Japanese Noble and Daimyo Clans

If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Feb 21, 2020
I've seen severals threads about European nobility, but there's none for Asian one so let's start with Japan.

Japan had rather unique 'nobility' compared to European where there were courtier clans (the nobles) and warrior clans (samurai clans) who later became daimyos (land lords). Most of them are (or claimed to be) the descendants of Fujiwara, Taira, Minamoto, and Tachibana. Those clan was founded during Heian period (794 – 1185 CE) when the Imperial Court grew too large, and the emperor ordered that the descendants of the previous emperor, for too many generations, no longer be princes, but were given the surname and honour.

Initially, the warrior clans were deemed lesser than courtier non-warrior clans (dominated by the Fujiwara clan) in term of social standing and position in the government in which they were never taking part in the political realms until Taira no Kiyomori (1118 – 1181) was able to climb the ranks of government and basically taking control of it from the courtier. After the Taira clan has been beaten by the Minamoto clan in at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, Minamoto no Yoritomo started the beginning of bakufu/shogunate where the warrior clans held the power and (technically) was the one who ‘ruled’ Japan.

With the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate during Meiji Restoration, the new Meiji government seized the land formerly under direct control of the Shogunate and daimyos who loyal to the Tokugawa. It culminated in 1871 with the abolishment of han system, starting with the other daimyos surrendered their domains to the government in exchange of the position as non-hereditary governors of their former domains (which were renamed as prefectures) and the formation of the kazoku peerage system in place of daimyos and noble courtiers with the ranks of:
1. Prince, the equivalent of a Duke (公爵, kōshaku)
2. Marquess (侯爵, kōshaku)
3. Count, the equivalent of an Earl (伯爵, hakushaku)
4. Viscount (子爵, shishaku)
5. Baron (男爵, danshaku)

The initial rank distribution for kazoku houses of kuge descent depended on the highest possible office to which its ancestors had been entitled in the imperial court. Thus, the heirs of the five regent clans (go-sekke) of the Fujiwara dynasty (Konoe, Takatsukasa, Kujō, Ichijō and Nijō) all became princes.

Other head of clans were also appointed the title of prince for taking a prominent role in national affairs or for their close degree of relationship to the Imperial family such as Sajo, Tokudaiji, Saionji, and Iwakura. Same for several former daimyos such as the heads of the Mōri and Shimazu who were both ennobled as princes in 1884 for their role in the Meiji Restoration.

Excluding the Tokugawas, the initial kazoku rank distribution for the former daimyō lords depended on rice revenue: those with 150,000 koku or more became marquesses, those with 50,000 koku or more become counts, and those with holdings rated below 50,000 koku became viscounts.
The head of the Tokugawa clan, Tokugawa Iesato, became a prince, the heads of primary Tokugawa branch houses (shinpan daimyō) became marquesses, the heads of the secondary branches became counts and the heads of more distant branches became viscounts. In 1902, the former shōgun Tokugawa Yoshinobu was created a prince, and the head of the Mito Shinpan house was also raised to the rank of prince in 1929.

The 1946 Constitution of Japan abolished the kazoku and ended the use of all titles of nobility or rank outside the immediate Imperial Family. However, even though they may have lost their past teritories and power, since the end of the war many descendants of the kazoku families continue to occupy prominent roles in Japanese society and industry.

Unlike in European peerage systems, but following traditional Japanese custom, illegitimate sons could succeed to titles and estates. Also, to prevent their lineages from dying out, heads of kazoku houses could (and frequently did) adopt sons from collateral branches of their own houses, whether in the male or female lines of descent, and from other kazoku houses whether related or not. Also unlike European custom, the adopted heir of a peer could succeed to a title ahead of a more senior heir in terms of primogeniture.

One example from the daimyo clan:
Tokugawa clan

The Tokugawa clan is basically the clan who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867 under Tokugawa Shogunate. They claims to be descendant of the Nitta clan (a branch of the Minamoto clan). But unlike several former lord and noble clans, nowadays this clan members seem to avoid politic.

