In 1822, he was adopted by Emperor Kōkaku (1771-1840) as a potential heir. The following year he was granted the rank of Imperial Prince by imperial proclamation, with the court title Kazusatai no mikoto.
Prince Arisugawa was a trusted confidant of Emperor Kōmei (1831–1867). During the unsettled period just prior to the Meiji Restoration, when Sonnō jōi militants battled troops local to the Tokugawa Bakufu in the vicinity of the Kyoto Imperial Palace in July 1864, (an incident known as the Kinmon no Hen), Prince Arisugawa was punished for suspected collusion with Chōshū Domain and sentenced to house arrest.
After the Meiji Restoration, he was restored to the court and promoted to the position of Senior Councilor (gijō). He subsequently served as first director of the Department of Shinto Affairs, where he was influential in the development of State Shinto.
In 1881, he resigned from his political posts and became head of the newly established Research Institute for Japanese Classical Literature (Kōten Kōkyūsho), the forerunner of Kokugakuin University). The prince was a master of waka poetry and Japanese calligraphy. The official copy of the Meiji Charter Oath was in his handwriting, and he supplied many inscriptions for various Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. His pen-name was Shōzan.
Prince Takahito resigned as head of the Arisugawa-no-miya house in favor of his eldest son, Prince Arisugawa Taruhito, on 9 September 1871. He died in Tokyo on 24 January 1886.
On 2 June 1848, Prince Arisugawa Takahito married Nijō Hiroko (1819-1875), the daughter of Sadaijin Nijō Narinobu. He had four sons and four daughters, many of whom were by concubines.