Japanese Royalty: Modern Monarchy


Figure 1.--Three generations of Japanese royalty are pictured in this 1971 photograph. Prince Nauruhito wears a long pants suit while Prince Akishinomiya wears a short pants suit.

We have begun to collect some information on the modern Japanese monarchy. We do not know much about Emperor Yoshihito, but we do have information on his descendents, especually beginning with Hirihito. Hirihito oversaw the incredibly brutal abnd destruction Japanese military expabsion after World war I beginning with th seuizure of Manchuria. He did nothing to change the course of evennts, but was largely a puppet of the military. Since the War, he along with General MacArthur forged a new democratic Japan which respects human rights and rejects Japan's militarism. Although he was undeniably coimplicit with aggressio and monderous war crimes. Fashioning the changes in Japan would have been very difficult without his cooperation. Since Hiroihito, the dynasty has continued to play a positive role in modern Japan and is revered by the Japanese people.

Emperor Mejii (1867-1912)

Emperor Meiji (明治天皇) was born (1852), He would be the 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the historical order of succession. Accounts of his boyhood are contradictory, desvribing him variously as a delicate, sickly child to aobust bully. He was raised by his uncle, the Marquess Nakayama Tadayasu, apparently as the Emperor could not be bothered. He became Japan's first modern emperor, emeging from the Shogun's shadow. He began his reign in a time of great change (1867). When he was born (1852), Japan was an isolated, agricultural, feudal country under the control of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Daimyos, powerful fedual lords under the control of the Shogun, presided over ruled over the country's more than 250 decentralized jurisdictions. A year late Connodore Perry's Black Ships shocke the Jaanese and forced them out of their self-imposed isolation. The Shogun's image was shattered. In the midst of this the Emperor Kōmei unexpected died, propelling his teenage son to the throne. A civil war ensued between the traditionalists and modernzers. It is unclear how the teenage emperor understood all that was happending, but he became the symolic head for the moderizers. Their victoeytransformed the uouthful Emperor Mejii from a figurehead to a constitutional soverign--the Mejii Restoration. And the Emperor with reform minded advsers set out to convert traditional, feudal Japan into a modern, indstrailized nation whith major economic, political, ans social reforms. By the end of his regime, Japan had become the only modern, capitalist country in Asia with a still small, but growing industrial base. His son , Yoshihito, had limited capabiliyies would never bcome a real successor. This role fell to his granson Prince Hirihito.

Emperor Yoshihito (1912-1921/26)

Yoshihito was the oldest son of the Emperor Meiji. As was common at the time, his mother was a cocubine. We have very little information on his childhood or boyhood clothing. He appears to have contracted meningitis in infancy which impaired both his physical and mental development. Prince Yoshihito's education was limited, in part because he was considered militarily impaired. His education was primarily devoted to physical training. Apparentlt his parents and cout officials gave up on any real academic studies. His education was, however, notable. He was the first heir to the throne to attend a school rather than being educated by tutors. This had begun to be done at the time among European royals which may have affected the decision in Japan. Prince Yoshihito was enrolled in the Gakushuin (Peers) School (1887). He was meant to study Western subjects and Chinese classics, but his academic achievement was very limited. He attended Gakushuin for 8 years. After that he was privately tutored. His mother, Empress Teimei, was Princess Sadako, the fourth daughter of Prince Michitaka Kujo. Prince Yoshihito marriied the Princess Sadako, the fourth daughter of Prince Michitaka Kujo. Their children included: Hirohito (the oldest son and Crown Prince), Takamatsu, Mikasa (The Prince and his wife have three sons, Prinnce Tomohito, Prince Katsura, Prince Takamado.), Chichibu, and Takamatsu. Crown Prince Yoshihito in spite of being regarded as having serious phisical and mental impairments, ascend the throne on his father, the Emperor Meiji's death (1912). He became the Taisho Emperor. Problems began almost immediately. Repersentatives were shocked when he began to make a telescope out of a speech he was susposed to read opening the 1913 Diet. He used it to peer at the Prime Minister, his government and the opposition. After that inauspicious beginning, the new Emperor began more time away from Tokyo and the demands of his office. He spent his time at various imperial retreats. Japanese officials came to the conclusion that Yoshihito simply could not even fulfill the ritualistic demands of office and he disappeared from public view (1919). Crown Prince Hirohito was appointed Regent (1921). The Crown Prince continued in that post until Emperor Yoshihito died (1926).


Figure 2.--This is a portrait of the young Prunce Hirohito. He is wearing what looks vaguely like a cadet uniform. Hirohito was, however, schooled by tutors. He did not attend school, least of all a military school.

Emperor Hirohito (1926-89)