The current head of the clan is Tokugawa Tsunenari. He used to work at Nippon Yusen, a shipping company, before retire in 2002 and currently is the head of the nonprofit Tokugawa Foundation. His mother was Toyoko (eldest daughter of Tokugawa Iemasa – his only son died young, hence Tsunenari succeeds his grandfather) and his father was Matsudaira Ichiro (son of Matsudaira Tsunoe of Matsudaira clan, patrilineal descendant of Tokugawa Yorifusa, the youngest son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun and founder of Tokugawa clan). His great-greatfather was Tadayoshi Shimazu, the last lord of Satsuma Domain.

His heir, Tokugawa Iehiro, is an author and translator.

This article has a good information of the current fate of Tokugawa clan.

Some notable ties between the Tokugawa clan and the Imperial family:
-Tokugawa Masako, the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada the 2nd shogun, who married Emperor Go-Mizuno. She was the mother of Empress Meisho.
-Tokugawa Iemochi, the 14th shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate who married Chikako (or Kazuhime/Princess Kazu), youngest daughter of Emperor Ninko. This marriage produced no issue.
- Setsuko, Tsunenari’s paternal aunt was the wife of Prince Chichibu, the second son of Emperor Taisho.

One from the noble/courtier/non-warrior clan:
Konoe clan

Konoe was one of Kugyo (a collective term for few most powerful men in the Emperor court pre-Meiji era) and Go-Sekke (5 families decent from the Fujiwara clan who pratically hold the power as sessho and kampaku or regent until imperial Household Law in 1948 restrict it to a member of imperial family. The other are: Kujo, Ichijo, Takatsukasa, and Nijo).

As one of Go-Sekke, the Konoe clan always has a close ties to the Imperial family. There were at least five Imperial Consorts who came from Konoe family, including Konoe Sakiko, who was adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1586. The most recent consort from the Konoe is Konoe Koreko (1760-1783), who married the 118th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Go-Momozono; they had an only daughter Princess Yoshiko.
>> I wonder what happen to the main branch of Ashikaga clan, surely they wouldn't be completely wipe up post-sengoku period, right?<<

As of 1605, since Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614) had no male heir, one of his nephews (the fourth son of Emperor Go-Yozei) was chosen as his heir and named Konoe Nobuhiro (1599-1649), who later married his daughter. Nobuhiro's patrilineal lineage of the Imperial House descended in the head of the family until 1956, when the eldest son of Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro, Fumitaka, died in the Soviet Union without legitimate male heir. As the result, Fumitaka's wife adopted his nephew Konoe Tadateru, second son of Fumitaka's sister, as their heir.

Some notable descendants in modern era:
-Konoe Tadateru; current head of the Konoe family. He was the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 2009 to 2017. His wife is Princess Yasuko of Mikasa, the granddaughter of Emperor Taisho. He is the the younger brother of Hosokawa Morihiro, former Prime Minister of Japan.
-Konoe Fumimaro; politician and Prime Minister of Japan 1937-1939 and 1940-1941. He was close advisor to Emperor Showa until the end of WW II. Died after WWII (suicide).

Hosokawa Morihiro is the grandson of Konoe Fumimaro through his daughter and son of 16th Head of the Hosokawa clan (another daimyo clan, one of cadet branches of Ashikaga clan, the shogunate clan prior to Tokugawa, thus makes them descendant of Minamoto clan. You may ever heard the tale of Hosokawa Tama/Gracia who committed seppuku for her Christian faith during sengoku era). He was a politician and Prime Minister of Japan in 1993-1994, still active. After the death of his father in 2005, he succeeded him as the 18th head of the Hosokawa clan.

Found this old article of Japan Times which makes me want to post about Nakano Takeko (1847-1868). Okay, she’s not really a daughter of a daimyo, but she came from a powerful bushi (warrior) clan.

