Princess Tomohito of Mikasa

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Princess Tomohito of Mikasa
Spouse Prince Tomohito of Mikasa
(1980-2012; his death)
Issue Princess Akiko of Mikasa
Princess Yōko of Mikasa
Full name
Nobuko (信子?)
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Takakichi Asō
Mother Kazuko Yoshida
Born (1955-04-09) 9 April 1955 (age 60)
Iizuka, Fukuoka, Japan
Religion Roman Catholicism
Japanese Imperial Family
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg

HIH The Prince Mikasa
HIH The Princess Mikasa

Princess Tomohito of Mikasa (寛仁親王妃信子 Tomohito Shinnōhi Nobuko?), born Nobuko Asō (麻生信子 Asō Nobuko?) on 9 April 1955, is a member of the Japanese Imperial Family as the widow of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa. She is also known as Princess Nobuko.[1]

Background and education[edit]

Nobuko, a Roman Catholic, was born on 9 April 1955. She is the third daughter of Takakichi Asō (麻生太賀吉 Asō Takakichi?, 1911–1980), the chairman of the Aso Company (best known originally for its activities in the exploitation of coal mine and metallurgy, but today mainly specialized in cement and in the medical, environmental and real estate) and a member of the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. He was also a close associate of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. Her mother, Kazuko Yoshida (吉田和子 Yoshida Kazuko?), was the daughter of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Her elder brother is former Prime Minister and current Deputy Prime Minister Tarō Asō.

Through her paternal grandmother, she descends from a younger branch of the feudal clan Ichinomiya. She is the great-granddaughter of the diplomat Count Nobuaki Makino (牧野伸顕 Makino Nobuaki?, 1861–1949) and the great-great-granddaughter of the samurai Ōkubo Toshimichi, famous for having been the cause of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.

She studied in England and graduated from Rosslyn House College in 1973. After returning to Japan, she taught English in Shoto kindergarten in Tokyo which she herself founded in the district of Shibuya.

Marriage and children[edit]

It was in the UK when she met her future husband, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, himself a student at Oxford University. His first marriage proposal was rejected in 1973 because of Nobuko's young age. The Imperial Household Council announced the engagement of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa and Nobuko Asō on 18 April 1980 and the engagement ceremony was held on 21 May 1980. The wedding ceremony took place on 7 November 1980 and she became Princess Tomohito of Mikasa. As of tradition dictates, upon her entry into the imperial family and like other members, she received a personal emblem (o-shirushi (お印?)): the flower of prunus persica (hanamomo (花桃?)). Born a Roman Catholic, she is not the first Christian to enter the imperial family (Empress Michiko also comes from a Catholic family and was raised in Christian religious institutions), but is the first to be baptized.

Prince Tomohito's household did not have its own name though it had been run independently. The Prince chose not to take a name for his household when he became independent by marrying Nobuko, because he expected to take over the household of Prince Mikasa as his eldest son. The couple had two daughters:

The family lived in a compound within the Akasaka Estate complex, in Akasaka Minato, Tokyo.[2] She was living separately from her husband and daughters since October 2009.[3]


The Princess became a widow on 6 June 2012, upon the death of her husband. In June 2013, the Imperial Household Agency said it has reduced the number of households in the Imperial family by one, following the passing of Prince Tomohito a year ago.[3] The household led by the late Prince has been integrated into the one led Prince Mikasa. The step was applied retroactively from 6 June last year, the day of the Prince’s demise.[3] As a result, the number of households in the Imperial family dropped to five, excluding those led by Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito. The household integration will not change the living arrangements of the three former members of the late Prince’s household or the amount of living expenses they receive from state coffers, agency officials said.[3]

Official duties[edit]

The Princess accompanied her husband on various missions abroad to charity and welfare events, especially those concerning health issues. She is engaged in various welfare organisations and holds positions as president and vice-president.

