Japan Data

No New Tiara for Princess Aiko at Coming-of-Age Ceremony

Imperial Family Art

In a break from tradition, instead of having a new tiara made to mark the occasion, Princess Aiko will use her aunt’s tiara at her coming-of-age ceremony.

On December 1, Princess Aiko, the daughter of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, will turn 20 years old—the official age of adulthood in Japan. So as not to affect her studies, a celebratory ceremony will be held on December 5, a Sunday, to mark her coming of age.

There is an imperial family tradition that when princesses turn 20, they receive a new tiara. In this case, however, while many Japanese people are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Princess Aiko will instead borrow the tiara of her aunt, Kuroda Sayako, the emperor’s younger sister, who left the imperial family when she got married in November 2005.

Princess Sayako at an official ceremony on November 12, 2005, shortly before her marriage to become Kuroda Sayako. (© Jiji)
Princess Sayako at an official ceremony on November 12, 2005, shortly before her marriage to become Kuroda Sayako. (© Jiji)

Japanese princesses wear their tiaras at the most important official occasions, such as rituals and banquets. When Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1, 2019, Empress Masako wore a tiara that has been passed down from former empresses.

Empress Masako waves to well-wishers on May 1, 2019. (© Reuters)
Empress Masako waves to well-wishers on May 1, 2019. (© Reuters)

A commemorative photograph for the 1993 wedding of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako (both standing). Empress Michiko is wearing the tiara that Masako uses today. (© Reuters)
A commemorative photograph for the 1993 wedding of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako (both standing). Empress Michiko is wearing the tiara that Masako uses today. (© Reuters)

Crown Princess Kiko’s tiara was worn by Empress Masako when she was crown princess. (© Jiji)
Crown Princess Kiko’s tiara was worn by Empress Masako when she was crown princess. (© Jiji)

Then Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako at their wedding parade in June 1993. (© Reuters)
Then Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako at their wedding parade in June 1993. (© Reuters)

For many years, Mikimoto was the exclusive supplier of jewelry to the imperial family, but from 2003 Mikimoto and Wakō bid for the contract. Wakō made the tiara for Komuro Mako, the emperor’s niece, who left the imperial family after marrying in October.

Princess Mako at her coming-of-age ceremony on October 23, 2011. (© Jiji; pool photo)
Princess Mako at her coming-of-age ceremony on October 23, 2011. (© Jiji; pool photo)

When Mako’s younger sister, Princess Kako, came of age in 2014, for the first time there was an open bid in which five companies submitted their tiara designs. In this case, Mikimoto won the bid.

Princess Kako at her coming-of-age ceremony in 2014. (© Reuters)
Princess Kako at her coming-of-age ceremony in 2014. (© Reuters)

Empress Masako and Crown Princess Kiko both have a number of tiaras that they wear on different occasions.

Empress Masako at an Imperial Palace banquet to welcome King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium on October 11, 2016. (© Jiji; pool photo)
Empress Masako at an Imperial Palace banquet to welcome King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium on October 11, 2016. (© Jiji; pool photo)

A commemorative photograph for the wedding of Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko, who stand between Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa) and Empress Nagako (Kōjun). Taken on April 10, 1959. (© Jiji)
A commemorative photograph for the wedding of Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko, who stand between Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa) and Empress Nagako (Kōjun). Taken on April 10, 1959. (© Jiji)

(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Then Crown Princess Masako (far left) and other female members of the imperial family at a New Year ceremony in the Imperial Palace on January 1, 2019. © Jiji; pool photo.)

imperial family Empress Masako Princess Aiko