Sadako (1885–1951)

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Sadako (1885–1951)

Empress of Japan. Name variations: Princess Sadako; Taisho empress. Born in 1885; died on May 17, 1951; daughter of Prince Kujo Michitaka; married Yoshihito Haru-no-miya (Emperor Taisho), emperor of Japan (r. 1912–1926), on May 10, 1900; children—four sons: Prince Michi (b. April 29, 1901, reigned as Emperor Hirohito, r. 1926–1989); Prince Yasuhito Chichibu (June 1902–1953, who married Chichibu Setsuko ); Prince Takamatsu (b. January 1905); Mikasa.

Empress Sadako was born in 1885, the daughter of Prince Kujo Michitaka and a member of the aristocratic Fujiwara clan that had provided royal brides for centuries. She married Yoshihito Haru-no-miya when he was crown prince of Japan in May 1900. Twelve years later, he would become emperor of Japan.

In 1901, Sadako's first son Prince Michi was born; he would later occupy the Japanese throne for 63 years as Emperor Hirohito. Following long-established custom, after 70 days the infant Michi was taken away from Sadako and entrusted to a foster parent, the 70-year-old vice-admiral Count Kawamura Sumiyoshi. When the count died, the child was returned to the baroque atmosphere of Akasaka Palace, a miniature replica of Versailles that was his parents' official residence. He and his brother Prince Chichibu rarely saw their unaffectionate father and were allowed only weekly visits to Sadako.

Emperor Yoshihito died on Christmas Day, 1926; Sadako lived on in seclusion in her palace in downtown Tokyo as the dowager empress until 1951. She is credited with helping her husband to encourage the inculcation of Western ideas.

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