Kazunomiya Imperial Princess Chikako (和宮親子内親王)

Kazunomiya Imperial Princess Chikako (July 3, 1846 - September 2, 1877) was a woman who lived during the late Edo period, she was a wife of Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), fourteenth Shogun Iemochi TOKUGAWA.

Personal Profile

Kazunomiya' was her childhood name which was given when she was born, 'Chikako' was given by the Emperor when she officially became the Princess in 1861. Her go title was Seikaninnomiya.

She was the only Princess who married into a Samurai family and went to the Kanto area from Edo, not only during the Edo period, but in the previous era's as well. It was a well known story that Kazunomiya, herself, had doubts about her marriage in those days. Although the marriage with Iemochi was confirmed officially, she made the bakufu promise to build a new Palace for her half younger sister, Katsuranomiya Imperial Princess Sumiko, or to make sure she would have her own room in the style of the Imperial Palace, not in the inner rooms of the shogun's palace (Ooku) style, after the marriage. However, the promise to have 'a room of Imperial style' was almost cancelled, because the head of the bakufu did not communicate with the inner rooms of the shogun's (Ooku) at all on this matter, it caused big confusion in Ooku during the last days of the bakufu.

Inside the Edo castle, due to tradition, the shogun's wife was called 'Midaisama,' however Chikako refused to be called that, she made others call her 'Kazunomiya sama' instead.

Iemochi did not have a nobleman's concubine and had only Kazunomiya as his wife all his life, it was said they had a good relationship.

(Although it was not known in the public, Iemochi seemed to have a mistress.)

They did not have any children, Iemochi announced to let Yoshiyori TAYASU's son, Kamenosuke (later called Iesato TOKUGAWA) succeed to his position, however after Iemochi died, it was said that Kazunomiya mentioned, 'In this time, the young Kamenosuke may not be good enough as a successor, since there is no one to supervise Kamenosuke, we need to choose someone appropriate for the country.'
Senior councilor Katsukiyo ITAKURA strongly recommended Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI during his busy days having one difficulty after another, he then asked Kazunomiya to have Kamenosuke as Yoshinobu's successor, she approved saying, 'As long as the will was kept, there is no problem, please make sure Kamenosuke succeeds to Chunagon (Yoshinobu's) position. '

After the bakufu collapsed, Kazunomiya returned to Kyoto, however she decided to return to Tokyo after Emperor Meiji and Saneakira, who lived in Ichigaya Sadohara, encouraged her to come back, she lived in the former residence of Nobuyuki Totoumi no kami Nanbu of the Hachinohe Domain which is located in Hyoe-machi Town, Azabu City from July 1874. After she started living in Tokyo, she socialized with a wide range of people such as Iesato of the Tokugawa family or other Imperial family or Tenshoin and so on. However she developed beriberi around this time, she went to Tonosawa, Hakone in August 1877 since it was recommended by former doctor of Ooku, Choan TODA, to move to different place to rest her body. It seemed Kazunomiya had some contact with the local people where she stayed to rest up, Keijiro NAKANO of Kansuiro, Tonosawa, Hakone (it was Choan TODA Hotel while Kazunomiya stayed in the hot-spring resort) remembers an old lady, Kiwa HIRATSUKA who was ninety eight years old at that time, talking about Kazunomiya, that she used to have children of the village over to give some sweets during 1960s. What Kazunomiya looked like, what Kiwa HIRATSUKA talked about was like, she was surrounded by many maids, and wearing white Kimono with a purple belt, with Osuberakashi hair style (hair style with volume fringes tied up and had long straight hair in the back). It was said her face was very swollen with beriberi. Not long after that, she died of breathing difficulties due to beriberi in Tonosawa in the morning on September 2, 1877.

Utsusemi's Kesa (an oblong piece of ornamental cloth worn over the robe by a Buddhist priest)

When Iemochi left for Kyoto to subjugate the Choshu Domain, he asked Kazunomiya what she would like as a souvenir on his triumphant return and Kazunomiya asked him to get her a Nishijin Brocade. However Iemochi died of illness in the Osaka-jo Castle while suppressing the Choshu Domain. The Nishijin Brocade was delivered to Kazunomiya as Iemochi's memento. Kazunomiya gave the Nishijin brocade with the following poem to the Zojo-ji Temple, and later the Nishijin brocade was made into Kesa (an oblong piece of ornamental cloth worn over the robe by a Buddhist priest) on the anniversary, "Even though I have this gorgeous Nishijin brocade Kimono, I would enjoy wearing it if you are still alive." This is passed from generation to generation as Utsusemi's Kesa.

A chronological history
On July 3, 1846, around two o'clock in the afternoon, she was born as the eighth Princess of the Emperor Ninko, her birth mother was Kangyoin (Naishinosuke Tsuneko HASHIMOTO)
Her half older brother was Emperor Komei. Since her father, Emperor Ninko died before Chikako was born, (February 21, 1846) she was brought up in her mother Kangyoin's house, with the Hashimoto family, by the Imperial order.

