Miyake (house of an imperial prince) (宮家)

Miyake is the name of the successive Imperial family in Japan allowed to have Imperial rank.

Miya originally means the Emperor's or Imperial family's palace, later on it changed to mean; the family who lives in the Imperial Palace. The name 'Miyake' came from the meaning of succeeding 'Miya' by generations. However there is no legal proof to back this up. The name of 'something Miya' is considered as Miyake's personal title under the current laws and regulations.

The current Miyake
Akishinonomiya (Family head : Imperial Prince Fumihito)
Hitachinomiya (Family head : Hitachinomiya Imperial Prince Masahito)
Mikasanomiya (Family head : Imperial Prince Takahito)
Katsuranomiya (Family head : Imperial Prince Yoshihito)
Takamadonomiya (Nominative family head : Imperial Princess Norihito's Empress, Hisako)
Although the eldest son of Mikasanomiya, Imperial Prince Tomohito, enjoys his own independent life, he does not have his own Miya since he was expected to succeed the Mikasanomiya family.

After the Kamakura period, due to the regulations governing the titles of Princes by Imperial Order, it was often seen for a member of the Imperial family, who was in his second generation or earlier, and not entitled to the throne, to became an adopted son of an Emperor or retired Emperor and then succeed to the throne, this example was called 'Seshu Shinnoke' (the Hereditary Imperial family) in future generations.
The original form of the current 'Miyake.'
For example, Emperor Juntoku's Prince, Prince Tadanari named Iwakuranomiya, and Imperial Prince Yoshimune named Yotsutsujinomiya during middle of the Kamakura period, these Miya go titles were passed down to their descendants.

The orthodox Seshu Shinnoke (the Hereditary Imperial family) was the Tokiwainomiya, which was established by Emperor Kameyama's Prince, Imperial Prince Tsuneaki during the Muromachi period, and Kideranomiya, which was founded by Emperor Gonijo's Prince, Imperial Prince Kuninaga (Kuniyoshi). Both Princes had the possibility to succeed to the throne, however the situation was tossed about by the Ryoto Tetsuritsu (sharing Imperial succession) between the Jimyo-in Imperial line and the Daikakuji Imperial line, and they did not have the chance to become Emperors after all. Such Imperial princes had heir own land which was passed on to their descendants from generation to generation as their financial base.

The Tokiwainomiya and the Kideranomiya family were presumed to be discontinued at around the end of the Muronachi period, the Fushiminomiya family was established after these two Miyake, and continued to survive for five hundred and fifty years until renouncing membership in the Imperial Family after the War.

Furthermore, there is an example of Oguranomiya and Tamagawanomiya who were the descendants of the former Southern Court in the Muromachi period. Both Imperial families had a similar tendency to establish a branch family of the future generations after losing the battle of Imperial succession and trying to go against the main Miyake. During that time the establishment of the Seshu shinnoke (the Hereditary family) was undesirable thing for each Emperor in different eras.

However, after the Azuchi-Momoyama period, as the Imperial Palace weakened dramatically, the establishment of Seshu shinnoke (Hereditary family) became difficult without financial support from outside of the Imperial Palace, in fact the situation was changed to favorable the Palace. After political power was united into, three Miyake, Katsuranomiya, Arisugawanomiya, and Kaninnomiya were established one after another, these are called 'the Four Imperial families' including Fushiminomiya.

The four Imperial families
The founder of the Fushiminomiya was the Fushiminomiya Imperial Prince Yoshihito, who was the first Prince of the third Emperor Suko of the Northern Court. After Emperor Shoko died, the third Fushiminomiya Imperial Prince Sadafusa's Prince, Prince Hikohito became Emperor Gohanazono to succeed to the throne in 1428.

The Katsuranomiya family was established by Hachijonomiya Imperial Prince Toshihito, who was the sixth Prince of Emperor Ogimachi's first Prince, Imperial Prince Sanehito. Imperial Prince Toshitito was Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's adopted son, but the appointment was cancelled after Hideyoshi had his biological son, Tsurumatsu TOYOTOMI in 1589.
It started when Imperial Prince Toshihito was given land at Hideyoshi's request, he was also given the Miya go title of 'Hachijonomiya.'
After that, the names were changed to Tokiwainomiya, Kyogokunomiya, and Katsuranomiya, they continued to exist until the twelfth head of the family, Katsuranomiya Imperial Princess Sumiko died in 1881.

