The Yamashinanomiya Family (山階宮)

The Yamashinanomiya family was the Imperial family, created by Imperial Prince Yamashinanomiya Akira, the son of Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Kuniie, at the end the Edo period.

Imperial Prince Yamashinanomiya Akira was born in 1816. His childhood name was Kiyoyasu. In the following year, he inherited Kanshu-ji temple, a monzeki temple (a temple where the doctrines of the founder of the sect had been handed down) in Yamashina, Kyoto. He became a priest in 1810 and was called priestly Imperial Prince Saihan. In 1864, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA and others asked the Emperor Komei for his secularization. Akira again became a Imperial Prince and received the reigning name of Yamashinanomiya. The reigning name was associated with the geographical name, Yamashina.

The first family head, Imperial Prince Akira had a political career as a kokuji goyogakari (a general official of the Imperial Household in charge of State affairs) at the end of Edo period, and after the Meiji Restoration, he took important posts, such as gijo (official post) and ministerial governor of foreign affairs. While many Imperial Family members became military officers following after the European royal families, he remained a civil officer. He died at the age of 83 in February, 1870.

The second family head was Prince Yamashinanomiya Kikumaro, a son of Imperial Prince Akira. Although he became Imperial Prince Nashimotonomiya Moriosa's adopted heir, he returned to the Yamashinanomiya as a koshi (successor) of Imperial Prince Akira in 1885. He joined Imperial Japanese Navy and was promoted to colonel. He also devoted himself to meteorology research, and founded the meteorological observing station on Mt. Tsukuba at his own expense. He died at the age of 36 in 1908.

The 3rd family head, Prince Yamashinanomiya Takehiko was born in 1898. He joined the navy, succeeding his father, and became a navy major. Since he joined the Kaigun Kokutai (Naval Air Groups) and flew over Tokyo, he was known as "the prince in the sky." He married Princess Sakiko, a daughter of Prince Kayanomiya Kuninori, but his family villa in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Unfortunately, Princess Sakiko was staying at the villa and was crushed to death together with her unborn child. Because of Princess Sakiko's death, Prince Takehiko suffered from mental illness, and he was placed in reserve duty in 1932. After the secession from the Imperial Family, he declared himself Mr. Yamashina, however, he was repeatedly hospitalized and passed away in a hospital in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture in August, 1987.

Prince Kikumaro's second son, Prince Yoshimaro was renamed Marquis Yoshimaro YAMASHINA when he became a subject of the state in 1920. He was an ornithologist with a Doctorate of Science, graduating from science department of Tokyo Imperial University. He founded the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, became the director, and was known as an authority on Japanese bird research.

Prince Kikumaro's third son, Fujimaro was renamed Marquis Fujimaro TSUKUBA when he became a subject of the state. He became a chief priest of Yasukuni-jinja Shrine after graduating from history department of Tokyo Imperial University. He founded the Tsukuba History Laboratory at his residence in Yoyogi, Tokyo and published 'The Society of Japanese Historical Research,' which collected the indexes of literature on Japanese history. Fujimaro's eldest son, Tsuneharu TSUKUBA, was a professor of Waseda University. His second son Tsunehide TSUKUBA became a priest with homyo (a name given to a person who enters the Buddhist priesthood) of Johen and became the monzeki (successor of a temple) of Kanshu-ji temple, which is connected to the Yamashinanomiya.

Prince Kikumaro's fourth son Hagimaro became Marquis Hagimaro KASHIMA, and his fifth son Shigemaro became Marquis Shigemaro KATSURAGI.