Nakayama Yoshiko (中山慶子)

Yoshiko NAKAYAMA (January 16, 1836 - October 5, 1907) was real mother of the Emperor Meiji. She was a concubine of the Emperor Komei. Her go (a pen name) included Nakayama ichii no Tsubone and so on. She was the second daughter of Dainagon (chief councilor of state) Tadayasu NAKAYAMA (1809-1888) and her mother was Aiko NAKAYAMA, the eleventh daughter of Kiyoshi (Seizan) MATSURA, the lord of the Hirado Domain. Her grandmother was a daughter of Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA. Her eldest brother was Tadanaru NAKAYAMA who was conferred marquis. Her maternal half-brother was Tadamitsu NAKAYAMA, shusho (commander-in-chief) of tenchu-gumi (royalist party to inflict punishment). She was given Juichii (Junior First Rank), the First Order of Merit.

On January 16, 1836, she was born in Ishiyakushi, Kyoto and grew up in a foster home in Yase (present Yase, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City). At the age of 17, she served at the court as Naishi no suke oyatoi (employed as most significant maid of honor) and received Ae for her name. She was loved by the Emperor Komei and got pregnant, then on November 3, 1852 she gave birth to Prince Sachinomiya (later the Emperor Meiji) in her parents' home, the residence of Nakayama. It was said that the Nakayama family whose Karoku (hereditary stipend) was only two hundreds stipends could not pay for the cost of building ubuya (a hut for delivering babies) and borrowed money for most of the cost.

Sachinomiya was raised in the residence of Nakayama and when he was five years old he returned to the court and lived in Yoshiko's room. After that, since the Emperor Komei did not have any other boys, on August 26, 1860, Sachinomiya became 'biological child' of Jugo nyogo (a high-ranking lady from a humble family) Empress Dowager Eisho by imperial edict and on November 10 of the same year he was given the title of Imperial Prince and named 'Mutsuhito'.

On February 13, 1867, Imperial Prince Mutsuhito ascended the throne. In May of the same year, Yoshiko was reappointed to Naishi no suke which she has resigned due to illness. On September 19, 1868, she was conferred Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and five hundreds stipends of shokuroku (a salary for samurais who worked at Japanese feudal governments) and residential area, then on October 11, 1869, she was raised to Junii (Junior Second Rank). In September 1870, she moved to Tokyo in accordance with the transfer of the capital.

She became fosterer of Imperial Prince Yoshihito (later the Emperor Taisho) born in 1879 and she was entrusted with the education of the Imperial Prince until 1889. In the same year, she was conferred Shonii (Senior Second Rank).

There was no imperial letter issued to permit use of "In" title because nyoingo (a title of respect given to close female relatives of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing) was abolished due to the Meiji restoration, but she was kindly treated as kokumo (mother of Emperor) accordingly. On January 15, 1900, she was promoted to Juichii (Junior First Rank) due to serious illness. On the 17th of the same month, she was given the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown for the first time as a subject. On October 5, 1907, she passed away at the residence in Minami-cho, Aoyama, Tokyo (Minato Ward, Tokyo). She died at the age of 73. She was buried in Toshimagaoka Cemetery.

[Original Japanese]