Emperor Taishō was the 123rd Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 30 July 1912 until his death on 25 December 1926. The Emperor's personal name was Yoshihito. According to Japanese custom, during the reign the Emperor is called "the Emperor". After death, he is known by a posthumous name, the name of the era coinciding with his reign. Having ruled during the Taishō period, he is known as the "Taishō Emperor" or "Emperor Taishō". Prince Yoshihito was born at the Tōgū Palace in Akasaka, Tokyo to Emperor Meiji and Yanagihara Naruko, a concubine with the official title of gon-no-tenji; as was common practice at the time, Emperor Meiji's consort, Empress Shōken, was regarded as his mother. He received the personal name of Yoshihito Shinnō and the title Haru-no-miya from the Emperor on 6 September 1879, his two older siblings had died in infancy, he too was born sickly. Prince Yoshihito contracted cerebral meningitis within three weeks of his birth; as was the practice at the time, Prince Yoshihito was entrusted to the care of his great-grandfather, Marquess Nakayama Tadayasu, in whose house he lived from infancy until the age of seven.
Prince Nakayama had raised his grandson, Emperor Meiji, as a child. From March 1885, Prince Yoshihito moved to the Aoyama Detached Palace, where he was tutored in the mornings on reading, writing and morals, in the afternoons on sports, but progress was slow due to his poor health and frequent fevers. From 1886, he was taught together with 15–20 selected classmates from the ōke and higher ranking kazoku peerage at a special school, the Gogakumonsho, within the Aoyama Palace. Yoshihito was declared heir on 31 August 1887, had his formal investiture as crown prince on 3 November 1888. While crown prince, he was referred to as Tōgu. In September 1887, Yoshihito entered the elementary department of the Gakushūin, he spent much of his youth by the sea at the Imperial villas at Hayama and Numazu for health reasons. Although the prince showed skill in some areas, such as horse riding, he proved to be poor in areas requiring higher-level thought, he was withdrawn from Gakushuin before finishing the middle school course in 1894.
However, he did appear to have an aptitude for languages and continued to receive extensive tutoring in French and history from private tutors at the Akasaka Palace. From 1898 at the insistence of Itō Hirobumi, the Prince began to attend sessions of the House of Peers of the Diet of Japan as a way of learning about the political and military concerns of the country. In the same year, he gave his first official receptions to foreign diplomats, with whom he was able to shake hands and converse graciously, his infatuation with western culture and tendency to sprinkle French words into his conversations was a source of irritation for Emperor Meiji. In October 1898, the Prince traveled from the Numazu Imperial Villa to Kobe and Etajima, visiting sites connected with the Imperial Japanese Navy, he made another tour in 1899 to Kyūshū, visiting government offices and factories. On 10 May 1900, Crown Prince Yoshihito married the 15-year-old Kujō Sadako, daughter of Prince Kujō Michitaka, the head of the five senior branches of the Fujiwara clan.
She had been selected by Emperor Meiji for her intelligence and pleasant disposition and dignity – to complement Prince Yoshihito in the areas where he was lacking. The Akasaka Palace was constructed from 1899 to 1909 in a lavish European rococo style, to serve as the Crown Prince's official residence; the Prince and Princess had the following children: In 1902, Yoshihito continued his tours to observe the customs and geography of Japan, this time of central Honshū, where he visited the noted Buddhist temple of Zenkō-ji in Nagano. With tensions rising between Japan and Russia, Yoshihito was promoted in 1903 to the rank of colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army and captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy, his military duties were only ceremonial, but he traveled to inspect military facilities in Wakayama, Ehime and Okayama that year. In October 1907, the Crown Prince toured Korea, accompanied by Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, General Katsura Tarō, Prince Arisugawa Taruhito, it was the first time an heir apparent to the throne had left Japan.
