The Imperial House of Japan (皇室 kōshitsu), also referred to as the Imperial Family and the Yamato Dynasty, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan who undertake official and public duties. Under the present Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". Other members of the Imperial Family perform ceremonial and social duties, but have no role in the affairs of government. The duties as an Emperor are passed down the line to their children and so on.
The Japanese monarchy is claimed to be the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world. The Imperial House recognizes 125 monarchs beginning with the legendary Emperor Jimmu (traditionally dated to 11 February 660 BC) and continuing up to the current emperor, Akihito; see its family tree.
|Imperial House of Japan|
|Founded||11 February 660 BC|
|Titles||Emperor of Japan|
Empress of Japan
Regent of Japan
|Cadet branches||House of Akishino|
House of Hitachi
House of Mikasa
House of Takamado
Article 5 of the Imperial Household Law (皇室典範 Kōshitsu Tenpan) defines the Imperial Family (皇族) as the Empress (皇后 kōgō); the Grand empress dowager (太皇太后 tai-kōtaigō); the Empress dowager (皇太后 kōtaigō); the Emperor's legitimate sons and legitimate grandsons in the legitimate male-line (親王 shinnō), and their consorts (親王妃 shinnōhi); the Emperor's unmarried legitimate daughters and unmarried legitimate granddaughters in the legitimate male-line (内親王 naishinnō); the Emperor's other legitimate male descendants in the third and later generations in the legitimate male-line (王 ō) and their consorts (王妃 ōhi); and the Emperor's other unmarried legitimate female descendants in the third and later generations in the legitimate male-line (女王 joō). In English, shinnō and ō are both translated as "prince" as well as shinnōhi, naishinnō, ōhi and joō as "princess".
After the removal of 11 collateral branches from the Imperial House in October 1947, the official membership of the Imperial Family has effectively been limited to the male line descendants of the Emperor Taishō, excluding females who married outside the Imperial Family and their descendants.
There are currently 18 members of the Imperial Family:
The Princess Mikasa is the widow of the Prince Mikasa (2 December 1915 – 27 October 2016), the fourth son of Emperor Taishō and Empress Teimei and an uncle of Emperor Akihito. The Princess was born on 4 June 1923, the second daughter of Viscount Masanori Takagi. Princess Mikasa has two daughters and three sons with the late Prince Mikasa.
The following family tree shows the lineage of the contemporary members of the Imperial Family (living members in bold). Princesses who left the Imperial Family upon their marriage are indicated in italics:
|Emperor Taishō||Empress Teimei|
|Emperor Shōwa||Empress Kōjun||The Prince Mikasa||The Princess Mikasa|
|The Emperor||The Empress||The Prince Hitachi||The Princess Hitachi||Five daughters |
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
|Prince Tomohito of Mikasa||Princess Tomohito of Mikasa||The Prince Katsura||The Prince Takamado||The Princess Takamado||Two daughters |
|The Crown Prince||The Crown Princess||The Prince Akishino||The Princess Akishino||Sayako Kuroda||Princess Akiko of Mikasa||Princess Yōko of Mikasa||Princess Tsuguko of Takamado||Two daughters |
|The Princess Toshi||Princess Mako of Akishino||Princess Kako of Akishino||Prince Hisahito of Akishino|
Under the terms of the 1947 Imperial Household Law, naishinnō (imperial princesses) and Joō (princesses) lose their titles and membership in the Imperial Family upon marriage, unless they marry the Emperor or another member of the Imperial Family. Four of the five daughters of Emperor Shōwa, the two daughters of Prince Mikasa, the only daughter of the Emperor Akihito and most recently, the second and third daughter of Prince Takamado, left the Imperial Family upon marriage, joining the husband's family and thus taking the surname of the husband. The eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa married the eldest son of Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni in 1943. The Higashikuni family lost its imperial status along with the other collateral branches of the Imperial Family in October 1947. The living former imperial princesses are:
In addition to these former princesses, there are also several people of Imperial descent in eight of the eleven cadet branches of the dynasty (Asaka, Fushimi, Higashifushimi, Higashikuni, Kan'in, Kaya, Kitashirakawa, Kuni, Nashimoto, Takeda, and Yamashina) that left the Imperial Family in October 1947. The Nashimoto collateral branch became extinct in the male line in 1951, followed by the Yamashina and Kan'in branches in 1987 and 1988. The Emperor Shōwa's eldest daughter, Shigeko Higashikuni, and his third daughter, Kazuko Takatsukasa, died in 1961 and 1989, respectively.
