The Emperor and the Empress of Japan
His Imperial Majesty AKIHITO, the 125th Emperor of Japan, Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, Order of the Sacred Treasure, KG (Great Britain), Grand Cross of the Order of. St. Olav (Norway), the elder son of the late Emperor Shôwa (Hirohito) and Empress Kojun (Nagako), was born on 23 December 1933 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Originally titled Tsugo-no-miya (Prince Tsugo) he entered the boy's elementary department of the Gakushuin in April 1940, advancing in the following years to the secondary and senior courses of the same school. In late 1944, both he and his younger brother, Prince Yoshi (now titled Prince Hitachi) were evacuated to Nikko, to escape the American bombing of Tokyo. Between 1947 and 1950, Mrs. Elizabeth Grey-Vining tutored Prince Tsugo, along with his brother, Prince Yoshi (now titled Prince Hitachi), and his sisters, Princesses Taka and Suga (now Mrs. Ikeda Takamsa and Mrs. Shimazu Hisanaga), in English. Prince Tsugo was formally invested as crown prince and received the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum on 10 November 1951. On 2 June 1953, he represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. During the same visit, King Haakon VII of Norway invested the Crown Prince with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. Crown Prince Akihito entered the Department of Politics and Economics at Gakushuin University in April 1952, but left the university in April 1954 before graduating. He later attended the university as an auditor for a further two years. The Crown Prince served as honorary president or patron of the Third Asian Games (1958), the International Sports Games for the Disabled (1964), the Eleventh Pacific Science Conference (1966), the Universiades in Tokyo (1967) and in Kobe (1985), the Japan World Exposition in Osaka (1970), The International Skill Contest for the Disabled (1981), and the Second International Conference on Indo-Pacific Fishes (1986). For his research on the taxonomy of the gobiid fish, he became a member of the Linnean Society of London in 1980; he became an honorary member of this society in 1986. As crown prince, the present emperor acted in matters of state on behalf of Emperor Showa, in accordance with the 1947 Constitution, during his visits abroad and from the time the emperor became seriously ill in September 1987. On the death of Emperor Showa, 7 January 1989, he ascended the throne. The government named new era Heisei, which means the "achievement of peace." The Enthronement Ceremony (Sokui Rei Seiden no Gi) took place in Tokyo on 12 November 1990. The Emperor, an expert on the taxonomy of gobiid fishes, has published at least twenty-six papers on the subject in the journal of the Ichthyological Society of Japan. The Emperor is also a research associate of the Australian Museum and since 1992 an honorary member of the Zoological Society of London. As Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Their Imperial Majesties made official visits to Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and Zambia. As Emperor and Empress, Their Imperial Majesties have paid state visits to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand (1991), the Peoples' Republic of China (1992), Belgium, Germany and Italy (1992), the Holy See and the European Union (1993), the United States and Brazil (1994), the United Kingdom and Denmark (1998). During his 1998 state visit to the United Kingdom, HM Queen Elizabeth II invested the Emperor with the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
Her Imperial Majesty MICHIKO, Empress of Japan, (Michiko Kogo), Order of the Precious Crown, Order of the Sacred Treasure, is the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Shoda Hidesburo (1904-1999), former president and honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Co., Ltd., and his wife, the former Soejima Fumiko (1910-1988). The Shoda family is prominent in both industrial and academic circles. Miss Shoda Michiko was born in Tokyo on 20 October 1934. She received her primary education at Futaba Elementary School, but was obliged to leave school due to the American bombing of Tokyo. She returned to the school following the war and later attended Seishin (Sacred Heart) High School. She entered the Department of Literature of the Sacred Heart Women's University in April 1953. Miss Shoda, the class valedictorian, received her degree in 1957. She met the then-Crown Prince at a tennis court in Karuizawa in the summer of 1957, after graduating the university. As Miss Shoda Michiko, she was engaged to the Crown Prince in 1958. She became crown princess on the day of her wedding, 10 April 1959, thus becoming the first commoner to marry into the Imperial Family. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess broke with centuries of Imperial Court tradition by raising their children, instead of entrusting their care to chamberlains. She became empress upon the death of Emperor Shôwa on 7 January 1989. The Empress has authored or co-authored several collections of waka (traditional Japanese poems), as well as two children's books. In January 1989, the Empress succeeded her mother-in-law, the Empress Kojun, as the honorary president of the Japan Red Cross.
