Empress Teimei

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Empress Teimei
Empress Sadako.jpg
Formal portrait, 1912
Empress consort of Japan
Tenure 30 July 1912 –
25 December 1926
Enthronement 10 November 1915
Born (1884-06-25)25 June 1884
Nishikichō, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Died 17 May 1951(1951-05-17) (aged 66)
Ōmiya Palace, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Burial 22 June 1951
Musashi Imperial Graveyard, Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan
Spouse Yoshihito, Emperor Taishō
Issue Hirohito, Emperor Shōwa
Yasuhito, Prince Chichibu
Nobuhito, Prince Takamatsu
Takahito, Prince Mikasa
Full name
Sadako (節子?)
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Michitaka Kujō
Mother Ikuko Noma (concubine)
Religion Shinto
Buddhism (Lotus Sutra)

Empress Teimei (貞明皇后 Teimei-kōgō?, 25 June 1884 – 17 May 1951) was the wife of Emperor Taishō of Japan. Born Sadako Kujō (九条節子 Kujō Sadako?), she was the mother of Emperor Shōwa. Her posthumous name, Teimei, means "enlightened constancy".


Sadako Kujō was born on 25 June 1884 in Tokyo, as the fourth daughter of Duke Michitaka Kujō, head of Kujō branch of the Fujiwara clan. Her mother was Ikuko Noma.[1]

She married then-Crown Prince Yoshihito (the future Emperor Taishō) on 25 May 1900. The couple lived in the newly constructed Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, outside of the main Tokyo Imperial Palace complex. When she gave birth to a son, Prince Hirohito (the future Emperor Shōwa) in 1901, she was the first official wife of a Crown Prince or Emperor to have given birth to the official heir to the throne since 1750.

She became Empress (Kōgō) when her husband ascended to the throne on 30 July 1912. Given her husband's weak physical and mental condition, she exerted a strong influence on imperial life, and was an active patron of Japanese Red Cross Society. The relations between the Emperor and Empress were very good, as evidenced by Emperor Taishō’s lack of interest in taking concubines, thus breaking with hundreds of years of imperial tradition, and by her giving birth to four sons.

After the death of Emperor Taishō on 25 December 1926, her title became that of Dowager Empress (皇太后 Kōtaigō?) (which means "widow of the former emperor"). She openly objected to Japan's involvement in World War II, which might have caused conflict with her son, Hirohito. From 1943, she also worked behind the scenes with her third son Prince Takamatsu to bring about the downfall of Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō.

She was a Buddhist adherent who had the faith of Lotus Sutra and prayed with the Shinto ritual ceremonies of the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

She died on 17 May 1951 at Omiya Palace in Tokyo, aged 66, and was buried near her husband, Emperor Taishō, in the Tama no higashi no misasagi (多摩東陵) at the Musashi Imperial Graveyard in Tokyo.[2]

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Empress Teimei
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg
Reference style Her Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Ma'am
  • 25 June 1884 – 25 May 1900: Lady Sadako Kujō
  • 25 May 1900 – 30 July 1912: Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess
  • 30 July 1912 – 25 December 1926: Her Majesty The Empress
  • 25 December 1926 – 17 May 1951: Her Majesty The Empress Dowager
  • Posthumous title: Her Majesty Empress Teimei


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]


Name Birth Death Marriage Issue
Hirohito, Emperor Shōwa 29 April 1901 7 January 1989 26 January 1924 Princess Nagako of Kuni Shigeko, Princess Teru
Sachiko, Princess Hisa
Kazuko, Princess Taka
Atsuko, Princess Yori
Akihito, Emperor of Japan
Masahito, Prince Hitachi
Takako, Princess Suga
Yasuhito, Prince Chichibu 25 June 1902 4 January 1953 28 September 1928 Setsuko Matsudaira
Nobuhito, Prince Takamatsu 3 January 1905 3 February 1987 4 February 1930 Kikuko Tokugawa
Takahito, Prince Mikasa 2 December 1915 27 October 2016 22 October 1941 Yuriko Takagi Princess Yasuko of Mikasa
Prince Tomohito of Mikasa
Yoshihito, Prince Katsura
Princess Masako of Mikasa
Norihito, Prince Takamado


See also[edit]



Japanese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Shōken
Empress consort of Japan
Succeeded by
Empress Kōjun
Preceded by
Empress Shōken
Empress Dowager of Japan
Succeeded by
Empress Kōjun