During this period, he began studying the Korean language, although he never became proficient at it. On 30 July 1912, upon the death of his father, Emperor Meiji, Prince Yoshihito mounted the throne; the new Emperor was kept out of view of the public as much as possible. On one of the rare occasions he was seen in public, the 1913 opening of the Imperial Diet of Japan, he is famously reported to have rolled his prepared speech into a cylinder and stared at the assembly through it, as if through a spyglass. Although rumors attributed this to poor mental condition, including those who knew him well, believed that he may have been checking to make sure the speech was rolled up properly, as his manual dexterit
Tokyo Imperial Palace
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and contains buildings including the main palace, the private residences of the Imperial Family, an archive and administrative offices, it is built on the site of the old Edo Castle. The total area including the gardens is 1.15 square kilometres. During the height of the 1980s Japanese property bubble, the palace grounds were valued by some to be more than the value of all of the real estate in the state of California. After the capitulation of the shogunate and the Meiji Restoration, the inhabitants, including the Shōgun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, were required to vacate the premises of the Edo Castle. Leaving the Kyoto Imperial Palace on 26 November 1868, the Emperor arrived at the Edo Castle, made it to his new residence and renamed it to Tōkei Castle. At this time, Tōkyō had been called Tōkei, he left for Kyōto again, after coming back on 9 May 1869, it was renamed to Imperial Castle.
Previous fires had destroyed the Honmaru area containing the old donjon. On the night of 5 May 1873, a fire consumed the Nishinomaru Palace, the new imperial Palace Castle was constructed on the site in 1888. A non-profit "Rebuilding Edo-jo Association" was founded in 2004 with the aim of a correct reconstruction of at least the main donjon. In March 2013, Naotaka Kotake, head of the group, said that "the capital city needs a symbolic building", that the group planned to collect donations and signatures on a petition in support of rebuilding the tower. A reconstruction blueprint had been made based on old documents; the Imperial Household Agency at the time had not indicated. In the Meiji era, most structures from the Edo Castle disappeared; some were cleared to make way for other buildings while others were destroyed by earthquakes and fire. For example, the wooden double bridges over the moat were replaced with iron bridges; the buildings of the Imperial Palace constructed in the Meiji era were constructed of wood.
Their design employed traditional Japanese architecture in their exterior appearance while the interiors were an eclectic mixture of then-fashionable Japanese and European elements. The ceilings of the grand chambers were coffered with Japanese elements; the floors of the public rooms had parquets or carpets while the residential spaces used traditional tatami mats. The main audience hall was the central part of the palace, it was the largest building in the compound. Guests were received there for public events; the floor space was more than 223 tsubo or 737.25 m2. In the interior, the coffered ceiling was traditional Japanese-style; the roof was styled to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, but was covered with copper plates rather than Japanese cypress shingles. In the late Taishō and early Shōwa period, more concrete buildings were added, such as the headquarters of the Imperial Household Ministry and the Privy Council; these structures exhibited only token Japanese elements. From 1888 to 1948, the compound was called Palace Castle.
On the night of 25 May 1945, most structures of the Imperial Palace were destroyed in the Allied firebombing raid on Tokyo. According to the US bomber pilot Richard Lineberger, Emperor's Palace was the target of their special mission on July 29, 1945, was hit with 2000-pound bombs. In August 1945, in the closing days of World War II, Emperor Hirohito met with his Privy Council and made decisions culminating in the surrender of Japan at an underground air-raid shelter on the palace grounds referred to as His Majesty's Library. Due to the large-scale destruction of the Meiji-era palace, a new main palace hall and residences were constructed on the western portion of the site in the 1960s; the area was renamed Imperial Residence in 1948, while the eastern part was renamed East Garden and became a public park in 1968. Interior images of the old Meiji-era palace, destroyed during World War II The present Imperial Palace encompasses the retrenchments of the former Edo Castle; the modern palace Kyūden designed for various imperial court functions and receptions is located in the old Nishinomaru section of the palace grounds.
On a much more modest scale, the residence of the current Emperor and empress is located in the Fukiage Gardens. Designed by Japanese architect Shōzō Uchii the modern residence was completed in 1993. Except for Imperial Household Agency and the East Gardens, the palace is closed to the public, except for reserved guided tours from Tuesdays to Saturdays; each New Year and Emperor's Birthday, the public is permitted to enter through the Nakamon where they gather in the Kyuden Totei Plaza in front of the Chowaden Hall. The Imperial Family appears on the balcony before the crowd and the Emperor gives a short speech greeting and thanking the visitors and wishing them good health and blessings; every year a poetry convention called Utakai Hajime is held at the palace on January 1. The old Honmaru and Sannomaru compounds now comprise the East Gardens, an area with public access containing administrative and other public buildings; the Kitanomaru Park is the former northern enceinte of Edo Castle. It is the site of the Nippon Budokan.