Nakano Takeko was the firstborn daughter of Nakano Heinai, a samurai and official of Aizu domain. From young, she received a strict and complete training in martial arts and was adopted by her own teacher, Akaoka Daisuke, who was also the famous instructor of Matsudaira Teru, adoptive younger sister of Matsudaira Katamori, daimyō of Aizu. Later, she found employment at the Itakura estate, lord of Niwase, where she taught naginata (woman’s spear) to the lord's wife and served her as her secretary.

Aizu was one of the domain that support Tokugawa shogunate during the Boshin war (which led to Meiji Restoration). During the conflict, she took part in the Battle of Aizu, together with her mother and sister, she was head of an ad hoc body of female warriors (onna-bugeisha). Since the officials of Aizu did not allow women to officially join the war, they fought autonomously and independently, but later on the unit was later retroactively given the name of a female army (Jōshitai) in which Nakano designated as leader.

The Jōshitai (娘子隊, Girls' Army), brandishing naginata against Imperial’s troop who were armed with rifles, was formed by these women:
• The leader of the group, Nakano Takeko. She was 21 years old at this time.
• Takeko's mother and sister, Kouko and Yūko. At this time Kouko was in her 40s and Yūko was 16 years old.
• Hirata Kochō and younger sister Hirata Yoshi.
• Yoda Kikuko and the mother or older sister Yoda Mariko.
• The famous female warrior, Yamamoto Yaeko (who was later nicknamed the “Bakumatsu Joan of Arc”).
• Okamura Sakiko and older sister Okamura Makiko.
• A unnamed woman who was Watashi's concubine.
• Jinbo Yukiko, a female retainer of the Aizu clan.
• The students of Monna naginata dojo Monna Rieko, Saigo Tomiko and Nagai Sadako.
• The younger sister of Hara Gorō.
• Kawahara Asako and Koike Chiyoku.

During the defence at the Yanagi bridge, Nakano was shot on her chest. Rather than letting the enemy take possession of her corpse to wreak havoc, and cutting her head off to use it as a war trophy, she asked her sister Yūko to behead her herself to prevent her capture and to make an honourable burial. After the battle, detached from the body, the head of Nakano Takeko was thus moved by her sister to the nearby Hōkai temple of her family, modern Aizubange, in the prefecture of Fukushima, and buried with honour by the priest under a pine tree. She was 21.

Below is the Japan Times’ article that I mentioned above:
Women warriors of Japan
The menfolk of these islands have had their martial ideals since time immemorial, but there have been many women with that fighting spirit, too

The Boshin War, in Turnbull’s view, marks the end of the age of the female warrior: “Just as the elite samurai class gave way to the conscript army of the modernizing Meiji government, so did women warriors give way to men, and Japan’s modern wars, from the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) to World War II, were all-male affairs.”

And I agree. It’s a wonder how in many ways, Japan pre-Meiji was actually more feminist than Japan post-Meiji …

PS: If you're interested on the story of Yamamoto Yaeko (aka the "Bakumatsu Joan of Arc:), I recommend you watch a NHK taiga Yae no Sakura. It's a taiga drama, so obviously there's 50 episodes (and please ignore the fact that a 20s/30s-something actor played a teenager during the first few episodes, they hardly change main actors throughout the drama). This drama was nominated for the 2014 International Emmy Award for Best Drama Series (losing to Utopia).
Back when women could still inherit land/property, when a family had no male offspring, women would inherit and became head of the clan. Particularly during sengoku period where many samurai men died either in war or seppuku, the lack of male heir led to female daimyō.

Two notable names during that period are:
Ii Naotora 井伊 直虎
She was the daughter and only child of Ii Naomori, the 18th head of Ii clan. She became the head of her clan after his cousin, Ii Naochika, died of seppuku after his plan to rebel against the Imagawa clan had been discovered (Ii clan was a vassal of Imagawa clan).

