Episode 461 – The Empty Throne, Part 4

This week: the life of the Meiji Emperor in the turbulent 1870s and 1880s. We’ll cover everything from the birth of his first surviving child to his drinking habits to his role in various political crises to the complicated process of shaping what a “modern” emperor’s role even was.



Keene, Donald. Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912. 

Gluck, Carol. Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period


A Chikanobu print from 1890 depicting a young Prince Yoshihito (the future Taisho Emperor) strolling through a park with the Emperor and Empress. Imagery like this was used to present Meiji as a relatable family man; in practice, he was not actually that present in the life of any of his children.
Meiji supervising army field exercises in 1909. Duties like this he seems to at least have enjoyed; there were many others he clearly did not.
A 1906 image depicting a visit by Duke Arthur of Connaught-Strathern to Japan. Images like this were a part of the construction of Meiji’s image as a symbol of the state–depicting a Westerner bowing to him, for example, was intended to send a message about the power and authority of the imperial govenrment.