Empress Dowager Eisho (英照皇太后)

Empress Dowager Eisho (maiden name: Asako KUJO, December 23, 1833 - January 11, 1897) was Emperor Komei's Nyogo (consort) and Emperor Meiji's mother.

Personal Profile

Her father was Hisatada KUJO (1798-1871), Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) and Minister of the Left, and her mother was Sugayama, a daughter of Choi MINAMIOJI of the Kamo clan, founders of Kamo-jinja Shrine. She was an older sister of Michitaka KUJO, Minister of the Left, as well as an aunt of Empress Dowager Teimei.

She was born at the Minamioji residence in Shimogamo Village, Otagi County, Province of Yamashiro (present-day Shimokamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto) and on October 14, 1845, at the age of 13, she became a wife of the Crown Prince, Imperial Prince Osahito (later Emperor Komei), who was 2 years older than her. Emperor Komei was enthroned in the year following their marriage, and on January 1, 1849, she received Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), then on January 9 of the same year, she officially entered the Imperial Palace and was proclaimed Nyogo (a high-ranking lady in the court). Emperor Komei wanted Asako to become an empress, but he met Shogunate's opposition that maintained that she should first have the court rank of Jusangu, so on June 13, 1853, Asako was promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) and Jusangu.

In 1850, she gave birth to the first princess, Imperial Princess Yoriko (1850 - 1852), and in 1858, she gave birth to the second princess, Fukinomiya (1858 - 1859), but because they both died in their infancy, on August 26, 1860, by the order of the Emperor, she named the 9-year old second prince Sachinomiya as 'her own son.'

When she was 34, Emperor Komei died unexpectedly and, after Emperor Meiji was enthroned, she was officially made Empress Dowager on April 10, 1868. After the capital was renamed Tokyo, she moved to Akasaka Detached Palace in 1872 then, in July of the same year, she moved to Aoyama Imperial Palace.

On November 1, 1888, she received the Order of the Precious Crown (Kunitto Hokansho), First Class.

She died on January 11, 1897.

On January 30 of the same year, she was awarded the posthumous title of 'Empress Dowager Eisho.'
Her Imperial mausoleum is Nochino-Tsukinowano-Tohokuno-Misasagi in Imakumano, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, where Emperor Komei is also entombed.

Kyoto Omiya Imperial Palace was constructed for Empress Dowager Asako in 1867.

[Original Japanese]