Kiko, Princess Akishino

Princess Akishino

Princess Akishino on 23 December 2009.
Born (1966-09-11) 11 September 1966
Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
Spouse Fumihito, Prince Akishino (m. 1990)
Issue Princess Mako of Akishino
Princess Kako of Akishino
Prince Hisahito of Akishino
Full name
Kiko (紀子)
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Tatsuhiko Kawashima
Mother Kazuyo Sugimoto
Religion Shinto

Kiko, Princess Akishino (文仁親王妃紀子 Fumihito Shinnōhi Kiko), born 11 September 1966 as Kiko Kawashima (川嶋紀子 Kawashima Kiko), is the wife of Fumihito, Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan. She is also known as Princess Kiko.

Early life

Kiko was born in Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. She is the eldest daughter of Kazuyo and Tatsuhiko Kawashima. Her parents brought her to Philadelphia in 1967 and lived in a second-floor, walk-up apartment with her parents in University City when her father enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.[1] He earned a doctorate at University of Pennsylvania in 1971 in regional science and later taught there.[2] Meanwhile, Kiko mastered English and enrolled at the Lea School, 47th and Locust Streets.[1]

Kiko attended elementary and high school in Vienna, Austria, when her father became the chief researcher at The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, where he studied spatial science and NGO activities.[2] The future princess became fluent in English and German.[2][3] The family returned to Japan in 1972, and Tatsuhiko Kawashima became a member of the faculty of Gakushuin University in Tokyo and later worked as an economics professor there.[1][3] She lived with her parents and brother in a tiny on-campus apartment in Tokyo.[3] She graduated from the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Letters of Gakushuin University with a Bachelor of Letters degree in Psychology in 1989 and received a Master of Humanities degree in Social Psychology from the Graduate School of Gakushuin University in 1995. She received the PhD degree in Humanities from Ochanomizu University.

She participated in The Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP) in 1987 and continues to be a supporter of the program.


Princess Akishino in 1990.

Prince Fumihito first proposed marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 26 June 1986 while they were both undergraduates at Gakushuin. Three years later, Imperial Household Council announced the engagement on 12 September 1989[3][4] and the engagement ceremony was held on 12 January 1990. No marriage date would be set until the official one-year mourning period ended for Fumihito's grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, who had died in January 1989. Following the announcement of her engagement she became Japan's most famous graduate student and high-school girls had taken to cutting their hair Kiko-style and mimicking her polite smile.[2]

The wedding took place at an exclusive shrine at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 29 June 1990.[5] The Imperial Household Council had previously granted the prince permission to establish a new branch of the Imperial Family and the Emperor granted him the title Akishino-no-miya (Prince Akishino) on his wedding day. Upon marriage, his bride became Her Imperial Highness The Princess Akishino, known informally as Princess Kiko. As of tradition dictates, upon her entry into the imperial family and like other members, she received a personal emblem (o-shirushi (お印)): iris setosa (hiougi-ayame (檜扇菖蒲)).

The engagement and marriage of Prince Akishino to the former Kiko Kawashima broke precedent in several respects. At the time, the groom was still a graduate student at Gakushuin and married before his older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito. At one point, said a Japanese magazine, Fumihito became so angry over the Imperial Household Agency's opposition to the marriage that he threatened to renounce his royal status.[3] But Empress Michiko intervened and helped deflect the opposition.[3] Additionally, the princess was the first woman from a middle-class background to marry into the imperial family and her humble status has led the Japanese media to dub her "the apartment princess".[3] Although Empress Michiko was also born a commoner, she was from a very wealthy family; her father was the president of a large flour-milling company.

The Princess had said repeatedly that she wanted to finish her master's degree, if circumstances permitted.[2] She completed her post-graduate studies in psychology between her official duties and received her master's degree in psychology in 1995. She is known for her continuing interest in deaf culture and the Deaf in Japan. She learned Japanese sign language and she is a skilled sign language interpreter.[6] She attends the "Sign Language Speech Contest for High School Students" held every August, and "Praising Mothers Raising Children with Hearing Impairments" every December. In October 2008, she participated in the "38th National Deaf Women's Conference."[7] She also signs in informal Deaf gatherings.[8]

In March 2013, Kiko was granted PhD degree in Psychology at the Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University, for her thesis titled "Knowledge, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors related to tuberculosis: A study based on questionnaire surveys with seminar participants of the National Federation of Community Women's Organizations for TB Control and female college students."[7]

While being pregnant with her third child, Kiko was diagnosed with placenta praevia.[9] The princess also suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome osteoporosis aggravated by child-nursing, a symptom common among middle-aged women, her doctor said on 14 December 2007.[10]


Since 1997, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko and their children have maintained a principal residence on the grounds of the Akasaka Estate in Motoakasaka, Minato, Tokyo. The couple have two daughters and one son:

Official duties

The Prince and Princess are called upon to meet with important overseas visitors to improve diplomatic relations. The Princess was chosen as one of the Young Global Leaders for 2007, drawn from a poll of 4000 candidates.[12]

