Empress Eishō

Empress Dowager Eishō (英照皇太后, Eishō-kōtaigō, 11 January 1835 – 11 January 1897) was the empress consort of Emperor Kōmei of Japan.[1] She is also known under the technically incorrect name Empress Eishō (英照皇后, Eishō-kōgō).

Asako Kujo.jpg
Empress consort of Japan
Tenure9 January 1849 – 30 January 1867
BornAsako Kujō (九条夙子)
(1835-01-11)11 January 1835
Heian-kyō, Japan
Died11 January 1897(1897-01-11) (aged 62)
Tokyo City, Japan
SpouseEmperor Kōmei
IssuePrincess Junko
Princess Fuki
FatherKujō Hisatada
MotherKarahashi Meiko
This image suggests a type of formal crown (hokan) which would have been worn by a Japanese Imperial consort (published c. 1840).

Early lifeEdit

As the daughter of Kujō Hisatada, who was a former kampaku, Kujō Asako could anticipate a life unfolding entirely within the ambit of the Imperial court; but she could not have anticipated the vast array of changes which the years would bring during her lifetime. At age 13, she was matched with Crown Prince Osahito.[2] Upon the death of Emperor Ninkō in 1846, Osahito, who succeeded him as Emperor Kōmei, named her Nyōgo, a consort position of high honor to which princesses of the blood were appointed after the time of Emperor Kammu.[3]


Asako had two daughters, who both died in infancy; but she became the official mother of Komei's heir, Crown Prince Mutsuhito, later Emperor Meiji. He developed a strong emotional attachment to her, which became especially important in the unsettled period after Emperor Kōmei died unexpectedly.[4]

Empress dowagerEdit

Soon after the death of Emperor Kōmei, his successor Emperor Meiji conferred upon her the title of Empress Dowager; and she was given a posthumous name to go with her new title. This was a highly unusual gesture; and she was afterward known as Empress Dowager Eishō (英照皇太后, Eishō kōtaigō). This specific posthumous name was taken from the title of a poem, "Purple Wisteria over a Deep Pool," by a T'ang dynasty poet; and it was deemed appropriate for a daughter of the Kujō family as part of the Fujiwara ("Wisteria Field") clan.[5] When the Meiji Imperial court relocated from Kyoto to Tokyo, she followed, living first in the Akasaka Palace and then in the Aoyama Palace.[4]

The empress dowager died in 1897 at age 62 and was buried at Senyū-ji, which is in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.[4] Her memory is officially honored at her husband's mausoleum in Kyoto, which is known as Nochi-no-tsukinowa no higashiyama no misasagi.[6]

Franz Eckert composed "Trauermarsch" ("Deep mourning" funeral march or "Kanashimi no kiwami") for the funeral of Empress Dowager Eishō.

Emperor Meiji and his wife could not attend the funeral, but they traveled to Kyoto to pay graveside respects in the spring after her death.[7]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1859). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 334-335.
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 334.
  3. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 302.
  4. ^ a b c Ponsonby-Fane, p. 335.
  5. ^ Keene, Donald. (2002). Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, p. 531.
  6. ^ Ponsonby-Frane, p. 423.
  7. ^ Keene, p. 532.
  8. ^ "Genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 2 July 2018.


Japanese royalty
Preceded by
Takatsukasa Yasuko
Empress consort of Japan
Succeeded by
Empress Shōken