To the south are the outer gardens of
Imperial House of Japan
The Imperial House of Japan referred to as the Imperial Family or 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 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 and continuing up to the current emperor, Akihito. Historical evidence for the first 29 Emperors is marginal by modern standards, but there is firm evidence for the hereditary line since Emperor Kinmei ascended the throne 1,500 years ago. Article 5 of the Imperial Household Law defines the Imperial Family as the Empress. 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 been limited to the male line descendants of the Emperor Taishō, excluding females who married outside the Imperial Family and their descendants. There are 18 members of the Imperial Family: The Emperor was born at Tokyo Imperial Palace on 23 December 1933, the elder son and fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun, he was married on 10 April 1959 to Michiko Shōda. Emperor Akihito succeeded his father as emperor on 7 January 1989; the Empress Michiko Shōda, was born in Tokyo on 20 October 1934, the eldest daughter of Hidesaburo Shōda, president and honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Inc.. The Crown Prince, the eldest son of the Emperor and the Empress, was born in the Hospital of the Imperial Household in Tokyo on 23 February 1960, he became heir apparent upon his father's accession to the throne. Crown Prince Naruhito was married on 9 June 1993 to Masako Owada.
The Crown Princess was born on 9 December 1963, the daughter of Hisashi Owada, a former vice minister of foreign affairs and former permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have one daughter: The Princess Toshi The Prince Akishino, the Emperor's second son, second on the succession line, was born on 30 November 1965 in the Hospital of the Imperial Household in Tokyo, his childhood title was Prince Aya. He received the title Prince Akishino and permission to start a new branch of the Imperial Family upon his marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 29 June 1990; the Princess Akishino was born on 11 September 1966, the daughter of Tatsuhiko Kawashima, professor of economics at Gakushuin University. Prince and Princess Akishino have two daughters and a son: Princess Mako of Akishino Princess Kako of Akishino Prince Hisahito of Akishino The Prince Hitachi was born on 28 November 1935, the second son and sixth child of the Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kojun.
His childhood title was Prince Yoshi. He received the title Prince Hitachi and permission to set up a new branch of the Imperial Family on 1 October 1964, the day after his wedding; the Princess Hitachi was born on the daughter of former Count Yoshitaka Tsugaru. Prince and Princess Hitachi have no children; the Princess Mikasa is the widow of the Prince Mikasa, 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 three sons with the late Prince Mikasa. Princess Tomohito of Mikasa is the widow of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, the eldest son of the Prince and Princess Mikasa and a first cousin of Emperor Akihito; the Princess was born on 9 April 1955, the daughter of Takakichi Asō, chairman of Asō Cement Co. and his wife, Kazuko, a daughter of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. She has two daughters with the late Prince Tomohito of Mikasa: Princess Akiko of Mikasa Princess Yōko of Mikasa The Princess Takamado is the widow of the Prince Takamado, the third son of the Prince and Princess Mikasa and a first cousin of Emperor Akihito.
The Princess was born the eldest daughter of Shigejiro Tottori. She married the prince on 6 December 1984. Known as Prince Norihito of Mikasa, he received the title Prince Takamado and permission to start a new branch of the Imperial Family on 1 December 1984. Princess Takamado has three daughters, one of whom remains a member of the Imperial Family: Princess Tsuguko of Takamado The following family tree shows the lineage of the contemporary members of the Imperial Family. Princesses who le
Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south; the kanji that make up Japan's name mean "sun origin", it is called the "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands; the four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one; the population of 127 million is the world's tenth largest. 90.7 % of people live in cities. About 13.8 million people live in the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. Archaeological research indicates; the first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
Influence from other regions China, followed by periods of isolation from Western Europe, has characterized Japan's history. From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shōguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma – and the Empire of Japan was established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism; the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the Japanese surrender. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, 1947, during the occupation led by SCAP, the sovereign state of Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.
