Empress Michiko.jpg
Empress consort of Japan
Tenure 7 January 1989 – 30 April 2019
Enthronement 12 November 1990
Full name
Michiko (美智子)
Born 20 October 1934 (age 85)
University of Tokyo Hospital,
Tokyo, Japan
Spouse Emperor Akihito
Naruhito, Emperor of Japan
Fumihito, Crown Prince of Japan
Sayako Kuroda
House Imperial House of Japan (by marriage)
Father Hidesaburo Shōda
Mother Fumiko Soejima
Religion Shinto
prev. Roman Catholicism
Japanese Imperial Family
Imperial Seal of Japan

MH The Emperor
HM The Empress

HM The Emperor Emeritus
HM The Empress Emerita

HIH The Prince Hitachi
HIH The Princess Hitachi

HIH The Princess Mikasa

v · d · e

Michiko (美智子, born Michiko Shōda (正田美智子Shōda Michiko), 20 October 1934) is a member of the Imperial House of Japan who served as the Empress consort of Japan as the wife of Akihito, the 125th Emperor of Japan reigning from 7 January 1989 to 30 April 2019. She succeeded her mother-in-law, Empress Nagako (Kōjun), consort of the late Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa).

Michiko married Crown Prince Akihito and became Crown Princess of Japan until the death of Emperor Hirohito. She was the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family. She had three children with her husband, and her elder son, Naruhito, is the current heir to the Chrysanthemum throne. As crown princess and later as empress, she has become the most visible and widely travelled imperial consort in Japanese history.[1]

Early life and education Edit

Michiko Shōda was born on 20 October 1934 at the University of Tokyo Hospital in Bunkyō, Tokyo, the second of four children born to Hidesaburō Shōda (正田英三郎 Shōda Hidesaburō; 1903–1999), president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Company, and his wife, Fumiko Soejima (副島富美子 Soejima Fumiko; 1909–1988). Raised in Tokyo and in a cultured family, she grew up receiving a careful education, both traditional and "Western", learning to speak English and to play piano and being initiated into the arts such as painting, cooking and kōdō. She has an older brother Iwao, a younger brother Osamu, and a younger sister Emiko.[2] She is the niece of several academics, including Kenjirō Shōda, a mathematician who was the president of the University of Osaka from 1954 until 1960.[3]

Shōda attended Futaba Elementary School in Kōjimachi, a neighborhood in Chiyoda, Tokyo, but was required to leave in her fourth grade year because of the American bombings during World War II. She was then successively educated in the prefectures of Kanagawa (in the town of Katase, now part of the city of Fujisawa), Gunma (in Tatebayashi, home town of the Shōda family), and Nagano (in the town of Karuizawa, where Shōda had a second resort home). She returned to Tokyo in 1946 and completed her elementary education in Futaba and then attended the Sacred Heart School for Junior High School and High School in Minato, Tokyo. She graduated from high school in 1953.

In 1957, she graduated summa cum laude from the Faculty of Literature at the University of the Sacred Heart (a Catholic university in Tokyo) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. She also took courses at Harvard and Oxford.[4]

Since she came from a particularly wealthy family, her parents were very selective about her suitors. There had been several contenders for her hand in marriage in the 1950s.[5] Biographers of the writer Yukio Mishima, including Henry Scott Stokes, report that Mishima had considered marrying Michiko Shōda, and that he was introduced to her for that purpose some time in the 1950s.[6]

References Edit

  1. Government panel outlines proposals on Emperor's abdication, titles. The Japan Times
  2. Michiko Shoda and Her Family. Corbis Images
  3. History. University of Osaka
  4. The commoners who married royalty. BBC
  5. JAPAN: The Girl from Outside. TIME
  6. Briton let author commit hara-kiri. Sunday Times
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