Emperor Hirohito reigned from 1926-1989. He was the last Japanese emperor to uphold the Shinto idea of imperial divinity. Hirohito reigned just over 62 years after acceding to the throne on December 25, 1926. His life of 87 years and 8 months made him Japan's longest-living Emperor. He was also the longest-reigning Emperor in Japanese history. His father was the Taisho Emperor, Yoshihito. His mother, Empress Teimei, was Princess Sadako, the fourth daughter of Prince Michitaka Kujo. The future Emperor Hirohito was their first son, and his name as a child was Michinomiya. A HBC reader reports, "In the rather recent biography on Hirohito, the future emperor is dressed in clothing based upon French styles according to the book." graduated from the Gakushuin (Peers' School) in 1914 and became crown prince in 1916. After graduating from the Crown Prince's School in 1921, he traveled in Europe for 6 months--a tour without precedent for a Japanese crown prince. In November 1921, after his return to Japan, he became regent for his father, who was ill. Emperor Hirohito had four daughters, all of whom married. They are the late Mrs. Morihito Higashikuni (former Princess Teru), the late Mrs. Toshimichi Takatsukasa (former Princess Taka), Mrs. Takamasa Ikeda (former Princess Yori), and Mrs. Hisanaga Shimazu (former Princess Suga). The Taisho Emperor died on Dec. 25, 1926. Crown Prince Hirohito became Emperor of Japan. His enthronement ceremony took place in Kyoto on Nov. 10, 1928. The Showa era, as his reign is called, after Japan's defeat in WEorld War II and the American occupation witnessed dramatic transformations in Japanese life, including the status of the Emperor himself. A militaristic party rose to dominate the Japanese government during the early era of his reign. His complicity with the milatarists is a not well researched subject. Not every authority agrees with the widespread belief that Hirohito had no hand in Japan's conduct in World War II. Many historians beliebe he was deeply involved in the Japanese war effort. Hirohito cooperated with the Allied occupation forces in converting Japan into a democratic nation, and in 1946 he publicly denied his divinity.

Emperor Akihito (1989- )

The Crown Prince Akahito was born in 1933. Emperor Akihito acceded the throne on January 7, 1989, upon the death of his father, the Emperor Hirohito (posthumously Emperor Showa). Akihito was born in Tokyo on December 23, 1933. Emperor Akihito is the eldest son of Eperor Hirohito and Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager Nagako. He was born Akihito Tsugonimaya in Tokyo. I have no information on his childhood or what he wore as a boy. Akihito graduated from Gakushuin Upper Secondary School in 1952. He studied at the Department of Politics in the Faculty of Politics and Economics of Gakushuin University until 1956. In addition, he received private lectures on a number of subjects by eminent professionals, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1952 he was officially proclaimed heir to the throne. In 1953, His Majesty the Emperor (then His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince Akihito) made a six-month tour of 14 countries in North America and Western Europe. The tour centred on his visit to London as Emperor Showa's representative at the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II of the Great Britain. Akihito married a commoner, Michiko Shoda, in 1959.


Figure 3.--Prince Akishinomiya, the younger of Emperor Akihito's sons, is pictured here in a short pants suit.

Prince Naruhito ( - )

Prince Naruhito is the oldest son of Emperor Akhito and his wife (Michiki). Crown Prince Naruhito was born in Tokyo (February 23, 1960). As the eldest son of then Crown Prince Akhito, Naruhito was also known as Prince Hiro). We do not know a great deal about Prince Naruhito's childhood. We have some information about his clothing. As a todler he wire French style rompers. We note him as a younger boy wearing short panrs suits, often with ankle socks rather than kneesocks. We also see him in traditional robes. Prince Naruhito has one brother, Prince Fumihito (1965- ). Prince Hiro has pursued his interest in history in both Japanese and English universities. He has studied at both Gakushuin and Oxford Universities. The Prince published an engaging memoir of his experiences in England--The Thames and I. Prince Hiro used the opportunity of studying in England to travel widely in Europe. And when he returne to Japn, he visited many places in the United States (October 1965). Naruhito's coming-of-age was celebrated with court rituals at the Imperial Palace (February 23, 1980). Since then he has taken part in various imperial functions and officially attends many events. He has also made official visits to many countries. While his father was away on a state visit to the United States (October 1987), during the illness of his grandfather, Emperor Showa (Hirohito) , he temporarily took over the Emperor's duties in matters of state. Prince Hiro enjoys music and has learned to plays the viola and violin. His favoriate sport is mountain climbing and is a member of the Japanese Alpine Club. He also enjoys playing tennis which his parents also enjoy. Crown Prince Naruhito married Miss Masako Owada (June 9, 1993). She was the eldest daughter of Mr. Hisashi Owada, a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prince Akishinomiya ( - )

Prince Akishinomiya is the younger son of Emperor Hirohito. Like other Japanese boys of the era, the Prince commonly wore short pants as a boy, including short pants suits. The Prince has two children--both daughters. For a while, until Prince Naruhito produced a heir, there was some talk of changing the Japanese constitution so that the ekdest girl could inherit the Chrsanbthumum throne.

Prince Hisahito ( - )

The Japanese Government postoned plans to change the male-only imperial succession precedent. The Crown Prince's younger brother, Prince Akishino, announced that his wife Princess Kiko were expecting a third child (February 2006). They already had two daughters. And then the Princess had a son Hisahito (September 6, 2006). This made him third in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Prince Hisahito is the first male heir to be born in the Japanese imperial family for 40 years. It is not clear, however what will come of the consideration of plans to legitimitize female succession. The status of Japanese women has changed a great deal since 1946 and the progress of this legislation will be in many ways a test of just how far they have come. Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko's son seems to have posponed the sucession gender issue for another generation. The Prince's e Chakko-no-Gi and Fukasogi-no-gi ceremonies with his parebts at the Akasaka imperial estate in Tokyo was an important event (2011). Prince Hisahito, who had turned 5-years-old, thgus celebrated his rite of passage as a member of the Japanese royal family.







HBRC







Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site royal pages:
[Return to the Main Japanese monarchy page]
[Return to the Main royal pages]
[Austria] [Belgium] [Denmark] [France] [Germany] [Italy] [Jordon] [Luxenburg]
[Monaco] [Netherlands] [Norway] [Romania] [Russia] [Spain] [United Kingdom] [Yugoslavia]





Created: June 6, 1998
Last updated: 5:56 AM 9/2/2015