Shigeko Higashikuni

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Shigeko Higashikuni
東久邇 成子
Higashikuni Shigeko (1959).jpg
Shigeko Higashikuni in 1959
BornShigeko (成子)
(1925-12-06)6 December 1925
Akasaka Palace, Tokyo City, Empire of Japan
Died23 July 1961(1961-07-23) (aged 35)
Imperial Household Agency Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
Burial4 August 1961
Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery, Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan
HouseImperial House of Japan (until 1947)
FatherEmperor Shōwa
MotherPrincess Nagako of Kuni

Shigeko Higashikuni (東久邇 成子, Higashikuni Shigeko, 6 December 1925 – 23 July 1961), born Shigeko, Princess Teru (照宮成子内親王, Teru-no-miya Shigeko Naishinnō), was the wife of Prince Morihiro Higashikuni and eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun. She was the eldest sister to the present Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito.[1][2]


Princess Shigeko was born at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo while her father was still Prince Regent.[3] Her childhood appellation was Teru-no-miya (照宮). As was the practice of the time, she was not raised by her biological parents after the age of three, but by a succession of court ladies at a separate palace built for her and her younger sisters in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo from 1930. Emperor Shōwa opposed the move, but could not defy court tradition.[4] She entered the girls elementary department of the Gakushūin Peer's School in 1932 and completed the secondary department in 1942, learning cooking and literature.

On 9 May 1939, Princess Shigeko rode on the Chōshi Electric Railway Line in Chiba Prefecture from Chōshi to Tōdaimae and back as part of a Gakushūin school outing.[5]

In 1941, she was formally engaged to the eldest son and heir of Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, Prince Morihiro Higashikuni. The bride and groom were double first cousins once removed, through both the main imperial line, in descent from Emperor Meiji (the bride's maternal grandfather and the groom's father were siblings; meaning that the groom was a first cousin of the bride's father), and through collateral imperial lines, or ōke, that were cadet branches of the Fushimi-no-miya cadet branch of the imperial house.[1] The couple were officially wed in 1943, upon which her official appellation became Shigeko, Princess Morihiro of Higashikuni (盛厚王妃成子内親王, Morihiro Ōhi Shigeko Naishinnō). As the wedding occurred in the middle of World War II, ceremonies and expenses were kept to a minimum, and she wore a junihitoe kimono belonging to her mother, Empress Kōjun, rather than having special clothing created for the occasion.

In August 1947, she and her family were reduced to commoner status with the abolition of titles of nobility by the American occupation forces. With rampant post-war inflation, high taxation, and various failed business ventures by her husband, the Higashikuni family was reduced to poverty. In January 1958, she accepted an offer by the Japanese national television network, NHK, to appear before a live audience and explain the New Year's poetry card reading contest and other royal ceremonies. She fell ill in 1960, complaining of stomach pains, and was diagnosed with cancer. Hospitalized at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo, she died on 23 July 1961.[6] Her grave is at the Toshimagaoka imperial cemetery, in Bunkyo, Tokyo.


Higashikuni Wedding, 1943

Prince and Princess Higashikuni had five children, the last three of whom were born after they were reduced in status to commoners:[7]

  1. Prince Nobuhiko Higashikuni (東久邇宮 信彦王, Higashikuni-no-miya Nobuhiko ō) (born 10 March 1945); married 1973 Miss Shimada Yoshiko, with one son, Higashikuni Yukihiko (b. 1974)
  2. Princess Fumiko Higashikuni (文子女王, Fumiko joō, born 23 December 1946); married Mr. Omura Kazutoshi.
  3. Hidehiko Higashikuni (東久邇 秀彦, born 30 June 1949): adopted by the Mibu family as "Mibu Motohiro"
  4. Naohiko Higashikuni (東久邇 真彦, born 1953); married to Ms. Sato Kazuko, with two sons, Teruhiko and Mutsuhiko
  5. Yūko Higashikuni (東久邇 優子, born 1954) Married.

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Shigeko, Princess Teru
(before the abolition of titles in 1947)
Imperial Coat of Arms
Reference styleHer Imperial Highness
Spoken styleYour Imperial Highness
  • 6 December 1925 – 10 October 1943: Her Imperial Highness The Princess Teru
  • 10 October 1943 – 14 October 1947: Her Imperial Highness Princess Morihiro of Higashikuni
  • 14 October 1947 – 23 July 1961: Mrs. Morihiro Higashikuni


National honours[edit]




  1. ^ a b "Deceased and former members of the Imperial family". Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved October 27, 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link).[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. page 145.
  3. ^ "Delicate Piety." Time Magazine, December 13, 1926. Retrieved on November 30, 2008.
  4. ^ Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. Pages 270–271
  5. ^ Shirato, Sadao (July 2011). 銚子電気鉄道(下) [Choshi Electric Railway Volume Two]. Japan: Neko Publishing Co., Ltd. p. 16. ISBN 978-4-7770-5310-0.
  6. ^ Large, Emperor Hirohito and Showa Japan, page 165.
  7. ^ 東久邇宮家 (in Japanese). nekhet. Retrieved October 14, 2011.

External links[edit]