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  #1  
Old 04-21-2008, 06:06 PM
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Empress Michiko and her faith

I always wonder if she was baptised as a Roman Catholic as an infant ?
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:27 AM
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No Michiko was never baptised a Roman Catholic, her family were not Christian. Michiko did however attend catholic schools, she attended Futaba Girls School ( as did her mother, also coincidentally did Masako who followed in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother who attended the school, none were (or are) christian) Michiko's schooling was interrupted as she was evacuated to the country during WW2 to escape the allied bombing of Tokyo. Once back in Tokyo she studied at Sacred Heart High school and then graduated from The University of the Sacred Heart with a degree in English literature.

It's not that unusual for wealthy Japanese to send their children to catholic schools even if they themselves were not christian. There was ( and still is) quite a lot of prestige attached to attending catholic schools in Japan. They are all private schools and are all selective ( highly selective!). Sophia University is a catholic university established by the Jesuits and highly prestigious. Of Japan's population of 127 million apprx 800,000 are christian ( various christian denominations) so a tiny percentage of Japanese who attend catholic schools and universities in Japan are actually catholic, the majority are not catholic and non-christian.

Michiko's background was throughly investigated ( along with other prospective brides for Akihito) before she received her first invitation to play tennis. She couldn't be christian as the Imperial Family are the 'head' of the Shinto religion.
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Charlotte1 View Post
No Michiko was never baptised a Roman Catholic, her family were not Christian. Michiko did however attend catholic schools, she attended Futaba Girls School ( as did her mother, also coincidentally did Masako who followed in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother who attended the school, none were (or are) christian) Michiko's schooling was interrupted as she was evacuated to the country during WW2 to escape the allied bombing of Tokyo. Once back in Tokyo she studied at Sacred Heart High school and then graduated from The University of the Sacred Heart with a degree in English literature.

It's not that unusual for wealthy Japanese to send their children to catholic schools even if they themselves were not christian. There was ( and still is) quite a lot of prestige attached to attending catholic schools in Japan. They are all private schools and are all selective ( highly selective!). Sophia University is a catholic university established by the Jesuits and highly prestigious. Of Japan's population of 127 million apprx 800,000 are christian ( various christian denominations) so a tiny percentage of Japanese who attend catholic schools and universities in Japan are actually catholic, the majority are not catholic and non-christian.

Michiko's background was throughly investigated ( along with other prospective brides for Akihito) before she received her first invitation to play tennis. She couldn't be christian as the Imperial Family are the 'head' of the Shinto religion.
Oh, I see. However, the Empress's grandfather Tei'ichiroh Shoda was a Roman Catholic, so I understand. Her father Hidesaburoh Shoda was also Roman Catholic and her mother Tomiko Shoda was also baptised by the rite of the Roman Catholic Church just before her death. The Empress's brother is also Roman Catholic and he is married to a Roman Catholic woman whose parents were also Roman Catholics.

Talking about this note, the Asakano-miya-san also became Roman Catholic after the WWII.

A lot of Roman Catholic people sound to be around within her people. I think that one of the Empress Nagako's relatives also became a Roman Catholic nun after the WWII etc.
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Old 04-27-2008, 02:08 AM
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Oh, I see. However, the Empress's grandfather Tei'ichiroh Shoda was a Roman Catholic, so I understand. Her father Hidesaburoh Shoda was also Roman Catholic and her mother Tomiko Shoda was also baptised by the rite of the Roman Catholic Church just before her death. The Empress's brother is also Roman Catholic and he is married to a Roman Catholic woman whose parents were also Roman Catholics.

Talking about this note, the Asakano-miya-san also became Roman Catholic after the WWII.

A lot of Roman Catholic people sound to be around within her people. I think that one of the Empress Nagako's relatives also became a Roman Catholic nun after the WWII etc.
I'm curious where did you get the information about Michiko's parents and paternal grandfather being RC? Do you have access to Japanese baptismal records?

My information from Elizabeth Vinning's book "Return to Japan" stated that neither Michiko's parents were christian, they were both Buddhist. A Time Magazine article on Michiko dated 1959 also stated that her family were not christian and that she was a Buddhist.

Elizabeth Vinning had been Akihito's tutor and she was the only westerner at Akihito's and Michiko's wedding. She was a Quakker and a strong christian, she was involved in the setting up of a Christian university in Tokyo. I believe if Michiko's family had been christian she would have written extensively about it.

According to the official Japanese Imperial Family site Michiko's mother was called Fumiko not Tomiko.

