6 December 1925
Akasaka Palace, Tokyo City, Empire of Japan
|Died||23 July 1961 35) (aged|
Imperial Household Agency Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
|Burial||4 August 1961|
Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery, Bunkyō
|House||Imperial House of Japan (until 1947)|
Shigeko Higashikuni (東久邇 成子, Higashikuni Shigeko, 6 December 1925 – 23 July 1961), born Shigeko, Princess Teru (照宮成子内親王, Teru-no-miya Shigeko Naishinnō), was the wife of Prince Morihiro Higashikuni and eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun. She was the eldest sister to Japan's Emperor Emeritus Akihito.
Princess Shigeko was born at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo while her father was still Prince Regent for her grandfather the Taishō Emperor. (照宮) ("Princess Teru"). As was the practice of the time, she was not raised by her biological parents after the age of three, but by a succession of court ladies at a separate palace built for her and her younger sisters in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo from 1930. Emperor Shōwa opposed the move, but could not defy court tradition. She entered the girls elementary department of the Gakushūin Peer's School in 1932 and completed the secondary department in 1942, learning cooking and literature.Her childhood appellation was Teru-no-miya
On 9 May 1939, Princess Shigeko rode on the Chōshi Electric Railway Line in Chiba Prefecture from Chōshi to Tōdaimae and back as part of a Gakushūin school outing.
In 1941, she was formally engaged to the eldest son and heir of Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, Prince Morihiro Higashikuni. The bride and groom were double first cousins once removed, through both the main imperial line, in descent from Emperor Meiji (the bride's maternal grandfather and the groom's father were siblings; meaning that the groom was a first cousin of the bride's father), and through collateral imperial lines, or ōke, that were cadet branches of the Fushimi-no-miya cadet branch of the imperial house.The couple were officially wed on 10 October 1943. As the wedding occurred in the middle of World War II, ceremonies and expenses were kept to a minimum, and she wore a junihitoe kimono belonging to her mother, Empress Kōjun, rather than having special clothing created for the occasion.
In 1947, the Higashikunis were reduced to commoner status with the abolition of titles of nobility by the American occupation forces. With rampant post-war inflation, high taxation, and various failed business ventures by her husband, the Higashikuni family was reduced to poverty. In January 1958, she accepted an offer by the Japanese national television network, NHK, to appear before a live audience and explain the New Year's poetry card reading contest and other royal ceremonies. She fell ill in 1960, complaining of stomach pains, and was diagnosed with cancer. Hospitalized at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo, she died on 23 July 1961.Her grave is at the Toshimagaoka imperial cemetery in Bunkyo, Tokyo.
Prince and Princess Higashikuni had five children, the last three of whom were born after they were reduced in status to commoners:
|Ancestors of Shigeko Higashikuni|
General Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni was a Japanese imperial prince, a career officer in the Imperial Japanese Army and the 30th Prime Minister of Japan from 17 August 1945 to 9 October 1945, a period of 54 days. An uncle-in-law of Emperor Hirohito twice over, Prince Higashikuni was the only member of the Japanese imperial family to head a cabinet and was the last general officer of the Imperial Japanese military to become Prime Minister. He was the founder of the Chiba Institute of Technology.
Empress Kōjun, born Princess Nagako, was a member of the Imperial House of Japan, the wife of Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and the mother of Shigeko Higashikuni, Princess Sachiko Hisa-nomiya, Kazuko Takatsukasa, Atsuko Ikeda, the Emperor Emeritus Akihito, Prince Masahito Hitachi-nomiya and Takako Shimazu.
General Prince Yasuhiko Asaka was the founder of a collateral branch of the Japanese imperial family and a career officer in the Imperial Japanese Army. Son-in-law of Emperor Meiji and uncle by marriage of Emperor Hirohito, Prince Asaka was commander of Japanese forces in the final assault on Nanjing, then the capital city of Nationalist China, in December 1937. He is alleged to have been a perpetrator of the Nanking massacre in 1937, but he was never charged.
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Morihiro Higashikuni, formerly Prince Morihiro was an Imperial Japanese Army officer who was a member of a cadet line of the Japanese imperial family and husband of Emperor Hirohito's eldest daughter.
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Vice-AdmiralPrince Kuni Asaakira, was third head of the Kuni-no-miya, a collateral branch of the Japanese imperial family and vice admiral in the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. He was the elder brother of Empress Kojun (Nagako), the consort of Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito), and thus a maternal uncle to the Heisei Emperor.
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Kazuko Takatsukasa, formerly Kazuko, Princess Taka, was the third daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun. She was an elder sister to the former Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito. She married Toshimichi Takatsukasa on 21 May 1950. As a result, she gave up her imperial title and left the Japanese Imperial Family, as required by law.
Prince Fushimi Kuniie was Japanese royalty. He was the 20th/23rd prince Fushimi-no-miya and the eldest son of Prince Fushimi Sadayuki (1776–1841) and his concubine Seiko, which made him an 11th cousin of Emperor Sakuramachi. Despite being merely a distant cousin to the emperors, he was adopted by Emperor Kōkaku as a Yūshi in 1817, which made him a Shinnō, or prince, just like an emperor's natural-born son.
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Nobuhiko Higashikuni was a Japanese aristocrat and former Imperial prince. The first grandchild of Emperor Hirohito, he was the eldest son of Shigeko, Princess Teru, the Emperor's eldest child. He was thus a maternal nephew of the Emperor Emeritus Akihito. His father was Morihiro Higashikuni, a grandson of Emperor Meiji.
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