Yanagihara Naruko (柳原愛子)

Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA (June 26, 1859, to October 16, 1943) was a Naishi no suke (a court lady of the first rank) to the Emperor Meiji. Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA is the mother of the Emperor Taisho.

Her Ikai (Court rank) was of the Senior Second Court Rank and was referred as the Nii no tsubone (The second ranking court lady). As a court lady, she would be given names such as: Umenoi and Sawarabi naiji. Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA was the second daughter of Mitsunaru YANAGIWARA, who was a giso (a position conveying what the congress decides to the emperor) at the end of Edo Period; and his title was Gon Chunagon, Deputy Middle Counselor, Senior Second Court Rank. In addition she was a younger sister of Count Sakimitsu YANAGIWARA. Byakuren YANAGIHARA, 'Princess of Tsukushi Province,' was one of her (Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA) nieces.

In 1870, Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA started her service at the Imperial court as a Kojoro (certain daughters or granddaughters of daijin [the Ministers of State], nagon [the Counselors], and sangi [the Consultants] and other kugyo [senior nobles]) for the Empress Dowager.
Then, she became a Gon no naishi no suke (a court lady of the first rank) after having served as a Naishi no Jo (Koto no Naishi [a woman officer who carries the Emperor's sword when he goes out].)
Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA became Kyujin (court lady) for the Emperor Meiji and gave birth to three children: The second Imperial Princess, Ume-no-Miya Shigeko; the second Imperial Prince, Take-no-Miya Yukihito; and the third Imperial Prince, Haru-no-Miya Yoshihito. However only one child, the Imperial Prince Yoshihito, who later in life became the Emperor Taisho, could grow to manhood. Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA was appointed to Naishi no suke (a court lady of the first rank).

After the enthronement of Prince (Yoshihito), her birth child, in July of 1913, Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA became a Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank), a Goyo-gakari for Empress and Gonaigi Kantoku (a director of court ladies). Then, she received the Junii (Junior Second Rank) on December 1, 1915. It was on May 10, 1925 that Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA received the Grand Cordon in the Order of the Sacred Treasure. On December 25, 1926, the Emperor Taisho, her son, met with his demise, and then the Emperor Showa, her grandson, ascended to the throne on November of 1928. On February 11, 1940, Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA received the First Order of the Precious Crown (Kunitto Hokansho). It was on October 16, 1943 Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA had her Kokyo (death of a person of upper than Third Rank). At the same day of her death, Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA received the Juichii (Junior First Rank). Her age at the time of her death was eighty-four. Her grave is located in the Yuten-ji Temple, 5th street, Naka Meguro, Meguro Ward, Tokyo.

Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA had an excellent talent in the practice of waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) poem creation; her poems were selected for the Utakaihajime (annual New Year's poetry reading) at the Imperial court on three occasions. After the death of the Emperor Meiji, Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA was recognized as a person who followed after the Imperial family. For example, there was an anecdote that Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA was able to say farewell to the Emperor Taisho (her son) in his last moment, at his bedside, this was because of her making an arrangement through the Empress Teimei.

There were rumors inferring that the Emperor Taisho had been an imbecile, circulating since the Taisho period. For this reason, some public opinions expressed in Japan tended to blame Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA, as the birth mother, and providing a genetic cause.

Brief Personal History

On August 31, 1879, Ms. Naruko YANAGIHARA bore a son, the Emperor Taisho (later became the hundred and twenty-third emperor, the Emperor Taisho), with the Emperor Meiji.

His grandson, the Emperor Showa (later became the hundred and twenty-fourth emperor, the Emperor Showa) was born on April 29, 1901.

On December 23, 1933, his great-grandchild, Akihito (later became the hundred and twenty-fifth emperor, the present Emperor) was born.

[Original Japanese]