In 1851 she was engaged to the eldest son of the Arisugawanomiya Imperial Prince Takahito, Prince Taruhito, however the engagement was cancelled due to the union of the Imperial Court and the Shogunate promoted by Tomomi IWAKURA.

She departed from Kyoto for the marriage with Iemochi TOKUGAWA (September 26, 1861). She went down to the east through the Nakasendo road instead of the Tokaido road to avoid disturbance created by the exclusionists.

She arrived at Edo in March 12, 1862 and decided to leave the Imperial family to be married, she had the ceremony to marry Iemochi at Edo Castle. After Kazunomiya married with Iemochi, the union of the Imperial Court and the Shogunate was completed, she started her new life living with Otoshiyori, Takiyama, Honjuin (Iesada TOKUGAWA's mother) and Tenshoin in Ooku. Kazunomiya and her maids kept the same customs like the Imperial style, (for example they spent winter time bear foot without wearing socks since the Emperor did not allow them to do so), on the other hand, people in Ooku gave the hard time to Kazunomiya and her maids as they did not get used to the new life in Ooku, it is said there was a bad atmosphere inside the Ooku in those days. However Iemochi, who was smart and considerate to others, helped to solve the conflict with the Ooku side.

On August 29, 1866, Iemochi died in the Osaka-jo Castle.
Kazunomiya shaved her head and became 'Seikanin no Miya.'
During the Boshin War, she wrote to her nephew, Emperor Meiji asking to spare the Shogun, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA's life.

In April 1868, since the Edo bakufu (Japanese Feudal government headed by a shogun) surrendered Edo Castle and Ooku to the government army, Kazunomiya moved to the Tayasu family residence with Jitsujoin. After that she moved to Kyoto, however she moved back to Tokyo due to Emperor Meiji's visit to Tokyo. It is said she became close to Tenshoin after having a meal together at Kaishu KATSU's house.

On September 2, 1877, she died in Kansuiro, Tonosawa, Hakone where she stayed to rest up, she was thirty two years old. It is said the cause of her death was heart failure from beriberi.

Her cemetery was in Zojo-ji Temple in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

Her height and weight

The Tokugawa family's cemetery where Kazunomiya was buried was located where the current Tokyo Prince Hotel was, since this land was sold to Kokudo Corp in 1950, Kazunomiya's cemetery and the successive Shogun and their wives cemeteries and remains were excavated, relocated, and re-buried. According to the result of the investigation at that time called, 'The Zojo-ji Temple, Tokugawa Shogun cemetery and remains, bodies,' Kazunomiya was presumed to be short lady, one meter forty three centimeters tall, her weight was thirty four kilograms, she had extremely buckteeth and tended to walk pigeon-toed. There is a mystery in that there was no bones from the left hand found, also there was a statue of Kazunomiya and her left hand is hidden in an unnatural way, there is a legend that she lost her left hand for some reason, when she was alive.

Kazunomiya is one of the rare Imperial family members whose cemetery was excavated for investigation, since currently most Imperial mausoleum studied for reference are in fact not allowed to be excavated for investigation purposes, ancient tombs also fall under the policy of the Imperial Household Agency.

Also there was a young man's dry picture plate found inside the Kazunomiya's coffin, but the plate was not kept property, it became just a glass plate on the following day. The man has not been identified so far, there is a possibility that he was Kazunomiya's husband, Iemochi. Or there is another theory the man could be Kazunomiya's fiancee, Arisugawanomiya Imperial Prince Taruhito.

When Kazunomiya married to Iemochi, on her way to Edo through Nakasendo road, she took a rest with the Kosaka family in Shinshu, Kazunomiya's photograph was found which was taken by a photographer of Kosaka family. It was the photographic positive in on a dry glass plate kept in the military style fan, a copy of the photograph was given to Amida-ji Temple by Kenji KOSAKA who is a descendant of the Kosaka family. Kazumomiya posed with both her hands slightly out of her sleeves in this photograph.

The different theory (someone was acting as the double in place of Kazunomiya)
Some people said some of Kazunomiya's poems after she moved to Edo, compared with the ones she wrote while she was in Kyoto, were not elegant at all, it was almost like someone else wrote the poems for her (it is said the poems were not even professionally written, her style changed into an unprofessional, dull style all of a sudden), there was a theory that someone was acting as a double in place of Kazunomiya.

Also Sawako ARIYOSHI wrote a novel, "Kazunomiya-sama Otome" with a story about someone who was acting as a double for Kazunomiya. (A totally different theory compared with the above was used in the novel.)

However it was discovered that Kazunomiya had a body build typical of Imperial female members in those days, due to the investigation of the bones, thus there is a strong possibility it was just a rumor that someone was acting as her double.

[Original Japanese]