Emperor Taisho

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  • Born: 1879
  • Died: 1926
  • Other Names: 義仁 (Yoshihito)
  • Japanese: 大正天皇 (Taishou tennou)

Emperor Taishô was the son of Emperor Meiji, and the grandfather of the current Emperor. He is known to history as having been sickly, and his brief reign is marked chiefly by Japan's limited participation in World War I, the Siberian Intervention, the flourishing of Taishô Democracy, the assassination of Prime Minister Hara Takashi in 1921, and the Great Kantô Earthquake of 1923.

Taishô was the son of Emperor Meiji and Yanagihara Naruko, an imperial concubine. Yoshihito's wedding to Kujô Sadako (later known as Empress Teimei), held on May 10, 1900, while Yoshihito was still Crown Prince, was the first Imperial marriage ceremony of a modern sort, featuring wedding rites and performed before the gods and Imperial ancestors. Prior to that time, there were rituals for introducing an imperial consort into the Court, but not for Imperial marriages. Roughly two weeks after the wedding, on May 23, the Crown Prince and Princess departed Tokyo to visit Ise Shrine and the tombs of Emperor Jimmu and Emperor Kômei, in order to announce their marriage to the Imperial ancestors. All of these were practices newly invented in the Meiji period, as part of the construction of discourses of legitimacy and of an Emperor-centered nationalism emphasizing connection to an unbroken lineage of Imperial ancestors (and traditional authority) stretching back to mythological times.[1] Taishô was also to be the first emperor to observe modern/Western standards of monogamous marriage for a monarch.[2]

Taishô succeeded his father in 1912, with Imperial accession rites culminating in sacred ceremonies conducted within the Kyoto Imperial Palace. He reigned for nearly fifteen years, until his own death in 1926, at which time he was succeeded in turn by his son, the Shôwa Emperor, also known as Emperor Hirohito. Taishô was the first emperor to have his funeral held entirely in Tokyo, and to be buried in (the outskirts of) Tokyo; his father, the Meiji Emperor, thus became the last to be buried in Kyoto.[3]

Preceded by
Emperor Meiji
Emperor of Japan
Succeeded by
Emperor Shôwa


  • "Chronology of the Japanese Emperors since the Mid-Nineteenth Century." in Handbook of Oriental Studies. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2008. p336.
  1. Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, University of California Press (1996), 118-121.
  2. Fujitani, 189.
  3. Fujitani, 235.