After numerous threats from Imagawa retainers to Ii, Naotora allied with Matsudaira Ieyasu (future Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was also used to be a vassal of Imagawa clan), thus achieving the clan's independence after more than two centuries serving the Imagawa.

Naotora also adopted Naochika's son. That boy would grow up to be Ii Naomasa, who would grow up to serve under Tokugawa Ieyasu, and earn a reputation enough to be considered a part of the “Four Guardians of the Tokugawa” (徳川四天王, Tokugawa-shitennō). After her death on the 12th of September 1582, Naomasa took over her position as head of their clan.

There's been a dispute over whether she's actually male or female. In addition to the signature of "Jirō Naotora" in the letter ordering the implementation of a tokuseirei (a debt cancellation order), there is almost no contemporary historical material about the person named "Ii Naotora". As a result, there are various discussions and disagreements about gender.
(When she was 10, Naotora became a priestess and changed her name to Jirō Hōshi).

Tachibana Ginchiyo 立花 誾千代
She was the daughter of Tachibana Dōsetsu, a powerful retainer of the Ōtomo clan (which were rivals of the Shimazu clan at the time). When Dōsetsu was ill and lost his other children, he was pleased that Ginchiyo had survived. Despite their suggestion to pass his leadership on to one of his distant relatives, he told his retainers that Ginchiyo would be his heiress after his death.

Ginchiyo inherited the family estate in 1575. It was said that she became the exceptional female family head according to Dosetsu and it is said that she was an extremely rare example even in the Sengoku period (Japan) >>>(rather questionable since she's only 6 years old).
She was named the head of her clan until in 1581 when she married Takahashi Muneshige, the eldest son of Takahashi Joun in a mukotorikon marriage (adopting a son-in-law) where Muneshige took Tachibana name and became the head of the clan.

They allied with Hideyoshi in the campaign against their traditional rival, Shimazu clan. After the failure of Hideyoshi's campaign of Korea, Ginchiyo, who never gave birth to a child, divorces Muneshige and becomes a Buddhist nun.
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Marriage Between Tokugawa Clan and the Imperial Family

To secure their hegemony, the three shogunates had their own way in affiliating with the palace. The Kamakura shogunate did it by putting (toddler) prince or noble as shōgun with the head of Hōjō clan having the de facto power as their regents (then replaced the said shōgun with another toddler/infant once they grew up). The Ashikaga shogunate did it by making marriage alliance with Hino clan, a noble clan (all Ashikaga shōgun wives were Hino). The Tokugawa shogunate followed the Ashikaga’s example, alternating between daughters of the Gosekke (five noble regent houses) and miyake.

In 1711, the kampaku, Konoe Motohiro, mediated a talk between shōgun Ienobu and Nakamikado-tennō. The result was an agreement that younger sons of emperors do not have to enter priesthood and can form new branches of the imperial throne and that their daughters can marry and that the bakufu would offer financial grants to the court.

Here’s the list of marriages between the Tokugawa clan and the Imperial family that I can find. Feel free to add:

Tokugawa Masako 徳川和子 (1607-1678), also known as Masahime (和姫) or Kazuko, daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada, the 2nd shōgun
married to
Go-Mizunoo-tennō 後水尾天皇 (1596-1680)
This marriage brought a lot of money to the imperial family. Masako used her wealth to maintain the high standards of the court and to restore significant buildings, such as Shugakuin Imperial Villa, that had been damaged in the previous warring period. This marriage produced five daughter and two sons (both sons didn’t survived infancy). Their daughter later ascended the throne as Meishō-tennō.

Tokugawa Ietsuna 徳川 家綱 (1641-1680), the 4th shōgun
married to
Asa-no-miya Akiko Joō 浅宮顕子女王(1640-1676), daughter of Fushimi no miya Sadakiyo Shinnō, the 10th head of Fushimi-no-miya branch (Fushimi was the oldest of the four shinnōke).
*This marriage produced no issue. She passed away at the age of 37 due to breast cancer. When she’s ill, Ietsuna encouraged her to see doctor directly but she refused, saying that "face-to-face with a person outside the blinds would disturb the courtesy” (protocol of the Ōoku).