The Japanese monarchy was considered to be among the wealthiest in the world until the end of World War II. Before 1911, there was no distinction between the Imperial Crown Estates and the Emperor's personal properties. When the Imperial Property Law was enacted on January 1911, two categories were established namely hereditary (crown estates) and personal property of the Imperial Family. The Imperial Household Minister had the responsibility for observing any judicial proceedings concerning Imperial holdings. According to the law, Imperial properties were only taxable if there was no conflict with the Imperial House Law. However, crown estates could only be used for public or imperially-sanctioned undertakings. Personal properties of certain members of the Imperial Family, in addition to properties held for Imperial Family members who were minors, were exempted from taxation. Such as Empress Dowager, the Empress, Crown Prince and Crown Princess, the Imperial Grandson and the consort of the Imperial Grandson.
Up to 1921, the Imperial Crown Estates comprised 1,112,535.58 acres (450,227.18 ha). In 1921, due to the poor economic situation in Japan, 289,259.25 acres (117,059.07 ha) of crown lands (26%) were sold or transferred to the Japanese government and the private sector. In 1930, the Nagoya Detached Palace (Nagoya Castle) was donated to the city of Nagoya and six other imperial villas were sold or donated. In 1939, Nijō Castle was donated to the city of Kyoto. The former Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shogunate which became an imperial palace in the Meiji Restoration, was donated to the city of Kyoto.
At the end of 1935, the Imperial Court owned 3,111,965 acres (1,259,368 ha) landed estates according to official government figures. 2,599,548 acres (1,052,000 ha) of that was the Emperor's private lands. The total landholdings of the crown estates was 512,161 acres (207,264 ha). It comprised palace complexes, forest and farm lands and other residential and commercial properties. The total economic value of the Imperial properties was estimated at ¥650 million in 1935 which is approximately US$195 million at prevailing exchange rates and US$19.9 billion in 2017.[note 1] Emperor Hirohito's personal fortune was an additional hundreds of millions of yen (estimated over US$6 billion in 2017). It included numerous family heirlooms and furnishings, purebred livestock and investments in major Japanese firms, such as the Bank of Japan, other major Japanese banks, the Imperial Hotel and Nippon Yusen.
After World War II, all of the 11 collateral branches of the Imperial Family were abolished under the Allied occupation of Japan and the subsequent constitutional reforms imposed under Allied supervision, forced those families to sell their assets to private or government owners. Staff numbers of the Imperial Household Ministry were slashed from roughly 6000 to about 1000. The Imperial Estates and the Emperor's personal fortune (then estimated at US$17.15 million in 1946, or roughly US$625 million in 2017 terms) were transferred to state or private ownership with the exception of 6,810 acres (2,760 ha) of landholdings. The largest imperial divestments were the former imperial Kiso and Amagi forest lands in Gifu and Shizuoka prefectures, grazing lands for livestock in Hokkaido and a stock farm in the Chiba region. They were all transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Imperial property holdings were further reduced since 1947 after several handovers to the government. When Emperor Hirohito passed away, he left a personal fortune of £11 million in 1989. In 2017, Emperor Akihito had an estimated net worth of US$40 million.
The information shown below are as of 2003:
Currently the primary Imperial properties are the Tokyo Imperial Palace and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. The estimated landholdings is 6,810 acres (2,760 ha). The Tōgū Palace is located in the larger Akasaka Estate where numerous other Imperial Family members reside. There are privately used imperial villas in Hayama, Nasu and the Suzaki Imperial Villa in Shimoda. The Katsura Imperial Villa, Shugakuin Imperial Villa and Sentō Imperial Palace are in Kyoto. There are a number of Imperial farms, residences and game preserves. The Imperial Household Agency administers the Shosoin Imperial Repository in Nara. The Imperial properties are all owned by the State.
Until 2003, facts about the Japanese Imperial Family's life and finances were kept secret behind the "Chrysanthemum Curtain." Yohei Mori (former royal correspondent for the Mainichi Shimbun and assistant professor of journalism at Seijo University) revealed details about finances of the Imperial Family in his book based on 200 documents that were published with the public information law.
