Hiro Saga – China’s only Japanese Princess (Part one)




hiro saga
(public domain)

Hiro Saga was the only Chinese princess from Japan. She was the second wife of Prince Pujie (Emperor Puyi’s younger brother and heir to the puppet state of Manchukuo). Their marriage was a political alliance between Japan and China. However, it turned into a happy marriage. The couple endured many hardships and were separated for sixteen years. Yet, their love only grew stronger. The romance between Princess Hiro Saga and Prince Pujie has become one of China’s most touching love stories.[1] Because Princess Hiro Saga was a legendary figure, I have decided to write two articles on her. This first article explores her relationship with her husband.

On 16 March 1914, Hiro Saga was born in Japan. She was the eldest daughter of the Marquis Saneto Saga. Her mother was Naomi Hamaguchi. She was a cousin of Emperor Hirohito.[2] Hiro Saga studied poetry and painting.[3] She graduated from a women’s college and has been taught by many famous teachers.[4] She also grew up learning etiquette.[5] She was said to have been intelligent and virtuous.[6] She grew up to be a suitable bride for a noble Japanese family.[7] Little did she know that she would marry into a Chinese royal family.

In 1936, the Japanese pressured Prince Pujie, Emperor Puyi’s brother, to marry a Japanese noblewoman.[8] Because Emperor Puyi had no children, Prince Pujie was the heir to the puppet state of Manchukuo.[9] The Japanese hoped that if Prince Pujie married a Japanese woman who would one day become the future Empress of Manchukuo, it would strengthen the ties between China and Japan.[10] As Prince Pujie looked through a series of photographs of Japanese noblewomen, his eyes finally rested upon Hiro Saga’s photograph.[11] Prince Pujie was a fan of an all-female drama troupe, and Hiro Saga looked like one of his favourite stars in the troupe.[12] Therefore, he chose Hiro Saga to be his wife.[13] The Japanese Kwantung Army immediately notified the bride.

Hiro Saga was about to attend a Kabuki performance with her family. Just before they left for the performance, a general of the Kwantung Army showed up at their door. He told the family that Hiro Saga would marry Prince Pujie. Her family adamantly opposed the match.[14] Hiro Saga’s grandmother wept and begged the general to choose another bride for Prince Pujie.[15] However, the general ignored their blatant objections.[16] In the end, the Sagas finally submitted to the army’s will.[17] After Hiro Saga agreed to be Prince Pujie’s wife, the Japanese Kwantung Army arranged for her to meet Prince Pujie. They fell in love at first sight.[18] 

On 3 April 1937, Hiro Saga married Prince Pujie in Tokyo. After the ceremony, the couple moved to Changchun to be with Emperor Puyi. Prince Pujie and Hiro Saga were very happy with each other.[19] Hiro Saga was known to have a gentle temperament, and she always made Prince Pujie’s interests her priority.[20] Princess Hiro Saga quickly became pregnant. When the Japanese Kwantung Army heard the news, they were very ecstatic.[21] They hoped that it would be a boy who would one day rule the puppet state of Manchukuo.[22] On 26 February 1938, Princess Hiro Saga gave birth to a girl. The Japanese Kwantung Army was very disappointed that it was a princess and not a prince.[23] However, Emperor Puyi was very happy with his niece.[24] He even named her Huisheng.[25] Princess Huisheng became Emperor Puyi’s favourite niece.[26]

The Japanese Kwantung Army was so angry that Princess Hiro Saga failed to give birth to a son.[27] In September 1938, they sent Prince Pujie and Princess Hiro Saga back to Japan.[28] A year later, Prince Pujie returned to Changchun. However, Princess Hiro Saga was pregnant and remained in Japan.[29] On 13 March 1940, Princess Hiro Saga gave birth to another daughter named Husheng, who would later be known as Kosei Fukunaga.

In 1941, Princess Hiro Saga returned to Changchun with her two daughters.[30] She took great care of her daughters’ education.[31] Because they were Manchukuo princesses, Princess Hiro Saga immersed her daughters in Chinese culture and language.[32] She even hoped that they would marry Chinese men in the future.[33] In 1943, Prince Pujie took his family to Tokyo to study military affairs in Japan.[34] In December 1944, Prince Pujie, Princess Hiro Saga, and Princess Husheng returned to Changchun. They left Princess Huisheng behind in the care of her aunt because she was already enrolled in a primary school in Japan.[35]

On 18 August 1945, the puppet state of Manchukuo collapsed. Prince Pujie was devastated and heartbroken that the Qing Dynasty was no more.[36] He wanted to commit suicide.[37] He took his gun and was about to shoot himself, but was stopped by Princess Hiro Saga.[38] Princess Hiro Saga reminded Prince Pujie of his duties as a husband and father.[39] Prince Pujie put the gun away and began making escape plans.[40] They fled with Emperor Puyi and the other imperial relatives to Dalizigou.[41] Then, Prince Pujie left his wife and daughter to escape with Emperor Puyi. Before Prince Pujie left, Princess Hiro Saga promised him that she would wait for him her whole life.[42] They would not see each other for sixteen years because Prince Pujie would be captured and imprisoned by the Soviet Union.[43]