Tokugawa Mitsukuni 徳川 光圀(1628-1701), prominent daimyō of Mito domain and grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu through Tokugawa Yorifusa.
married to
Konoe Hiroko 近衛 尋子 (1638-1659), daughter of Konoe Nobuhiro.
*Technically she’s noble, not princess, but her father, Nobuhiro, was the 4th son of Go-Yōzei-tennō and his empress consort, Chūka. He was later adopted by Konoe Nobutada as his heir, thus he was demoted from imperial prince to noble. This marriage produced no issue.

Tokugawa Ienobu 徳川 家宣 (1662-1712), the 6th shōgun
married to
Konoe Hiroko 近衛 熙子 (1666-1741), daughter of Konoe Motohiro and Shina-no-miya Tsuneko Naishinnō.
*Technically she’s a noble, but her mother was daughter of Go-Mizunoo-tennō and her paternal great-grandfather was Konoe Nobuhiro (biological son of Go-Yozei-tennō).
They married in 1679 and their marriage produced a daughter and a son who both died young. In 1709 Ienobu became shōgun and as a midaidokoro, Hiroko was said to contribute in recovering her father’s political power in the Imperial Court which had been weakening in those day. It is said that she continued to have significant power and influence on bakufu during Tokugawa Yoshimune’s reign as shōgun until her death.
Reading recommendation: The Shogun's Consort: Konoe Hiroko and Tokugawa Ienobu, Journal article by Cecilia Segawa Seigle in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies Vol. 59, No. 2 (Dec., 1999), pp. 485-522. (you need to register to read. It’s free).

Tokugawa Ietsugu 徳川 家継 (1709-1716), the 7th shōgun
married to
Yasho-no-miya Yoshiko Naishinnō 八十宮吉子内親王 (1714-1758), daughter of Reigen-tennō.
*As part to seal the deal between the palace and the bakufu in 1711, their engagement was finalised on 6 November 1715 and the ceremony was completed on 10 April 1716. However, two months later Ietsugu passed away so there was no trip downward to Edo for the princess. Moreover, she was only granted imperial princess in 1726 and became Yoshiko Naishinnō (Yasho-no-miya was her childhood name). Therefore, it’s debatable whether hers is the first marriage of a naishinnō to a samurai or that title should go to Kazu-no-miya almost a hundred years later.
She never married. In 1732 she became nun and later died at the age of 45.

Tokugawa Yoshimune 徳川 吉宗 (1684-1751), the 8th shōgun
married to
Sana-no-miya Masako Joō 真宮理子女王 (1691–1710), daughter of Fushimi-no-miya Sadayuki Shinnō, the 13th head of Fushimi-no-miya branch.
*They married in 1706 when Yoshimune still a daimyō of Kii domain. In 1710, Masako died due to post-partum complication after giving birth to a stillborn. He never took official wife again even after he became shōgun (he had several concubines, though).

Tokugawa Ieshige 徳川 家重 (1712-1761), the 9th shōgun
married to
Nami-no-miya Masuko Joō 比宮増子女王 (1711-1733), daughter of Fushimi-no-miya Kuninaga Shinnō, the 14th head of Fushimi-no-miya branch.
*They married in 1731. In 1733, Masuko gave birth to a premature baby who died not long after. She later died due to post-partum complication. Ieshige was made shogun in 1745. (Note: Eng Wiki stated Okō-no-kata as his second wife, but Jap Wikipedia listed her as concubine and I also can’t find any reference that she ever held a title of midaidokoro which can only mean Ieshige didn’t have an official wife during his tenure as shōgun. But since Okō-no-kata was the mother of the next shōgun, she must have more influence in the Ōoku compare to other concubines).

