Emperor Yoshihito

Yoshihito, the Taisho Emperor (August 31, 1879 – December 25, 1926, r. 1912-1926), was the 123rd Emperor of Japan. He was the surviving son of Emperor Meiji by Yanagiwara Naruko, a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Palace. Emperor Meiji’s consort, Empress Shoken (Haruko), was officially regarded as his mother.

He received personal name of Yoshihito and the title Haru no miya (Prince Haru) by the emperor on September 6, 1879. He was officially declared heir apparent on August 31, 1887 and had his formal investiture as crown prince on November 3, 1888. He was kept out of view from the public as much as possible; it is rumoured that he had brain damage caused from lead poisoning. It was a fashion at the time for women to put lead paint on their nipples; the future Emperor Taisho may have been feeding from a nanny who followed this fashion.

On May 25, 1900, Crown Prince Yoshihito married Sadako (b. at Tokyo June 25, 1884, d. at Omiya Palace, Tokyo May 17, 1951), the daughter of Prince Kujo Mitchitaka [peer], the head of the five senior branches of the Fujiwara clan. The marriage produced four sons: the future Emperor Showa (Hirohito), Prince Chichibu (Yasuhito), b. May 26, 1902, d. January 4, 1953; Prince Takamastu (Nobuhito), b. March 1, 1905, d. February 3, 1987; and Prince Mikasa (Takahito), b. December 2, 1915.

Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son, Hirohito.