Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Yoshihisa (北白川宮能久親王)

Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Yoshihisa (April 1, 1847 - October 28, 1895) was a member of the imperial family and a military man in the army over the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period.

He was the ninth price of Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Kuniie. His real mother was Nobuko HORIUCHI. His childhood name was Mitsunomiya. He was known as the last Rinnojinomiya.

End of Edo period

In August 1848, he became a disciple of Shorenin-no-miya. In 1852, he became a disciple of Kajii-monzeki Temple. In November 1858, he became an adopted child of the Emperor Ninko and he was given the title of Imperial Prince. At that time, he was given his imina (personal name) 'Yoshihisa'. In November 1859, he became a disciple of Imperial Prince and Monk Rinnojinomiya Jisho. He did tokudo (enter the Buddhist priesthood) with Imperial Prince Kuninomiya Asahiko being as kaishi (the priest who imparts the Buddhist commandments) and called himself Kogen as hoi (given name to a Buddhist priest).

In June 1867, he traveled down to Edo and entered Kanei-ji Temple in Ueno, then succeeded to Sanzan Kanryo no miya (also called Toei Daio and serve as chief priest of Kanei-ji Temple, Nikko Rinno-ji Temple Monzeki (head priest), Tendai-zasu (head priest of the Tendai sect) (to be precise, zasu (temple's head priest)of Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei) at the same time) along with the retirement of Imperial Prince and Monk Jisho in the same month. His ingo (a title given to a Buddhist) was 'Chingooinnomiya' and he was commonly called 'Rinnojinomiya' as with successive monzu (successive chief priests). Although Imperial Prince Yoshihisa did not actually have an opportunity to serve as zasu of Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei, it is not correct to say that he was not Tendai-zasu because the Tendai Sect was administered by Kanei-ji Temple, not by Enryaku-ji Temple.

In 1868, after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, monk-Prince Kogen visited Tosei Daisotoku (the Great Governor-General in charge of the military expedition to the east) Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Taruhito in Sunpu at the request of bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and asked for the previous Shogun Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA's life and the cancellation of tosei (military expedition to the east) to a new government. However, while conditions were offered to save his life, the cancellation of tosei was dismissed by Prince Taruhito. After that, he was put up by shogitai (group of former Tokugawa retainers opposed to the Meiji government who fought in the Battle of Ueno) holed up in Kanei-ji Temple and thus he got involved in Ueno War and escaped to Tohoku region after defeat. He took refuge in the Sendai Domain and he was put up as the leader of Ouetsu-reppan alliance (One theory has it that he used 'Mutsutoki' as his secular name (imina)).

Meiji Period

In October 1868, the Sendai Domain surrendered to New government army and monk-Prince Kogen was ordered to keep to his house in Kyoto. In October 1869, he was absolved from punishment and in October 1870 he returned to Fushimi no miya. He returned to secular life at the Emperor Meiji's command and he was called Fushimi Mitsunomiya, which was his childhood name. At that time he was ordered to come to Tokyo and at the same time it was decided that he would live in the residence of Prince Taruhito whom he has negotiated with in Sunpu two years ago until he left for studying in Germany. In April 1872, he succeeded as the head of the Kitashirakawanomiya family in accordance with the will of his younger brother Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Satonari.

In January 1871, he left Japan for studying in the Kingdom of Prussia. In December 1876, he got engaged to Berta, a German dowager, and asked the Meiji Government to permit marriage, but the government expressed disapproval of his marriage and ordered him to return to Japan. Just before the departure for Japan, Prince Yoshihisa announced his engagement in German newspapers and so on and it became a big problem. However, he finally returned to Japan in October 1877 and broke off his engagement by persuasion of Tomomi IWAKURA and others and resulted in confinement to his residence in Kyoto again.

Thereafter, he devoted himself to his duties in the Army. In 1884 he was promoted to Army Major General and in 1892 he was promoted to Lieutenant General. Moreover, he became the first president of Doitsugaku Kyokai (Society for German Studies) and later he worked to establish Doitsugaku Kyokai Gakko (School of the Society for German Studies).

On November 10, 1893, he was given command of 4th division of the Imperial Japanese Army. In 1895, as Commanding General of Konoe Shidan (the Japanese Imperial Guard) for the Taiwan expedition, he went to Taiwan ceded to Japan after the Sino-Japanese War. However, he contracted malaria in the field and died in Tainan County just before suppression of the whole of Taiwan.

Since he was the first member of the Japanese imperial family known to have died outside of Japan, and the first to have died in war, he was specially promoted to Army General and then a state funeral was held for him and he was buried at Toshimagaoka Cemetery. At the time of his state funeral, public opinion for the enshrinement of Prince Yoshihisa arose and as a result Taiwan-jingu Shrine was erected in Taipei and Tainan-jinja Shrine in the place of his death. He was enshrined as shusaijin (main enshrined deities) in most of the shrines erected throughout Taiwan later. As these shrines in Taiwan were all demolished after defeat in the war, he is now enshrined at Yasukuni-jinja Shrine.

His checkered life (he was born as an illegitimate child in an Imperial Prince's family, he spent his childhood as a priest in Edo far away from Kyoto, he became the leader of 'an enemy of the emperor' and moved from place to place in Oshu for a while, then he became a military man in the army and he was considered a hero of suppression of Taiwan, finally he died an unfortunate death in a foreign country) was compared to Yamato Takeru.

Different opinion

Assassination theory

There are two theories about the date of his death: one is 'October 28' and another is 'November 5'. The theory that he passed away on October 28 is based on the date of death officially announced at that time. Since he died during the war, his decease was concealed and it was announced on November 5 in the imperial court. Shortly thereafter, a rumor spread that Price was assassinated in Shoryu (in present-day, Jiali Township, Tainan County).