Arisugawanomiya family was established in 1625 by the Emperor Goyozei's seventh Prince, Takamatsunomiya Imperial Prince Yoshihito. Initially he was named Takamatsunomiya. Since Imperial Prince Yoshihito did not have any children, the Prince's nephew and Emperor Goyozei's sixth Prince, Imperial Prince Nagahito, succeeded to the second generation of the family, and was named Hanamachinomiya or Momozononomiya. However after his older brother, Emperor Gokomyo died in 1654, Imperial Prince Nagahito succeeded to the throne as Emperor Gosai. Miyake was succeeded by Emperor Gosai's second Prince, Arisugawanomiya Imperial Prince Yukihito and named Arisugawanomiya.

The Kaninnomiya family was established after Hakuseki ARAI's concern about the discontinuity of the Imperial family. Emperor Higashiyama's sixth Prince, Kaninnomiya Imperial Prince Naohito, received land of one thousand koku from the Bakufu, he then received the Miya go title of 'Kaninnomiya' from his grandfather, Emperor Reigen in 1718. The concern that Hakuseki ARAI had, became apparent in real life, the second Kaninnomiya Imperial Prince Sukehito's Prince, Sachinomiya succeeded to Emperor Gomomozono who died without having any children when he was twenty two years old, then he became Emperor Kokaku in 1779.

There are three examples how members of the Miyake succeeded into the Imperial throne.

After the Meiji period
Between the end of Bakufu period and the Meiji period, new Miyake were established one after another, some Imperial family members who left their positions, came back to the Imperial Palace to work protecting the Emperor.

Firstly in 1863, Nakagawanomiya (later changed to Kayanomiya, then changed again to Kunimomiya) was established, followed by the establishment of Yamashinanomiya in 1864, Nashimotonomiya, Shogoinnomiya, Kitashirakawanomiya, Kachonomiya, Higashifushiminomiya (changed to Komatsunomiya in 1882) before 1870.

Due to the issue of the Imperial Family (household) Law in 1889, it was decided to have Permanent Imperial Family regulations. Because of this, family rank of the Imperial family was abolished.

After the issue of the former Imperial Family (Household) Law, Kayanomiya was established in 1900, Higashifushiminomiya was established in 1903, followed by three Miyake, Takedanomiya, Asakanomiya, and Higashikuninomiya established (1906).

After that, Takamatsunomiya Imperial Prince Nobuhito, who was one of Emperor Taisho's Princes of three, was given the Miya go title of Takamatsunomiya to succeed the ritual of Arisugawanomiya in 1913, that was discontinued after Takamatsunomiya Imperial Prince Nobuhito, and established a new Miyake. Also the Chichibunomiya Imperial Prince Yasuhito established Chichibunomiya after receiving the Miya go title in 1922, and Mikasanomiya Imperial Prince Takahito established Miyake after receiving Miya go of Mikasanomiya in 1935.

While the former Imperial Family (Household) Law was adopted to use Permanent Imperial Family regulations as a base, the enlarged Imperial Family (Household) Law issued in 1907 was to regulate a Prince's membership in the Imperial family by issuing an Imperial order or Jogan. Furthermore, in 1920 ' The general standard of effectuation in terms of Imperial family's descent' was established, after that, out of the Princes who did not have a Miya go title or those who were not succeeding the family, twelve joined the new nobility. After the World War Ⅱ, under the instruction of the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers, it was decided to stop having privileges of nationalization for Imperial estates or Imperial family's belongings, because under the poor financial situation after having lost the War, it was not possible to manage the former scale of Imperial family, the eleven Miyake, fifty one members were to leave their position as members of the Imperial family excluding three direct Miyake, Chichibunomiya, Takamatsunomiya, and Mikasanomiya. The current Imperial Family [Household] Law was issued on May 3, 1947, (same day as the issue of the Constitution of Japan) the eleven Miyake were demoted from nobility to subject on October 14 in the same year. Ritually this was not pompously accomplished, the Imperial family members themselves wished to leave their positions, and they were allowed to do so after the action taken at an Imperial meeting.

The current problem
In 2006 Imperial Prince Hisahito was born in the Akishinonomiya family, in other Miyake, there was no male Imperial member born to succeed the family, or to establish new Miyake, except Takamadonomiya Imperial Prince Norihito who was born in 1954.
The current Imperial Family (Household) Law, Clause 9, it says; 'Emperor or Imperial family are not allowed to have adopted children.'
In Clause 12, it says; 'Female members of the Imperial family are to leave the Imperial family if they marry someone who is not an Emperor or a member of the Imperial family.'

If the current situation continues, all the Miyake may discontinue in near future, there are various opinions for Miyake to survive in the view of interpolating the Imperial throne. For example, there are some ideas on allowing Princesses and Empresses to succeed the Miyake, or establish new Miyake, or to adopt (the first Imperial Prince or Empress's husband and so on) male descendants of former Imperial family, as the successor to the current Miyake, or have former Imperial members come return to their positions, however there has been no solution thus far.

[Original Japanese]