Kitashirakawanomiya (北白川宮)

Kitashirakawanomiya is a Miyake (family allowed to have the status of Imperial family) which was established by Imperial Prince Satonari, who was the thirteenth prince of Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Kuniie, in the early Meiji period.

Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Satonari

The first Imperial Prince Satonari was born in 1856. In 1867 he was given the title of Imperial Prince. He entered Shogo-in Temple. He became a priest and called himself monk-Prince Nobuhito. As a result of the Meiji restoration he returned to secular life. He announced his name as Shokoinnomiya, but later he changed it to Kitashirakawanomiya. In 1872 he died at the age of 17. He left a will to appoint his brother, Imperial Prince Yoshihisa, to his koshi (an inheritor).

Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Yoshihisa

The second Imperial Prince Yoshihisa was the ninth prince of Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Kuniie and an older brother of Imperial Prince Satonari. He was born in 1848. In 1858 he was given the title of Imperial Prince as an adopted child of Emperor Ninko at the age of 11. He entered Rino-ji Temple in Ueno and was ordained, and announced his name as monk-Prince Kogen. In the Boshin War he sided with bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).
He was obliged to have a hand in shogitai (group of former Tokugawa retainers opposed to the Meiji government who fought in the Battle of Ueno) and was involved in the Battle of Ueno; after that, he was put up by Ouetsu-reppan alliance and went to Sendai (and was enthroned as Tobu Emperor as report has it.)
After Meiji Restoration he was confined to a house under the control of Fushiminomiya.

In 1869 he was pardoned and restored to Fushiminomiya. In 1870 he travelled to Germany for studying abroad. In 1872 he inherited Kitashirakawanomiya, and returned to Japan in 1877. After returning to Japan, he worked for Imperial Japanese Army. He was promoted to a lieutenant general (army). In Sino-Japanese War he departed for the front as the division commander of Konoe-shidan (Imperial Guard). After the war he received an order to defend Taiwan, and commanded the Taiwan conquest army, but died of illness in the battlefront in 1895. His age at death was 49.

Kitashirakawanomiya Prince Naruhisa

The third Prince Naruhisa was the third prince of Imperial Prince Yoshihisa. He was born in 1887. In1895 he succeeded the Miyake due to his father's death. In 1909 he married Imperial Princess Kanenomiya Fusako, the seventh Imperial princess of Emperor Meiji. He graduated from Rikugun Shikangakko (Military Academy) and Rikugun Daigakko (the Army War College). He became an army artillery colonel. However, he was killed at the age of 37 from a car accident in the suburbs of Paris in 1923. Imperial Princess Fusako and Prince Asakanomiya Yasuhiko, who were riding in the same car, were seriously injured.

Kitashirakawanomiya Prince Naruhisa

The fourth Prince Naruhisa was the first prince of Prince Naruhisa. He was born in 1910. In 1923 he succeeded the Miyake due to the death of Prince Naruhisa. He graduated from Rikugun Shikangakko and Rikugun Daigakko, and pursuing a career in the artillery field, he became an army artillery major. In1935 he married Sachiko KITASHIRAKAWA, a daughter of Yoshikumi TOKUGAWA who followed the Owari-Tokugawa family. In 1940 he went to the China Incident and died from an accident of his military plane's crash landing while in a military exercise in Menggu area. He was 31 years old.

Princess Sachiko KITASHIRAKAWA graduated from Tokyo Women's Higher Normal School (later Ochanomizu University). She had Prince Michihisa and Princess Hatsuko with Prince Naruhisa. In 1969 she assumed a chief of ladies-in-waiting, and after the change of the era's name to Heisei, she served Empress Dowager Yoshiko (Empress Kojun) as a chief of ladies-in-waiting for the Empress Dowager for a long time. Her older brother, Yoshihiro TOKUGAWA, was the Grand Chamberlain. Her younger brother, Yoshitaka TSUGARU is the father of Princess Hitachi Hanako. Yukio MISHIMA, who was a close friend of Sachiko's younger brother Yoshiyasu TOKUGAWA, wrote a short novel "Gyokukokushun" based on his one-sided love of Shoko and published it in "Hojinkai-zasshi" No. 186. Also Sachiko was a model of Satoko AYAKURA, a daughter of a hakushaku (a count) who appeared in the long novel "Haru no Yuki" (Snow in Spring).

Kitashirakawanomiya Prince Michihisa

The fifth Prince Michihisa was the first prince of Prince Naruhisa. He was born in 1937. In1947 he seceded from the Imperial Family and announced his name as Michihisa KITASHIRAKAWA. After graduating from Gakushuin University, he married Kyoko, a daughter of Tadatsugu SHIMAZU. They had three daughters. He is the former chief priest of Ise-jingu Shrine. He served as saishu (master of religious ceremonies) on the occasion of the wedding ceremony of Imperial Princess Norinomiya Sayako (presently Sayako KURODA).

Because misfortunes visited the three generations successively from Imperial Prince Yoshihisa to Prince Naruhisa and to Prince Naruhisa, the Kitashirakawanomiya family was called 'tragic Miyake (house of an imperial prince)'. On the other hand, however, he firmly maintained the social standing of his family through the confusion after the World War II.

Also, Princess Hatsuko who was a younger sister of Prince Michihisa was selected as a candidate of the wife of Imperial Prince Akihito (at that time), and the eldest daughter of Prince Michihisa as a candidate of the wife of Imperial Prince Naruhito.

[Original Japanese]