The Emperor and Empress have issue:
His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince (Naruhito) of Japan (Naruhito Kotashi), Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the elder son of the Emperor and heir apparent, was born on 23 February 1960 at the Aoyama Detached Palace complex (site of the crown prince's palace or Togo-gohso) in Tokyo. Originally titled Prince Hiro (Hiro-no-miya Naruhito Shinno), he attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Gakushuin. The prince graduated from the Department of History in the Faculty of Letters of Gakushuin University in March 1982. He went on to take the first part of the doctoral course in history in at Gakushuin University's Graduate School of Humanities, specializing in the medieval history of Japan. In July 1983 he went to Great Britain, where he entered the Graduate School of Oxford University the following October, studying commodity transport on the River Thames in the latter half of the eighteenth century at Merton College. The prince is an honorary fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. Prince Hiro became heir apparent to the throne upon the demise of Emperor Shôwa on 7 January 1989. He received his formal investiture as crown prince on 23 February 1990 at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo. The Crown Prince married Miss Owada Masako on 9 June 1993. Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess (Masako), Order of the Sacred Treasure, was born in Tokyo on 9 December 1963, the daughter of Ambassador Owada Hishashi and Owada Yomiko. Owada Hishashi is a career diplomat. Ambassador Owada served as administrative vice-minister of foreign affairs, counselor in the Japanese embassy in Moscow, and later as Japan's permanent representative to the United Nations. Owada Masako spent her childhood in New York City and Moscow, where her father held diplomatic posts. The future Crown Princess attended Harvard University, where she concentrated in economics and graduated magna cum laude in June 1990. She later did post graduate work at Balliol College, Oxford University and worked as diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Crown Princess Masako is fluent in English, French and German. She became an honorary fellow of Balliol College, Oxford in July 1995. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have issue:
His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino (Akishino no miya Fumihito Shinnô), Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of Chrysanthemum, the second son of the Emperor and the Empress, was born on 30 November 1965 at the Aoyama Detached Palace in Tokyo. Prince Akishino, whose personal name is Fumihito, is currently second in line to the throne. His childhood title was Prince Aya (Aya no miya). He attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Gakushuin. In April 1984, he entered the Law Department of Gakushuin University, where he studied law and biology. After graduating from the university, he studied the taxonomy of fish at St. John College, University of Oxford in Great Britain (October 1988-June 1990). In 1986, His Imperial Highness became president of the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology and president of the Japan Committee of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The prince received a Ph.D. in ornithology from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in October 1996. On 29 June 1990, the prince married Kawashima Kiko. Upon his marriage, he received the title Prince Akishino (Akishino no miya) and authorization from the Imperial Household Economy Council to form a new branch of the Imperial Family. Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino, Order of the Sacred Treasure, was born in Shizouka on 11 September 1966. She is the only daughter of Kawashima Tatsuhiko, professor of economics at Gakushuin University, and his wife, Kazuko. The Princess holds a masters degree in psychology at Gakushuin University. In September 1995, Princess Akishino succeeded the late Princess Chichibu as honorary president of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association. Prince and Princess Akishino have issue:
Her Imperial Highness Princess Nori (Nori no miya Sayako Naishinnô) was born on 18 April 1969 at the Aoyama Detached Palace in Tokyo. She is the third child and only daughter of the current Emperor and Empress. On 27 April 1969, Emperor Shôwa named her Sayako and granted her the title Princess Nori (Nori no miya). Princess Nori completed her primary and secondary education at the Gakushuin. She graduated from the Department of Japanese Literature in the Faculty of Letters at Gakushuin University in March 1992. The princess is a part-time researcher at the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology in Chiba Prefecture [founded by the late Dr. (Marquis until 1947) Yamashina Yoshimaro, a younger son of Prince Yamashina Kikumaro (1873-1908)]. In addition to her academic interests, the princess is interested in traditional Japanese dance (and has performed several times at the National Theater) and activities related to the training and use of guide dogs for the visually impaired. Since her father's ascension to the throne, she has accompanied the Emperor and Empress on state visits to Thailand and Indonesia. In August 1990, Prince Nori traveled to California to represent the Imperial Household at the fiftieth annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival at the invitation of then-Governor Pete Wilson. She has made official visits to France, Germany, Bulgaria, and several other countries. The princess lives with her parents at the Imperial Palace and continues to carry out public engagements. Princess Nori, who celebrated her thirty-first birthday in April 2000, remains unmarried. Under the current Imperial Household Law, the princess would lose her title, government stipend, and official status as a member of the imperial family, if she marries.
