Written by Staff Writer at CNN Seoul, Korea
After only 10 days on Japanese soil, Princess Mako of the Imperial House of Akishino and Kanazawa is on her way to New York.
The 31-year-old, who was born in 1982 to a commoner and a prince but became a princess in 2014, married her longtime boyfriend Kei Komuro, 33, on October 20 in Tokyo. According to the Hanadike Institute , the couple lives in Tokyo’s posh Akasaka District.
Like her sister, Princess Masako, a year older than Mako and married to Shinji Komura, formerly also a commoner, their family name was a commoner’s first name until 1998.
In 2017, the Imperial House sent Princess Masako back to the United States for further treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder following more than five years living in Tokyo.
Perhaps sensing it wouldn’t be as simple for Mako, who has already been in Japan four times, she said, “After my parents’ marriage I lived in Japan as my life was centered around Japan,” before leaving in 2012 to continue her education at Cambridge University.
Acquiring a powerful new purpose
As an outsider in Japan, the princess “wanted to be fully happy,” said her father, Emperor Akihito
“She wanted to be totally Japanese. But through being with my parents in Japan she discovered a new world,” she added.
The princess met her new husband when they were at Harvard University but took a year out to spend time with her family in the U.S. prior to their wedding.
With their American marriage now completed, the palace has announced Mako will become the Crown Princess , with Empress Michiko – who will remain Empress No. 2 to her son-in-law-to-be – fully retiring from official duties as Empress.
“The princess has tremendous responsibilities,” says Akihito.
“With my eldest daughter, I had to resolve the succession issue. And I’m sure she’ll be able to face these responsibilities wisely. She has acquired many great qualities.”
The second in line to the throne before the 2071-born Mako, her brother Prince Hisahito is less likely to be a future Emperor, but is still on the monarch’s staff as a Governor.
Following her marriage, Mako will assume the Japanese House title of Empress Nomura in line with the Imperial House Law. At home, the princess will take on the title of Mako Akira.
The new title was justified in part for Mako as she had reportedly struggled in the past with post-traumatic stress.
By taking on the Japanese Crown Princess title, the princess has acquired “a powerful new purpose,” says Akihito.
Two steps forward and one backward
The princess married in an official ceremony with a total guest list of 240 people. The 19 women included nine brides, eight daughters, seven sisters and three mothers of daughters.
Throughout her courtship, the princess made clear that she wanted to adopt a modern style of living that contrasts with that of her father, in ways that are further distinct from that of her sister Masako.
On her wedding day, she wore a dress by Meiwahjo, a Japanese designer who was privately founded in 1995, including in many of the shops dedicated to her designs and sold through the Tokyu Internet catalogue that Mako is patron.
Post-marriage, she also plans to relocate to the U.S. with her husband.
“I want a future of happiness and a future in which I’m able to give something back to the Japanese people,” she said.
“I want to live freely and freely live on my own as a Japanese woman. I want to keep living freely and freely.”