Japan’s Princess Aiko Turns 22, Gaining Experience as Adult Member of Imperial Family

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Princess Aiko smiles as she rides in a car entering the Akasaka Estate in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday, to congratulate Crown Prince Akishino on his birthday.

Princess Aiko, the daughter of the Emperor and the Empress, turned 22 on Friday.

The princess is a senior at Gakushuin University, and while working on academic assignments and her graduation thesis she also attends various events with her parents to gain experience as an adult member of the Imperial family.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the princess was very happy to be reunited with her university friends in April, when the university restarted classroom classes following a prolonged period of online lectures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The princess has made many new friends, and in classes, has deepened her learning of the literature and prevailing thought from the Heian era (794-late 12th century) to the Meiji era (1868-1912) through stories and waka poems of the times. She also has taken welfare studies and physical education classes.

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Princess Aiko waves from a car entering the Akasaka Estate in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.

In the past year, the princess has had more opportunities to accompany her parents to various events, including films, concerts, an exhibition of traditional crafts and a concert of gagaku traditional court music, among others. She always listens eagerly to staffers’ explanations on such occasions and thanks them for their hard work.

The Imperial family’s New Year greetings in January — the first since 2020 — marked the first time for Princess Aiko to take part in an event as an adult member of the Imperial family. Though reportedly initially nervous, she gradually became accustomed to the atmosphere, and when it was over, felt relieved that she had been able to carry out her duties smoothly. In September, the princess participated in the election of Imperial family members of the Imperial House Council for the first time, serving as the observer.

At home, the princess enjoys walking in the Imperial Palace grounds with her parents and playing tennis and volleyball with the household staff.

She is said to be very grateful to the public for watching over her warmly.