Kiko, Crown Princess of Japan

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Crown Princess Akishino
Kiko meeting King Charles III in 2023
BornKiko Kawashima (川嶋紀子)
(1966-09-11) 11 September 1966 (age 57)
Shizuoka Saiseikai General Hospital, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka, Japan
(m. 1990)
HouseImperial House of Japan (by marriage)
FatherTatsuhiko Kawashima
MotherKazuyo Sugimoto

Kiko, Crown Princess Akishino[1] (皇嗣文仁親王妃紀子, Kōshi Fumihito Shinnō-hi Kiko), born Kiko Kawashima (川嶋紀子, Kawashima Kiko); 11 September 1966), is the wife of Fumihito, Crown Prince Akishino. Her husband is the younger brother and heir presumptive of Emperor Naruhito of Japan and the second son of Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko.

Kiko earned a PhD in humanities from Ochanomizu University. Her marriage to Fumihito in 1990 furthered the trend of Japanese imperial males marrying middle class commoners of academic prominence in earlier and current generations. The couple has three children: Mako, Kako, and Hisahito. Preceding Fumihito and Kiko's investiture as Crown Prince and Princess, the ongoing Japanese imperial succession debate had resulted in some politicians holding a favorable view on rescinding agnatic primogeniture imposed by World War II allies on the constitution of Japan. However, once Kiko and Fumihito had their son Hisahito in September 2006 he became next in the line of succession following his father. Hisahito's cousin and Emperor Naruhito's only child Princess Aiko remains at present legally ineligible to inherit the throne, while debate about the possibility of having future empresses regnant continues.[2]

As active working members of the imperial family, Kiko and Fumihito's schedule includes attending summits, and organizational and global event meetings. The couple has particularly represented the Japanese imperial house in ceremonies involving heads of state and VIPs abroad. Kiko's imperial patronages cluster around medical, science and children's causes.

Early life[edit]

Kiko was born at Shizuoka Saiseikai General Hospital in Suruga-ku, Shizuoka, Japan. She is the eldest daughter of Tatsuhiko Kawashima (1940–2021) and his wife, Kazuyo Sugimoto. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1967 while her father attended the University of Pennsylvania.[3] He earned a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 in regional science and later taught there.[4]

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.[4] The future princess became fluent in English and German.[4][5] In 1972, they moved back to Japan, where her father taught economics at Gakushuin University in Tokyo.[3][5] She lived with her parents and brother in a small on-campus apartment in Tokyo.[5] 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 a 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.


A newly engaged Kiko Kawashima in 1990
Crown Princess Kiko and Crown Prince Fumihito in 2016, the year after their silver wedding anniversary (25 years)
Bristle-pointed beachhead iris Iris setosa (hiougi-ayame, 'cypress fan' iris (檜扇菖蒲)), designated imperial personal emblem of Kiko

Prince Fumihito first proposed marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 26 June 1986 while they were both undergraduates at Gakushuin. Three years later, the Imperial Household Council announced the engagement on 12 September 1989[5][6] 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.[4]

The wedding took place at an exclusive shrine at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 29 June 1990.[7] 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 tradition dictates, upon her entry into the imperial family and like other members, she received a personal emblem (o-shirushi (お印)): the blossom of the bristle-pointed beachhead iris Iris setosa (hiougi-ayame, cypress fan iris (檜扇菖蒲)) which blooms in intense shades of dark lavender to blue.[8]

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 he would be married before his older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito. Officials at the Imperial Household Agency were opposed to the marriage, and so was Prince Akishino's paternal grandmother Empress Dowager Nagako.[5] As the second woman from a middle-class and academician background to marry into the imperial family after her husband Akashino's mother Empress Michiko, she was given the nickname "the apartment princess" by the media.[5] 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.[4] 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.[9] 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."[10] She also signs in informal Deaf gatherings.[11]

In March 2013, Kiko was granted a PhD degree in Psychology at the Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University, for her dissertation entitled "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."[10]

While pregnant with her third child, Kiko was diagnosed with placenta praevia.[12] The princess also had carpal tunnel syndrome osteoporosis aggravated by child-nursing, a symptom common among middle-aged women, her doctor revealed on 14 December 2007.[13]


Fumihito and Kiko with their two daughters

Since 1997, Prince Fumihito 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[edit]

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.[15]