His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi (Hitachi no miya Masahito Shinnô), Grand Cordon of Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, was born on 28 November 1935 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The second son of the late Emperor Shôwa and Empress Kojun and the younger brother of the current Emperor, Prince Hitachi is currently third in line to the throne (following the Crown Prince and Prince Akishino). Originally titled Prince Yoshi (Yoshi-no-miya), he received his primary education at the then-boys department of the Gakushuin. In late 1944, the Imperial Household Ministry evacuated Prince Yoshi and Prince Tsugo (later Crown Prince Akihito) to Nikko, to escape the American bombing of Tokyo. From 1947 to 1950, Mrs. Elizabeth Gray Vining tutored both princes and their sisters, then-Princesses Taka, Yori and Suga, in English. The Prince received his secondary education from the Gakushuin. He completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the Faculty of Science at Gakushuin University in May 1960. He completed his graduate education at the Tokyo University, specializing in the study of tumors. The Prince has conducted tumor research under the cancer institute of the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research. Prince Hitachi is honorary president of the Japan Arts Association. In September 1997, he received an honorary doctorate from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. On 30 September 1964, the prince married Tsugaru Hanako, the fourth daughter of former Count Tsugaru Yoshitaka. The following day Emperor Shôwa granted him the title Prince Hitachi (Hitachi no miya); the Imperial Household Council having previously given the prince authorization to set up a new branch of the imperial family. Her Imperial Highness Princess Hitachi, Order of the Precious Crown, was born on 19 July 1940 in Tokyo. She is a graduate of the English literature course at Gakushuin University. The princess is the patron of several cultural and charitable organizations. Prince and Princess Hitachi have no children.