Tokugawa Ieharu 徳川家治 (1737-1786), the 10th shōgun
married to
Iso-no-miya Tomoko Joō 五十宮倫子女王(1738–1771), daughter of Kan'in-no-miya Naohito Shinnō (son of Higashiyama-tennō)
*They married in 1754 and in 1756 she gave birth to a daughter, who died at the age of 2. In 1760 Ieharu became shōgun and Tomoko entered the Ōoku as midaidokoro. The following year she gave birth to their second daughter, Manju-hime. When Tomoko died in 1771, her daughter was adopted by one of Ieharu’s concubine.

Tokugawa Ieyoshi 徳川 家慶 (1793-1853), the 12th shōgun
married to
Saza-no-miya Takako Joō 楽宮喬子女王(1795–1840), daughter of Arisugawa-no-miya Orihito Shinnō, the 6th head of Arisugawa branch.
*Takako made a trip to Edo in 1804 when she’s barely 10 and they were formally wed in 1810. In 1813, she gave birth to a son, Takechiyo, who died in infancy. Her two next daughters also died in infancy.

Tokugawa Nariaki 徳川 斉昭 (1800-1860), daimyo of the Mito domain
married to
Tomi-no-miya Yoshiko Joō 登美宮吉子女王 (1804-1893), daughter of Arisugawa-no-miya Orihito Shinnō, the 6th head of Arisugawa branch (not sure why Eng wiki listed Taruhito of Arisugawa as her father, considering Taruhito was born in 1835, 21 years after Yoshiko).
*She was the sister of the 12th shōgun’s wife, Takako. It’s said that Takako arranged this marriage. This arrangement was supported by the palace since Mito domain had always been a strong supporter to the Imperial family.
Yoshiko was 27 while Nariaki was 31 when they’re engaged. She made comment to her mother-in-law that she’s “too old to have children” so Nariaki should go to his concubines (he already had several concubines before they married). However, it is said that Nariaki was very fond of her and they had close relationship. Her husband fondly called her “Yoshiko”.
Despite growing up as princess, Yoshiko is said to be quite “daring”; she embraced being a samurai’s wife by learning naginata (a pole weapon with a curved single-edged blade on the end); in 1834 she accompanied her husband to Ezo (Japanese term historically used to refer to the lands to the north of the Japanese island of Honshu, including Hokkaido) riding a horse in the snow despite being pregnant, and reported that she killed a snake that crawled out while walking in the backyard of their Edo residence. (No wonder he’s fond of her. Meanwhile, Chikako made a big fuss about being treated as princess).
She gave him his first son and in total, their marriage produced 3 sons and a daughter. Their youngest son was Tokugawa Yoshinobu who later became the last Tokugawa shōgun.

Tokugawa Iemochi 徳川 家定 (1846-1866), the 14th shōgun
married to
Kazu-no-miya Chikako Naishinnō 和宮 親子内親王 (1946-1977), the youngest daughter of Ninkō-tennō
*I wrote a post about their marriage here.

Tokugawa Sadako 徳川貞子 (1850–1872), daughter of Tokugawa Nariaki, daimyo of Mito Domain, and a concubine
married to
Arisugawa no miya Taruhito Shinnō 有栖川宮熾仁親王(1835-1895), 9th head of Arisugawa branch (and ex-fiance of Kazu-no-miya)
*Their marriage was arranged after his the engagement with Kazu-no-miya was cancelled by the Tokugawa bakufu so that the princess could marry the shōgun Tokugawa Iemochi, After Sadako died in 1872, he remarried. Both marriages produced no issues.

