Princess Ayako, the youngest daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late cousin, became officially engaged Sunday to commoner Kei Moriya at a traditional ceremony in Tokyo.
The betrothal ceremony, called Nosai no Gi, is the first in a series of rites leading up to the wedding on Oct. 29 between the 27-year-old princess and the 32-year-old employee at shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K.
During the ceremony, a messenger from Moriya visited Tokyo’s Takamado residence with gifts, including sake and sea bream, to formally convey the proposal.
The couple met last December when they were introduced by Princess Ayako’s mother, Princess Hisako, who had known Moriya’s parents for a long time. Moriya’s mother died years ago.
Princess Hisako was hoping to spark her daughter’s interest in international welfare activities through the meeting with Moriya, who is a board member of a nonprofit organization that supports children in developing countries.
Princess Ayako, the third daughter of the late Prince Takamado and Princess Hisako, graduated from Josai International University in Chiba Prefecture and earned a master’s degree there in 2016. She is currently working as a research fellow at the university’s Faculty of Social Work Studies.
Moriya is well-traveled, having gone to kindergarten in Paris and attended schools in Switzerland and Britain before graduating from Tokyo’s Keio University. He enjoys participating in marathon and triathlon races.
After marriage, Princess Ayako will leave the Imperial Family as the Imperial House Law stipulates that women lose their royal status after marrying a commoner.
Last year, the Imperial Household Agency announced the planned engagement between Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and Kei Komuro, a commoner who is her long-time boyfriend. But in February, their formal engagement and wedding were postponed until 2020, due to “lack of preparation.”
After the marriages of Princess Ayako and Princess Mako, the number of Imperial Family members would fall from 19 to 17 and that of female members from 14 to 12.
Kokki no Gi, or the rite of announcing the wedding date, will be held on Sept. 19 at the Takamado residence.
Following the ceremony, the payment to be given to Princess Ayako under the law will be decided at a meeting attended by the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of the Diet.
Sayako Kuroda, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, received about ¥150 million when she married Tokyo Metropolitan Government employee Yoshiki Kuroda in 2005. Noriko Senge, an older sister of Princess Ayako, was given around ¥100 million when she tied the knot with Kunimaro Senge, a senior priest of Izumo Taisha, a Shinto shrine in Shimane Prefecture, in 2014.