Early on the morning of 10 May 1900 Crown Prince Yoshihito, the future Taisho emperor, departed with his entourage from his residence in Aoyama. He was bound for the Imperial Palace. Just a little earlier Kujo Sadako, the daughter of Kujo Michiktaka, who was the patriarch of one of the “five regent families” (gosekke), also set out for the palace with her attendants from the Kujo estate at Akasaka. Their ultimate destination was the Palace Sanctuary, where they were to be married.
The formal rites had actually begun some three months previously.1 On National Foundation Day (kigensetsu), February 11th, imperial messengers announced the couple’s engagement to the imperial ancestors at Ise Shrine, the mausoleum of Emperor Jimmu, and the mausoleums of Emperor Komei and his recently deceased consort, Empress Dowager Eisho. Court ritualists also performed rites within the Palace Sanctuary and announced the engagement to the national gods. On the same day the Imperial Household Ministry informed the nation’s citizens of the engagement through a public notice (kokuji).
The rites making up this Shinto-style wedding in front of the kashikodokoro, though ancient-looking, were yet another conscious invention of the Meiji regime’s leaders. Throughout all of Japanese history no religious ceremonies, let alone ceremonies before the Sun Goddess, had ever accompanied the marriage of any member of the imperial household. The notion of a formal religious marriage ceremony, like the celebration of wedding anniversaries, (e.g., the celebration of Emperor Meiji and Empress 25th wedding anniversary in 1882), was inspired by Western courts.
Like the emperor, the crown prince suggested both the human and the divine aspects of the monarchy by the clothes he wore. Whenever he appeared outside the Palace Sanctuary he dressed in the uniform of an army major, while within that most sacred place he assumed the ancient vestments.
1 While the Crown Prince's bride was chosen for him in late August, the Prince was not informed of that choice until early February of 1900 -Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 553
Crown Prince Yoshihito 嘉仁 (1879-1926) was the 123rd emperor. He was posthumously given the name of Taisho Emperor 大正天皇. He was coronated in 1912 and ruled until his death in 1926. He was the third son of the Meiji Emperor (明治天皇). Unlike his father the Meiji Emperor, he did not play an active role in Japanese politics. He was plagued by ill health, mental and physical.
The Kujō were a branch of the ancient Fujiwara, a lineage that reached back to the late twelfth century, when its founding ancestor had become regent for the then-reigning emperor. Sadako (1884-1951) was an excellent student at the girls’ division of the Peers’ School, founded in Tokyo in 1877 for the education of the children of the Japanese aristocracy. Intellingent, articulate, petite, she was especially admired for her pleasant dispostion and natural dignity. She would bear the emperor three sons Yasuhito, Nobuhito and Takahito.
Crown Prince Yoshihito
(the future Emperor Taisho)
undated photo Seoul Times
Princess Sadako Kujo at coronation of Emperor Taisho, 1912
undated photo Seoul Times
|Title||Congratulations and Long Life Prince Yoshihito and Princess Sadako (translation is not confirmed) 千代之故登富貴|
|Date|| April 16, 1900 (Meiji 33)
|Publisher||Morimoto Junzaburo 森本順三郎|
|Condition|| fair - wrinkling, folds, soiling, toning; separate sheets; not backed
|Format|| vertical oban triptych
|H x W Paper|| 14 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. (36.2 x 24.8 cm) each sheet
|Collections This Print||Shizuoka Prefectural Central Library K915-108-050-005|