On Nov. 3, 1852 one of the emperor's favorite concubines gave birth to Prince Mutsuhito, later known as the Meiji Emperor.

At 15 he inherited a collapsing empire. The last shogun resigned, and imperial power was restored by Satsuma and Choshu samurai, who remained hidden forces behind the young emperor. The following year, the new regime moved the imperial palace from one side of the country to the other in order to cut ties with the past and 600 years of shogun rule. This journey gave the emperor exposure to a population unaware, for the most part, that he even existed.

The emperor’s day began at 6am with breakfast then a visit with his wife, Princess Haruko, and family. He would see his doctors at 9am before meeting with advisors until lunchtime (often sushi, sashimi and green tea). He would return to his office until 6pm when dinner or evening invitations were scheduled.

At his death in 1912 the Meiji Emperor was interred in the Imperial Mausoleum in Kyoto, though his shrine is in Tokyo, where it can be visited today.

On Nov. 3, 1852 one of the emperor's favorite concubines gave birth to Prince Mutsuhito, later known as the Meiji Emperor.

At 15 he inherited a collapsing empire. The last shogun resigned, and imperial power was restored by Satsuma and Choshu samurai, who remained hidden forces behind the young emperor. The following year, the new regime moved the imperial palace from one side of the country to the other in order to cut ties with the past and 600 years of shogun rule. This journey gave the emperor exposure to a population unaware, for the most part, that he even existed.

The emperor’s day began at 6am with breakfast then a visit with his wife, Princess Haruko, and family. He would see his doctors at 9am before meeting with advisors until lunchtime (often sushi, sashimi and green tea). He would return to his office until 6pm when dinner or evening invitations were scheduled.

At his death in 1912 the Meiji Emperor was interred in the Imperial Mausoleum in Kyoto, though his shrine is in Tokyo, where it can be visited today.


© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.

The Meiji Emperor wearing a western style military uniform.

The Meiji Emperor wearing a western style military uniform.

Toyohara Chikanobu
Harold & Vera Mortimer-Lamb Purchase Fund
19th Century
JAPAN
AGGV 1993.041.002
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


The emperor and empress sit

The emperor and empress sit while a man reads from a document and others observe. Note the sculpture of a samurai and a bonsai tree on a table in the foreground and the garden in the background.

Utagawa Kokunimasa
Gift of Mr. Norman Christie
c. 1894
AGGV 1989.034.008
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


The emperor and government officials, led by the Imperial Guard, are off to view the completion of Hokuriku Road.

Emperor Meiji and government officials are leaving for northern Japan to view the completion of Hokuriku Road (Northern Highway of Japan) in horse carriages. The Imperial Guard leads the procession.

Toyohara Chikanobu
Gift of Lunds Auctioneers and Appraisers Ltd. Purchase Fund
c. 1878
JAPAN
AGGV 2004.034.001
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The following learning objectives have been created with considerable and specific reference to the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for various grades and subjects as outlined by the Ministry of Education for the province of British Columbia. The portions that directly reflect curricula language have been italicized. All applicable texts, websites, and other learning resources are listed in the bibliography under References.

• Students will learn about the restoration of the Emperor as a figurehead for the new government and analyze elements and characteristics that contribute to the identity of civilizations including the symbolic structures of power and authority.
• Students will learn some personal biographical information about the Emperor and view depictions of the Emperor in woodblock prints.
• Students will be introduced to the complexity of court life and the clans who advised the Emperor and again analyze the symbolic structures of power and authority as they contribute to the identity of civilizations.


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