Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and Empress Shōken (1849-1914)


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Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji (Meiji-tennō, 3 November 1852 – 29 July 1912), also called Meiji the Great (Meiji-taitei) or Meiji the Holy Emperor (Meiji-seitei), was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession. Reigning from 13 February 1867 to his death, he was the first monarch of the Empire of Japan and presided over the Meiji era. He was the figurehead of the Meiji Restoration, a series of rapid changes that witnessed Japan's transformation from an isolationist, feudal state to an industrialized world power.
More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Meiji

Photo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/Emperor_Meiji_in_1873.jpg

Empress Shōken
Empress Dowager Shōken (Shōken-kōtaigō, 9 May 1849 – 9 April 1914), born Masako Ichijō (Ichijō Masako), was the wife and adviser of Emperor Meiji of Japan. She is also known under the technically more correct name Empress Shōken (Shōken-kōgō). She was one of the founders of the Japanese Red Cross Society, whose charity work was known throughout the First Sino-Japanese War.
More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Shōken

Photo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Empress_Shoken2_(cropped).jpg
 
Very interesting that there was already an Empress Masako.
 
Very interesting that there was already an Empress Masako.

Masako is rather popular name, mostly it's just different "Masa" characters, including in the imperial family. The Empress consort of Go-Mizunoo-tennō was also named Masako. She was the daughter Tokugawa Hidetada (2nd Tokugawa shōgun). Her daughter later acceded the throne and known as Meishō-tennō.

和子 (和 means harmony/peace, can also be read as "Kazu" so can be "Kazuko"), empress consort of Go-Mizunoo.
勝子 (勝 means victory, can also be read as "Shō" so can be "Shōko"), empress consort of Meiji
雅子 (雅 means elegant/refined, can also be read as "Miya" so can be "Miyako"), the current empress consort. (Emperor Go-Shirakawa's personal name was "Masahito", using the same 雅 kanji as the current empress consort)
I'm pretty sure there were more "Masako" in the imperial family.

(When you see a name in kanji, question like "how it's read" (when seeing in writing) or "what kanji" (just as passing conversation when verbally introduced or you need to write someone else's name) is very common. It's a relief when the given name is in kana so you just have to deal with surname (which always in kanji)).
 
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Empress Dowager Shoken's Waka Poems Translated into English - The Japan News
A book of English translations of 100 traditional Japanese “waka” poems by Empress Dowager Shoken was published on Monday, ahead of the 110th anniversary in April of the death of the wife of Emperor Meiji.

The poems were translated by Harold Wright, 92, professor emeritus at Antioch College in the United States, and overseen by the Meiji Jingu shinto shrine in Tokyo. The two parties also collaborated on an English book of Emperor Meiji’s waka poems published in 2022.

[...]

The latest book includes a poem created in 1876 and used in the school song of Tokyo Women’s Normal School, now Ochanomizu University. The poem is translated as follows: “If left unpolished neither jewels nor mirrors are worth anything; this is also very true of the path of learning.”

[...]

During their lifetimes, Emperor Meiji produced about 100,000 waka poems and Empress Dowager Shoken created about 30,000.

“The book contains poems that touch the finer points of life and stir emotions,” said Masahiro Sato, director of the Meiji Jingu Intercultural Research Institute.
 
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