Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Takahito (有栖川宮幟仁親王)

Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Takahito (February 17, 1812 - January 24, 1886) was a member of the imperial family from the end of Edo period to Meiji period. He was the first son of Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Tsunahito. His wife was Koshi, who was a daughter of the Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) Narinobu NIJO. He also had several concubines, and the mother of his first son later called Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Taruhito was a different consubine from the mother of his fourth son later called Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Takahito.

His childhood name was Yahonomiya. He was adopted by Emperor Kokaku on December 27, 1822, and then he was declared to be Imperial Prince Takahito at the age of 12 (by the old Japanese system) on October 26, 1823 and he had a ceremony of attaining manhood in the following month.

On September 13, 1847, he was awarded the rank of Nihon (Second Order for an Imperial Prince) and assigned the position of Nakatsukasa-kyo (Minister of the Ministry of Central Affairs).

On July 5, 1863, there was an incident in which Kintomo ANEGAKOJI was killed in front of the Arisugawanomiya residence which was located near the Saru-ga-tsuji Crossroads (in the northeast of the Imperial Palace).

In June 1864, he and Imperial Prince Taruhito were appointed as the Kokuji Goyogakari (the general officials of the Imperial Household in charge of state affairs). However, the Kinmon Incident occurred just after that. On the previous day, Imperial Prince Taruhito carried out a procurement campaign at the Imperial Palace to appeal for the restoration of the Choshu clan and the exile of Katamori MATSUDAIRA. This made the Imperial Court suspect a secret relation between the Arisugawanomiya family and the Choshu clan, and consequently, Emperor Komei dismissed Imperial Prince Takahito and Imperial Prince Taruhito from their Kokuji Goyogakari position and also told them to stay at home to restrain their social activities. During this period, the residence near the Saru-ga-tsuji Crossroads was confiscated in order to expand the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Imperial Prince Takahito had to move to the family's secondary residence called the Ebisugawa Villa, whose site is currently used for Kyoto City Dohda Senior High School of Arts.

On February 19, 1867, Imperial Prince Takahito was forgiven in accordance with Emperor Meiji's accession to the throne, but he never returned to the political stage from that time onward and he even declined a reinstatement offer for the Kokuji Goyogakari position. After that, he was awarded Ippon (the First Order of Imperial Prince) on January 14, 1868. However, he returned his Nakatsukasa-kyo (the Minister of the Ministry of Central Affairs) position on August 19, 1869, in accordance with the abolishment of the Japanese old regulations for governmental organizations.

Imperial Prince Taruhito assumed the president of the new government under the Decree for the Restoration of Imperial Rule, and Imperial Prince Takahito was also assigned to a gijo (senior councilor) on March 13, 1868. However, he delegated political roles to Imperial Prince Taruhito without publicly performing the role himself, and the gijo post was abolished. Keeping a distance from politics, Imperial Prince Takahito started to become involved in the dissemination of State Shinto and the study of Japanese classical literature as soon as he assumed the post of the governor general of the Jingikan (the department of worship) on February 10, 1868. After he stepped down from his position as the head of the family and Imperial Prince Taruhito officially succeeded the family on September 9, 1871, he still held various positions such as the governor of Shinto and the controller general of the Research Institute for the Japanese Classics (the forerunner of present-day Kokugakuin University). He had a deep understanding of Buddhism as well, and he granted documents and commodities to famous temples.

People's lifestyle rapidly became Westernized after the Meiji Restoration, but Imperial Prince Takahito displayed a negative attitude toward this movement. Although people were required to be in full western dress in official events at the Imperial Court at that time, Emperor Meiji allowed Imperial Prince Takahito, who refused to wear Western-style clothes throughout his life, to attend events in Sokutai (traditional Japanese formal court dress) as an exception. He didn't cut his topknot, and never took western medicine throughout his life. Meanwhile, he enjoyed collecting music boxes and western clocks.

He was an expert at calligraphy and waka poetry like the heads of Arisugawanomiya family in the past, and achieved success in so-called `Arisugawa school of calligraphy' which was developed by the fifth Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Taruhito. In addition, he instructed Empress Dowager Shoken in waka poetry and also instructed Emperor Meiji in calligraphy and waka poetry, and moreover, he wrote the original document of Charter Oath of Five Articles.

On January 24, 1886, Imperial Prince Takahito fell critically ill. On hearing this, Emperor Meiji awarded him the Supreme Order and the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum. He passed away the same day at the age of 73 years old. He was laid to rest in Toshimagaoka Cemetery.

[Original Japanese]