National

Traditional ceremony held for Princess Noriko's engagement

Kyodo

Princess Noriko, a daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late cousin Prince Takamado, became engaged Friday at a traditional ceremony to a senior priest of Izumo-taisha, one of Japan’s most important shrines.

The “Nosai no Gai” ceremony involves an exchange of gifts. More ceremonies will follow ahead of the wedding between the 25-year-old princess and 40-year-old Kunimaro Senge, to take place in the fall at Izumo-taisha in Shimane Prefecture.

Once the princess is married, she will secede from the imperial household, leaving 20 members in the household.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the rite of betrothal started with the arrival of Senge’s messenger to the residence of the Takamado family in Tokyo.

At 10 a.m., the messenger offered gifts such as sake and silk to Princess Noriko, clad in a pale jade-colored ensemble. The silk will be used for the dress the princess will wear for her wedding party.

Princess Noriko’s messenger was also sent to Senge’s home in the city of Izumo at the same time, bearing sake and black woolen cloth to be used as Senge’s tuxedo.

After the ceremony, Princess Noriko was quoted as saying, “I am happy that I was able to finish the Nosai-no-Gi without delay.” Senge said, “I want to spend my days feeling grateful about the relation I have been given.”

Since the announcement of their engagement on May 27, the princess and Senge have been exchanging emails and talking on the phone to prepare for their marriage. They have met face-to-face only once, on June 17, when a funeral ceremony was held for Prince Katsura, another cousin of Emperor Akihito.

It will be the first marriage involving an imperial family member since then Princess Sayako, the eldest daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, married an official of the Tokyo metropolitan government in 2005.