Japan's Imperial Family

Compiled January 2004

Links verified June 2005

The Imperial Family
The Japan Zone Web site provides this informative overview of the Imperial Family covering "Origins and Early History," "Early Modern Period," "Post World War II," "The Emperor and Empress," and "The Crown Prince and Princess."

What role does the Emperor play in Japan today?
From the Japan Information Network's The Japan of Today. Offers a brief overview of the Emperor's role in national affairs as defined by the 1947 Constitution as well as an introduction to the Imperial Family.

The Imperial Household
From Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site. Find short press releases about the Imperial Family from the Imperial Household Agency on this page.

Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko

Japan prepares to allow women to inherit the throne
The Guardian / December 27, 2003

Japan Ponders the Unthinkable: a Female Monarch
The Times / London, March 3, 2003.

Princess Aiko Presented to Ancient Emperors
Japan Times, March 14, 2002.

Newborn Princess Given Name Aiko
Japan Times, December 8, 2001.

Japan's Latest Craze
Time Asia, December 2001. "A nation celebrates as a princess is born into a troubled land in search of hope, recovery-and an heir to the throne."


"The Imperial Succession," Japan Echo, February 1999
From Japan Echo, "a bimonthly journal of informed opinion on a wide range of topics of current interest within Japan." Shuji Takashina introduces several of the issues surrounding the extension of the right of imperial succession to women.

Behind the Chrysanthemum Curtain
Article by Gale Eisenstodt from The Atlantic Monthly Online, November 1998. "Japan's palace courtiers face big obstacles-in the form of tradition, politics, and their own code of behavior-as they struggle to create a modern role for the country's imperial family." Subscription required to view article.


Japan's Imperial Palace: Beyond the Moat
National Geographic has posted part of this January 2001 feature from the magazine on their Web site. Along with a short excerpt from the article, the page includes online-only photos taken from inside the Imperial Palace grounds, field notes from the photographer Sam Abell and author Robert M. Poole, and video clips of Abell discussing his experience inside the palace walls.

Ise Jingu
Home page for Ise Jingu, the Shinto shrine in Ise, Japan of Amaterasu Omikami, "ancestor of the Imperial Family and tutelary kami of the Japanese people," and Toyouke Omikami, the kami for agriculture and industry responsible for Amaterasu Omikami's food. Learn about Toyouke Omikami, Amaterasu Omikami and Japan's mythological origins, and the annual cycle of ceremonies at the shrine through the main site, or view "Manga: Ise Jingu," a Macromedia Flash cartoon/slide show explaining the history of Ise Jingu.

Teaching Resources

Traditional History: The Heian Period: 794-1185 A.D.
From Columbia University's East Asian Curriculum Project Contemporary Japan: A Teaching Workbook. This lesson plan introduces students to Japan's classical period and life at the Imperial Court. "The Court at Kyoto: Japan's Golden Age," a student reading, provides background to excerpts from Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. Background information on classical Japanese literature is provided for the teacher.

Meiji Japan in the Context of 19th Century Nationalism and Imperialism
From the Curriculum Outlines collection of The Japan Studies Leadership Program at the Five College Center for East Asian Studies Web site. This curriculum outline is for a five-day unit in a high school world history course.

Power and Politics in Modern Japan
From Columbia University's East Asian Curriculum Project Contemporary Japan: A Teaching Workbook. "An essay that gives a brief history of the structure of government in Japan. Emphasis is on the role of the emperor and the role of the Diet, Japan's legislative body." Discussion questions are also provided.

Meiji Constitution: The Constitution of the Empire of Japan (1889)
Full text from the Hanover Historical Texts Project at Hanover College.

The Constitution of Japan (1947)
Full text from the Hanover Historical Texts Project at Hanover College.