Emperor Taishō

Emperor Taishō

Infobox Monarch
name =Emperor Taishō
title =123rd Emperor of Japan

caption =
reign =30 July 1912 – 25 December 1926
coronation =30 July 1912
othertitles =
full name =
predecessor =Emperor Meiji
successor =Emperor Shōwa
suc-type =
heir =
queen =
consort =Empress Teimei
issue =Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito)
Prince Chichibu
Prince Takamatsu
Prince Mikasa
royal house =Imperial House of Japan
dynasty =
royal anthem =
father =Emperor Meiji
mother =Yanagiwara Naruko
date of birth =31 August 1879
place of birth =Tokyo, Japan
date of death =25 December 1926 (aged 47)
place of death =Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan
date of burial =
place of burial =|

The nihongo|Taishō Emperor|大正天皇|"Taishō-tennō" (31 August 1879 – 25 December 1926) was the 123rd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 30 July 1912, until his death in 1926.

His personal name was nihongo|Yoshihito|嘉仁. Like all other Japanese emperors, since his death he has been known by a posthumous name that, according to a practice dating back to 1912, is the name of the era coinciding with his reign. Having ruled during the Taishō era "(Great Righteousness)", he is now known as "Emperor Taishō". As this is not a personal name, more accurately he should be referred to as "the Taishō emperor".

Although outside Japan he is sometimes referred to as "Yoshihito" or "Emperor Yoshihito", in Japan emperors are referred to only by their posthumous names. The situation is similar to popes assuming new names upon taking office, but additionally the use of a Japanese emperor's personal name can be considered overly familiar, or even derogatory.

Early life

Prince Yoshihito was born at the Aoyama Palace in Tokyo to the Meiji Emperor and Yanagiwara Naruko, a lady-in-waiting. As was common practice at the time, the Meiji emperor's consort, Empress Shōken, was officially regarded as his mother. He received the personal name of Yoshihito Shinno and the title "Haru-no-miya" from the emperor on September 6, 1879.

Prince Yoshihito contracted meningitis within three weeks of his birth, leaving him in poor health both physically and mentally. (It has also been rumored that he suffered from lead poisoning, supposedly contracted from the powder makeup his wetnurse used.) Despite this, after his four older brothers suffered early deaths, he was officially declared heir apparent on 31 August 1887, and had his formal investiture as crown prince on 3 November 1888. While crown prince, he was known as nihongo|Tōgu|東宮.

As was the practice at the time, Yoshihito was entrusted to the care of Prince Nakayama Tadayasu [peer] , in whose house he lived until the age of seven. Tutors taught the prince and selected classmates at a special school, the Gogakumonsho, within the Aoyama Detached Palace. In September 1887 the prince entered the elementary department of the Gakushuin, but due to his health problems he was often unable to continue his studies. He spent much of his youth by the sea in Atami 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 finally 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, Chinese, and history from private tutors at the Akasaka Palace; the Meiji emperor gave Prince Takehito responsibility for taking care of Prince Yoshihito, and the two princes became friends.

On 10 May 1900, Crown Prince Yoshihito married the then 15-year-old Sadako Kujō (the future Empress Teimei), the daughter of Prince Kujō Michitaka, the head of the five senior branches of the Fujiwara clan, and had issue:

# The future Shōwa emperor (Hirohito), (29 April 1901 – 7 January 1989); married Princess Nagako (6 March 1903 – 16 June 2000), eldest daughter of Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi; and had issue.
# Prince Chichibu (Yasuhito), (26 May 1902 – 4 January 1953); married September 28, 1928, Miss Matsudaira Setsuko (September 9, 1909 – 25 August 1995), eldest daughter of Mr. Matsudaira Tsuneo, sometime Japanese ambassador to Britain and the United States, and imperial household minister; no issue.
# Prince Takamatsu (Nobuhito), (1 March 1905 – 3 February 1987); married 4 February 1930, Tokugawa Kikuko (26 December 1911 – 18 December 2004), second daughter of Prince Tokugawa Yoshihisa [peer] ; no issue.
# Prince Mikasa (Takahito), (born 2 December 1915); married 22 October 1941, Yuriko (born 6 June 1923), second daughter of Viscount Takagi Masanori.

The marriage is said to have improved his physical health, and shortly afterward he embarked upon a tour of Japan, one of the first times in history that Japanese commoners were able to come in direct contact with the heir to the throne.

The Akasaka Palace (currently Japan's State Guesthouse), designed by Katayama Tōkuma, was constructed from 1899 to 1909 in a lavish European rococo style, to serve as the Crown Prince's official residence.

In October 1907, the Crown Prince toured Korea, accompanied by Admiral Togo Heihachiro, General Katsura Taro, and Prince Arisugawa Taruhito. It was the first time the heir apparent to the throne had ever left Japan. He began studying the Korean language shortly afterwards, although he never became proficient at it.

