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Princess Ayako attends final imperial event “Choken-no-Gi” before leaving Imperial Family

By 外務省ホームページ, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Princess Ayako of Takamado has performed the final two ceremonies to officially mark her leaving the Imperial Family. After her wedding next Monday, she will no longer be a part of the Imperial Family.

On Friday, the Princess informed the divine spirits of the Emperors and ancestors that she would marry in three days time and leave the Imperial Family in the so-called “Kashikodokoro-koreiden-shinden-ni-essuru-no-gi” ceremony. She paid her respects at three sanctuaries in the Imperial Palace: Kashikodokoro, Koreiden and Shinden. She arrived shortly after 10 am wearing a red “kouchiki”, which has been worn since the 9th century. This particular kouchiki was a present to her grandmother Princess Yuriko Mikasanomiya, from Empress Teimei, the wife of Emperor Taisho.

In the afternoon, Princess Ayako formally conveyed her appreciated to Emperor Akihito and Empress Akihito during the “Choken-no-gi” ceremony. Her hair was in a traditional hairstyle called “osuberakashi”, and she wore a fan of cypress called “hiougi.” Several members of the family, including the Princess’s sister, watched the ceremony.

Princess Ayako and Kei Moriya are set to be wed at Meiji Jingu shrine from 11:30 a.m. on 29 October. The Princess and her future husband first met last December, according to the Imperial Household Agency. Kei Moriya is a 32-year-old graduate of Keio University who now works for the shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K. Princess Ayako is a graduate of the Josai International University in Chiba Prefecture and earned a master’s degree in 2016. She is currently working as a research fellow at the Faculty of Social Work Studies. She is known for her interests in soccer and skiing and is a qualified childminder. She was born on 15 September 1990. Her father died in November 2002 at the age of 47 of heart failure. Her father was a first cousin of Emperor Akihito.

It was also announced today that the Princess would continue to hold honorary positions at two organisations, which no other female member who has left the Imperial Family has done. This move comes amid concerns over the shrinking number of Imperial Family members, as women still lose their Imperial status after marrying commoners.

Following the marriages of Princess Ayako and Princess Mako, the number of Imperial Family members will fall to 17, 12 of whom are females.