Princess Ayako, the third daughter of Emperor Akihito’s late cousin Prince Takamado and Princess Hisako, is known as a bright and hard-working person with keen interests in sports and welfare activities.
Born on Sept. 15, 1990, Princess Ayako was 12 years old when her father suddenly died of a heart attack at age 47 and grew up seeing her mother perform public duties while trying to overcome the grief of losing her husband.
Since her childhood, the 28-year-old princess has enjoyed numerous sports, including squash and swimming, and joined a ski club in high school before later becoming a supporting member of a soccer club at her university.
Aiming to learn about social welfare issues, she studied at Josai International University’s Faculty of Social Work Studies in Chiba Prefecture instead of Gakushuin University, originally created for the Japanese peerage.
Her entrance into the university reflected her strong will to pursue welfare studies and look after her grandparents, the late Prince Mikasa, who died in 2016 at age 100, and Princess Yuriko, 95, according to a source who has known the princess since high school.
Known for her openness and friendliness, the princess lived in a home shared with fellow students during her university years and did her own household chores.
Tetsuji Koyama, who served as a coach of the university soccer team the princess joined, noted her hard work and dedication in everything she did, and how her strong traits would make her a wonderful wife. “She washed uniforms and prepared drinks so devotedly that we did not feel hesitant because of her royal status.”
After her graduation in 2013, she continued her research at the university’s graduate school and studied for two years at Camosun College and the University of British Columbia in Canada as part of her program.
She is currently working as a research fellow at the social work studies faculty at Josai International University and is also qualified as a child caregiver.
A senior official at the Imperial Household Agency says the princess has a down-to-earth personality, just like her mother Princess Hisako.
When Princess Ayako underwent surgery to remove ovarian cysts in 2015, it was her own decision to disclose it, so as not to have misunderstanding among the public, the official said.
“She is always invigorating and carefully listens to agency staff, and is a person who can make her own decisions about the path she should follow,” another Imperial Household Agency staff said.
In a statement released on the occasion of her 20th birthday in 2010, the princess said: “I like children so I want to marry one day and raise kids. I want to build a warm family full of smiles with someone whom I can respect.”