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Congratulations and Long Life Prince Yoshihito and Princess Sadako


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Congratulations and Long Life

Prince Yoshihito and Princess Sadako

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1900

IHL Cat. #356

About This Print

This print depicts the 20-year-old Prince Yoshihito (the future Emperor Taisho) and 15-year-old Princess Sadako Kujō before their official marriage held on May 10, 1900.  They are surrounded by auspicious symbols of good luck and longevity.

Japan's First Imperial Wedding - An Imported "Ancient" Rite

Source: Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan, Takashi Fujitani, University of California Press, 1996, p. 116-117 and as footnoted.

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

Source: "New-born Baby & Japan's Imperial Family -Japan's Chrysanthemum Curtain Unveiled," The Seoul Times
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.

Princess Kujō Sadako

Source: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Herbert P. Bix, Harper-Collins, 2000, p. 21-22.
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 Kujō at coronation of Emperor Taisho, 1912
undated photo Seoul Times

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #356
 Title Congratulations and Long Life Prince Yoshihito and Princess Sadako (translation is not confirmed) 千代之故登富貴
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Sakamaki Kōgyo
 Seal none
 Date April 16, 1900 (Meiji 33)
 Publisher Morimoto Junzaburo 森本順三郎
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - wrinkling, folds, soiling, toning; separate sheets; not backed
 Genre ukiyo-e
 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
 Reference Literature