His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa (Mikasa no miya Takahito Shinno), Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, was born on 2 December 1915 at the Imperial Palace, the youngest son of the late Emperor Taisho (Yoshihito) and the Empress Teimei (Sadako). Prince Mikasa, whose given name is Takahito, is the surviving brother of the late Emperor Shôwa and surviving paternal uncle of the Emperor. He is fourth in line to the throne. Originally titled Sumi-no-miya (Prince Sumi), he attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Peers' School. He entered the Military Academy in 1932 and upon graduation, in June 1936, joined the Fifteenth Cavalry Regiment. Upon reaching majority in December 1935, Emperor Shôwa authorized him to form his own princely house, Mikasa-no-miya. On 23 October 1941, he married Takagi Yoriko, the second daughter of Viscount Takagi Masanari, one-time minister of the Imperial Household. Prince Mikasa graduated from the Military Staff College in December 1941 and held staff positions with the Chinese Expeditionary Forces, the Imperial General Headquarters and the Air Services, rising to the rank of major. After the war, he enrolled in the Literature Faculty of Tokyo University and pursued advanced studies in archeology, Middle Eastern studies, and Semitic languages. Since 1954, he has directed the Japanese Society for Middle East Studies. He is honorary president of the Japan Society of Orientology. The Prince has held visiting and guest faculty appointments in Middle Eastern studies and archeology at various universities in Japan and abroad, including: Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Tokyo Christian Women's University, the University of London, the University of Hokkaido and the University of Shizouka. He has done research at the London University School of Oriental and African Studies. The prince holds honorary degrees from Colombo University, Lancaster University, Ankara University, Sofia University, and Canakkale University. Prince Mikasa has attended numerous international conferences, and has traveled widely. He has visited approximately 30 countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Australia, Iran, and Turkey. Prince Mikasa is honorary president of the Japan-Netherlands Society, honorary chairman of the Publishers' Association for Cultural Exchange, honorary chairman of the Society for Middle Eastern Studies in Japan, president of the Center for Middle Eastern Culture [chukinto bunka senta], and honorary president of the Japan Society of Leisure and Recreation Studies. He is the author is several books on archeology and the Middle East including Ancient Oriental History and I, The Light of Ancient Culture, and History Begins Here. In 1994, a newspaper revealed that during the Pacific War, Prince Mikasa had written a stinging indictment of the conduct of the Imperial Army in China. The prince had witnessed Japanese atrocities against Chinese civilians and The Army General Staff suppressed the document, but one copy survived and surfaced in 1994. Her Imperial Highness Princess Mikasa, Order of the Precious Crown, was born on 4 June 1923 in Tokyo. The future princess received her primary and secondary education at the Gakushuin. Princess Mikasa is a member of the Imperial Household Council and the patron of several cultural and charitable organizations. Prince and Princess Mikasa have five children.
His Imperial Highness Prince Tomohito (Mikasa no miya Tomohito Shinnô), Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the eldest son of Prince and Princess Mikasa (Takahito), was born in Tokyo on 5 January 1946. The prince is a first cousin of the Emperor, fifth in line to the throne and heir apparent to the house of Mikasa-no-miya. He received his primary and secondary education at Gakushuin. After graduating from Gakushuin University, he studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. The prince wrote a book of poetry about his time in Great Britain entitled, Tomohito's Lovely English Life. Prince Tomohito is the patron of the Annual Tokyo Motor Show and the honorary president of ten social welfare and youth organizations. The prince was honorary president of the National Recreation Association from 1991 until his resignation December 1997. On 7 November 1980, he married Miss Aso Nobuko. Her Imperial Highness Princess Tomohito, Order of the Precious Crown, the third daughter of the late Mr. Aso Takakichi and his wife, the late Yoshida Kazuko, was born in Tokyo on 9 April 1955. Princess Tomohito is a granddaughter of the late Yoshida Shigeru (1878-1967), former prime minister of Japan (1946-47, 1948-54). Her brother, Aso Tara, is a six-term Liberal Democratic member of House of Representatives and a former director-general of the Economic Planning Agency. The Princess's father also served as an LDP representative in the Diet. Prince and Princess Tomohito have issue:
His Imperial Highness Prince Katsura (Katsura no miya Yoshihito Shinnô), Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the second son of Prince and Princess Mikasa (Takahito), was born on 11 February 1948. He is a first cousin of the Emperor and currently sixth in line to the throne. The prince, whose personal name is Yoshihito, received his primary and secondary education from the Gakushuin. After graduating from Gakushuin University, he studied at the Australian National University from 1972 to 1975. On 11 February 1986, he received the title Prince Katsura (Katsura no miya) and the authorization for form his own branch of the imperial family. During the Edo period (1607-1867), the house of Katsura-no-miya was one of four princely families entitled to provide a successor to the throne, in default of a direct heir. The title faced extinction with the death of the tenth head (Emperor Ninko's infant son, Prince Misahito). Emperor Ninko's daughter, Princess Sumiko (1838-1881), became the eleventh head of the Katsura-no-miya house in her own right. Upon her death, the Katsura-no-miya title remained vacant until Emperor Shôwa bestowed it on his nephew in 1986. Prince Katsura has made official visits to Australia, New Zealand, and several other Pacific-rim countries. He is honorary president of the Agricultural Society of Japan, the Japan Forestry Association, the Japan-Australia Association, and the Japan-New Zealand Association. Prince Katsura is unmarried.
