Princess Tomohito of Mikasa

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Princess Tomohito of Mikasa
Princess Nobuko (cropped).jpg
Nobuko in June 2017
BornNobuko Asō (麻生信子)
(1955-04-09) 9 April 1955 (age 64)
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Prince Tomohito of Mikasa
(m. 1980; died 2012)
HouseImperial House of Japan (by marriage)
FatherTakakichi Asō
MotherKazuko Yoshida

Princess Tomohito of Mikasa (寛仁親王妃信子, Tomohito Shinnōhi Nobuko) (born Nobuko Asō (麻生信子, Asō Nobuko); 9 April 1955) is a member of the Japanese Imperial Family as the widow of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa. She is also known as Princess Nobuko.[1]

Background and education[edit]

Nobuko, a Roman Catholic, was born on 9 April 1955 in Tokyo. She is the third daughter and youngest child of Takakichi Asō (麻生太賀吉, Asō Takakichi, 1911–1980), the chairman of the Aso Company (best known originally for its activities in the development of coal mines and metallurgy, but today mainly specializing in cement making, as well as being in the medical, environmental and real estate business) and a member of the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. He was also a close associate of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. Her mother, Kazuko Yoshida (吉田和子, Yoshida Kazuko, 1915–1996), was the daughter of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Her elder brother is the former Prime Minister and current Deputy Prime Minister Tarō Asō.

Through her paternal grandmother, she descends from a younger branch of the feudal Ichinomiya clan. She is the great-granddaughter of the diplomat Count Nobuaki Makino (牧野伸顕, Makino Nobuaki, 1861–1949) and the great-great-granddaughter of the samurai Ōkubo Toshimichi, famous for having been the cause of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.

She studied in England and graduated from Rosslyn House College in 1973. After returning to Japan, she taught English in Shoto kindergarten in Tokyo which she herself founded in the district of Shibuya.

Marriage and children[edit]

It was in the UK when she met her future husband, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, himself a student at Oxford University. His first marriage proposal was rejected in 1973 because of Nobuko's young age. The Imperial Household Council announced the engagement of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa and Nobuko Asō on 18 April 1980 and the engagement ceremony was held on 21 May 1980. The wedding ceremony took place on 7 November 1980 and she became Princess Tomohito of Mikasa. As tradition dictates, upon her entry into the imperial family and like other members, she received a personal emblem (o-shirushi (お印)): the flower of prunus persica (hanamomo (花桃)). Born a Roman Catholic, she is not the first Christian to enter the imperial family (Empress Michiko also comes from a Catholic family and was raised in Christian religious institutions), but she is the first to be baptized.

The couple had two daughters:

  • Princess Akiko (彬子女王, Akiko Joō, born 20 December 1981 in Tokyo)
  • Princess Yōko (瑶子女王, Yōko Joō, born 25 October 1983 at Japanese Red Cross Medical Center in Tokyo)

The family lived in a compound within the Akasaka Estate complex, in Akasaka Minato, Tokyo. In October 2009, she separated her residence from her husband and children.[2]


The Princess became a widow on 6 June 2012, upon the death of her husband. In June 2013 in a statement about the Prince's household, it was announced by the Imperial Household Agency that "it [had] reduced the number of households in the Imperial family by one", integrating it into the household led by his father.[2] According to the agency's officials the household integration won't have any effect on the lives of the widow and daughters of Prince Tomohito.[2]

Official duties[edit]

The Princess accompanied her husband on various missions abroad to charity and welfare events, especially those concerning health issues. She is engaged in various welfare organisations and holds positions as president and vice-president.

In 1990, the Prince and Princess visited Turkey to attended the celebrations held for the 100th year of relations between Japan and Turkey.[3] In December 1992, the couple visited the cancer ward at New York Medical College. In May 1994, they went to Hawaii mainly to attend a charity dinner held for the reconstruction of Kuakini Hospital. In February 1994, the Prince and Princess went on a trip to Norway to attend the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.[3] In July 1994, Nobuko visited Australia on her own to support the Sydney Royal Research Institute for those with visual and listening disabilities.[3] In April 1998, Tomohito and Nobuko travelled to Turkey to attend the opening ceremony of the Turkey-Japan Foundation Cultural Centre.[3] In July 2003, the Princess in her capacity as Honorary President of the Japan Rose Society, visited Glasgow, United Kingdom, to attend the World Rose Convention.[3]

