Princess Aiko of Japan, an Emperor's Daughter, Chooses to Work Like a Commoner

Princess Aiko of Japan 2024 

Japan currently has many imperial princesses but Princess Aiko is the only imperial princess who is a daughter of a reigning emperor, making her the only real imperial princess in the current times. 

The princess, who has the official title of Princess Toshi, just finished her BA degree in Japanese Language and Literature at the prestigious Gokushuin University in Tokyo.

She attended the graduation ceremony on March 20, 2024, by wearing traditional garments -  a light pink long-sleeved kimono and a navy blue hakama. She also wore the traditional Japanese footwear called Tabi.

Princess Aiko graduation 2024
Princess Aiko of Japan on her graduation day. Photo credit: Reuters 

Shrine Visit

Days after her college graduation, Princess Aiko made a solo trip to Mie Prefecture (March 26) and Nara Prefecture (March 27) to visit two landmarks, the Grand Ise Shrine and the Kashihara Shrine respectively.

The purpose of her visit was to pay tribute to her ancestors for her graduation accomplishment, which is an important milestone in her life.

Princess Aiko visit shrine
Princess Aiko visits Ise Shrine

The Japanese deeply revered their ancestors and any major accomplishments in their lives must be reported to the deceased elders as a sign of deep respect. 

The Grand Shrine of Ise is a shrine complex composed of many Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū and Gekū. The Inner Shrine (Naikū)  is dedicated to the worship of the sun goddess, Amaterasu, believed to be the ancestor of Japan's imperial family. 

On the following day, Princess Aiko visited the Kashihara Shrine in Nara Prefecture to visit the mausoleum of the legendary Japanese emperor, Jinmu, the imperial family's ancestor. 

Princess Aiko visit shrine
The princess visits Kashihara shrine

The princess is the only child of the reigning Japanese emperor, Naruhito, and Empress Masako, but she is not in line to succeed her father due to Japan's Agnatic Succession Law, allowing only male successors. Her father's heir presumptive is her uncle, Crown Prince Fumihito, also titled Prince Akishino.

Upon graduation, Princess Aiko expressed her interest in sharing the loads of royal duties with her parents and uncle. She said that she would balance her royal duties and her job at the Red Cross Society.

Princess Aiko graduates 2024
Princess Aiko wears kimono on her graduation day 

"I am happy to become engaged in the works of the Japanese Red Cross Society," the princess said in a statement released by the Household Imperial Agency, adding, "At the same time, I feel determined."

"By working hard with the awareness that I have become a member of society, I hope to be of help to the people and society even a little," the princess said.

Princess Aiko turned 22 on December 1, 2023. As the Imperial Household of Japan traditionally removes princesses from the Imperial House once they marry a commoner, there's a possibility that the fate of Princess Mako (Aiko's cousin) and Princess  Sayako (Aiko's paternal aunt) would fall on her too someday if she marries a commoner. Japan already abolished the aristocracy in 1947, and no princes existed in the country except the members of the House of Chrysanthemum. 

In the meantime, let's wish Princess Aiko a good life as she starts a new chapter of her life as a full-time working imperial house member. On April 1, 2024, she began working at the Red Cross office in Tokyo.

Princess Aiko works in Red Cross
Princess Aiko's first day of work

According to Nikkei Asia, a Japan-based English language publication, the princess will work as a contract employee and commute to its headquarters in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

The working status of Princess Aiko in the Red Cross is a contractual employee and is assigned to the department that focuses on training volunteers while balancing fulfilling her official duties, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

"I feel joyful, but also humbled to be taking my first step as a working member of society," she told reporters at the Red Cross headquarters in Tokyo's Minato Ward. The princess became one of the new eight employees to start their jobs at the headquarters on Monday.

"While my days as a working member of society have just begun, I will endeavor to adjust quickly to the workplace and be of assistance," she said. 

Princess Aiko also revealed that her parents, the emperor and empress, gave her approval to work in the Red Cross and that they wished her luck in her new job.

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