Kaemon Takashima, a businessman who practiced the art of divination and had the first audience with the Emperor Meiji
Kaemon Takashima (高島 嘉右衛門) became engaged in his family business of lumber trade at the age of 14. He predicted, by his original divination, the major earthquake of the Ansei period that hit Edo (Tokyo) in 1855 (Ansei 2). Although, he made great profit from lumber dealings, a storm saddled him with debt. He, then, took advantage of the difference in the monetary exchange rate and profited from foreigners. Because such dealings were illegal at that time, he was sent to prison. He mastered the art of divination during his six years in prison.
In recognition of his distinguished services, Takashima was the first civilian admitted to the presence of the Emperor Meiji, who deigned to give him three sets of silver cups. Although in 1877 (Meiji 10) he retired from the business world in his mid-forties, he contributed 10,000 yen for naval defense appropriation and was awarded the Fourth-Class Order.
Furthermore, he founded Aichi Cement Corporation (愛知セメント工業), assumed the presidency of Hokkaido Colliery and Railway Co.Ltd. (北海道炭鉱鉄道), ran the development and settlement enterprise in Ishikari and Tokachi, and successively held the post as president of Tokyo Street Railway (東京市街電気鉄道).
He devoted his time to studying divination under the pseudonym of “Donsho.” In 1886 English and Chinese translations of “Takashima Divination” were published and consequently the Takashima Divination was established. It was said that the government officials never failed to consult him about important politics, such as the diplomatic policy regarding Korea. His eldest daughter married Hirobumi Ito’s eldest son. Later in his life, he predicted the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. He also foresaw Hirobumi Ito’s assassination and the assassin’s name, of which he advised Ito.
In 1914, he died at the age of 83, as he predicted in a memorial tablet.