The Japanese Imperial Family has a staff of more than 1,000 people (47 servants per royal). This includes a 24-piece orchestra (Gagaku) with thousand-year-old instruments such as the koto and the shō, 30 gardeners, 25 chefs, 40 chauffeurs as well as 78 builders, plumbers and electricians. There are 30 archaeologists to protect the 895 imperial tombs. There is a silkworm breeder of the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery. The Emperor has four doctors on standby 24 hours a day, five men manages his wardrobe and 11 assists in Shinto rites.
The Imperial Palace in Tokyo has 160 servants who maintain it. This is partly due to demarcation rules such as a maid who wipes a table cannot also wipe the floor. There are separate stewards in charge of handling silverware and the crystal. The Kyoto Imperial Palace has a staff of 78 people. There are also 67 who care for the horses at the Tochigi ranch. There are scores of additional staff for the summer palaces at the beach and in the mountains.
The Imperial Palace has a £2 million-a-year clinic with 42 staff and 8 medical departments, but it receives just 28 visitors per day (excluding the gardens). An example of lavish spending is the prior redecoration of a room for £140,000 where Crown Princess Masako gave birth to Princess Aiko in 2001. Emperor Akihito spent £140,000 on building a wine cellar. It has 4,500 bottles of 11 types of white wine and seven types of red such as Chateau Mouton Rothschild (1982) and champagne Dom Perignon (1992).
The Imperial properties includes a 622 acres (252 ha) farm which supplies produce and meat for the Imperial Family. The farm costs are £3 million per year (2003). The emperor and his family have a monthly water bill of approximately £50,000 (2003).
The Imperial Guard is a special over 900 strong police force that provides personal protection for the Emperor and other members of the Imperial Family of Japan including their residences for £48 million per year.
There is a limitation with travel expenses since the Emperor's entourage pays a maximum of £110 a night, regardless of the actual cost of the hotel. Hotels accept it, because they don't want to lose the honor of hosting the Imperial Family.
Aside from the inner court (the Emperor and Empress, and their children including the Crown Prince and Crown Princess), the civil list covers an additional 19 family members who live in imperial residences. They are not prohibited from holding jobs or run businesses. For example, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, and his wife and two daughters (now outside of the Imperial Family as of 2018) received £310,000 per year, but they aren't well known by the Japanese public and have few royal duties.
The real annual cost is estimated to be $325 million per year (2003).
According to legend, the first Japanese Emperor was Jimmu. Along with the next 13 Emperors, Jimmu is not considered an actual, historical figure. Historically verifiable Emperors of Japan date from the early sixth century with Kimmei
Imperial House of Japan
|First ruling house|| Ruling House of Japan
Emperor Akihito of Japan is set to abdicate on 30 April 2019, which will make him the first Japanese Emperor to do so in over two centuries. This marks the end of the Heisei period, and will precipitate numerous festivities leading up to the accession of his successor, Crown Prince Naruhito. The enthronement ceremony will likely happen on 22 October 2019. Akihito's younger son, Prince Fumihito, is expected to become his brother's heir presumptive.Anti-monarchism in Japan
Anti-monarchism in Japan was a minor force during the twentieth century.Chrysanthemum Throne
The Chrysanthemum Throne (皇位, kōi, lit. "Imperial seat") is the throne of the Emperor of Japan. The term also can refer to very specific seating, such as the takamikura (高御座) throne in the Shishin-den at Kyoto Imperial Palace.Various other thrones or seats that are used by the Emperor during official functions, such as those used in the Tokyo Imperial Palace or the throne used in the Speech from the Throne ceremony in the National Diet, are, however, not known as the "Chrysanthemum Throne".In a metonymic sense, the "Chrysanthemum Throne" also refers rhetorically to the head of state and the institution of the Japanese monarchy itself.Chōroku
Chōroku (長禄) was a Japanese era name (年号,, nengō,, lit. "year name") after Kōshō and before Kanshō. This period spanned the years from September 1457 through December 1460. The reigning emperor was Go-Hanazono-tennō (後花園天皇).Enkyō (Kamakura period)
Enkyō (延慶), also romanized as Enkei, was a Japanese era name (年号,, nengō,, lit. "year name") after Tokuji and before Ōchō. This period spanned the years from October 1308 through April 1311. The reigning emperor was Hanazono-tennō (花園天皇).List of Jingū
