National

IMPERIAL FAMILY IN MOURNING

Funeral of prince held at Tokyo cemetery

A funeral service for Prince Takamado, who died on Nov. 21, was held Friday at Toshimagaoka Cemetery in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward with members of the Imperial family and the political world, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in attendance.

The funeral, a Shinto memorial service known as “Renso-no-gi,” began in the morning with the offering of fruit and other food as well as clothing, followed by a eulogy for the prince, who died of heart failure at age 47 after collapsing while playing squash at the Canadian Embassy.

The late prince’s wife, Princess Hisako, their three daughters, and Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako were among those who paid their respects at the prince’s altar.

In accordance with tradition, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko did not attend the funeral. They were represented by the grand chamberlain to the emperor and the vice-grand chamberlain.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the couple viewed the proceedings on television at the Imperial Palace.

Prince Takamado, a first cousin to the Emperor, ranked seventh in line to the Chrysanthemum throne. He is survived by Princess Hisako, 49, and his daughters, Tsuguko, 16, Noriko, 14, and Ayako, 12.

A hearse carrying the prince’s body left his residence in Tokyo’s Moto-Akasaka district a little after 9 a.m. and drove to the cemetery in a motorcade.

On the way to the cemetery, the hearse passed by the Japan Foundation in Minato Ward, where Prince Takamado worked part time, a concert hall in Chiyoda Ward, where the music-loving prince often attended concerts, and the Imperial Palace.

The Shinto rite began at 10 a.m., with priests making offerings and one giving the eulogy. Members of the Imperial family then paid their respects. Some 800 people attended the service.

Members of the public later paid their respects at the cemetery.

The prince’s body was cremated in Shinjuku Ward and his ashes were placed inside a stone chamber at the cemetery later in the day, the Imperial Household Agency said.

The government has allocated 190 million yen for the funeral and other related services as well as for the construction of a tomb for the prince.

Although funeral services at the Imperial Household are religious in nature, they are financed by the state because of the public roles members of the Imperial family play, according to the government. The Constitution calls for the separation of religion and state.

Prince Takamado suffered a heart attack and collapsed shortly before 4 p.m. on Nov. 21 while taking a squash lesson with Canadian Ambassador Robert Wright at the embassy’s sports facility. He was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. the same day at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo.

Prince Takamado was born on Dec. 29, 1954, the third and youngest son of Prince Mikasa, 86, who is a brother of the late Emperor Hirohito, posthumously named Emperor Showa.

After graduating from Gakushuin University in 1978, Prince Takamado studied at Queen’s University in Canada. He began working with the Japan Foundation in 1981. The prince married Hisako Tottori in 1984.

The prince, a sports enthusiast, was honorary chairman of the Japan Football Association and the Japan Squash Association as well as other sporting organizations. He was also devoted to music, played the cello and frequently attended musical events.