Japan is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8, the G20, is considered a great power. Its economy is the world's third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity, it is the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Japan benefits from a skilled and educated workforce. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, Japan maintains a modern military with the world's eighth-largest military budget, used for self-defense and peacekeeping roles. Japan is a developed country with a high standard of living and Human Development Index, its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and third lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but is experiencing issues due to an aging population and low birthrate. Japan is renowned for its historical and extensive cinema, influential music industry, video gaming, rich cuisine and its major contributions to science and modern technology; the Japanese word for Japan is 日本, pronounced Nihon or Nippon and means "the origin of the sun".
The character nichi means "sun" or "day". The compound therefore means "origin of the sun" and is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun"; the earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang. At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country; this name may have its origin in a letter sent in 607 and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty. Prince Shōtoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a letter in which he called himself "the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises"; the message said: "Here, I, the emperor of the country where the sun rises, send a letter to the emperor of the country where the sun sets. How are you". Prior to the adoption of Nihon, other terms such as Yamato and Wakoku were used; the term Wa is a homophone of Wo 倭, used by the Chinese as a designation for the Japanese as early as the third century Three Kingdoms period.
Another form of Wa, Wei in Chinese) was used for an early state in Japan called Nakoku during the Han dynasty. However, the Japanese disliked some connotation of Wa 倭, it was therefore replaced with the substitute character Wa, meaning "togetherness, harmony"; the English word Japan derives from the historical Chinese pronunciation of 日本. The Old Mandarin or early Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters 日本; the old Malay word for Japan, Japun or Japang, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect Fukienese or Ningpo – and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia in the 16th century. These Early Portuguese traders brought the word
Imperial Regalia of Japan
The Imperial Regalia of Japan known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, consist of the sword Kusanagi, the mirror Yata no Kagami, the jewel Yasakani no Magatama. The regalia represent the three primary virtues: valor and benevolence. Due to the legendary status of these items, their locations are not confirmed, but it is thought that the sword is located at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the jewel is located at the Three Palace Sanctuaries in Kōkyo, the mirror is located at the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture. Since 690, the presentation of these items to the Emperor by the priests at the shrine has been a central element of the enthronement ceremony; this ceremony is not public, these items are by tradition seen only by the Emperor and certain priests. Because of this, no known photographs or drawings exist. Two of the three treasures were last seen during the accession and enthronement of Emperor Akihito in 1989 and 1993, but were shrouded in packages. According to legend, these treasures were brought to earth by Ninigi-no-Mikoto, legendary ancestor of the Japanese imperial line, when his grandmother, the sun goddess Amaterasu, sent him to pacify Japan.
These treasures were said to be passed down to Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor of Japan and was Ninigi's great-grandson. Traditionally, they were a symbol of the emperor's divinity as a descendant of Amaterasu, confirming his legitimacy as paramount ruler of Japan; when Amaterasu hid in a cave from her brother Susanoo-no-Mikoto, thus plunging the world in darkness, the goddess Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto hung the mirror and jewels outside the cave and lured her out of the cave, at which point she saw her own reflection and was startled enough that the gods could pull her out of the cave. Susanoo presented the sword Kusanagi to Amaterasu as a token of apology. At the conclusion of the Genpei War in 1185, the eight year-old Emperor Antoku and the Regalia were under the control of the Taira clan, they were present when the Taira were defeated by the rival Minamoto clan at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, fought on boats in the shallow Kanmon Straits. The child-emperor's grandmother threw herself, the boy, the sword and the jewel into the sea to avoid capture.
The mirror was recovered, but according to the main account of the battle, a Minamato soldier who tried to force open the box containing it was struck blind. The jewel was recovered shortly afterwards by divers. There are a number of medieval texts relating to the loss of the sword, which variously contended that a replica was forged afterwards, or that the lost sword itself was a replica or the sword was returned to land by supernatural forces; the possession by the Southern Dynasty of the Imperial Regalia during the Nanboku-chō period in the 14th century has led modern chroniclers to define it as the legitimate dynasty for purposes of regnal names and genealogy. The importance of the Imperial Regalia to Japan is evident from the declarations made by Emperor Hirohito to Kōichi Kido on 25 and 31 July 1945 at the end of World War II, when he ordered the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan to protect them "at all costs"; the phrase "Three Sacred Treasures" is retrospectively applied to durable goods of modern Japan.