As emperor

On 30 July 1912, upon the death of his father, the Meiji Emperor, Prince Yoshihito succeeded him on the throne. The Meiji era ended at once and a new era was proclaimed: the Taishō era. According to Japanese customs, the emperor has no name during his reign and is only called "the (present) Emperor". Like his father, the name of the era coinciding with his reign would later become his posthumous name.

The new emperor was kept out of view of the public as much as possible. He suffered from various neurological problems throughout his life and by the late 1910s, these maladies made it all but impossible for him to carry out public functions. On one of the rare occasions he was seen in public, the 1913 opening of the Diet, he is famously reported to have rolled his prepared speech into a telescope and stared at the assembly through it. Although this is often cited as an example of his poor mental condition, others believe he may have been checking to make sure the speech was rolled up properly, as his manual dexterity was also handicapped.Fact|date=May 2008

As a result of his disabilities and eccentricities, the Taishō emperor became known as "Baka tenno" (The Mad Emperor) or simply "the Mad."Fact|date=May 2008

World War I occurred during the reign of the Taishō emperor, and as a result of the war, the Japanese empire expanded to include Germany's former colonies in the central Pacific Ocean (the Caroline Islands, Mariana Islands and Palau), as well as the German military port of Qingdao on Shandong peninsula on the Chinese mainland. Japan was recognized as one of the great powers in the new post-war world order, and became a founding member of the League of Nations.

After 1919, he undertook no official duties, and Crown Prince Hirohito (who would succeed him as the Shōwa emperor) was named "sesshō" (prince regent) on 25 November 1921.

Great Kantō earthquake of 1923

Taishō's reclusive life was unaffected by the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. Fortuitously, he had moved by royal train to his summer palace at Nikko the week before the disaster; but his son, the Prince Regent, remained at the Imperial Palace where he was at the heart of the event. [Hammer, Joshua. (2006). [http://books.google.com/books?id=6O8VyhDbUPgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Yokohama+burning&client=firefox-a&sig=rbgbEDXJV5fht4wdSD1HBoAMANg#PPA44,M1 "Yokohama Burning," p. 44.] ] Carrier pigeons kept the emperor informed as information about the extent of the devastation became known. [Hammer, [http://books.google.com/books?id=6O8VyhDbUPgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Yokohama+burning&client=firefox-a&sig=rbgbEDXJV5fht4wdSD1HBoAMANg#PPA194,M1 p. 194;] citing [http://books.google.com/books?id=6O8VyhDbUPgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Yokohama+burning&client=firefox-a&sig=rbgbEDXJV5fht4wdSD1HBoAMANg#PPA290,M1 "Carrier Pigeons Take News of Disaster:Wing Their Way from the Flaming City,"] "Japan Times & Mail" (Earthquake Edition). September 6, 1923, p. 1.]

The first Tokyo emperor

In early December 1926, it was announced that the emperor had pneumonia. Taishō died of a heart attack at 1:25 a.m. in the early morning of 25 December 1926, at the imperial palace at Hayama, on Sagami Bay south of Tokyo (in Kanagawa Prefecture). [Seidensticker, Edward. (1990). "Tokyo Rising," p. 18.]

Taishō has been called the first Tokyo emperor because he was the first to live his entire life in or near the eastern capital. Taishō's father was born and reared in Kyoto; and although he later lived and died in Tokyo, Meiji's mausoleum is located on the outskirts of Kyoto. Meiji's final resting place is near the tombs of his Imperial forebears; but Taishō's grave site is to be found in Tokyo Prefecture. [Seidensticker, p. 20.]


* Knight of the Garter (United Kingdom)
* Order of Saint Hubert (Bavaria)
* Order of the Black Eagle (Prussia), Knight
* Order of the Chrysanthemum (Japan)
* Order of the Elephant (Denmark)
* Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain)
* Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (Kingdom of Italy)
* Order of the Precious Crown (Japan)
* Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)
* Order of the White Eagle (Poland)
* Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav (Norway), Knight Grand Cross



* Hammer, Joshua. (2006). [http://books.google.com/books?id=6O8VyhDbUPgC&dq=Yokohama+burning&client=firefox-a&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0 "Yokohama Burning: the Deadly 1923 Earthquake and Fire that Helped Forge the Path to World War II."] New York: Simon & Schuster. 10-ISBN 0-743-26465-7; 13-ISBN 978-0-743-26465-5 (cloth)
* Seidensticker, Edward. (1990). "Tokyo Rising." New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 10-ISBN 0-394-54360-2; 13-ISBN 978-0-394-54360-4 (cloth) [reprinted by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1991: 10-ISBN 0-674-89461-8; 13-ISBN 978-0-674-89461-7 (paper)]

ee also

*Taishō period


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