FYI a note about writing Japanese names in the latin alphabet. The Hiragana ( Japanese phonetic alphabet for writing Japanese word and names) symbols are transcribed directly into a corresponding latin alphabet letter. The only hiragana consonent which is a stand alone consonent ( not attached to a vowel or double letter and vowel) is the latin alphabet 'n' 'h' is not a stand alone letter. Michiko's father's name is not written as 'Hidasaburoh', it's written as "Hidasaburo" no 'h'. Also Japanese has no apostrophes so it's not correct to write her grandfather's name as 'Tei'ichiroh' correctly writing from the Japanese it's "Teiichiro". eg Two identical vowels do not need to be separated, the Japanese word for no is 'iie'

In another thread you wrote Emperor as 'ten'noh' again that's not correct. No appostrophe and no 'h' correctly it's tenno or more correctly the 'o' has a macron ( a line over it to show that it's a long 'o' sound) 'tennō'


A touch amusing but shows how Japanese doesn't have stand alone consonents, the actor Brad Pitt's name in Japanese is written ( and pronounced by Japanese) as 'Burado Pito'
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:42 PM
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I don't think Empress Michiko is Roman Catholic. She could have studied in a Roman Catholic School withour being a Roman Catholic herself. I knew a girl who was Jewish, but as one f our better schools in Argentina was a Roman Catholic one, she studied in it, without having to change her birth Faith for it, thanks God.

The Empress must be a Shinto believer, and even if I am a Roman Catholic, I'm hapy she remained a Shintoist. This is into Japanese Imperial tradition.

Vanesa.
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Old 04-28-2008, 10:43 AM
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Empress Michiko practices Shinto. She is required to as Empress since she is obliged to perform rituals at the various temples. Under no circumstances would she have been allowed to marry the Emperor if she was any other religion. Attending a Roman Catholic school does not make her a Catholic. Catholic schools in Japan were sought out by well to do families for their daughters because they were competitive and strict.
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Old 05-12-2008, 07:53 PM
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In a biography of Hirohito, Herbert Bix states that Michiko was Christian. He might have been incorrect, but this information does seem to be out there in apparently authoritative sources. Shinto is the sort of observance that's possible to combine with more traditional religions, so its possible that she was Christian but also performed Shinto observances.
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:06 AM
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The word Shinto was derived from the Chinese words "shin tao" (The Way of the Gods). Believers of this religion have several gods, and animals (and all Nature) are respected as messengers of the gods.
Roman Catholics believe in one God, not in several, therefore you can't believe in both religions at the same time.
I don't think Empress Michiko is a Roman Catholic or she wouldn't be allowed to marry the Emperor. But we can never be sure of what she believes in her heart.

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Old 05-14-2008, 11:07 AM
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Well, to counter that argument, here is one that says otherwise:

Coexistence with other religions

Today many Japanese mix Buddhism and Shinto in their lives; something that can't be done with more exclusive religions like Christianity or Islam. About 83% of Japanese follow Shinto, and 76% follow Buddhism (1999 figures).
Although early Christian missionaries were hostile to Shinto, in more recent times it was seen by some Christians as so different from their own faith that they were willing to allow Japanese Christians to practice Shinto as well as Christianity. (For example, a Vatican proclamation in 1936 allowed Japanese Catholics to participate in Shinto ceremonies, on the grounds that these were merely civil rites of "filial reverence toward the Imperial Family and to the heroes of the country".

BBC - Religion & Ethics - Is Shinto a religion?

So if Michiko was Christian, depending on the nature of her faith, it would have been possible for her to take part in Shinto rituals.
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Old 09-07-2008, 02:02 PM
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I believe that the Empress's original religion was de-emphasized. I remember reading a biography stating that the Emperor's younger brother, Prince Hitachi, once naively said to his father, Emperor Showa that it was nice to have Princess Michiko so that they could discuss the Bible together. Afterwards, Princess Michiko was reprimanded by Emperor Showa.
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Old 09-07-2008, 10:18 PM
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She went to a Catholic school, so I'm sure she could discuss the Bible even if she wasn't Christian. Elizabeth Grey Vining (Akihito's tutor) said that Michiko had been sent to a Catholic school more for character training than for religious purposes, and that her family wasn't Christian.
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Old 09-08-2008, 12:27 PM
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She attended the Sacre Coeur High School and University. I guess we can assume that the environment influenced her more or less.

