There is something that most people find enigmatic about royalty. People with royal blood in their veins are typically trained and taught of proper decorum as early as possible as they are often under the scrutiny of the media and the public. They are also advised to learn about the affairs of their state or nation early on if they are to be the next reigning royals in their country. Their utmost priority is the safekeeping and the growth of their people. One may say that being a royal can be rather challenging. Prince and princesses play different roles in their lives to serve their country. In this article, one shall get to know some of the princesses of Japan today.
Masako Owada: The Crown Princess of Japan
Masako Owada was born on the 9th of December in the year 1963, Masako is currently the Crown Princess of Japan. Also known as Kōtaishi Naruhito Shinnōhi Masako in Japanese, Masako is the wife of the Crown Prince of Japan, Naruhito. Crown Prince Naruhito is the eldest son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. He is currently the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Masako serves as a member of the Imperial House of Japan through her marriage to Naruhito.
As expected by most Japanese, Naruhito would ascend the throne once the Emperor abdicates. Should this happen, Masako will then ascend to become empress consort. Born in Toranomon Hospital located in Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo, Masako is the eldest daughter of Hisashi Owada, a senior diplomat who also used to serve as president of the International Court of Justice. Masako’s mother is Yumiko Egashira. Masako was followed by two younger sisters who are twins by the name of Setsuko and Reiko.
Naruhito and Masako had their first meeting at a tea for Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo. Held in the month of November in the year 1986, Masako was pursuing her studies at the University of Tokyo at the time. It is said that Naruhito was immediately captivated by Masako the first time he laid eyes on her. The next few weeks after that consisted of the crown princes arranging for the two of them to meet for a number of times. Due to this, the press also pursued them throughout the year 1987.
Despite this obvious attraction between the two, the name of Masako was removed from the list of possible royal brides for the crown prince due to the controversy that surrounded Masako’s maternal grandfather, Yutaka Egashira. In addition to this, Masako also flew to Oxford University to pursue her studies in Balliol College for two years. Even with these obstacles, the crown prince still remained smitten by Masako.
Because of her promising career in diplomacy, Masako declined Naruhito’s proposal of marriage. Not willing to give this up, Masako would also have her freedom and independence restricted by marrying the crown prince. However, the crown prince was undeterred and with his third proposal of marriage to Masako on the 9th of December in the year 1992, he was finally successful. It was said that he told Masako that being the Crown Princess of Japan would only serve as “another form of diplomacy” for her to finally say yes.
Their engagement was formally announced by the Imperial Household Council on the 19th of January in the year 1993 while the engagement ceremony occurred on the 12th of April of the same year. During this time, several people were surprised by the news as many believed that the two have separated. Nonetheless, the couple was again showered with renewed media attention.
On the 9th of June in the year 1993, the couple got married in a traditional wedding ceremony. The formal style Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess of Japan was assumed by the bride by virtue of marriage to the crown prince. Moreover, as she entered into the imperial family, she also received a personal emblem known as o-shirushi, which was rosa rugosa (hamanasu). This was customary for incoming members of the imperial family.
Moreover, Masako’s name was also put in the Japanese Imperial Order of Precedence, which is usually only utilized for the most formal occasions or events. She was placed just behind Empress Michiko, who has become her mother-in-law. Preceding them both is Empress Dowager Nagako, Masako’s grandmother-in-law. Just in the month of June in the year 2013, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
It was on the month of December in the year 1999 that Masako’s first pregnancy was announced to the public. Sadly, she miscarried this pregnancy. However, she again got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl and named her Aiko.
Next in the Family Tree: Aiko, Princess Toshi
Born on the 1st of December in the year 2001, Aiko is the only child and daughter of the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess of Japan. Known as Princess Toshi or Toshi-no-miya Aiko Naishinnō, Aiko is the first child of the couple after 8 years of marriage. Her mother was 37 years old while her father was 41 years old when Aiko was born. Her mother gave birth at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital at 2:43 in the afternoon. Aiko was 49.6 centimeters long and 3.103 kilograms in weight. Aiko’s father was present in the delivery room when her mother was giving birth. Masako had a medical team composed of 12 people with four doctors that attended to her needs.
Instead of following the tradition of the Emperor naming the princess, the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess chose the name for their daughter. The name was selected from Li Lou II Clause 56. It is among the lessons taught by Mencius, a famous Chinese philosopher. The clause states, “One who loves the others will be constantly loved by them; one who respects others will be constantly respected by them.”
The personal name of the princess “Aiko” is composed of the kanji characters that mean “love” and “child.” As a whole, her name means “a person who loves others.” On the other hand, Aiko’s imperial title Princess Toshi means “a person who respects others.” If she ever decides to marry a commoner, her imperial title will be dropped according to the law.
