When Reiko's son and Akiko's brother Masahiro is kidnapped and taken to Hokkaido by Sano's rival Lord Matsudaira, Reiko decides to abandon Akiko and go to save her son herself alongside her husband. Although she admits to loving Akiko, she feels her bond with her firstborn son is much stronger. Akiko is shown to be a particularly difficult infant, bawling and crying a lot of the time. She is always calm in the prescence of her father, less so in Reiko's prescence. Upon announcing her intent to travel to Hokkaido, Midori offers to take care of Akiko while Reiko is away on the rescue mission.
Due to Reiko's long abscence during Masahiro's rescue, her relationship with her daughter Akiko is as a result strained. Akiko has forgotten her during this time and has bonded with Midori and identifies her as her mother, even running to Midori when Reiko comes into the room and hugging her knees for comfort. She also considers Midori's two children, Taeko and Tatsuo, to be her siblings. During the investigation into the Great Fire, Akiko is able to spend time with her grandmother Etsuko, and is shown to be cuddling up with her in bed while she is resting. When Etsuko gets up to go for a walk with Reiko and Akiko, Akiko makes sure to keep Etsuko between her and Reiko, and refuses to hold Reiko's hand. Later, when events force Reiko to take protective measures over her children, she forces Akiko to stay with her despite Akiko's protests. Akiko only quiets down when Midori says she will stay with Reiko to help protect Akiko, and lays down between Reiko and Akiko. During the night, assassins attempt to take the lives of Reiko and her family, and Reiko ends up drenched in blood. She orders the light to be put out, but cannot do it quick enough to prevent Akiko from seeing her covered in blood. Akiko screams as a result. Even after Reiko cleans up, every time Akiko sees her, she screams. However, at the end of the novel, Reiko is able to get Akiko to approach her and show her some flowers that Akiko found on the ground. Even though Akiko runs away soon after, Reiko sees this as signs that there may be the possibility to heal the relationship between herself and her daughter.
At this time, Akiko and the relationship with her immediate family is slowly beginning to heal. She is first shown stealing a dagger from her brother Masahiro to get his attention, then chortles happily when he chases after her to retrieve the dagger from her. Reiko eventually catches her and relieves her of the dagger. Despite the healing, the relationship between mother and daughter is far from rosy. This is shown when Reiko tries to get Akiko to come to bed, and Akiko refuses, throwing a tantrum and frowning at her mother, something she only does with Reiko. Reiko eventually gets her to bed, but must endure a storm of temper to do so, which involves Akiko beating her head and heels on the floor. When Reiko tries to leave the house to assist Sano, Akiko comes to her and states she doesn't want for Reiko to leave. She clings to Reiko and bawls her eyes out, and Reiko can only get away from the house with the promise of candy and the help of Akiko's nursemaid. Later, Reiko and Sano discuss starting marriage negotiations for Masahiro and Akiko.
Akiko, now four years old, is first shown skipping down the hall holding the hand of Reiko's friend and relative Chiyo. Chiyo enjoys the company of the children as it helps fill the void in her heart when she does not have her own children with her. Akiko has also grown to be more like her mother, determined to do what she wants when she wants to, despite what others may think. When Reiko tells her not to go outside to play, Akiko defies her and goes out to play in the snow with Midori's children. Reiko then scolds Akiko and brings her back into the house, which causes Akiko to cry.
Akiko is among her family when an earthquake rocks the city of Edo. Akiko is later seen when Reiko returns from the camps where the survivors of the quake are residing, and Akiko comes running in asking for her, and becomes worried when she sees that her mother has been carried in by a retainer. As the physician checks Reiko, Akiko watches anxiously. She is present when Reiko is informed that she will be a mother again, adding a sibling to Akiko and Masahiro. Akiko curls up with her after the doctor leaves and keeps her company. Later, Sano and Akiko are walking on the edge of the balcony of their mansion when a bomb is thrown into the enclave. Sano shields Akiko with his body from the blast of the bomb, injuring himself in the process. Once the two of them are reached, a sobbing Akiko is given to Reiko. She is seen in the final scenes alongside her mother, playing with bricks and dolls.
|Sano clan||Sano Ichirō • Reiko • Masahiro • Akiko • Etsuko • Sano Shutarō|
|Yangisawa clan||Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu • Lady Yanagisawa • Yoritomo • Kikuko • Yoshisato|
|Hirata clan||Hirata • Midori • Taeko • Tatsuo • Chiyoko|
|Tokugawa clan||Tokugawa Tsunayoshi • Ienobu|
|Niu clan||Niu Masamune • Lady Niu • Niu Masahito • Niu Yukiko|