Am I too funny that I kinda worry about Her Imperial Majesty? Will she be given a "lecture" by the almost-omnipresent Kunaicho officials when people are discussing if she might be a Christian?

Perhaps, it is better that she is not a believer. Otherwise, she might even face a much more difficult situation.
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Old 09-08-2008, 12:37 PM
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The Catholic schools in Japan were regarded at the time as being highly competitive, disciplined and instructional. Several privileged Japanese families had their daughters attend these schools for the superior education and structure, not the religious message. Michiko being Catholic would not have been looked well upon by the IHA. It's possible, but I think it hardly likely.

An article from Time Magazine cira 1958. Take it for what you will:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...864513,00.html
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Old 09-09-2008, 05:59 PM
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That was an interesting reading, kimebear. Ackihito and Michiko's courtship sounds rather like that of the current Crown Prince and Princess.

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Originally Posted by kimebear View Post
An article from Time Magazine cira 1958. Take it for what you will:

The Falling Curtain - TIME
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Old 11-17-2009, 05:24 AM
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FYI a note about writing Japanese names in the latin alphabet. The Hiragana ( Japanese phonetic alphabet for writing Japanese word and names) symbols are transcribed directly into a corresponding latin alphabet letter. The only hiragana consonent which is a stand alone consonent ( not attached to a vowel or double letter and vowel) is the latin alphabet 'n' 'h' is not a stand alone letter. Michiko's father's name is not written as 'Hidasaburoh', it's written as "Hidasaburo" no 'h'. Also Japanese has no apostrophes so it's not correct to write her grandfather's name as 'Tei'ichiroh' correctly writing from the Japanese it's "Teiichiro". eg Two identical vowels do not need to be separated, the Japanese word for no is 'iie'

In another thread you wrote Emperor as 'ten'noh' again that's not correct. No appostrophe and no 'h' correctly it's tenno or more correctly the 'o' has a macron ( a line over it to show that it's a long 'o' sound) 'tennō'
Very interesting, but let's not get too picky about other members' mistakes. In fact, Japanese doesn't have any of those roman letters, so there isn't too much use in arguing over an apostrophe or extra "h".

Very good point though, Charlotte, I would like to know the sources for the conjecture about the supposed numbers of Roman Catholics in the empress' family or inner circle. It is sort of important to know where the information is coming from because it does contradict the official stance.
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Old 05-23-2012, 03:18 PM
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Very interesting, but let's not get too picky about other members' mistakes. In fact, Japanese doesn't have any of those roman letters, so there isn't too much use in arguing over an apostrophe or extra "h".

Very good point though, Charlotte, I would like to know the sources for the conjecture about the supposed numbers of Roman Catholics in the empress' family or inner circle. It is sort of important to know where the information is coming from because it does contradict the official stance.
In Japan, it is widely known that the Shoudas are Roman Catholic. According to 『正田貞一郎小伝』(Shouda Teiichirou Shouden), 正田貞一郎 (Teiichirou Shoda - Michiko's grandfather) was baptised at the Sekiguchi Church (Tokyo Cathedral) in December 1949. Princess Tomohito of Mikasa (Nobuko Asou)'s family are also Roman Catholic which is a known fact in Japan.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:01 PM
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A possible solution

I don't have access to baptismal records, just to info that has been entered on this thread. So, a cautionary preface that this is a possible solution to the question of Empress Michiko's faith. It might be possible that Michiko's family kept Catholicism on it's male line and allowed girls to be brought up in the mother's religion. The Catholic members of her family as presented above are all males. This was a common solution in mixed-religion marriages between Catholics and Protestants. Boys were raised in the father's religion, girls in their mother's. As stated before, the Catholic Church has reached an accomodation with Shintoism dating back to the 1930's. It is possible that Michiko was raised within a Catholic family and Catholic education without formally being baptized. Now the interesting question is how that early influence helped form her spirituality.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:23 PM
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If you know anything about the Sacred Heart sisters (Medames Sacre Coeur) you know that they will have rigorous catechism training. If this Sacre Coeur school was a branch of that order, I assume it might be similar to those we have in the US and Europe. Most of the Mesdames have Ph.D.'s in this country, and come from wealthy families or are so brilliant they got scholarships. I never attended but I got to know several of the Mesdames when I was a Stanford graduate student. I have been in several of their convents and inquired about things from their presiding Mothers. So even if the princesses/empresses were not baptized, they got a big Catholic education if they went to those schools. Pardon my French if it's inaccurate, I only had one quarter of French and read the Montreal newspaper to get ready for the graduate foreign language test.
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