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.[16][17] In October 2002, they visited the Netherlands to attend the funeral of Prince Claus of the Netherlands.[18] 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.[19][20] In March 2004, the Prince and Princess returned to the Netherlands for the funeral of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.[18] In January 2005, they visited Luxembourg to attend the funeral of Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.[18] From October to November 2006, they visited Paraguay to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japanese emigration to that country.[21] 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.[22]

Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko observe Brazil's National Congress, 2015
Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko observe Brazil's National Congress, 2015

They visited Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in May 2009 on the occasion of "Japan-Danube Friendship Year 2009"[23][24] and the Netherlands in August 2009 for the commemorative event of the 400th anniversary of the trade relations between Japan and the Netherlands.[25] They have visited Costa Rica,[26] Uganda,[27] Croatia,[28] the Slovakia,[29] Slovenia,[30] Peru, and Argentina.[31][32] From June to July 2014, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko visited Zambia and Tanzania.[33][34]

The Prince and Princess with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, 2023

In June–July 2019, the couple carried out the first official overseas visit by the imperial family following the accession of Emperor Naruhito. They visited Poland and Finland to participate in the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between Japan and the two countries.[35] In August 2019, the couple and their son, Hisahito, arrived in Bhutan for a visit.[36] In 2023 they were guests at the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.[37]


Mon of the Akishino branch of the imperial family



Honorary positions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino and their family - names Archived 7 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine - official website of the Imperial Household Agency
  2. ^ "Japan Crown Prince Fumihito formally declared 1st in line to throne". Kyodo News. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Japanese Royal Bride's Years At Penn: A 'Vivacious' Child". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sanger, David E. (26 June 1990). "Tokyo Journal; She's Shy and Not So Shy, Japan's Princess Bride". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Japanese Prince Plans To Marry A Commoner". Chicago Tribune. 13 September 1989.
  6. ^ "Princess Akishino's pregnancy". Japan Times. March 29, 2006.
  7. ^ "Scenes from An Uncommon Marriage: Japan's Prince Aya Weds a Cinderella Psych Major, Kiko Kawashima". People. June 1990.
  8. ^ "Iris setosa (Bristle-Pointed Iris)". Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ a b "Activities of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino and their family". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Princess Kiko chats with Deaf soccer players in sign language after film show," Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Deaf Japan News. September 7, 2010.
  12. ^ "Press Conference on the Occasion of the Birthday of His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino (2006)". The Imperial Household Agency. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  13. ^ "紀子さま、左腕に痛み - Msn産経ニュース". Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  14. ^ "Japan royal baby named Hisahito," BBC News. September 12, 2006.
  15. ^ "Globis Management Bank President Etsuko Okajima Selected as Young Global Leader 2007 by World Economic Forum". Globis. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino to Visit Mongolia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Prince, Princess to visit Mongolia". The Japan Times. 10 June 2000. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  18. ^ a b c "List of Overseas Visits by the Emperor, Empress and Imperial Family (1999–2008)". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Japan-Fiji Relations". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Japanese Royal visit to Samoa" (PDF). Embassy of Japan in New Zealand. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Prince Akishino to visit Paraguay on Wednesday". AAJ News. Archived from the original on 7 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
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  24. ^ "Political relations". Embassy of Romania to Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
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  26. ^ "Japanese royals visit Costa Rica". The Tico Times. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Japan royals visit Uganda". New Vision. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Japanese prince and princess Akishino to visit Croatia". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  29. ^ "Japan-Slovakia Relations". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  30. ^ "Japanese Prince and Princes Akishino to Visit Slovenia". Slovenian Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  31. ^ "Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko of Japan visit Peru". Peru this week. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  32. ^ "Prince, Princess Akishino in Argentina". News on Japan. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  33. ^ "Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino's visit to Zambia". Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Zambia. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Prince Akishino of Japan visits Serengeti and Ngorongoro over the weekend". The official website of Tanzania National Parks. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko leave for European trip". The Japan Times. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  36. ^ "Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and family meet Bhutan's king". The Japan Times. 20 August 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  37. ^ "Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko Arrive at Kings Charles's Coronation". Town and Country Magazine. 6 May 2023. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  38. ^ "New Year Greeting" (PNG). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  39. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  40. ^ a b "Kiko wearing Red Cross Medals". Archived from the original (PNG) on 7 October 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  41. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  42. ^ "Belga Image". Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  43. ^ Decoraties Staatsbezoeken Japan en Republiek Korea Archived 4 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine – website of the Dutch Royal House
  44. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). / Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  45. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  46. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  47. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  48. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  49. ^ a b c d e f g "Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino and their family". The Imperial Household Agency. Retrieved 3 May 2023.

External links[edit]