The princess began her studies on the 3rd of April in the year 2006 at Gakushuin Kindergarten and left on the 15th of March in the year 2008. The princess finished elementary school at Gakushuin on the 18th of March in the year 2014 and proceeded on to enter Gakushuin Girl's Junior High School. Some of her interests were revealed on her eighth birthday. These include calligraphy, poetry writing, and playing musical instruments like the violin and the piano.
However, the princess started to stay home instead of going to school in the month of March in the year 2010 with reports that her classmates were bullying her. On the 2nd of May of the same year, Aiko went back to school but on a limited basis. On the month of November in the year 2011, the princess was sent to the hospital because of a case of pneumonia.
The Engaged Princess Mako of Akishino
Born on the 23rd of October in the year 1991, Mako Naishinno is the eldest daughter of Prince and Princess Akishino. Known as Princess Mako of Akishino, she is a member of the Japanese Imperial Family. Out of all the grandchildren of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, Princess Mako is the eldest. Her father is known as Fumihito while her mother is known as Kiko. Princess Akishino gave birth to Mako at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital located in Chiyoda, Tokyo.
She obtained her education from the Gakushūin School in her Primary, Girls' Junior and Senior High School years. The princess also studied the English language for a month in the year 2010 at the University College Dublin. Visiting Northern Ireland, Mako, as a trainee, participated in an informal talk with Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland.
On the 26th of March in the year 2014, the princess earned her Bachelor's degree in Art and Cultural Heritage from the International Christian University located in Mitaka, Tokyo. Aside from this, Princess Mako also attained a Japanese national certification in curation. The princess also knows how to drive as she got her driver’s license while she was still an undergraduate student.
Princess Mako flew to the United Kingdom on the 17th of September in the year 2014 where she pursued her museology studies at the University of Leicester. The princess earned her Master's degree in Museum Studies in the month of January in the year 2016. Aside from this, Princess Mako also took classes in art history for nine months at the University of Edinburgh. This lasted from the month of September in the year 2012 to the month of May in the year 2013.
Photos of Princess Mako in sailor fuku has made her something of an internet idol when it surfaced in the year 2004. The princess also went on a homestay program sponsored by her school in the month of August in the year 2006. She flew to Vienna, Austria and visited Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and museums due to her love of art and architecture. She stayed in Vienna for two weeks and was accommodated by an Austrian colleague of her maternal grandfather, Tatsuhiko Kawashima.
Later that year, the princess attended her first official function, which was a religious ceremony that was held at the Ise Shrine. She was accompanied by her father during this event. Princess Mako has two younger siblings, namely, her younger sister Princess Kako and her younger brother Prince Hisahito. The princess came of age in the year 2011. She was conferred Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown on the 23rd of October. After that time, Princess Mako has been going to official events and serving as an official adult member of the Imperial Family.
She is known as a genuine, kind-hearted person. An example of this personality is the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster. Following this disaster, the princess worked as a volunteer to help the victims in the affected areas on the month of July. Instead of telling the world about her good works, she preferred to help silently and not reveal her identity. Similar to her mother, Princess Mako is also interested in the Deaf Community and even learned the Japanese Sign Language. On the 1st of April in the year 2016, the princess became the project researcher at the museum of the University of Tokyo.
The engagement of Princess Mako to Kei Komuro was announced on the 3rd of September in the year 2017 by the Imperial Household Agency. Kei Komuro was a student at the International Christian University or ICU. This announcement was followed by a press conference featuring the happy couple. Once the princess is married to the commoner, the law dictates that Princess Mako be stripped of her imperial title. Furthermore, she would also have to leave the Japanese Imperial Family. Her marriage is set to occur in the year 2018.
Elegantly Dressed Princess Kako of Akishino
Born on the 29th of December in the year 1994, Kako Naishinno is the second daughter of Prince and Prince Akishino. Also a member of the Japanese Imperial Family, she is the second-eldest grandchild of the Emperor and the Empress, following Aiko. She graduated high school in the month of March in the year 2013.
One of her hobbies is figure skating. The princess was among the contestants who joined the Spring Cup Figure Skating Competition in the year 2007 held by the Japan Skating Federation. Similar to Princess Aiko, Princess Kako also went to the U.K. to pursue her students. She is currently studying at The University of Leeds. While studying to complete her study abroad programme, Princess Kako will also accomplish a combination of Psychology and Performing Arts honors. Both sisters are high achievers, which probably makes the Japanese Imperial Family proud of how well they are doing in their respected careers.