Princess Hiro Saga, Princess Husheng, Empress Wanrong, and Imperial Concubine Li Yuqin (Emperor Puyi’s fourth wife) also tried to flee by going on a train to Korea. While they were en route, they were captured and imprisoned in Changchun. Imperial Concubine Li Yuqin was permitted to return home. However, Princess Hiro Saga and Princess Husheng went through a series of prisons until they were finally permitted to return to Japan in 1947.

Even though Princess Hiro Saga was forced to marry Prince Pujie, she eventually fell in love with him. She was very devoted to Prince Pujie. Because of her love for her husband, Princess Hiro Saga was labelled as a war criminal and would undergo much suffering. Eventually, she would be released and sent back to Japan. However, there would be more sorrows awaiting her in Japan. The next article will detail the separation between Princess Hiro Saga and Prince Pujie. It will also explore Princess Hiro Saga’s relationship with her daughters, in which one of them would have a tragic end.

Read part two here.

Sources:

Birnbaum, P. (2015). Manchu Princess: Japanese Spy: The Story of Kawashima Yoshiko, the Cross-Dressing Spy who Commanded Her Own Army (Asia Perspectives: History, Society, Culture). NY: Columbia University Press.

DayDayNews. (June 21, 2020). “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”. Retrieved on 29 November 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/history/amp/629191.html.

DayDayNews. (December 26, 2020).“The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?” Retrieved on 29 November 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/history/amp/962506.html.

iMedia. (n.d.). “Puyi’s younger brother, Pu Jie, married a Japanese wife. The elder brother’s strong opposition was unsuccessful. What happened to the two daughters?”. Retrieved on 29 November 2022 from https://min.news/en/history/911781be385237aa74a2e3b604b42be3.html.

iNews. (n.d.). “Aisin Gioro Huisheng: Once the “Prince of Manchukuo” that the Japanese hoped for, was shot to death by a suitor at the age of 19”. Retrieved on 29 November 2022 from https://inf.news/en/history/d51a413369e3f77140c7532af67766b7.html.

iNews. (n.d.). “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”. Retrieved on 29 November 2022 from https://inf.news/en/history/0240962fed838fc76ed94d741e719544.html.

iNews. (n.d). “The wandering princess Sagaho and Pu Jie have 50 years of love: Pu Jie was born on April 16, 1907”. Retrieved on 29 November 2022 from https://inf.news/en/history/19d6bc9b361f6d4c22bbca3a126f4907.html.


[1] iNewsn.d., “The wandering princess Sagaho and Pu Jie have 50 years of love: Pu Jie was born on April 16, 1907”

[2] Birnbaum, 2015

[3] iNews, n.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[4] iNewsn.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[5] iNews, n.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[6] iNews, n.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[7] Birnbaum, 2015

[8] Birnbaum, 2015

[9] Birnbaum, 2015

[10] Birnbaum, 2015

[11] Birnbaum, 2015

[12] Birnbaum, 2015

[13] Birnbaum, 2015

[14] Birnbaum, 2015

[15] Birnbaum, 2015

[16] Birnbaum, 2015

[17] Birnbaum, 2015

[18] Birnbaum, 2015

[19] iNews, n.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[20] iNewsn.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[21] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[22] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[23] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[24] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[25] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[26] Birnbaum, 2015

[27] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[28] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[29] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[30] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[31] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[32] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[33] DayDayNews, 21 June 2020, “She has the blood of the Japanese imperial family, but she resolutely married a Chinese to become a Chinese citizen and never taught her children to speak Japanese”

[34] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[35] iNews, n.d., “Aisin Gioro Huisheng: Once the “Prince of Manchukuo” that the Japanese hoped for, was shot to death by a suitor at the age of 19”

[36] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[37] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[38] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[39] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[40] DayDayNews, 26 December 2020, “The last imperial brother, the wandering princess: Brother Puyi married a Japanese wife, is it true love?”

[41] iNews, n.d., “Saga Hiroshi: The only Japanese princess in China, who became Chinese nationality in his later years, and her daughters are not allowed to marry Japanese.”

[42] iMedia, n.d., “Puyi’s younger brother, Pu Jie, married a Japanese wife. The elder brother’s strong opposition was unsuccessful. What happened to the two daughters?”

[43] iMedia, n.d., “Puyi’s younger brother, Pu Jie, married a Japanese wife. The elder brother’s strong opposition was unsuccessful. What happened to the two daughters?”






About Lauralee Jacks 178 Articles
I am a former elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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