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MITSUKO COUDENHOVE-KALERGI: JAPANESE AUSTRIAN COUNTESS, MUSE OF GUERLAIN.

Mitsuko Coudenhove, Japanese Austrian Countess and mother of Richard Nikolaus Coudenhove-Kalergi. European Gothic Lolita.

Japanese Gothic Lolitas are walking historical contradictions, especially when they’re modelling Victorian bonnets against the backdrop of modern Tokyo. Or are they? The following is the true story of Mitsuko Aoyoma, a mid-19th century Japanese teen who fell in love with an Austro-Hungarian Count. May it inspire you! (Source: Sothebys)

In the days of Queen Victoria, there lived a dashing young Count named Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi. He belonged to an ancient Habsburg noble line that had several castles and estates in Austria. A diplomat and brilliant linguist, Count Coudenhove-Kalergi spoke 18 languages and was posted to Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Constantinople, and Buenos Aires.

In 1891, the Count was named Deputy Minister of Austria-Hungary to Japan. He often visited a curios shop owned by a samurai family. One fateful day, his horse slipped on ice and he fell. Mitsuko Aoyama, the owner’s teenage daughter, ran to his aid and made a lasting impression on the 32-year-old bachelor. The Count convinced Mitsuko’s father to let her work as a parlor maid at his legation.

Faster than you can say ‘kawaii’, the two fell in love and the Count asked Mitsuko’s father for her hand in marriage. He flatly refused, but the couple defied him and married anyway in 1892. As a result, 18-year-old Mitsuko was disinherited and forever banned from her father’s house.

She gave birth to two of their sons in Tokyo. In 1897, the family decided to move to Vienna. Prior to their departure, Mitsuko was received by the Empress of Japan, who advised her: ‘No matter what your destiny may be, you must never forget the self-respect befitting a Yamato-nadeshiko (a Japanese woman).’

Mitsouko perfume by Guerlain, inspired by Mituko Coudenhove-Kalergi, Japanese Austrian Countess, husband Heinrich, son Richard Nikolaus Coudenhove-Kalergi. Historical gothic lolita.

She took these words to heart – the fact that the charming and witty Count returned to Vienna with a wife, much less a Japanese one, was greeted with dismay by the young ladies of the court. Ignoring the xenophobia, Mitsuko threw herself into the study of German, French, mathematics, history, and geography. She gave birth to five more children.

When her husband died in 1906, the 33-year-old mother taught herself law and economics to manage the family estate with which she was entrusted. To provide her children with the best opportunities, she stayed in Vienna until her death in 1941. All of her children were well-educated and spoke multiple languages; her second son, Richard Nikolaus, became the founder of the ‘Pan-Europa’ movement after WWI.

The spunky Japanese-Austrian Countess inspired Jacques Guerlain to create a perfume called ‘Mitsouko’. Like its namesake, ‘It does not reveal its beauty all at once, nor does it allow one to treat it casually. It starts out aloof and cool, before revealing its intense and sensual side.’ The chypre and peach-infused scent debuted in 1919 and is still sold today.

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25 Comments

  1. Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Thats the coolest life story! She's very beautiful and so are her clothes.

  2. Posted August 25, 2008 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    yayy!
    inspirational woman :]

  3. Posted August 26, 2008 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Thats the coolest life story! She’s very beautiful and so are her clothes.

  4. Posted August 25, 2008 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Very cool story (except for the massive age difference O_o;; ), and such an inspiring woman! I must find out about this perfume… :3 Thanks for sharing! ^o^

  5. Posted August 26, 2008 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    yayy!
    inspirational woman :]

  6. Posted August 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    wow nice story ^_^ lol i so wanna buy that perfume ^_^

  7. Posted August 26, 2008 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Very cool story (except for the massive age difference O_o;; ), and such an inspiring woman! I must find out about this perfume… :3 Thanks for sharing! ^o^

  8. Posted August 26, 2008 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    wow nice story ^_^ lol i so wanna buy that perfume ^_^

  9. Posted August 25, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow! That sure is inspiring!

  10. Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Wow! That sure is inspiring!

  11. Posted August 27, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing woman! ^___^

  12. Posted August 27, 2008 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    wow I didn't know that O.o;;
    That's really amazing and inspiring X3

  13. Posted August 27, 2008 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I know – she's a pioneer! Mitsuko is possibly the the first Japanese woman to marry a Westerner.

  14. Posted August 27, 2008 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing woman! ^___^

  15. Posted August 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    wow I didn’t know that O.o;;
    That’s really amazing and inspiring X3

    • Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      I know – she’s a pioneer! Mitsuko is possibly the the first Japanese woman to marry a Westerner.

  16. Posted March 18, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    aw…independent woman!!! really like she!

  17. Posted March 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    aw…independent woman!!! really like she!

  18. Posted March 21, 2009 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    I read her story from the history book and the internet. And i also have the comic book about her. She was a great lady. I really like her story a lot.

  19. Posted March 21, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I read her story from the history book and the internet. And i also have the comic book about her. She was a great lady. I really like her story a lot.

    • Posted March 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I had no idea there was a comic book about her! Who made it?

      • Posted September 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        It is called Lady Mitsuko by Waki Yamato
        I got to know this story coz of the comic book :D

  20. Posted March 21, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Wow, I had no idea there was a comic book about her! Who made it?

  21. Posted September 1, 2009 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    It is called Lady Mitsuko by Waki Yamato
    I got to know this story coz of the comic book :D

  22. Posted September 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    It is called Lady Mitsuko by Waki Yamato
    I got to know this story coz of the comic book :D