Kazuko Takatsukasa

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Kazuko Takatsukasa
Takatsukasa Wedding 1950.jpg
Takatsukasa Wedding, 1950
BornKazuko (和子)
(1929-09-30)30 September 1929
Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo City, Empire of Japan
Died26 May 1989(1989-05-26) (aged 59)
Tokyo, Japan
(m. 1950; died 1966)
HouseImperial House of Japan (until 1950)
FatherEmperor Shōwa
MotherEmpress Kōjun

Kazuko Takatsukasa (鷹司 和子, Takatsukasa Kazuko, 30 September 1929 – 26 May 1989), formerly Kazuko, Princess Taka (孝宮和子内親王, Taka-no-miya Kazuko Naishinnō), was the third daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun. She was an elder sister to the former Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito. She married Toshimichi Takatsukasa on 21 May 1950. As a result, she gave up her imperial title and left the Japanese Imperial Family, as required by law.


Princess Taka was born at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Her childhood appellation was Taka-no-miya (孝宮). As was the practice of the time, she was not raised by her biological parents, but by a succession of court ladies at a separate palace built for her and her younger sisters in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo. She graduated from the Gakushuin Peer's School in March 1948, and spent a year in the household of former Chamberlain of Japan Saburo Hyakutake learning skills to be a bride.

The Princess and her husband on their wedding day. From left to right: Princess Kazuko, Toshimichi Takatsukasa, Emperor Hirohito, Empress Nagako, Empress Dowager Sadako (20 May 1950)

On 20 May 1950, she married Toshimichi Takatsukasa, the eldest son of ex-Duke and guji of Meiji Shrine, Nobusuke Takatsukasa. The marriage received much publicity as it was the first marriage of a member of the imperial family to a commoner. Though legally commoners following the Second World War, the Takatsukasa family had been part of the ancient court nobility (kuge), with the peerage title of duke in the pre-war kazoku peerage (and would therefore have been considered a traditional family for an Imperial marriage). Nobusuke Takatsukasa was the first cousin of Empress Teimei through his father Takatsukasa Hiromichi, making his son and daughter-in-law second cousins once removed (as the groom's grandfather and the bride's great-grandfather were siblings).[1]

On 28 January 1966, Toshimichi Takatsukasa was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning at the apartment of his mistress, Michiko Maeda, a Ginza nightclub hostess, giving rise to widely speculative rumors in the Japanese press about his alleged double suicide. After her husband's death, Kazuko's misfortunes continued, as seven months later, on 22 August 1966, a knife-wielding intruder broke into her home in the middle of the night and assaulted her, causing injuries to her right and left hands and resulting in hospitalization for one week. A shocked Emperor Shōwa ordered that she relocate to within the Akasaka Estate in Akasaka, Tokyo, where she lived until her death of heart failure at the age of 59, months after her father died.

From 1974 to 1988 she served as chief priestess (saishu) of Ise Shrine, taking over the role from her great-aunt Fusako Kitashirakawa.

The Takatsukasas had no children, but adopted their nephew Naotake Matsudaira (born 1945) of the former Ogyu Matsudaira clan, as their heir. Formerly President of NEC Telecommunications Systems, he has been currently chief priest of Ise Shrines from 2007 to 2017.




  • Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
  • Bix, Herbert P. (2001). Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-093130-2.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "鷹司家(摂家) (Takatsukasa genealogy)". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 3 September 2017.