Japan’s Princess Ayako, 27, held a press conference with her fiancé, Kei Moriya, 32, on Monday at the Imperial Household Agency just a few hours after her engagement had been formally announced by the Imperial Household Agency.
In the press conference, the Princess, who is the daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late first cousin, told the media that she had met Kei last December after an introduction by her mother, Princess Hisako. She said, “I met Mr Moriya for the first time in December last year, and I remember that our conversation got so lively that it didn’t feel like we had just met and that I had so much fun that I forgot about time.”
The Princess went on to say, “As I met him many times, I became attracted to his kind, smart and decisive nature. I don’t know what my mother’s intentions were in introducing him to me, but as the two of us went to various places together and shared our time and memories, we became naturally drawn to each other. I think we were able to come this far thanks to the wonderful ties started by our mothers.”
For his part, Kei spoke about his thoughts after their first meeting, calling the Princess “bright and positive.” He also explained that one of the things that attracted her to him was her warm and kind heart and ability to connect with anyone.
The couple also bonded over the loss of a parent. Ayako’s father, Norihito, Prince Takamado, died in 2002, while Kei’s mother, Kimie passed away in 2015. Kei remarked, “I also felt we grew closer as she expressed understanding toward the emotional impact of suddenly losing a parent.”
He did not disclose anything specific about his proposal; however, the royal said it occurred after they had eaten at a restaurant. Her Imperial Highness said, “It was so sudden that I couldn’t give my answer right away. But as our relationship developed, also involving our families, friends and acquaintances, I thought he was the one for me and gave a positive response in April.”
It was also revealed during the press conference that Princess Ayako and Princess Hisako visited Empress Michiko earlier that morning, but Emperor Akihito was unable to attend after being diagnosed with dizziness and cerebral anaemia. Ayako remarked, “I am worried that the Emperor is not feeling well, but I was able to meet with the Empress and receive warm, cordial words from both Their Majesties.”
A video of the press conference (only available in Japanese) can be found here.
Princess Ayako is set to become officially engaged to Kei, a commoner, in the traditional court ceremony “Nosai no Gi” on 12 August.
Their wedding will take place on 29 October of this year at Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. After her marriage, she will lose her title and status as a member of the Japanese Imperial Family according to Imperial House Law.