During a policy address in 2003 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that during the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, the "three sacred treasures" for durable goods were the washing machine and the black and white television, the automobile, air conditioner, color television set from the mid-1960s to the mid 1970s. Alvin and Heidi Toffler's Powershift use them to symbolize the three kinds of power they distinguish: force and knowledge. Regalia Chrysanthemum Throne Imperial House of Japan Japanese mythology National seals of Japan Order of the Sacred Treasure Shinto Jinnō Shōtōki
Religion in Japan
Religion in Japan is dominated by Shinto and by Buddhism. According to surveys carried out in 2006 and 2008, less than 40% of the population of Japan identifies with an organized religion: around 35% are Buddhists, 3% to 4% are members of Shinto sects and derived religions, from fewer than 1% to 2.3% are Christians. Most of the Japanese pray and worship ancestors and gods at Shinto shrines or at private altars, while not identifying as "Shinto" or "Shintoist" in surveys; this is because these terms have little meaning for the majority of the Japanese, or because they define membership in Shinto organizations or sects. The term "religion" itself in Japanese culture defines only organized religions. People who identify as "non-religious" in surveys mean that they do not belong to any religious organization though they may take part in Shinto rituals and worship; some scholars, such as Jun'ichi Isomae and Jason Ānanda Josephson, have challenged the usefulness of the term "religion" in regard to Japanese "traditions", arguing that the Japanese term and concept of "religion" is an invention of the 19th century.
However, other scholars, such as Hans Martin Kramer and Ian Reader, regard such claims as overstated and contend that the terms relate to terminology and categorizations that existed in Japan prior to the 19th century. Shinto kami-no-michi, is the indigenous religion of Japan and most of the people of Japan, it is defined as an action-centered religion, focused on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient roots. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to a collection of native beliefs and mythology. Shinto today is the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of gods, suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, applies as well to various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian periods.
The word Shinto was adopted as Shindo, from the written Chinese Shendao, combining two kanji: "shin", meaning "spirit" or kami. The oldest recorded usage of the word Shindo is from the second half of the 6th century. Kami are defined in English as "spirits", "essences" or "gods", referring to the energy generating the phenomena. Since Japanese language does not distinguish between singular and plural, kami refers to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms: rocks, rivers, animals and people can be said to possess the nature of kami. Kami and people are not separate. Shinto is the largest religion in Japan, practiced by nearly 80% of the population, yet only a small percentage of these identify themselves as "Shintoists" in surveys; this is due to the fact that "Shinto" has different meanings in Japan: most of the Japanese attend Shinto shrines and beseech kami without belonging to Shinto organisations, since there are no formal rituals to become a member of folk "Shinto", "Shinto membership" is estimated counting those who join organised Shinto sects.
Shinto has 78,890 priests in the country. With the profound changes that the Japanese society has gone through in the 20th century, after World War II, including rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, traditional religions were challenged by the transformation and underwent a reshaping themselves, principles of religious freedom articulated by the constitution provided space for the proliferation of new religious movements. Both new sects of Shinto and movements claiming a independent status, as well as new forms of Buddhist lay societies, provided ways of aggregation for people uprooted from traditional families and village institutions. While traditional Shinto is residential and hereditary, a person participates in the worship activities devoted to the local tutelary deity or ancestor asking for specific healing or blessing services or participating in pilgrimages, in the new religions groups were formed by individuals without regard to kinship or territorial origins, required a voluntary decision to join.
These new religions provided cohesion through a unified doctrine and practice shared by the nationwide community. The recognized new religions number in the hundreds, total membership is in the tens of millions; the largest new religion is Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist sect founded in 1930, which has about 10 million members in Japan. Scholars in Japan have estimated that between 10% and 20% of the population belongs to the new religions, although more realistic estimates put the number at well below the 10% mark; as of 2007, there are 223,831 priests and leaders of the new religions in Japan, three times the number of traditional Shinto priests. Many of these new religions are Shinto-derived and retain the fundamental characters of Shinto identifying themselves as forms of Shinto; these include Tenrikyo, Omotokyo, Shinreikyo, Sekai Shindokyo and others. Others are independent new