Kan in no Miya (閑院宮)

The Kan in no Miya was one of the four hereditary Imperial families, and it was a Miyake (house of an imperial prince) which was founded by Emperor Higashiyama's Prince, Kan in no Miya Imperial Prince Naohito during middle of the Edo period.

Although there is no historical proof, it is said the Miya go title of Kanin no Miya came from Heian period Emperor Seiwa's Prince, Imperial Prince Sadamoto, named Kan in.

Due to the second Kan in no Miya Imperial Prince, Prince Naohito's Prince, Emperor Kokaku's succession to the throne after the death of Emperor Gomomozono, the current Imperial family has the Kan in no Miya line.

The establishment

It was taken for granted that an Imperial Prince who would not succeed to the throne would take over the hereditary Imperial family, or enter into the priesthood to become a cloistered emperor. However, in 1654, since Emperor Gokomyo died when he was just twenty two years old, most of the Imperial male relatives of the Emperor had gone into the priesthood, so, who would succeed to the throne became a complicated issue. At the time, there was no precedent where an Imperial member entered priesthood and then returned to a secular life to become enthroned as emperor, Emperor Gomizunoo, who used to rule the cloistered government, tried to have his nineteenth Prince, Ade no Miya (the later Emperor Reigen) succeed the throne, however the Prince Ade no Miya had just been born, so, it was decided that Imperial Prince Nagahito who belonged to the Arisugawa no Miya, one of the four hereditary Imperial families, would temporarily succeed the throne and be named Emperor Gosai until Ade no Miya was old enough to become Emperor. After experiencing such difficulties, Hakuseki ARAI, who was concerned about the discontinuity of the Imperial line, suggested to the Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), Ienobu TOKUGAWA, that there was a need to establish a new subsidiary Miyake to support the Imperial family, after considering the fact that in the Shogun family, there are three branch families of the Tokugawa House.

Emperor Higashiyama had a similar concern, he asked for financial support to establish a new Miyake for his own child, Hide no Miya (Imperial Prince Naohito), through the Chancellor Motohiro KONOE, who was Ienobu's father in law. Due to the above, on September 4, 1710, the new Miyake was decided to appoint Imperial Prince Naohito as the founder, eight years later, the Cloistered Emperor Reigen (Emperor Higashiyama's father, Emperor Higashiyama himself died in 1709) gave the title Miya go and the feudal estate of one thousand koku to Imperial Prince Naohito. Thus, the new Miyake was established, and it was the first time since Arisugawa no Miya (Takamatsu no Miya) was established in 1625. The location of the land given to built their mansion was on the south west side of the Kyoto Imperial Garden. The former Kan in no Miya palace, recently refurbished, is the only palace (Miyake) belonging to a prince still in its original location as it was during the Edo period and is kept in it's old original style.

There was a theory that the Cloistered Emperor Reigen was against establishing a new Miyake, and he was not in favor of the Miyake when it was requested while he was in power as an Emperor, he was frustrated that it had been approved at the request of Emperor Higashiyama, while he supported the shogunate government and not when he was in power.

The successive family head
Hakuseki ARAI's keen insight was helpful while the Second Kan in no Miya, Imperial Prince Sukehito was in power. When Emperor Gomomozono died, he only had a Princess who was born in the year he died. After that, Imperial Prince Sukehito's sixth Prince, Sachi no Miya, succeeded to the throne as Emperor Kokaku. Incidentally, Emperor Kokaku's Empress was Imperial Princess Kinshi (Yoshiko) who was Emperor Gomomozono's princess.
Emperor Kokaku intended to give the title, "Retired Emperor" to his father, Imperial Prince Sukehito, however, Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA, Senior Councillor (of the TOKUGAWA Shogunate) was against it, and also, did not give his approval when Shogun, Ienari TOKUGAWA tried to give the title, Ogosho (respective title for someone who is a retired Shogun, especially applies to Ieyasu and Ienari Tokugawa) to his father, Harusada HITOTSUBASHI, this caused tension between the Shogunate government and the Imperial Palace. (The "honorific title" Incident)
Consequently, Chancellor Sukehira TAKATSUKASA worked to improve the situation by persuading both the Emperor and Sadanobu during this incident, he was the youngest child of the first Imperial Prince Naohito and also the younger brother of Imperial Prince Sukehito. Imperial Prince Sukehito had disciples of Waka (Japanese poem), and many court nobles participated in tanka circles within Emperor Kokaku's Imperial Palace. The first on the list of the Emperor's disciples was Mochitoyo SHIBAYAMA, he was a supporter of Norinaga MOTOORI, and Norinaga had relationship with the court nobles due to this background. Norinaga was ordered to write some waka poems by Prince Sukehito's Prince, Myohoin no Miya monk-Imperial Prince.

Imperial Prince Masahito was known to support Okyo MARUYAMA and Goshun, and he associated with a various private poets.

The succession of the family was continued after Prince Sukehito; the third Kan in no Miya Imperial Prince Haruhito, the fourth Kan in no Miya Imperial Prince Takahito, the fifth Kan in no Miya Imperial Prince Naruhito, however the Prince Naruhito died young, when he was twenty five years old. Since there was no one to succeed the family, Yoshiko TAKATSUKASA, Imperial Prince Takahito's Empress, (Imperial Prince Naruhito's birth mother), was decided to become the head of the family. In the Meiji period Kan in no Miya Imperial Prince Kotohito (the Prince of Fushimi no Miya Prince Kuniie), joined the family.

In 1871 Imperial Prince Kotohito, who succeeded to Kan in no Miya, went to France to study. He returned to Japan after graduating from Saint-Cyr Military Academy, the cavalry school, the Military Staff College. He married Sanetomi SANJO's second daughter, Chieko in 1891. After that, he worked for the General Staff Main Office, he became a brigade officer in the cavalry division. He worked as a military officer assigned to the Manchurian headquarters during the Russo-Japanese War. He became Full General in 1912 and received the honor of marshal in 1919. He was Chief of the Armed Forces from 1931 to 1940. He died in May 1945 when he was eighty one years old. A state funeral was held for him. He was an exceptionally handsome man.

The seventh Kan in no Miya Prince Haruhito was born as the second Prince of Imperial Prince Kotohito in 1902. He married to Prince Saneteru ICHIJO's daughter, Naoko ICHIJO. After that he taught military science at the Military Staff College and after World War II, as a Major General, he insisted on continuing the war. During a discussion about secession from the Imperial Family, he took a firm stand against it, because he thought it would take security away from the Family, however he renounced his membership in the Imperial Family in 1947. He was named Kan in family and then later renamed Sumihito. His new life after the War was up and down with scandal, and although he was a successful businessman, he divorced his wife Naoko. His sister, Princess Hanako married a former Marquis Hironobu KACHO, who was from the Imperial family, but divorced him after having an outside love affair. Sumihito was furious about the incident, and he disowned Princess Hanako. He died in June 1988 when he was eighty five years old.

Since Sumihito did not have any children or adopted children, the Kan in no Miya family died out.

The former Kan in no Miya mansion

This is the only place remaining in completely the same style as a court noble's house (Edo period), and it is currently located within the Kyoto Imperial Garden in Kyoto City. This is a rare palace, that reveals how Miyake lived during the Edo period.

The palace was recently refurbished and is open to the public.

However only two thirds of the pond in the garden was restored, the other one third is still underground. Scholars and city residents strongly request that the garden be fully restored in the near future.