Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko of Mikasa

I often think (and sometimes say) that I don’t know what is going on until after it’s done and even then, I don’t always know.  After three years in Japan that is still true.  Ted and I went to Biei with the university cross country ski class this weekend to participate in the ski race. I had joined the university group three years ago for this race weekend and I thought I knew what was going on because I had done it before.  You guessed it!  I still didn’t know.  Saturday afternoon, I learned we would all be attending a pre-race reception with HIH Princess Akiko later that afternoon! Princess Akiko is the 33 year old niece of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. She earned a doctorate from Oxford University in 2010.

I thought the reception for a little low key for a Princess, with most everyone in ski clothes, but this was a ski race weekend.  There were a few short welcome-type speeches, then a Kanpai with beer or Hokkaido milk and later some delicious food. The Princess was wearing a suit with the race pin and a snowflake pin, carrying white gloves and a small black purse.  When she went on stage, a member of her staff stepped forward and took the purse from the Princess, returning it when she stepped off stage.  I really think I could do that job – Princess purse holder. Ted and I had the good fortune to be personally introduced to Her Imperial Highness! She was very gracious and spoke with us in English. I didn’t see her eat anything at the reception, but she did walk around to each table for greetings and photos before leaving with her staff members.

I’ll write about the rest of the race weekend later in the week. The race was fun, but truly, the best part of the weekend for me was meeting the Princess.


  1. Well! What a wonderful experience. In some ways it was probably best not to know beforehand as you might have worried about etiquette.

  2. Good for you! What a lovely surprise and certainly something to 'write home about'.
    The Imperial Household are facing one big problem - there are not enough men in the family. You see, a male member of the Imperial family will remain in the family even when they marry. The princesses have to leave the family upon marrying. The result is that if Princess Akiko of Mikasa marries, she no longer can take part in these official duties. Your chances of meeting an Imperial Highness is decreasing by each princess getting married. Maybe the government need to value a female member as highly as a male?!

  3. Question: Did she keep her hands in that position the entire time?