However, even before Meiji period, it was customary that misfortunes happened in the imperial family were concealed for a while not only during wartime but also during peacetime and thus the case of Prince Yoshihisa was not special. Therefore, there is a theory that the rumor of his assassination spread because it was suspicious that the announced date of his death did not correspond to the actual date of his death. However, it is not certain whether the delay in announcement of his death can be explained by the reason that he was killed by guerrillas.

The main enemy of the Taiwan expedition by the Japanese military forces led by Prince Yoshihisa was the remnants of the Qing army consisted of two Chinese forces, but both forces have already returned to the continent when Prince Yoshihisa died. The assassin is referred to as 'anti Japanese guerrilla', 'a corps of rangers in Taiwan', 'militia of aborigines known as Seiban' and so on depending on the documents, but the reality is unknown.

The prewar "Seishi Kakei Daijiten" (a large dictionary of Japanese surnames) stated that he passed away on October, 28. According to Showa edition of "Dictionary of Imperial and Noble Families in Japan" (edited by Kasumi-kai) the date of his death was October 28, but it was revised to November 5 in Heisei edition of the same book. Because it is unlikely to be a clerical error, there may be something that could be the grounds for it.

Theory of the enthronement of the 'Emperor Tobu'

There is a theory that, during the Boshin War in 1868, when Prince Yoshihisa was put up by shogitai or when he was accepted in Ouetsu-reppan alliance, he was raised to the Imperial Throne as the Emperor Tobu (Tobu Kotei or Tobu Tenno). According to the diary of priest Gikan who always joined the army with Prince Yoshihisa, it is known that terms used for the emperor have been applied to Prince Yoshihisa since around April, and thus it can be assumed that he ascended the throne when he was put up by shogitai or at least accession to the throne was scheduled.

According to the following studies, Prince Yoshihisa was believed to ascend the throne when he was accepted in Ouetsu-reppan alliance.

The pioneer of this theory is Masajiro TAKIKAWA ('Opening the Door of Japanese History', 1950). After that, 'A Material for the Boshin War' by Minoru MUSHANOKOJI ("Shigaku zasshi" (Journal of Historical Studies), Vol. 61, No.8, 1953) and 'Regarding so-called Taisei Kaigen (changing era name to Kaigen)' by Eikichi KAMATA ("Shudaishigaku" (in-house magazine of historical study group in Akita University, Akita Prefecture), No. 14, 1967) followed, then detailed study was complied in 'Consideration for establishment of so-called 'Tohoku Chotei (the Tohoku Court) in 1868' by Noriyuki FUJII ('New Study of Modern Japanese History 1') in 1981. According to Suguru SASAKI, there was only a plan to raise Rinnojinomiya who became the leader of Ouetsu-reppan alliance to the Imperial Throne and to change era name to 'Taisei' in the year of his enthronement. On the other hand, Yoshihiro NAKAYAMA says Rinnojinomiya ascended the throne and he was called the Emperor Tobu, and era name became 'Enju' in the year of his enthronement. This theory was based on the story by Yasokichi YAMAMOTO who served in the Northern Tohoku Boshin War ("History of Boshin War in Odate", page 93) and on the fact that 'bad example of Takauji' was written in the indictment document of Sendai Shisetsu (an envoy from Sendai) who was killed with a sword ("History of Boshin War in Sendai") (See "The Meiji Restoration and The Great General Staff Seiichiro MAEYAMA" compiled by Yoshihiro NAKAYAMA, [Tokyo Tosho Shuppankai (publishing company), 2002, ISBN 4434013491]). Direct historical materials include the commonly called 'List of Ministers of the Emperor Tobu' and three types of materials are known (the Hachisuka family materials, the materials of Yosai KIKUCHI, the materials of Kaoru GOKON). The fact that era name of 'Enju' has already been known mainly in Ou region since around April of that year can be confirmed by the newspapers at that time. According to the Hachisuka family materials and the materials of Kaoru GOKON, the enthronement was on June 15 (in old lunar calendar) (August 3 in new calendar) and era name has been already changed to 'Taisei' in April, whereas according to the materials of Yosai KIKUCHI, era name was changed to 'Taisei' on June 16 in old lunar calendar.

Regarding the derivation of the word 'Tobu', please see the articles of Rinno-ji Temple and Kanei-ji Temple and so on. He was said to use 'Mutsutoki' as his secular name (imina) after he returned to secular life.

The following books are available for this matter:
"Consideration for establishment of so-called 'Tohoku Chotei (the Tohoku Court) in 1868", Noriyuki FUJII (included in 'New Study of Modern Japanese History 1', Gakubunsha, 1981)
'The Emperor Tobu, another 'Emperor' who disappeared in the Boshin War', Hideo ITSUMI ("Legends of The Emperors" Alter Books Series 001, edited by MediaWorks, Shufunotomo Co.,Ltd., 1997)
"The truths of the Emperor Tobu - Another Emperor buried under the history of Boshin", Hisashi YAMAKAGE ("Separate volume history book, Crisis of succession to the Imperial Throne, Approach the basic principle of the imperial line toward Revision of Imperial House Act", Shinjinbutsu Oraisha, issued on May 25, 2005)
"Shogitai Ibun" (Unique Stories of Shogitai), Mayumi Mori, Shinchosha, 2004.

Blood relationship

He married Mitsuko, the eldest daughter of Yodo YAMAUCHI. After divorce, he got remarried Tomiko, adopted daughter of Hisamitsu SHIMAZU (her real father was Munee DATE) who became Imperial Princess Yoshihisa. His children were Takedanomiya Prince Tsunehisa (the first son), Kitashirakawanomiya Prince Naruhisa (the third son), Teruhisa KOMATSU (the fourth son) and others.

[Original Japanese]