Emperor Akihito’s uncle Prince Mikasa, who died of heart failure Thursday at the age of 100, spent the last years of his life peacefully at his residence in Tokyo, taking strolls and enjoying his daily studies and exercise.
The prince, before he became wheelchair-bound in recent years, often took walks with his wife, Princess Yuriko, 93, in the Akasaka Imperial Grounds and enjoyed sunbathing in his garden on sunny days, according to palace staff and others who knew him.
He would wake up at 4 a.m. every morning, listen to a foreign-language learning program on the radio and exercise for about 30 minutes.
An avid reader of newspapers, Prince Mikasa also enjoyed watching sumo wrestling and popular music shows on TV. He abstained from eating meat.
Palace staff and others say the prince, who appeared hale, was always supporting Princess Yuriko, who needs a stick to walk.
Prince Mikasa would leave his residence about once a week to attend birthday ceremonies for Imperial family members, or to have his hair cut.
As a researcher, the prince pursued his academic interests and devoted himself to the study of ancient Oriental history at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Tokyo.
Later, he taught at such universities as Tokyo Woman’s Christian University and the Tokyo University of the Arts.
The prince made many appearances on radio and television cultural programs and was affectionately called the “Imperial scholar.”
He survived his three sons, Princes Takamado, Tomohito and Katsura, who died in 2002, 2012 and 2014, respectively.
When his granddaughter Princess Noriko, the second daughter of Prince Takamado, married in October 2014, Prince Mikasa attended her wedding party in Tokyo..
During his hospitalization in an intensive-care unit at St. Luke’s International Hospital, Princess Yuriko frequently visited him along with other Imperial family members.
Although his health was up and down during his hospitalization, the prince responded to visitors, according to a person familiar with his condition. In June, the Emperor and Empress Michiko also visited him there.
The Imperial Household Agency said it will consider the date and venue of the funeral for the prince, adding that the Imperial family will go into mourning for seven to 90 days beginning Thursday.
The agency also said this year’s autumn garden party hosted by the Emperor and Empress will be canceled.