There’s still more princesses (of shinnōke) who married into the Tokugawa clan or the other way around, particularly to the Gosanke (the powerful and rich ‘han’/fiefs of Owari, Kishū, and Mito; in which the Imperial family could gain benefit from the said ‘alliance’). (But alas, only max 10k characters per post ?).
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Marriage Between Tokugawa Clan and the Imperial Family

Extra: post-Meiji

Tokugawa Tsuneko 徳川経子 (1882-1939), daughter of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (the last shōgun)
married to
Fushimi-no-miya Hiroyasu Ō 伏見宮博恭王 (1875-1946), the 23nd head of the Fushimi branch.
*Upon marriage, Tsuneko became a princess as Hiroyasu Ōhi Tsuneko. They had 7 children; 4 sons and 3 daughters. Their youngest daughter, Tomoko Joō, married Kuni-no-miya Asaakira Ō, the 3rd head of Kuni-no-miya branch (this collateral imperial branch still extant today).

Tokugawa Yoshihisa 德川 慶久 (1884-1922), son of Tokugawa Yoshinobu
married to
Mieko Joō 實枝子女王 (1891-1933), daughter of Arisugawa-no-miya Takehito Shinnō, the 10th head of Arisugawa branch
*They had 5 children; a son and 4 daughters.

Tokugawa Kikuko 徳川喜久子(1911-2004), daughter of Tokugawa Yoshihisa (Tokugawa Yoshinobu’s son) and former princess Mieko of Arisugawa.
married to
Takamatsu-no-miya Nobuhito Shinnō 高松宮宣仁親王(1905-1987), the 3rd son of Taishō-tennō.
*They married on 4 February 1930. Upon marriage, Kikuko became Nobuhito Shinnōhi Kikuko. Shortly after the wedding, Prince and Princess Takamatsu embarked upon a world tour to Europe and then across the United States so as to strengthen the goodwill and understanding between Japan and those nations. They had no children.
Kikuko outlived her husband who died of lung cancer on 3 February 1987, a day before their 57th anniversary. She was known of her unconventional frankness. In 1991, she and an aide discovered a twenty one volume diary of her husband, written between 1922 and 1947. Despite opposition from the IHA, she gave the diary to the Chūō Kōron magazine which published excerpts in 1995. The diary revealed that Prince Takamatsu opposed the Kwantung Army's incursions in Manchuria in September 1931, the expansion of the July 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident into a full-scale war against China and had warned his brother Hirohito in November 1941 that the Navy could not fight more than two years against the United States.
In 2001, at age 90, became the first member of the Imperial Family to publicly call for changes to the 1947 Imperial Household Law, which limits the succession to the Chrysanthemum throne to legitimate males in the male line of descent. In an article she wrote for the January/February 2002 issue of a women's magazine, she argued that having a female tennō was "not unnatural" since women had assumed the throne in the past, most recently in the early nineteenth century.
She died at the age 92 on 18 December 2004, becoming (for now) the longest-lived member of the Imperial family. She was the last surviving member of the imperial family who was born during the Meiji period.
Today, the Imperial family held their annual utakai hajime. And speaking of utakai, 4 days ago on 14 January the Reizei family held their utakai in their residence in Kyoto. (Oh, how I wish the dress code for utakai hajime is also kimono :sad:. I mean, look at them in traditional court attire).

Reizei family (冷泉家) is branch of the Fujiwara clan and was kuge (court noble) family before the abolition of class system. They descended from Fujiwara no Michinaga through his sixth son, Nagaie (1005-1064) (and despite the name, they have nothing to do with Emperor Reizei 冷泉天皇).

This family has a long poetic tradition. For eight centuries, the family secretly preserved, under imperial order, an important collection of documents. On 4 April 1980, this collection of about 200,000 pieces was made public by Reizei Tametou (1914-1986). The following year, a library in Tokyo was created specially for their conservation. Not all of the documents have yet been identified, but certain ones have already been classified as national treasures.

The Reizei residence is located in Kamigyo Ward (to the north side of Kyoto Imperial Palace) and is the last extant original court noble residence in Kyoto. It was registered as an Important Cultural Property.
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