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Imperial Graves at the Kuni-no-Miya Kaya-no Miya Cemetery.

Not far from the Sennyu-ji Temple in Kyoto is an Imperial graveyard called the Kuni-no-Miya, Kaya-no-Miya Cemetery. The Kuni-no-Miya and Kaya-no-Miya were branches of the Japanese Imperial Family. The ōke (branch houses) were stripped of their titles as members of the Imperial Family by the American Occupation Authorities in October 1947. There are tombs here belonging to the two Imperial Households on both the east and west sides as well as other Imperial family tombs. It is a spacious are with few tombs, though the actual tombs are gated off, with a pathway running through the middle. To the east side of the pathway, beyond the gate, in a row are three tombs marked by stone torii gates. The tombs are of Prince Nashimoto Moriosa, Prince Kuni Asahiko, and Princess Sumiko.

Born 9th March 1874, Prince Nashimoto Morimasa (pictured below) was a field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army and the only member of the Imperial Family arrested for war crimes at the end of the second world war. Receiving some of his military training in France between 1903 and 1909, Nashimoto Morimasa served in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905.

His military rank of Field Marshall was more of an honorific, and he retired in 1944 aged 70 without serving in the Pacific and WWII wars. His arrest as a Class A war criminal was ordered by General MacArthur of the US forces on the charge of supporting State Shintoism. His arrest though was seen more of a hostage bargaining tool to enforce the compliance of Emperor Hirohito. The prince was imprisoned for four months in Sugamo Prison, Tokyo before being released without charge. His Tokyo residence had been destroyed during US bombing raids and he was forced to sell his country villa to pay taxes after having his royal status taken away in 1947. He is said to have lived in poverty during his final years before dying of a heart attack aged 76 in 1951.

Prince Kuni Asahiko (pictured below), the father of Prince Nashimoto Morimasa, was born in Kyoto 27th February 1824 and died aged 67 on 25th October 1891. The prince spent a good part of his life as a Buddhist priest, but in 1862 returned to secular status in Kyoto as an advisor to the Emperor Komei.

After the Meiji restoration Asahiko was exiled to Hiroshima on the charge of plotting to overthrow the new government but was pardoned by Emperor Meiji in 1872. He is the Great Great Grandfather of the current Emperor Naruhito.

Princess Sumiko, was born on 22nd February 1829 and died 3rd October 1881. The daughter of Emperor Ninko, the 120th Emperor of Japan who reigned from 1817 to 1846, she was the elder sister of the 121st emperor, Emperor Komei. From 1863 to 1881 she was the head of the Katsura-no-Miya Imperial House. The Katsura-no-Miya house was a branch of the Imperial Family that were eligible to succeed to the throne in the event that the main line should die out. There is though a tragic story to Princess Sumiko’s life. In 1840 she became engaged to her cousin, Prince Kan’in Naruhito. On 18th October 1842, aged 13 she officially became a princess, two days later though Prince Naruhito died, he was 24 at the time. Princess Sumiko lived out her life unmarried. With no-one to succeed her, the Katsura no Miya house discontinue dafter her death.

To the west side is the main Kuni-no-Miya Kaya-no-Miya Cemetery. Buried here are Prince Kaya Kuninori (1867-1909) (the son of Kuni Asahiko, see above), his wife Yoshiko (d. 1941), Princess Kuni Hatsuko (1911-1915), Prince Kuni Yoshihiko (1912-1918), Princess Kuni Kouko (1913-1918), Prince Kuni Taka (1875-1937) (the son of Kuni Asahiko, see above), and his wife Shizuko (d. 1959).

Prince Kuninori didn't take up a military post and instead took the post of Supreme Priest of Ise Shrine. Prince Kuni Taka took over this post after the death of Prince Kaya Kuninori.

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