemitsu, with time, Arikoto also learns to adapt to his new life at the Ōoku. His popularity grows, and he learns to be a swordsman as well as an archer. 

He also gives lectures that comfort the men whose lives seem to have no purpose inside the walls of Ōoku; these men start looking up to him as a mentor. 

He generously gifts other men and even organizes chrysanthemum viewings, which gives the men a chance to dress up in flashy formal attires. This move does more harm than good, as it ends up turning the Ōoku into an extravagant nuisance for the future shogun.

He does not hold a grudge against Lady Kasuga for everything that she has done to him. In fact, he is the one who attends to her when she falls ill. Along with her, he also looks after those suffering from red-face smallpox, without caring for his own life.

Ōoku The Inner Chambers Arikoto
Arikoto takes care of a sick Lady Kasuga

When Lady Kasuga dies, she entrusts Arikoto with taking care of the shogun and the Ōoku. Arikoto then assigns new roles to every man who lives in the Ōoku.

He also requests Iemitsu to free him from the duty of being her concubine. At the end of the day, he is just a man, and he cannot see the only person he loves with other men.

Iemitsu agrees, and she then makes him the Senior Chamberlain of the Ōoku, a post that was previously held by Lady Kasuga. As Senior Chamberlain, Arikoto stands above and governs all men at the Ōoku. 

Arikoto is the only concubine in history to hold that post. His name is not found anywhere in records and chronicles because concubines were mentioned by their female names.

Arikoto stays by Iemitsu’s side when she dies. Before her death, she tells him that she always loved him and no one else. She asks him to guide her daughter like a father when she becomes the shogun, and Arikoto spends the rest of his life fulfilling her wish.

Also Read: Ōoku: The Inner Chambers review: Great plot struggles with pace

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