Yuriko, Princess Mikasa was born on 4 June 1923 as the daughter of Viscount Masanari Takagi and Kuniko Irie. She has an older sister, Kinuko, and two younger sisters, Momoko and Sayoko.
At the age of five, she enrolled at the Gakushein kindergarten and continued at the Gakushein school until her graduation in 1941.
That very same year, Yuriko became engaged to Prince Takahito, who had been granted the Mikasa title in 1935. He was the younger brother of Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa) of Japan, the grandfather of the current Emperor of Japan, and he was seven years older than her. It is unclear how they met, though it seems likely that the marriage was arranged. They were second cousins once removed.
Their engagement was announced on 29 March 1941, and their official engagement ceremony took place on 3 October. Their wedding followed on 22 October 1941.1 The New York Times reported, “The roaring of cannon from the great moat-encircled Chiyoda Castle, Emperor Hirohito’s residence in the centre of Tokyo, announced to the empire today the wedding of Prince Mikasa, youngest brother of the ruler, to Yuriko Takagi. The ceremonies, according to court etiquette, were conducted with ancient shinto rites before the nation’s holy of holies, the Kaski-ko-Dokoro, one of the three palace sanctuaries. Firing of the twenty-one-gun salute, in single explosions spaced a few seconds apart, announced the completion of the first stage of the ceremonies at 9 A.M.”2 Upon marriage, she became Her Imperial Highness The Princess Mikasa.
The couple went on to have five children together: Princess Yasuko (born 1944), Prince Tomohito (born 1946 – died 2012), Prince Yoshihito (born 1948 – died 2014), Princess Masako (born 1951) and Prince Norihito (born 1954 – died 2002). They performed public duties for the imperial family, and Prince Mikasa also served in the army during the Second World War. After the Second World War, Prince Mikasa reportedly supported an early abdication by Emperor Hirohito.3 In 1946, the peerage system was abolished, which meant that Yuriko’s family was no longer noble. In 1948, her father died, reportedly by suicide.4
Yuriko held several patronages and served as Vice President of the Japanese Red Cross, among other things. She also attends family-related events.
Princess Yuriko has so far outlived all three of her sons and her husband. Her youngest son, Norihito, died in 2002 at the age of 47 following a cardiac arrest. He left behind a wife and three daughters. Her eldest son, Tomohito, died of cancer in 2012 at 66. He left behind a wife and two daughters. Her middle son, Yoshihito, died in 2014 of a heart attack at the age of 66. He was unmarried. Her two daughters have married outside of the imperial house and have given up their imperial titles. Yasuko has a son and three grandchildren, while Masako has two sons and a daughter. Three of her granddaughters through her sons are still members of the imperial family. The two others have married outside of the family.
On 22 October 2016, Yuriko and her husband celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary as he was hospitalised. He died five later at the age of 100. Princess Yuriko still visits his grave every month on the 27th. She has suffered several health issues over the years and was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2022.
As she celebrates her 100th birthday, she lives a quiet life in Tokyo. She is currently the oldest living royal from a reigning family.