His Imperial Highness Prince Takamado (Takamado no miya Norihito Shinnô), Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the third son of Prince and Princess Mikasa, was born on 29 December 1950. The Prince, whose given name is Norihito, is a first cousin of the Emperor and currently seventh in line to the throne. Like his brothers, he received his primary and secondary education at the Gakushuin. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at Gakushuin University in March 1978. He studied at Queens University in Canada from 1978 to 1981. The Prince received the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum upon his coming of age on 29 December 1974. He received the title Takamado-no-miya (Prince Takamado) upon his marriage to Miss Tottori Hisako on 6 December 1984. Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Order of the Precious Crown, the first daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tottori Shigejiro, was born in Tokyo on 10 July 1953. She received a degree in Chinese Studies, Archaeology and Anthropology from Girton College at the University of Cambridge in 1975. Prince and Princess Takamado are patrons of the Asiatic Society of Japan. The Prince is honorary president of the Japan-Canada Association and works as an administrator (unpaid) at the Japan Foundation. He is also the honorary patron of the Japan Football (Soccer) Association. Prince and Princess Takamado have issue:
Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu (Takamatsu no miya Kikuko Shinnô-hi), Order of the Precious Crown, Order of the Sacred Treasure is the widow of Prince Takamatsu (Nobuhito), the third son of the late Emperor Taishô and a younger brother of the late Emperor Shôwa. The Princess is one of two living paternal aunts of the present Emperor. The former Tokugawa Kikuko was born in Tokyo on 26 Dec. 1911, the eldest daughter of Prince Tokugawa Yoshihisa [peer] (b. at Shizuoka 2 Sept. 1884; d. at Tokyo 22 Jan. 1922), and his consort, Princess Miyeko (b. at Tokyo 14 Feb. 1891 and d. at Tokyo 25 Apr 1933). Her paternal grandfather was Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu [peer], the fourteenth and last Tokugawa shogun. Her maternal grandfather was Prince Arisugawa Takahito (b. at Kyoto 11 Feb. 1862 and d. at Maiko, near Kobe 5 July 1913), the tenth and last head of the Arisugawa no miya house, one of the four imperial branch families of the Edo period (1603-1867). Lady Kikuko received her primary and secondary education in the then-girls department of the Gakushuin. She married Prince Takamatsu (b. at the Aoyama Palace, Tokyo 3 Jan. 1905; d. at Tokyo 3 Feb. 1987) at the Imperial Palace on 4 February 1930. Shortly after their wedding, Prince and Princess Takamatsu embarked on an official goodwill tour of Great Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Turkey. After the Second World War, the Prince and Princess served as patrons for a number of charitable and international friendship organizations including the Japan-Denmark Society, the Japan-France Society, and the Tofu Society for the Welfare of Leprosy Patients. Following Prince Takamatsu's death, the Princess became the patron of the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Foundation. In 1991, Princess Takamatsu and a chamberlain discovered twenty-nine volumes of diaries kept by the late Prince Takamatsu between 1934 and 1947. She agreed to publish the diaries in the magazine Chou Koron. In December 1998, Princess Takamatsu published an anthology of 25 autobiographical essays entitled, Stories about Chrysanthemums and Hollyhocks. [The chrysanthemum is the crest of the Imperial family and the hollyhock is the crest of the Tokugawa family.] In September 1999, Princess Takamatsu underwent surgery at St. Luke's International Hospital to alleviate a duodenal ulcer and a fractured left femur. She left the hospital on 27 January 2000 and continues to reside at the Takanawa Palace in Tokyo's Minato Ward.