Royal nuptials

With wedding date approaching, Japanese princess is now formally engaged to commoner

Japanese Princess Ayako (R), the third daughter of the late Prince Takamado, and her fiance Kei Moriya attend a press conference to announce their engagement at the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo on July 2, 2018. (KOJI SASAHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan’s Princess Ayako is now formally engaged to Kei Moriya, her college sweetheart who also happens to be a commoner. The two took part in a traditional betrothal ceremony, known as “Nosai no Gi,” over the weekend in Tokyo, making their engagement official, which is important given that their wedding date — October 29 — is fast approaching.

A marriage between the two will require Ayako, 27 to relinquish her royal status. Under Imperial Household law, women born to the royal family cannot inherit the throne and must leave the royal family upon marrying commoner. Many in Japan believe that the royal family should amend the rules to make them more gender equal, and allow for women to become emperor. Many also have expressed concern that the number of royals is in low supply prior to Ayako giving up her status.

In addition, her cousin, Princess Mako, is planning to marry a commoner, her college boyfriend, Kei Komuro, and she too will lose her royal status upon entering into the union. Mako and Komuro, however, announced earlier this year that they had delayed their wedding date, which was initially planned for November, until 2020. According to The Japan Times, the number of Imperial Family members will drop from 19 to 17 and that of female members from 14 to 12 after the two marriages are complete. Four years ago, another princess, Ayako’s older sister, Noriko, gave up her royal status when she married a Shinto priest.

Photos and video of the traditional betrothal ceremony were released by the Imperial Household and showed a messenger sent by Moriya, 32, who came bearing gifts including sake and sea bream along with the formal proposal. Ayako, a granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, and her mother, Princess Hisako, received the messenger and then, per tradition, paid a visit to the Imperial Palace to inform the emperor and empress she’d accepted Moriya’s proposal.

Ayako works as a research fellow at the Josai International University, the school she graduated from in 2016, and Moriya is a board member for a nonprofit that advocates for children in developing countries. The two were introduced by Princess Hisako.

Below, watch some video highlights of betrothal ceremony.

Read the full story at The Japan Times.

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