2018 Volume 100 Pages 32-52
Scholars of the Japanese royal family and journalism have traditionally cited the year 1921, when Emperor Showa [then Crown Prince Hirohito] visited Europe, as the ground-breaking moment when external viewers were first able to gain insight into the Japanese imperial household. This also marked the emergence of the “Imperial Movies” featuring the Japanese Imperial family. At that time, film companies and newspaper agencies produced numerous “Movies of the Crown Prince’s Visit to Europe” both within and outside of Japan. This author has analyzed this body of work from the perspective of film history and studies in her article, “Film and the Imperial Household in the 1920s Japan: Analyzing Footage of Crown Prince Hirohito Visiting Europe and Onoe Matsunosuke Films in the NFC Collection as Publicity”(National Film Center Annual Bulletin, 2016, 35-53). New research, however, has uncovered multiple versions of films of the Prince Arisugawa’s visit to Europe in 1905, which were made by overseas producers, one of which has been preserved in a British archive. This article details the background of the 1905 films and their historical significance in terms of shifting images of the imperial household; similarly, the article analyzes the impact of these films on those produced later in 1920. In conclusion, the “Prince Arisugawa” films are integral in assessing the founding of the Japanese history of “open” images of the imperial household during the pre-World War II era.