The ōke were branches of the Japanese Imperial Family created from branches of the Fushimi-no-miya house. All but one of the ōke were formed by the descendants of Prince Fushimi Kuniye (1802–1872). The ōke were stripped of their membership in the Imperial Family by the American Occupation Authorities in October 1947. (Wikipedia)
Princess Tomiko Kitashirakawa (1862–1936), wife of the second head of the Kitashirakawa-no-miya collateral imperial branch
The princess did not have any children but her husband had five sons from various concubines.
Wedding of the 4th head of the Kitashirakawa-no-miya collateral branch, Prince Nagahisa Kitashirakawa (1910–1940) to Sachiko Tokugawa, the daughter of Baron Yoshikuni Tokugawa. The couple had a son and a daughter.
In 1969, Princess Kitashirakawa entered the service of the Imperial Household Agency. She served for many years as the chief of the ladies-in-waiting to Empress Nagako, Emperor Akihito´s mother.
Princess Fusako (1890–1974) (left) and Princess Masako (1888–1940) (right)
Princess Masako was the sixth daughter of Emperor Meiji of Japan and one of his consorts, Lady Sachiko. She held the childhood appellation "Tsune no miya" (Princess Tsune). Emperor Meiji authorized her future husband, Prince Tsunehisa, to start a new princely house, the house of Takeda, in March 1906, largely to provide a household with suitable status for Princess Masako. Prince and Princess Takeda had a son and a daughter.
Princess Fusako was the seventh daughter of Emperor Meiji, and Lady Sachiko. She held the childhood appellation "Kane no miya" (Princess Kane). On April 29, 1909, Princess Kane married Prince Naruhisa Kitashirakawa (1887–1923), the third head of the house of Kitashirakawa-no-miya. Prince Naruhisa Kitashirakawa was the brother of the above-mentioned Prince Tsunehisa, the husband of Princess Masako. Prince and Princess Kitashirakawa had one son, Prince Nagahisa Kitashirakawa (1910–1940), and three daughters.
while these families are no longer part of the imperial family legally, they are still related, thus nothing genealogically "former" about them
I understand where you come from. But, in my opinion, it would be highly misleading to speak simply of "collateral branches" of the imperial family because that would give the impression to most people that they still count as royals, would be eligible for the throne in case of emergency etc. although that is not the case.
Besides, there are lots of people in today´s Japan who are genealogically related to the imperial family, and not just in the female line. There must be lots of descendants of "surplus" imperial princes of former centuries who had to give up their imperial status when they married and had to "descend" to being a nobleman. Nobody would even think of considering them members of the imperial family although they are genealogically related all right. But they have lost their status by law, just as have in 1947 all the members of the - until then - collateral branches of the imperial family.
It is a rather ancient (and common) custom in Japan to sometimes divest people of the status they were born into, and it was indeed a very necessary tradition in times when the use of concubines would produce sometimes much more offspring than was ever needed for the succession.
According to my knowledge, there is no parallel to this in the European tradition - except maybe in cases of morganatic marriages where possible offspring may have explicitly been excluded from the succession. But this is, obviously, another story as the person concerned would also have had the choice of entering an equal marriage whereas "surplus" sons of the Japanese nobility and also of the imperial house did not have a choice in the matter.
So, the main question here is: what makes a family? The Japanese answer to this is certainly a bit different from the one that is usually given in the context of European monarchies.
The above link contains photos of members of the Japanese Imperial family in the early XX century.
The above link contains photos of the Fushimi family
The above link contains photos of the Katsura family and the Arisugawa family.
" American Occupation Authorities in October 1947 ". That is new thing I am just now, as an American, aware of. um.. k. I am learning that it has to do with the Japanese Constitution and the Diet did ratify it, Tokyo Tribunal and exoneration, how abdication wasn't necessary and so the Emperor wasn't implicated. Then there was some immunity granted for human experimentation during those times as a result of WWII, then ends with the Treaty of San Fransisco that served to formally/officially end WWII. So there are quite a few topics that are kind of impolite to talk about. I will move on to how large this Imperial family is, the succession right covers them, I think I will move on to that, but not without mentioning that I just noticed the general family tree is huge. Well, concubines, I think there is a thread for that one. It's http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...nes-10727.html What was the topic of this forum anyway? Sorry, I got lost in the vastness.
From a dynastic perspective these former collateral families are still technically part of the Yamato dynasty, since they often married within each other the dynastic bloodlines would have been kept intact and legitimate, although they have been disinherited. All it takes is some sort of government order (perhaps constitutional amendment) to re-legitimise the collateral families and they'd be eligible to produce heirs for the throne. I think it's a good idea to have collateral families, it puts less pressure on the imperial family to produce heirs. To put it simply they'd just live normally like they already do except they'd be able to help produce heirs for the royal family. Under the current system the Imperial family of Japan can easily go extinct if they are suddenly plagued with genetic disorders or infertility. From what I understand Prince Hisahito is basically the youngest male heir and his alone, if he happens to grow up with infertility issues the Imperial family is doomed. Allowing females to inherit the throne is also a good idea but that would still put the empress regent under pressure to reign and produce heirs at the same time, which would be extremely stressful and once again collateral families would alleviate that pressure.
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