National

Princess Ayako says she and fiance Kei Moriya hit it off from the start

by Sarah Suk

Staff Writer

Princess Ayako, a daughter of a late cousin to Emperor Akihito, said Monday she hit it off with her husband-to-be Kei Moriya from the time they first met last December at the introduction of her mother, Princess Hisako.

Also Monday, the Imperial Household Agency said the 84-year-old Emperor fell ill earlier in the day, experiencing dizziness and nausea due to cerebral anemia, a condition where there is insufficient blood flow to the brain. His public duties for the day were canceled.

The 27-year-old Princess Ayako, the third and youngest daughter of Princess Hisako and the late Prince Takamado, made the remark at a joint news conference with Moriya at the Imperial Household Agency, held several hours after the agency formally announced their engagement.

In the morning, the princess and her mother paid a call on Empress Michiko, but the Emperor did not attend, according to the agency.

“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,” Princess Ayako said, adding that she wants to keep the content of their message to herself.

She is set to marry Moriya, 32, in October. He works for shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K., also known as NYK Line.

“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,” said the princess, who serves as honorary patron of the Canada-Japan Society, a public organization that promotes mutual understanding and friendship between Japanese and Canadian nationals.

Shortly before the introduction, Princess Hisako was reunited with Moriya after a 10-year hiatus at an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (Children Without Borders), for which his late mother, a long-time friend of Princess Hisako, had served as an executive board member. Moriya is currently a board member.

“As I met him many times, I became attracted to his kind, smart and decisive nature,” Princess Ayako said. “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.”

Moriya, a commoner and graduate of Keio University in Tokyo, said his first impression of Princess Ayako was that she was “bright and positive” and as he got to know her better he was drawn to the way she engages with anyone with warmth and kindness.

“I also felt we grew closer as she expressed understanding toward the emotional impact of suddenly losing a parent,” he said, referring to the death of his mother, Kimie, in 2015. Princess Ayako’s father passed away in 2002.

Moriya refrained from disclosing what he said in proposing to her, but the princess revealed it occurred this year after the two dined at a restaurant.

“It was so sudden that I couldn’t give my answer right away,” she said. “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.”

The couple will become officially engaged in a traditional court ceremony called Nosai no Gi on Aug. 12, and their wedding ceremony is planned for Oct. 29 at Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

Under the Imperial House Law, a princess loses her Imperial status if she marries a commoner.