Jingū (神宮) is a name for a Shinto shrine connected to the Imperial House of Japan.Masahito, Prince Hitachi
Masahito, Prince Hitachi (常陸宮正仁親王, Hitachi-no-miya Masahito Shinnō, born 28 November 1935) is a member of the Imperial House of Japan and the younger brother of Emperor Akihito. He is the second son and sixth born child of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun and is fourth in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Prince Hitachi is mainly known for philanthropic activities and his research on the causes of cancer.Nakayama Yoshiko
Nakayama Yoshiko (中山慶子, 16 January 1836 – 5 October 1907) was a Japanese lady-in-waiting in the court of the Imperial House of Japan. She was a favourite concubine of Emperor Kōmei and the mother of Emperor Meiji.Nanto Rokushū
The Six Schools of Nara Buddhism, also known as the Rokushū 六宗 (also Rokushuu/Rokushu), were academic Buddhist sects. These schools came to Japan from Korea and China during the late 6th and early 7th centuries. All of these schools were controlled by the newly formed Japanese government of Nara. These schools were installed to mimic and expand upon already existing mainland Asian Buddhist thought.The schools were installed during the reign of Prince Shōtoku, most likely to increase the power of the expanding government through Buddhist and Confucian doctrine. Because of the government involvement in religious expansion, government funds were used to construct grand temples, statues, and paintings, most notably the Seven Great Southern Temples of Nara. Most of these sects wanted to be the main Buddhist school of the Imperial House of Japan and high officials. Because of this, many of them tried to be appealing to nobility. Many of the themes of these schools delved on advanced level, complicated, almost cryptic, Indian philosophies on the mind and existence. Some of the schools, though, were ideas on the formation and operations of a vihara. Due to the location of the temples constructed for these schools they were also called, The Six Southern Schools of Nara Buddhism. Eventually the increasing power of these schools of Buddhism and their influence in politics started to overwhelm the city of Nara. This forced Emperor Kanmu to relocate the capital, moving it to Heian-kyō (Kyoto). It also directly encouraged the creation of the Tendai school, founded by Saichō, and Shingon Buddhism, founded by Kūkai.All six schools shared Gautama Buddha's original teachings of human suffering and his ideas on cause, remedy, and extinction. The six schools differed on expanding on the sub ideas of inter-dependency of phenomena, ultimate enlightenment (nirvana), the non-self (anātman), and the Middle Way. These schools laid the groundwork for the development of Pure Land Buddhism and the emergence of the worship of a distinctly Japanese form of Amitābha, Amida.Northern Court
The Northern Court (北朝, hokuchō), also known as the Ashikaga Pretenders or Northern Pretenders, were a set of six pretenders to the throne of Japan during the Nanboku-chō period from 1336 through 1392. The present Japanese Imperial Family is descended of the Northern Court emperors.
The Northern dynasty is also referred to as the "senior line" or the Jimyōin line (持明院統, Jimyōin-tō); Jimyō-in was a temple and retirement residence of this line's emperors Go-Fukakusa and Fushimi.Prince Tomohito of Mikasa
Prince Tomohito of Mikasa (寛仁親王, Tomohito Shinnō, 5 January 1946 – 6 June 2012) was a member of the Imperial House of Japan and the eldest son of Takahito, Prince Mikasa and Yuriko, Princess Mikasa. He was a first cousin of Emperor Akihito, and was formerly sixth in the line of succession to the Japanese throne and the heir apparent to the princely house of Mikasa-no-miya and the title "Prince Mikasa". Prince Tomohito was the first member of the Imperial House of Japan with a full beard since Emperor Meiji, thus earning him the popular nickname of the "Bearded Prince" (ヒゲの殿下 Hige no Denka). He died of cancer on 6 June 2012, aged 66.Princess Yōko of Mikasa
Princess Yōko of Mikasa (瑶子女王, Yōko Joō, born 25 October 1983) is a member of the Imperial House of Japan and the second daughter of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa and Princess Tomohito of Mikasa (Nobuko).Soga clan
The Soga clan (Japanese: 蘇我氏, Hepburn: Soga uji) was one of the most powerful clans of the Asuka period of the early Japanese state—the Yamato polity—and played a major role in the spread of Buddhism. Through the 5th and 7th centuries, the Soga monopolized the kabane or hereditary rank of Great Omi and was the first of many families to dominate the Imperial House of Japan by influencing the order of succession and government policy.