The Prince and Princess have made numerous official visits to foreign countries. In June 2002, they became the first members of the Imperial Family to visit Mongolia, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations.[13][14] In October 2002, they visited the Netherlands to attend the funeral of the Prince Claus of the Netherlands.[15] In September 2003, the Prince and Princess made goodwill visits to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, again, the first time ever members of the Imperial Family had visited these countries.[16] [17] In March 2004, the Prince and Princess returned to the Netherlands for the funeral of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.[15] In January 2005, they visited Luxembourg to attend the funeral of Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte.[15] From October to November 2006, they visited Paraguay to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japanese emigration to that country.[18] In January 2008, they visited Indonesia for a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Indonesia.[19]

Recent among these were the visit to the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in May 2009 on the occasion of "Japan-Danube Friendship Year 2009",[20][21] the visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in August 2009 for the commemorative event of the 400th anniversary of the trade relations between Japan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands,[22] the visit to the Republic of Costa Rica in January 2011 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Costa Rica,[23] the visit to the Republic of Uganda on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Uganda,[24] the visit to the Republic of Croatia, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Slovenia on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic relations,[25][26][27] and the visit to the Republic of Peru and the Argentine Republic in January to February 2014, on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Peru, and to commemorate 50 years since the immigration agreement between Japan and the Argentine Republic came in effect.[28][29] From June to July 2014, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko visited Republic of Zambia and United Republic of Tanzania.[30][31] They attended the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relationship between Japan and Zambia.

Titles, styles and honours

Styles of
Princess Akishino
Reference style Her Imperial Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial Highness
Alternative style Ma'am


Kiko is styled as "Her Imperial Highness The Princess Akishino".


See also List of honours of the Japanese Imperial Family by country

National honours

Foreign honours

Honorary positions


Name Birth Marriage Issue
Princess Mako of Akishino 23 October 1991
Princess Kako of Akishino 29 December 1994
Prince Hisahito of Akishino 6 September 2006

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Japanese Royal Bride's Years At Penn: A 'Vivacious' Child". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Tokyo Journal; She's Shy and Not So Shy, Japan's Princess Bride". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Japanese Prince Plans To Marry A Commoner". Chicago Tribune. 13 September 1989.
  4. "Princess Akishino's pregnancy". Japan Times. March 29, 2006.
  5. "Scenes from An Uncommon Marriage: Japan's Prince Aya Weds a Cinderella Psych Major, Kiko Kawashima". People. June 1990.
  6. Valpy, Michael. "The emperor and the tennis pro," Globe and Mail (Canada). June 27, 2009; 紀子さま、高校生手話コンテストで挨拶 2009年8月29日, TBS
  7. 1 2 "Activities of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino and their family". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  8. "Princess Kiko chats with Deaf soccer players in sign language after film show," Deaf Japan News. September 7, 2010.
  9. "Press Conference on the Occasion of the Birthday of His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino (2006)". The Imperial Household Agency. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  10. Sankei
  11. "Japan royal baby named Hisahito," BBC News. September 12, 2006.
  12. "Globis Management Bank President Etsuko Okajima Selected as Young Global Leader 2007 by World Economic Forum". Globis. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  13. "Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino to Visit Mongolia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  14. "Prince, Princess to visit Mongolia". The Japan Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  15. 1 2 3 "List of Overseas Visits by the Emperor, Empress and Imperial Family (1999 – 2008)". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  16. "Japan-Fiji Relations". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  17. "Japanese Royal visit to Samoa" (PDF). Embassy of Japan in New Zealand. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  18. "Prince Akishino to visit Paraguay on Wednesday". AAJ News. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  19. "Indonesian president meets Japanese Prince Akishino". China View. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  20. "Prince and princess Akishino on official visit to Bulgaria". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  21. "Political relations". Embassy of Romania to Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  22. "Dutch appeal to visiting Prince Akishino". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  23. "Japanese royals visit Costa Rica". The Tico Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  24. "Japan royals visit Uganda". New Vision. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  25. "Japanese prince and princess Akishino to visit Croatia". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  26. "Japan-Slovakia Relations". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  27. "Japanese Prince and Princes Akishino to Visit Slovenia". Slovenian Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  28. "Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko of Japan visit Peru". Peru this week. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  29. "Prince, Princess Akishino in Argentina". News on Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  30. "Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino's visit to Zambia". Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Zambia. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  31. "Prince Akishino of Japan visits Serengeti and Ngorongoro over the weekend". The official website of Tanzania National Parks. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  32. New Year Greeting
  33. Pinimg
  34. 1 2 , Kiko wearing Red Cross Medals
  35. Blogspot
  37. Media
  38. Yuko
  39. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  40. Yoku
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Princess Akishino.
Order of precedence in Japan
Preceded by
The Crown Princess
HIH The Princess Akishino
Succeeded by
The Princess Toshi
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