Lady Izumi Shikibu (born c. 976) served as a lady-in-waiting at the same imperial court as Lady Murasaki Shikibu
and Lady Sei Shonagon
. Although a lesser light than these two women, she numbers amongst the great artists of Japan
's Heian era
Lady Murasaki comments on Lady Izumi in her journal, the Murasaki Shikibi nikki: "Lady Izumi Shikibu writes charming letters, but her behaviour is really quite improper. She writes with grace and ease and with a flashing wit. There is fragrance in even her smallest words. Her poems are attractive, but they are only improvisations which fall from her lips spontaneously."
Lady Izumi kept a journal herself, Izumi Shikibu nikki, The Diary of Lady Izumi, from her correspondence with her lovers, Prince Tametaka and also of his brother Prince Atsumichi. Her passion, self awareness and clarity have made this work one of the most admired of the genre.
Lady Izumi was also noted for the erotic and philosophical reflections found in her poetry.