The last Soga predates any historical work in Japan, and very little is known about its earliest members.Soga no Kitashihime
Soga no Kitashihime (蘇我 堅塩媛) was a Japanese noblewoman and high lady, a daughter of Soga no Iname, a high-ranking official. She was a consort to Emperor Kinmei of Japan. Among her offspring were Emperor Yōmei, Empress Suiko and Princess Ōtomo.Toyota Century
The Toyota Century (Japanese: トヨタ センチュリー, Toyota Senchurī) is a large four-door limousine produced mainly for the Japanese market, serving as Toyota's flagship car within Japan; globally the unrelated Lexus LS series is Toyota's flagship luxury model outside Japan. Production of the Century began in 1967, and the model received only minor changes until a redesign in 1997. The Century derived its name from the 100th birthday of Sakichi Toyoda (born 14 February 1867), the founder of Toyota Industries. It is often used by the Imperial House of Japan, the Prime Minister of Japan, senior Japanese government leaders, and high-level executive businessmen. The Century is comparable in purpose to the Austin Princess/Daimler DS420, Cadillac Series 70, Mercedes-Benz 600, Chinese Red Flag, Rolls-Royce, and Russian ZIS/ZIL limousines. The first-generation Century was available with only a V8 engine, the third Japanese-built sedan post-war, at its introduction in 1967 until a full platform redesign in 1997. The second generation was only installed with a Toyota-designed and -built V12, an engine unique to the Century, until 2018, when the power-train was reverted to a V8 with the addition of Toyota's hybrid technology. While the Century is a premium, full-size luxury sedan, it is not available at Japanese Lexus dealerships; it can only be purchased at specifically identified Toyota Store locations. The logo used throughout is called the Hō-ō 鳳凰 or Fushichō from Asian mythology, representing the Imperial House of Japan.The exterior styling of the Century has, with some modifications, remained unchanged since its introduction, primarily due to its perception as denoting conservative success. Its appearance is iconic in Asian countries and is usually painted black. The closest Japanese competitor was the Nissan President, with a similar status reputation although, during the 1960s and '70s, the high market positioning was also shared with the Mitsubishi Debonair. Other Japanese competitors introduced large sedans—the Isuzu Statesman de Ville and the Mazda Roadpacer (derived from General Motors-Australia products)—which were short-lived.Wadō (era)
Wadō (和銅) was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, "year name") after Keiun and before Reiki. This period spanned the years from January 708 through September 715. The reigning monarch was Empress Genmei.Yamato
Yamato (大和) was originally the area around today's Sakurai City in Nara Prefecture of Japan which became Yamato Province and by extension a name for the whole of Japan.
Yamato is also the dynastic name of the ruling Imperial House of Japan.Yanagihara Naruko
This article incorporates material translated from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia.
Yanagihara Naruko (Japanese: 柳原愛子), also known as Sawarabi no Tsubone (26 June 1859 – 16 October 1943), was a Japanese lady-in-waiting of the Imperial House of Japan. A concubine of Emperor Meiji, she was the mother of Emperor Taishō and the last concubine to have given birth to a reigning Japanese emperor.Yata no Kagami
Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡, literally "the Mirror of Eight Ta (units of measurement for diameter)", in reference to its shape and size) is a sacred mirror that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. It is said to be housed in Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture, Japan, although a lack of public access makes this difficult to verify. The Yata no Kagami represents "wisdom" or "honesty," depending on the source. Mirrors in ancient Japan represented truth because they merely reflected what was shown, and were a source of much mystique and reverence (being uncommon items). Japanese folklore is rich in stories of life before mirrors were commonplace.
In Shintoism, this mirror was forged by the deity Ishikoridome; it and the Yasakani no magatama were hung from a tree to lure out Amaterasu from a cave. They were given to Amaterasu's grandson, Ninigi-no-Mikoto, when he went to pacify Japan along with the sword Kusanagi. From there, the treasures passed into the hands of the Imperial House of Japan.
In the year 1040 (Chōkyū 1, 9th month), the compartment which contained the Sacred Mirror was burned in a fire. Whether that mirror was irrevocably lost or not, it is said to be housed today in Ise Grand Shrine, while a replica is enshrined in Three Palace Sanctuaries of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
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