Jun 5, 1910 - Oct 14, 2010

Lady Ayako Tachibana

Tachibana Museum

At the beginning of the 20th century, from Meiji through Taisho, Showa and to Heisei, the period when Japan underwent a social upheaval, there was a lady born to a Count family who cheerfully pulled through the ages with a motto in her mind "Don't worry, things will work out". Her name is Lady Ayako Tachibana, and here is her story.

the birth, the roots of Ayako
Ayako Tachibana was born as the second daughter of Count Tachibana in 1910 (Meiji 43). Her father was the 15th lord, Akinori Tachibana, and her mother Tsuyako was the daughter of the 9th lord of Tayasu-Tokugawa, Satotaka. The name Ayako is made from a combination of sounds from her parents' names, 'A' from her father's name 'A-kinori', and 'ya' from her mother's name 'Tsu-YA-ko'. The Tachibana family is the decendant of a warlord family dating back to 16th century, and was the fuedal clan of Yanagawa city during the Edo period.

Her father Akinori is the first son of the 14th lord, Tomoharu. Her mother Tsuyako was the third daughter of the 9th lord of the Tayasu-Tokugawa, Satotaka. They were married in 1908 (Meiji 41). Akinori 24 and Tsuyako 17.

Her paternal grandfather, Tomoharu Tachibana. Count, and the 14th lord of the Tachibana. Tomoharu studied agriculture, and put his funds to found the agricultural experiment station in Yanagawa, made great contribution to development of agriculture in the Chikugo area.

Her paternal grandmother, Eiko Tachibana. She was the daughter of Tadatoshi Sakai, the former feudal lord of Himeji han (fief). Akinori's mother by blood Kouko was the daughter of Yukishige Aoyama, the lord of former Gujo han (fief). Eiko is Akinori's step-mother.

Ayako's maternal grandfather, Satotaka Tokugawa. Count, and the 9th lord of the Tayasu-Tokugawa. His elder brother Iesato Tokugawa was the 16th lord of the Tokugawa family.

Ayako's maternal grandmother, Tomoko Tokugawa. The daughter of Tadayoshi Shimazu, the former feudal lord of Satsuma han (fief). Tsuyako's mother by blood Kyoko was the daughter of Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the 15th lord of the Tokugawa family. Tomoko is Tsuyako's step-mother.

Childhood
After the early death of her elder sister Atsuko, Ayako becomes the heiress to the Tachibana family. A daughter of a count family would have been taught tea ceremony and flower arrangement, but Ayako's education was more focused on developing healthy body. She enjoyed tennis and skiing, and became an active girl going hunting with her father.

Ayako at 6, with her grandmother Eiko and her mother Tsuyako.

Ayako at 7.

At Seiyokan Annex (Western style building) in the Tachibana residence in Yanagawa.

Ayako at 15 with her father Akinori.

Ayako learnt skiing from her cousin in her early teens, and often enjoyed skiing.

Her father loved hunting and she would often accompany him into the mountains. In winter, she went duck hunting in the Ariake Sea.

Ayako started tennis at 10, and devoted a lot of her time practicing. Her father Akinori built an all-weather tennis court in their garden for Ayako's 20th birthday.

In 1933 (Showa 8), Ayako, with her partner Mikiko Hayashi, became the champion of the women's doubles at All Japan Women's Tennis Tournament.

Marriage
In 1935 (Showa 10), Ayako married Kazuo Shimamura, the second son of Hayao Shimamura, a Japanese Navy fleet admiral. Kazuo married into the Tachibana family, and he was working for the Imperial Forestry Bureau.

The boy on the left is Kazuo. His family, the Shimamura, was a samurai family of Kouchi. His father Hayao and his mother Sugao had 7 children, and Kazuo was the second son. His father Hayao was a fleet admiral of Japanese Navy, who made great achievements in the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. When Kazuo was born, Hayao was attending the Second Hague Conference (1907). Hayao's brother took one letter 和(kazu) from the word 平和 (peace), and one letter 雄(o) from Hayao's name 速雄, and named the boy Kazuo(和雄).

The wedding of Ayako and Kazuo was held on April 11th 1935 (Showa 10) at Daijingu Shrine at Iidabashi. The go-between was Duke and Duchess Iesato Tokugawa, the 16th lord of the Tokugawa family. Iesato is Ayako's great uncle. Kazuo was 27, and Ayako was 24. The wedding reception was held at Tokyo Kaikan, inviting many guests.

After the wedding reception in Tokyo, another was held at the hometown, Yanagawa. Along the 8 kilometer drive on their private car Hudson from Yabegawa Station to the Tachibana residence, the couple was welcomed by many people. They paid their visit to the Tachibana family shrine Mihashira Jinja, and had a reception with the relatives. The following day, there was a reception on the tennis court of the residence inviting the local guests. And on the third day they were invited to a welcome party hosted by the towns of the fomer Yanagawa feud.

Movie of the reception at Yanagawa, taken by Michiyoshi Tomiyasu, the chief post officer of Kyomachi in Yanagawa.

During their stay in Yanagawa, they enjoyed gathering shellfish at the Tachibana family's private mudflat at the mouth of Okinnohata River.

Honeymoon years
Kazuo worked for the Imperial Forestry Bureau, and the newly-weds started their life in Nagoya. Due to Kazuo's work, they moved to Hokkaido and then to Kiso. They had 6 children, Muneaki is the first son, and all together 3 sons and 3 daughters.

The first house they lived in was a rented house in Nagoya. From their window, they could see the cherry blossom bloom in spring in the garden of Higashi Shirakabe Primary School.

Most of the girls from a noble family married into a family with servants, but Ayako did not have a servant and did all the housework - cleaning, laundry, cooking and shopping - all by herself.

Kazuo was also a good skiier. He went to Hokkaido University because he wanted to ski. After their marriage, the couple enjoyed skiing in Kiso-Fukushima and Nagano.

In the summer of 1936 (Showa11), Kazuo's brothers and sisters and Ayako's cousins who lived in Tokyo came to stay with them. They enjoyed sight seeing and sea bathing in Nagoya, and then went to Fukuoka. They visited the Hakata Bay and the Tachibana farm in Yanagawa.

On 11th November, 1936 (Showa 11), (11-11-11) as a memory of a day that has three 11s in a row.

On December 25th 1937 (Showa 12), their first son Muneaki was born. At the time they were living in Shinshiro of Aichi prefecture due to Kazuo's work.

In autumn of 1938 (Showa 13), Kazuo was transferred to Tomakomai in Sapporo, Hokkaido. In Tomakomai, they lived in the government official residence. Shovelling snow was a daily work in winter. With the neighbours of the official residence they did farming and grew various vegitables.

To Yanagawa
After the war, Kazuo resigned from the Impeial Forestry Bureau, and with Ayako and their 4 children they went back to Yanagawa. Under the democratization policies, the Tachibana family were in difficul times from farmland reforms and property tax. They lost  a lot of estate, but to save the land and the properties handed down from their ancestors, Ayako and Kazuo embark on running a restaurant and a hotel using the residence of the Tachibana family. How the business ran will be on another chapter.

"Always remain calm in any situation" Ayako kept the words from her father and cheerfully survived through the difficulties.

tachibana history
Credits: Story

Tachibana Foundation TACHIBANA MUSEUM


curated by Takako Utsumi(TACHIBANA MUSEUM)

translated by Makiko Tachibana

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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