On 1 November 2013, Princess Tomohito of Mikasa visited Fukushima Prefecture and met with the people affected by the earthquake which occurred on 11 March 2011. The Princess hadn't performed any official duty since January 2006 because of a stroke and her asthma and it was her first official appearance in seven years.[4] During her illness, she went to Fukushima City several times for treatment.[4] Since then, she has returned to public life.[5][6][7] In October 2014, the Princess attended her first banquet at the Imperial Palace since 2003 to welcome King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.[8] In January 2015, she attended the New Year’s Celebrations, the New Year’s Greeting, the New Year’s Lectures and the Poetry Reading for the first time since 2006, 1996 and 1999 respectively.[9][10][11][12] In May 2015, in her capacity as honorary vice-president of the Japanese Red Cross Society, she attended their annual convention.[13] In April 2016, the Princess represented the Imperial Family by attending a formal dinner at the British ambassador’s residence for the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.[14]

Other interests[edit]

Princess Tomohito is usually presented by her family as an excellent chef, and has published two books of recipes titled:

  • Published in May 1992: Home cooking of the four seasons – 80 species of side dishes (四季の家庭料理―お惣菜80種, Shiki no katei ryōri ― ozōsai 80-shu). Kōbunsha Publishing Co., Ltd. (ISBN 4334780075)
  • Published in October 2013: The home cooking is always ahead of memories (思い出の先にはいつも家庭料理, Omoide no sakini wa itsumo katei ryōri). Magazine House (ISBN 4838726201)

The second book features recipes and ingredients of Fukushima Prefecture.[4]


Princess Tomohito suffered a transient ischemic attack in May 2004, which forced her to withdraw for a while to the villa of Sōma in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, for medical treatment and rest. In 2008, she also suffered from asthma and was hospitalized. She went to her hometown for medical care and then came back to Tokyo.

Titles and styles[edit]

Since her marriage, Nobuko is styled as Her Imperial Highness Princess Tomohito of Mikasa.


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Honorary Positions[edit]

  • President of the Tokyo Jikeikai.
  • Honorary President of the Japan Rose Society.
  • Honorary Vice-President of the Japanese Red Cross Society.


Name Birth Marriage Issue
Princess Akiko of Mikasa 20 December 1981
Princess Yōko of Mikasa 25 October 1983


Princess Tomohito is a paternal descendant of the Asō clan and is maternally descended from Ōkubo Toshimichi through his son Count Makino Nobuaki. Through her paternal grandmother the Hon. Kanō Natsuko, she is descended from the Tachibana clan of the Miike Domain and from a cadet branch of the Ōkubo clan, who ruled the Odawara Domain.[16] Through her link to the Ōkubo clan, she is an eighth cousin of her late husband and of the present Emperor; all three are seven-times-great-grandchildren of the sixth lord of Hirado, Matsura Atsunobu (1684–1757).[17] They are also tenth cousins by virtue of their descent from Seikanji Hirofusa (1633–1686), a senior palace courtier who held the rank of dainagon in the late-17th century.[18]


  1. ^ "Princess Nobuko turns 60". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com.
  2. ^ a b c "Prince's 2012 passing reduces Imperial household families by one". Japan Times. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Activities of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Mikasa and their family". kunaicho.go.jp. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Princess Nobuko Came Back". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  5. ^ "Graduation Ceremony of Jikei nursing school". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  6. ^ "International Roses & Gardening Show". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  7. ^ "Aichi Visit of Princess Nobuko". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  8. ^ "Banquet for King and Queen of the Netherlands". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  9. ^ "New Year's Celebration". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  10. ^ "New Year's Greeting". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  11. ^ "Imperial New Year's Lectures". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  12. ^ "New Year's Poetry Reading". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  13. ^ "Annual Convention of Japanese Red Cross Society". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
  14. ^ "Celebrating Queen's Birthday". imperialfamilyjapan.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  15. ^ a b , Nobuko wearing Red Cross Medals
  16. ^ "高木氏 (Kanō genealogy)". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  17. ^ "松浦氏 (Matsura genealogy)". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  18. ^ "高木氏 (Seikanji genealogy)". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 1 September 2017.

External links[edit]