Princess Tomohito of Mikasa, in addition to attending the Japanese Red Cross Society Regional Meetings as Honorary Vice-President, also participates in welfare activities through such organizations as the Tokyo Jikeikai, the International Women's Welfare Association, and the Welfare Group Hakuhokai. In addition, as Honorary President of the Japan Rose Society, the Princess makes efforts to widen the appeal of roses domestically and internationally.[4]

In December 1992, the Prince and Princess visited the United States to support a newly established cancer ward in the New York Medical College and Prince Tomohito made a keynote address at a charity ball. In May 1994, they visited Hawaii and attended a charity dinner in Hawaii for the reconstruction of Kuakini Hospital.[4]

In February 1994, the Prince and Princess were invited by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway to visit the country and attend the Lillehammer Winter Olympics. They offered their encouragement to the Japanese athletes there.[4]

In July 1994, Nobuko visited Australia to offer her support to the Sydney Royal Research Institute for those with Visual and Listening Disabilities, where Prince Katsura had served as Executive Committee Chairman. There she attended a charity ball, which Prince Tomohito had been planning for four years, organized through the volunteer spirit of the Japanese living in Australia.[4]

In April 1998, Tomohito and Nobuko visited the Republic of Turkey to attend the opening ceremony of the Turkey-Japan Foundation Cultural Centre, in the establishment of which Prince Mikasa had been involved. That was their second visit following the visit to attend the celebrations of 100 years of relations between Japan and Turkey in 1990.[4]

In July 2003, the Princess visited Glasgow in the United Kingdom to attend the World Rose Convention in her capacity as Honorary President of the Japan Rose Society.[4]

On 1 November 2013, Princess Tomohito of Mikasa visited Fukushima Prefecture to encourage the people affected by the earthquake occurred on 11 March 2011. The Princess had been absent from official duties since January 2006 because of stroke and asthma and it was her first official appearance in seven years.[5] During her illness, she went to Fukushima City several times for treatment.[5] Since then, she has returned to public life.[6][7][8] In October 2014, the Princess attended her first banquet at the Imperial Palace since 2003 to welcome King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.[9] In January 2015, she attended New Year’s Celebration, New Year’s Greeting, and New Year’s Lectures and Poetry Reading for the first time since 2006, 1996 and 1999 respectively.[10][11][12][13] In May 2015, she also attended the annual convention of Japanese Red Cross Society as honorary vice-president for the first time since 2001.[14]

Other interests[edit]

Princess Tomohito is usually presented by her family as an excellent chef, and has published two books of recipes titled:

  • Published in May 1992: Home cooking of the four seasons - 80 species of side dishes (四季の家庭料理―お惣菜80種 Shiki no katei ryōri ― ozōsai 80-shu?). Kōbunsha Publishing Co., Ltd. (ISBN 4334780075)
  • Published in October 2013: The home cooking is always ahead of memories (思い出の先にはいつも家庭料理 Omoide no sakini wa itsumo katei ryōri?). Magazine House (ISBN 4838726201)

The Princess wrote the second book while she stayed in Fukushima.[5] She produced recipes using foodstuffs of Fukushima and finally published the cookbook of her recipes in October to support Fukushima.[5]


Princess Tomohito suffered from transient ischemic attack in May 2004, which forced her to withdraw for a time in the villa of Sōma in the town of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture for medical treatment and rest. In 2008, she also suffered from bronchial asthma and was hospitalized. She went to her hometown for medical care and then came back to Tokyo.

The Princess was also absent from the funeral of her husband because of poor health.

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Princess Tomohito of Mikasa
Mikasa-no-miya mon
Reference style Her Imperial Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

Nobuko is styled as "Her Imperial Highness Princess Tomohito of Mikasa".


See also List of honours of the Japanese Imperial Family by country

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Honorary Positions[edit]

  • President of the Tokyo Jikeikai
  • Honorary President of the Japan Rose Society
  • Honorary Vice-President of the Japanese Red Cross Society


Name Birth Marriage Issue
Princess Akiko of Mikasa 20 December 1981
Princess Yōko of Mikasa 25 October 1983



  1. ^ "Princess Nobuko turns 60". 
  2. ^ Wikimap of Akasaka Estate
  3. ^ a b c d "Prince’s 2012 passing reduces Imperial household families by one". Japan Times. Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Activities of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Mikasa and their family". Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Princess Nobuko Came Back". Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  6. ^ "Graduation Ceremony of Jikei nursing school". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  7. ^ "International Roses & Gardening Show". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  8. ^ "Aichi Visit of Princess Nobuko". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  9. ^ "Banquet for King and Queen of the Netherlands". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  10. ^ "New Year’s Celebration". Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  11. ^ "New Year’s Greeting". Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  12. ^ "Imperial New Year’s Lectures". Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  13. ^ "New Year’s Poetry Reading". Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  14. ^ "Annual Convention of Japanese Red Cross Society". Retrieved 2015-05-14. 

External links[edit]

Order of precedence in Japan
Preceded by
The Princess Mikasa
HIH Princess Tomohito of Mikasa
Succeeded by
The Princess Takamado